About San Bernardino California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 1,053 ft (321 m). Population 209,924 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
San Bernardino is a city located on Route 66. It is the county seat of San Bernardino County in southern California. (Map of San Bernardino).
The Wigwam Motel a classic sight in San Bernardino
The History of the city of San Bernardino, California
This part of California has been inhabited for the over ten thousand years and during the recent historic period, afte Spanish settlement, the natives were named "Serrano" which is the Spanish word for "Hill people"; there were several groups, and near Big Bear Lake lived the Yuhaviatam (Pine People) the state militia waged a campaign against them in 1866 killing most of them. The remaining natives were sent in 1891 to the Santos Manuel tribal reservation.
The name, San Bernardino
The city was named after an Italian missionary, a Franciscan, Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380 - 1444), the "Apostle of Italy". Bernardino is a pet form of Bernardo.
The Spanish had explored California in 1602 and established themselves in Mexico as from 1520. They founded Los Angeles in 1769 and from there they slowly moved west, setting up the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (1771). Later, in 1810 they reached San Bernardino where a mission established in 1819 and a Ranch in 1842.
Mojave Trail or Mojave Road
The Mojave Trail was an ancient route used by the natives, running from Cajon Pass to the north of San Bernardino, a gap between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains all the way to the Colorado River along the Mojave River. It was a major native trade route.
Mexicans in California used it to trade with New Mexico and Arizona in the late 1700s, and in 1826, Jedediah Smith was the first American to enter California from Utah along it.
In 1821 Mexico had become independent from Spain but was defeated in the 1846-48 war with the US, losing California and what is now the Southwestern US.
Later the Mormons expanded west and settled along the "Mormon Corridor", buying the San Bernardino ranch in 1851 and founding the town of San Bernardino which was incorporated in 1857.
It grew as an important trading hub on the crossroads of several trails to Arizona.
In 1883, the California Southern Railroad (CSR) linked it with San Diego in the south, and headed through Cajon Pass to Barstow in the north, which there connected in 1885 with the main line of Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A & P) all the way east across Arizona, New Mexico and on, into Kansas.
A&P would later be absorbed by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad and the CSR line gave it the right of way into Los Angeles in 1887 through San Gabriel Valley.
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in San Bernardino
Towns sprung up next to the railway stations and the old dirt trails linked them to each other, San Bernardino and Los Angeles.
By the mid 1900s, the use of the automobile had grown considerably and better roads were needed. This led to the creation of the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association and their plan to build a decent road from Los Angeles to New York.
Their transcontinental highway ran beside the AT & Santa Fe railroad tracks from Los Angeles, through San Bernardino, across Cajon Pass, and via Barstow reched Needles and crossed into Arizona.
In the San Bernardino Area, the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) in its 1915 map shows the N.O.T. heading from Devore at the foot of Cajon Pass, through Verdmont Sta., 2 miles away, crossing the tracks there and heading along Cajon Ave. Road for 5 mi. until turning south into San Bernardino along Mt. Vernon Ave. and then, a sharp right to head west along San Bernardino Ave. towards Rialto. The town offered "Meals - lodgings. Gasoline - oil. Garage Repairs.".
Also in 1915, the road from San Bernardino to Barstow via Cajon Pass became California’s highway LRN 31; it was the first section of the route to be brought under state jurisdiction.
Over the next few years, the road had been widened so that by 1920 it was generally 16 ft. wide and it had been paved with macadam since 1916.
By 1924 there was a gas station at Devore but the road remained the same as in 1912 except that S. Bernardino Ave. was now known as Foothill Boulevard (Fourth St.).
Route 66 was created as a U.S. highway in 1926 and it incorporated most of the N.O.T. roadbed west of Las Vegas in New Mexico.
The road was widened further to 20 ft with 5 ft. shoulders, eliminating curves (1932 - 34) from San Bernardino to Victorville.
In 1934 a secondary route along Kendall Drive from Verdemont ran on the eastern side of the SF Railroad and went into town via N E St. this was the "City 66" mentioned by Rittenhouse (see below), while the original alignment was the "Alternate 66" which avoided crossing downtown San Bernardino.
