Travel Guide: Redlands

Redlands has the artistic charm of historical homes and buildings with modern restaurants and coffee shops just around the corner.
— Carly Rorer

Redlands. The scent of orange blossoms. The warm summer nights. The dusky purple of the mountains as the sun sets. These are all things that flood my memory when I think of Redlands. If you didn't know, it is where I was born and raised. However, I didn't really like Redlands growing up and I couldn't wait to move away. As you can probably guess, I wanted adventure and big cities. Little did I know that my heart valued so many things I left behind. 

Redlands breathes. I can’t really put my finger on it, but every time I visit, it feels like my soul takes a great big exhale I didn’t realize I was holding in.
— Christa Norman

Our local for this travel guide is me and my sister, Carly Rorer! This dynamic duo is a long time coming and it seemed like the obvious way to go about it! Carly still lives in the area and is getting her doctorate in physical therapy at Loma Linda University. I seriously couldn't be more proud of her! Plus coming to visit her is a great excuse to come home!  

- HIKING -

Oakmont Park

Oakmont Park is a wild place in the midst of inland suburbia. Life teems along the path as it winds back into the Live Oak Canyon. We took Oakridge Trail and it lead us quickly up to breathtaking views. There are many other trails shooting off from this shady park and each one offers a varying activity level. Even if you aren't wanting to hike, Oakmont Park is worth a visit to read a book under the shade of a giant oak or to eat lunch at one of its picnic tables. 

Sadly, neither my sister nor I had known about this hidden gem while growing up! We definitely would have been soaking in the refreshing escape from busy life! The park and trails offer such sanctuary and peace! When we visited, the canyon was magical with its vibrant green hills. The trek to the lookout point was only about ten minutes but it also had paths that continue on in a couple other directions.  I don't want to deceive you, the hills are not green like this all year round. Redlands gets very very warm in the summer and most things are golden brown like cookies in the oven. But if you come in the winter or spring after a rain, it's like you are in Ireland.  

Two other great hikes in the area are The San Timoteo Canyon Nature Sanctuary and Caroline Park. The Nature Sanctuary has two great trails, the Cocomaricopa Trail that follows under large willows and along a year round stream, and the Carriage Trail, that winds in and out of the canyon hills. Both of these tails are four miles round trip. Caroline Park's walking paths wind through its botanical garden and past its open lawns. There are many intimate nooks in the 16 acres to have a picnic! 

OUTDOOR SEATING - GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE PARKING

OPEN SUN UP TO SUN DOWN  

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is one of the most versatile parks in all of Redlands. The 11 acres includes many trails, orange groves, rose gardens, the Redlands Theater Festival stage, bamboo forests, Kimberly Crest, tree shaded lawns, and more!  The theater is an outdoor amphitheater which seats over four hundred people. The festival, well into its fourth decade, holds evening summer performances with a wide variety of shows! Each season has five plays and a different production every night. Tickets are about twenty dollars, and audience members are encouraged to come early and have a picnic on the lawn! Kimberly Crest features a Victorian Chateau and Italian Renaissance styled gardens. The house was designed with french styled architecture and was build in 1897, and it is a perfect example of the Victorian Era in California. In the early nineteen hundreds Mrs. Marly Kimberly-Shirk gave the home and its gardens to the people. Now Kimberly Crest is a popular place for weddings, tours, teas and other events. 

My first memory of this place was as a young child during the annual christmas tree lighting. Sipping apple cider in my christmas dress, I was in awe of the giant tree, the beautiful gardens, and the house that made me feel like I was in Beauty and the Beast! I guess I had an eye for french architecture! My sister and I spent many more summer days here exploring its trails, pretending we were actors on the wooden stage, and smelling the roses.  

OUTDOOR SEATING - GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE PARKING

OPEN SUN UP TO SUN DOWN

 

- COFFEE - 

Augie's Coffee 

Augie's is all about the crop-to-cup process and proudly offers hand-roasted coffee. Their baristas are ready to share all about their coffee philosophy, so you can ask them anything from brewing methods to coffee origins. They are dedicated to quality coffee and creating a community with all kinds of people centered around that love and passion. 

This shop was where my love of coffee began. Here I was initiated into this culture, it's community, and was taught to love black coffee. In this red brick building I received my coffee education by eavesdropping on the passion people that come here. Eventually I dragged my sister along and now it is one of her favorite study spots. As a doctoral student she studies more than everyone I know combined, so she is there a lot. 

Another coffeeshop in town is Bricks & Birch. They've got coffee, pastries, and pizza. That's right, wood fired pizza! So if you want lunch with your drinks, this is the place for you! They serve Stumptown coffee and Art of Tea and periodically have live music. 

