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The best places to get cultured in ontario, calfornia

When most people think about Southern California, the first names that pop into their heads are probably those of major cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as movie-famous small towns like Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Malibu. However, one of the most vibrant and beautiful Californian towns sits just about a half-hour drive east from downtown Los Angeles. Ontario, California, is home to many wonderful cultural experiences and definitely enjoys better weather than its more famous Canadian namesake. 

Go On a Museum Tour

Visiting Ontario’s museums is a great way of discovering California’s artistic history. The Chaffey Community Museum of Art is a local cultural landmark and a fantastic place to start. It was founded back in 1941 when local couple Francis and Helen Line donated nine paintings after the tragic passing of their daughter. Their main occupation was shooting travel films for educational purposes, and it proved to be the perfect way for the Lines to discover and meet many talented young artists from California and from other Western states.

Throughout the years, the museum has gathered a collection of over 200 framed paintings by local artists, with over 400 unframed ones in their storage. Despite its tradition and reputation of supporting local arts, it was only in January of 2013 that the Chaffey Community Museum of Art finally had its own building, after years of having to share locations with other institutions. Located in a building that once belonged to the Ontario Power Company, this wonderful Ontario museum will show you that California’s art scene is about much more than movies and music.

If, after experiencing the local art scene, you’re looking to gain a better understanding of the area’s history, the best solution is just down the road. Located in a beautiful Spanish-Mediterranean-style building, the Ontario Museum of History and Art is a celebration of Ontario’s history, with captivating exhibits showing California’s agricultural and industrial heritage. The two museums being one minute apart from each other is a great opportunity to get a better understanding of local history and tradition with just one trip.

Discover California’s Amazing Flora

Image via Flickr by Austin Risbeck Photography

The area’s perfect weather is not only popular with humans, but also with plants. The California Botanic Garden, also called the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, is located about 10 minutes away from downtown Ontario and a fantastic place to experience the beauty of the local environment. Established in 1927 with the purpose of conserving California’s native plants and habitats, this living and breathing museum has continued to grow and develop throughout the years, becoming the largest garden solely dedicated to California’s native plants. 

Have a Bite at a Local Restaurant

Enjoying local food is one of the best ways of discovering a place’s history and culture. Ontario’s restaurants are therefore not only great places to have a delicious meal, but also symbols of Southern California’s eclectic history and culture. The most historically significant restaurant in town is arguably The Sycamore Inn Prime Steakhouse, with a Spanish-influenced history that spans all the way to 1848. Located on historic Route 66 since the times it was only a plain dirt road, this place is a must-visit for anyone interested in finding out more about California’s development. 

Many other cultures have left their mark on California’s history throughout the years and a good example of that is Vince’s Spaghetti, a wonderful local Italian restaurant. It was first opened in 1945 by the Cuccia Family, who own and operate it to this day. Although it was initially a French dip stand, it quickly shifted to Italian cuisine and the rest is history. If you’re a fan of Italian food this place has all your favorites, from spaghetti to lasagna. While you’re enjoying your dinner you can also try out some of their excellent wines and mouth watering desserts.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for some good old American cooking, then you have to visit Zeke’s Eatin’ Place. As the legend goes, Zeke was a 19th-century gold prospector who came to California in search of prosperity. Having noticed the huge appetites of his fellow prospectors, he decided to open up an eatery, and the rest is history. Today, the original place is all gone but the current owners and staff do their best to recreate the atmosphere of the old days and provide their customers with delicious meals and snacks.

Enjoy Some Local Wine

California’s amazing weather also makes it a world-renowned wine region. With four locations in the area and one of them right in Ontario, the San Antonio Winery is the perfect place to have a selection of excellent wines and learn more about the area’s culture and history. Having been founded in 1917, it’s one of California’s oldest wineries and features many award-winning local wines. The Ontario tasting room has been a part of local culture for over 40 years and is the perfect setting for a day trip or a private event. 

Daily tastings are available, with visitors getting the chance to experience the winery’s extensive collection. After spending a few wonderful hours enjoying the wine and atmosphere, you can stop by the newly-remodeled wine store and gift boutique where their knowledgeable staff will help you pick up some bottles of wine to enjoy at home or use as gifts. If you loved the place so much that you want to use it for a special occasion in your life, the Heritage Event Room can host memorable events with up to 50 guests.

The Golden State is definitely one of America’s most interesting, having been blessed with a wonderful climate, rich history, and diverse culture. At Lem Garcia Law we are happy and proud to show you different ways to experience Ontario’s finest museums, gardens, restaurants, and other cultural hotspots. We hope you enjoy this list and please drop us a line if you think there are other staples of Ontario’s cultural heritage that should have made the list.