The 1939 book "A Guide to the Golden State" by WPA, described the town and its access route as follows:
" US 66 broad and palm-lined, turns R., dividing the business district (L) of SAN BERNARDINO, (1,073 alt., 37,486 pop.), seat of San Bernardino County. The name San Bernardino was given by a party of missionaries, soldiers, and Indians from the San Gabriel Mission under Padre Francisco Dumetz, who entered the valley on May 20, 1810, the feast day of San Bernardino of Siena. In 1851, Capt. Jefferson Hunt arrived in the valley with a party of 500 Mormons from Salt Lake, who bought Rancho San Bernardino for $77,000 in 1852, and laid out a city along the broad, spacious lines of Salt Lake City. The Mormons remained dominant here until 1857, when Brigham Young, anxious to center his flock in Utah, issued a recall. San Bernardino is today a railroad and fruit-packing center....".
The guide mentions that "West of San Bernardino US 66 runs along the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains through the heart of a picture post card landscape orange groves overlooked by snowcapped peaks. The tile-roofed stucco towns among the orchards along the way are starting points for roads and trails into the forested mountains".
A 1940 map shows E St. as California State Hwy 18. To the south of town was US 70 and 90 running down Colton Ave parallel to US 66 into Pomona, and north was another highway along Highland Ave. all the way to Upland (paved).
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in San Bernardino
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse drove along Route 66 in 1946, collecting information which he included in his book "A Guide Book to Highway 66". Which is a great reference for learning about US 66 during the post-war period.
Rittenhouse mentions the about the town of San Bernardino and Route 66 south of Cajon Pass:
After Blue Cut in Cajon Pass, "US 66 continues downgrade, past the gas station and store at DEVORE ..., and reaches a fork [8 miles south] where City 66 runs (L) to San Bernardino, and Alternate 66 goes (R) to Los Angeles".
The Two Route 66 alternatives into San Bernardino
These are the two roads leading into San Bernardino from Verdmont, one along Cajon Blvd. and Mt. Vernon Ave. (Alternate 66), the other furhter east, along Kendall Dr. and E St. up to 3rd St. where it turned right and went through downtown San Bernardino (City 66).
Rittenhouse adds that "along the route of descent. At 299 mi. is a junction with State Road 2, which runs left into Lake Arrowhead, one of the leading mountain resorts of the region.".
Rittenhouse then states that as his guidebook was "written for the traveler to Los Angeles, it is assumed that you will take the right (alternate) fork through the edge of San Bernardino. At the center of a small business district US 66 turns right and heads almost straight west toward Los Angeles, about 53 miles distant. From this point on, the traveler is practically "in" Los Angeles. Tourist camps of the best type, fine cafes, and other roadside facilities are found all along the way, so no further detailed description is necessary".
He adds that there are 12 towns between San Bernardino and Pasadena and that "Many of them are so close together as to be practically indistinguishable from each other".
After World War II, traffic along Route 66 grew peaking in 1960: over 1.1 million travellers passed through San Bernardino. The interstate I-15 was built north of Cajon Pass to Victorville and on to Barstow in 1958 and then, south, across the Pass into San Bernardino in 1971 -72.
Faster flowing traffic meant that overnight stops in San Bernardino fell, hurting the Route 66 motels and as it bypassed the commercial district, where many shops closed.
Where to Stay in San Bernardino
Lodging in the City
>> Book your Hotel in San Bernardino
More Lodging Near San Bernardino along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to San Bernardino, California
Heading East.... In California
- 20 miles Cajon Junction
- 41 miles Victorville
- 36 miles Hesperia
- 57 miles Helendale
- 79 miles Barstow
- 212 miles Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
- 5 miles Rialto
- 9 miles Fontana
- 19 miles Rancho Cucamonga
- 27 miles Claremont
- 31 miles Pomona (south)
- 33 miles San Dimas
- 35 miles Glendora
- 38 miles Azusa
- 42 miles Duarte
- 43 miles Monrovia
- 45 miles Arcadia
- 45 miles Arcadia
- 53 miles Pasadena
- 61 miles Los Angeles
- 67 miles Hollywood
- 77 miles Santa Monica
Have you slept in a wigwam lately? Book a Room in the Wigwam Motel
>> Check out the RV campground in San Bernardino
Weather in San Bernardino
San Bernardino has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate: mild winters and dry - hot summers. You may experience frost and low morning temperatures during winter, including occasional snow flurries.
During winter, the average high is (Jan) 68.4°F (20.2°C) and the average low is 42.1°F (5.6°C). In sumer the average high is (Jul) 96.2°F (35.7°C) and the average low is 58.5°F (14.7°C)
About 16 inches (406 mm) of rain fall yearly. Snow falls heavily at Arrowhead Springs as it lies in hight (3,000 ft. - 910 m) ground. Rainfall is least during May to September, with less than 0.25 in. falling monthly (6.4 mm). The town has 38 days with precipitation yearly.
As San Bernardino is located very far to the west of the Rocky Montains (which marks the western limit for tornados), so there is no risk of tornados in this area.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to San Bernardino
You can reach San Bernardino along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway" and via Interstates 10, 15, 215 and State Hwy. 210.
Map of Route 66 in San Bernardino
Map of San Bernardino and US Highway 66, California.
The map below shows the different alignments of Route 66 near San Bernardino and the color key is for San Bernardino only. It is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)
Pale Blue: the 1928 - 1950s Route 66 through San Bernardino (both "City" and "Alternate" 66 are shown).
Red: I-15, where it covers the old roadbed of Route 66 or where it must be driven as the old road is closed.
See Route 66's alignment in California Map
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 through San Bernardino
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite having long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica (like this one).
Click on the following link for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in San Bernardino
Sights and Attractions in San Bernardino, California
What to Do, Places to See
City on the Move
San Bernardino and its Route 66 attractions
The Friendly City
San Bernardino's classic Route 66 sights include: Motels:
Cajon Motel, Palms Motel, Lido Motel (old Andy's motel),
Mount Vernon Motel, Valley Motel, Holiday Inn,
Oasis Motel, Travelodge Motel, Sands Motel, and
the Historic Wigwam Motel.
And landmarks like the Museum that marks the point of the First ever McDonald's or the historic site: Santa Fe Railway Station and Depot, or the California natural monument, the Arrowhead.
Route 66 Rendezvous
The City of San Bernardino hosts the largest car show in the US, the Route 66 Rendezvous. learn more at their website.
Get your Kicks in San Bernardino
"Route Sixty-six": is an emblematic song that immortalized Route 66 in the minds of several generations as an iconic Road Trip, a journey where the traveler can get his kicks, enjoying and savoring the moment and the freedom of riding the Mother Road. It was written by Bobby Troup in 1946 and since then, it has been a hit evoked by all those who have driven (or dream about driving along) Route 66.
Read More: Get your Kicks on Route 66, full details on the song and its context.
San Bernardino is one of the three Californian towns mentioned in the song (along with LA and Barstow), and it appears in the following stanza:
Now you go through Saint Looey
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico,
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.
Route 66 sights in San Bernardino
Start your trip north of town and see two classic Route 66 motel signs on Cajon Blvd.:
N.State St. and Cajon Blvd., on your right
This is a very old and rusty motel sign, of the Cajon Motel
The Cajon Motel nowadays, a rusty sign...
And, just after it, also on your right is another classic, the Palms Motel:
3424 Cajon Blvd.
Weary drivers stopped here, before heading into Los Angeles or even entering San Bernardino. They were the first places to stop at, right beside Devore, after the end of the tiring Cajon Pass.
Now head down Cajon Blvd. and enter town along North Mount Vernon, there are more classic motels here:
Route 66 motels on Mt. Vernon
2180 N Mt. Vernon
The first motel is the Lido Motel which used to be the Andy's motel, it has changed, but is still recognizeable as you can see if you compare the postard below with its current appearance:
The Lido Motel in the past was the Andy's motel, see this vintage postcard of it
The arch is gone, but the building on the left is still there.
The Lido Motel nowadays:
Mount Vernon Motel
2140 N Mt. Vernon Ave.
The old Mount Vernon Motel is now a 26 unit apartment complex with 25 one bedroom units and 1 two bedroom unit. Included are 10 carports and laundry room.
The Mount Vernon Motel in a vintage postcard
The place is unchanged, there is a wall in the front, next to the sidewalk, and the trees have grown, but it is basically the same place:
The Mount Vernon Motel nowadays is an apartment complex:
1640 N Mt. Vernon Ave.
The old Valley Motel is still operating under the same name. There have been some minor changes (like the decorated bricks used on the left buiding), but it is recognizeable.
The Valley Motel in a classic postcard
The Valley Motel nowadays, still the "Valley"
1564 N Mt. Vernon Ave.
The old Holiday Inn is still open and using the same name.
The Holiday Inn in an old postcard, still lodging travellers on Route 66:
The Holiday Inn nowadays, still open. The old canopy has gone, but a new one replaced it. The trees have grown bigger but the "L" shaped layout is still there. It is a shame that the old Route 66 Motel Sign has gone:
1488 N Mt Vernon Ave
The old Oasis Motel which is still open, though the motel sign now lacks the "character in a turban" that used to crown it in the 1950s. It was an "interracial" motel, in a time when race was a serious issue, and ran by Ms. Virginia Arness, former wife of a famous TV series (Gunsmoke) actor.
The Oasis Motel in a 1950s photo (notice the lovely classic Motel sign)
The Oasis Motel nowadays is still open under the same name:
Now you must head north again to 16 W St., and take a right eastwards, cross I-215 and at North E St., take a right again (See map with directions), you will reach a Classic sight:
Historic McDonald's museum
1398 N E St.
This was the first restaurant opened by the McDonald brothers, it was where they worked out the formula that led to their globally successful Hamburger chain.
Dick and Mac McDonald opened their "McDonald's Barbecue Restaurant" here in 1940, they sold cheesburgers, pork sandwiches, ribs and more. The McDonald brothers sold 15 cent hamburgers using a "Speedee Service System" and they became a hit. In 1948 they refocused their business into a simple, efficient and fast restaurant specializing in burgers, milkshakes and sodas. McDonald's was born.
The place is now a museum, Open Mon-Sun 10 AM - 5 PM. Free admission. It is owned by the founder of the Juan Pollo fast food chain.
Further west, in Upland is another "vintage" McDonald's, with the Golden Arches included in the building.
746 N E St.
Head south along North E St. and you will see, to your right, the Town Lodge, which in the past was the Travelodge Motel. It has not changed much as you can see by comparing this 1950a Postcard with its Current appearance.
Head south and when you reach 5th Street, take a right (see alternative detour below):
For Service Station Fans
If you like old filling stations, take a left instead and drive east for 1 mile along 5th St. until reaching North Waterman Ave. (See map). Here are two "oldies":
They were not on Route 66, as it ran further west.
Go west along 5th St. and on the corner of North H St. is another Service Station:
Old Wilshire Service Station
790 W 5th St.
This has a very odd canopy, streamlined and held up with two poles that pierce it. Two steel cables hold it up like a modernistic sculpture. This was the style used by Wilshire gasoline, later part of Gulf. Built in the 1960s.
Take a right along H St. and after passing 6th St., on your left is the classic Sands Motel:
606 N H St.
The old Sands Motel (See old 1950s postcard of it), which was described as "Sands Motel, Mr. B's Coffee Shop and the swimming pool... The Sands Motel, newest and finest, adjacent to US 395, 66 & 99. 54 air conditioned rooms -Free TV -Room phones -Heated swimming pool-Walking distance to downtown-Credit Cards honored" (things which nowadays we take for granted).
The place is now the Country Inn, still a motel. (See street view).
Head back south along H St., and take a right along 3rd St. See map. To visit the Historic Depot.
Santa Fe Railway Station and Depot
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
1170 W 3rd St.
San Bernardino, historic railway station. Oakshade
The first wooden depot built in 1886 burned down in 1916 so a new one built in Mission Revival Style replaced it.
It opened in 1918 and served as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Passenger and Freight Depot. It has domes, towers and tiled roofs. It was also the site of the Harvey House restaurant until 1950. Then After passenger operations ceased, the station closed. It has been restored and currently serves one Amtrak and two Metrolink lines.
Now head west along Route 66 towards the city limits, near Rialto and visit the iconic Route 66 Motel in San Bernardino, 3 miles away (Map with directions).
En route you will see the San Bernardino Motel:
San Bernardino Motel
2528 Foothill Blvd.
The motel is still in operation, on the north side of the road.
The San Bernardino Motel nowadays:
Next comes the Terrace Motel (at 2606 E Foothill Blvd.), see a street view of it, and finally the Wigwam Motel:
Wigwam, Tepee and Hogan
A wigwam is a native shelter made from a pole structure covered with bark. It is usually used as a synonym for tipi or teepee, but they are not the same.
A teepee is a conical tent used by the natives of the Great Plains. It is made with animal hides set upon wooden poles. They have smoke flaps a the tip of the cone. The word "tipi" means "dwelling" in Lakota language (Thípi) and the word "wigwam", derives from the Algonquian "wikewam", with the same meaning.
The local natives did not use wigwams. But for tourists driving along the Mother Road, a wigwam is indeed a synonym of an Indian dwelling.
Wigwam Motel Village #7
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
2728 East Foothill Boulevard, San Bernardino
You can Book a Room in the Wigwam Motel
The old Wigwam Motel is a classic sight on Route 66 and is still open and lodging guests.
Is it in San Bernardino?
The California Wigwam Motel was built within the city limits of San Bernardino in 1949. The motel would later acquire a Rialto postal address, but it was born in San Bernardino and still is in San Bernardino.
The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino
History of the Wigwam Motel
The first "Wigwam Village" was built in Cave City Kentucky in 1938 by Frank Redford. He patented the idea. Chester E. Lewis liked the idea and licensed the right to use it, paying Redford a royalty fee. Lewis built a several Wigwam Villages over the next 20 years. But the seventh (and last) village that was finished in San Bernardino in 1949 (hence its name "Village #7"), was built by the creator of the concept, Frank Redford himself.
Redford sold his properties back in Kentucky in 1944 and headed west where he started to build the #7 in 1947.
It originally had 11 wigwam cabins in a field-like park. With the increase in traffic along US 66 he added eight more wigwams in a second concentric semicircle. They were built in concrete and are 32 ft. tall (9.76 m) and their diameter at floor level is 20 ft. (6.1 m) this makes them a bit narrower and less taller tan those at the Holbrook village (28 ft x 21 ft size).
Frank planned a third set of units and even built the foundations for one of them (you can see it) but he never built them.
After Frank's death, and decades of decline, it reopened in 2002 and has been restored formidably. Only two other "Wigwam Villages" survive the #2 in Cave City, Kentucky and #6 in Holbrook, Arizona, the latter is on Route 66.
So, Have You Slept in a Wigwam Lately?, here you can find out what its like.
Tours & Itineraries
California Historical Landmark - geological monument
Arrowhead formation. Chuck Coker
The Arrowhead is a natural feature and the origin of the name of neighboring Lake Arrowhead and the county's seal.
It is a rock formation of light colored quartz on a mountainside that faces San Bernardino and the Valley. It is shaped like an arrowhead and measures 1,375 ft (419 m) by 449 ft (137 m).
The local natives' legend says that an arrow shot from heaven burned the shape into the mountain showing a spot where they could be healed, and there is a spring which led to a hotel and spa being built there. The water was bottled and sent to Los Angeles under the Arrowhead brand.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 from Victorville to San Bernardino
From Victorville south to San Bernardino on Route 66
This segment is 44 miles long, and this is the map with directions.
As mentioned above, the first road through San Bernardino was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road which was a highway that was projected to link New York and Los Angeles in the early 1910s. This road ran close to the Santa Fe Railroad between Los Angeles and Needles.
Victorville to Cajon Pass
Leave Victorville along 7th Street and when you reach the Green Tree Golf Course by I-15 Exit 150, keep along the frontage road, Mariposa Rd. which runs more or less close to I-15, it does curve away from it at Exits 148,147 and 143 but otherwise it runs along the old alignment. At Exit 143 was the site of the Miller's Corners service station mentioned by Jack Rittenhouse, on the Main St. into Hesperia, which is located 4 miles east.
Keep southbound, and at Exit 141 the old road headed to the western side of present I-15, so cross I-15 here via Joshua Rd. and then go south along Caliente Rd. which meets I-15 and continues next to it.
Across Cajon Pass
We describe the route from Caliente Road, across Cajon Pass and all the way to Kenwood Ave and Route 66 in Devore, Here: Route 66 across Cajon Pass, it has all you need to know about the pass and its attractions & landmarks.
U.S. 66 ends in a cutoff at Kenwood Ave., ahead is the junction of I-215 and I-15, which interrupt the old alignmetTo continue along Route 66 you have to reach Cajon Blvd. south of the I-15 ⁄ I-215 junction that is just ahead. So you will have to get on to I-15 westbound here. This map shows how to get there. Once you reach Cajon Blvd. again, you can drive along the two alternative Route 66 alignments into San Bernardino, that we mentioned above: "Two alignments".
- City Alignment, ran to the east, along Kendall Dr., North E St. southwards and then west along 5th St. which merged into Foothill Blvd. with the other alignment. See map with directions.
- Alternate Sixty Six, which ran to the west of the railroad, along Cajon Blvd, N. Mount Vernon Rd., and then west along 5th St. See map with directions.
As you can see both routes met just west of the downtown district of San Bernardino taking a westward course along Foothill Boulevard into Rialto, Fontana and the other towns that lie on that road.
> > See the previous segment Barstow to Victorville
> > See the next segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (west)
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.