OUTDOOR SEATING - GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE PARKING - FREE WIFI - GOOD FOR WORKING - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY

HOURS: MON to SUN 6AM- 9PM   

 

- FOOD - 

The State

The State is a new addition to downtown Redlands. It is a modern restaurant and bar with industrial decor. The atmosphere is stellar, the staff is awesome, the food is incredible and the drinks are even better. Each of the twenty beers on tap gets its own fun chalkboard design, mounted on the wall near the bar for easy visibility. The fresh ingredients that line the bar are used for their amazing cocktail creations. I am going to be honest, I am a beer girl. Mixed drinks sound fun but I usually will take one sip and am over the awful sweetness; however, this is not the case at The State. I have liked every mixed drink I have tried from the menu, and even one called The Pretty Lady that I am pretty sure the bartender made up on the spot. If you don't know what you like as far a drinks, ask the bartenders. They are so knowledgeable and friendly!  

It was on my birthday two years ago, that I experienced The State for the first time. The owner found out it was my birthday and we all did whiskey shots together. The whiskey was great, the owner is awesome, and now I can't come home without getting a meal or drink here!  

Another option for good drinks is the Hangar 24 Tasting room! There are tons of beers on tap, tastings, brewery tours, and music almost every day! 

OUTDOOR SEATING  - FREE STREET PARKING - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY

HOURS:  MON to THU 11AM- 12AM  |  FRI to SAT 11AM- 1AM  |   SUN 10AM- 12AM 

à la minute

At all of the à la minute locations they use liquid nitrogen to freeze small batches of ice cream right in front of you! Their ice cream base is 100% organic and they use local ingredients whenever it's an option. They often team up with other local businesses to create unique and delicious flavors. Some of those tasty flavors are orange honey blossom, chocolate lavender, and balsamic strawberry. My sister and I shared the orange honey! I didn't even get a chance to take a photo before Carly took a bite! 

If you are in the mood for chocolate, head over to Parliament Chocolate. The shop is a small team of passionate individuals dedicated to the artisanal process of making chocolate. They only use two ingredients: high quality cacao and organic cane sugar.  Parliament puts love in every step by valuing good social, agriculture and economical practices.  Parliament's chocolate is used in drinks at Augie's, in ice cream at à la minute, and in shops all over Southern California! 

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING  - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY

HOURS:  MON to THU 12 PM- 10 PM|  FRI to SAT 12A M- 11 PM  |  SUN 12 PM- 9:30 PM 

 

- HISTORIC TOUR - 

Two options:

First, Library walking tour. For this tour simply ask at the library desk and they will hand you a map.

Second, CHRISTA'S HISTORICAL FAVORITES! This is a tour i have created of all our favorite historical spots around redlands. IF YOU ARE GOING WITH THIS ONE THEN JUST KEEP ON READING! 

The Smiley Library

The A.K. Smiley Public Library was established in 1892 by the Smiley twins. Alfred Smiley's desire for a library building coincided with Albert Smiley's desire to provide a downtown park. Their passion was always for the people and so they purchased sixteen acres of land for the library with their own money. The building was designed in Moorish style with solid brick, hand-cut stone trimming, heavy red tiling, and stained-glass windows. The interior is fashioned with oak furnishings and carvings of gargoyles and griffins. From the inside you can see how the stained-glass windows illustrate scenes and symbols associated with learning. Because of the library's uniqueness it is officially a California State Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a special reverence for its heritage but a coinciding emphasis for community and so the library continues its public stewardship. 

Carly and I are big readers and that started with my mom renting the Nancy Drew novels and reading them out loud to us. I have vivid memories of those yellow books lining the shelves and getting my own library card. This is where our wonder for the world was planted and then cultivated. 

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING - FREE WIFI - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY - GOOD FOR WORKING

HOURS:  MON to TUE 10 AM- 10 PM|   WED to THU 10 AM - 6 PM  |  FRI to SAT 10 AM- 5 PM  |  SUN 1 PM- 5 PM

 

The Redlands Bowl

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY  HOURS:  DAY TIME TO VIEW   |   TUE & FRI 8PM FOR SHOWS (SUMMER ONLY)

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY 

HOURS:  DAY TIME TO VIEW   |   TUE & FRI 8PM FOR SHOWS (SUMMER ONLY)

Since 1924, the Bowl has been where friends, family and music lovers gather together to enjoy fantastic performances. At 8:00pm every Tuesday and Friday during the summer, there are free performances put on by the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival. No ticket is required, but you better get there early enough to save a spot because it gets packed! I highly recommend staying for one of the shows if you visit during the summer. 

The bowl has so much history in general and in my life! My mom would bring my sister and I here almost every summer! On those warm summer nights, we would grab happy meals and spread out our blanket for the evening.  This is also where my sister and I graduated from high school. There is no shortage of memories for us here! 

Bowling Alley House

In elementary school we learned all about the history of Redlands. We even took a field trip and stopped at all of the historic homes and landmarks. This one was by far my favorite and frankly still is! Not only because of its cool architecture and coloring but because there is a bowling alley in the basement! This house is still a private residence and is not something you can tour but is worth a drive by! Olive Avenue has many beautiful historic homes so keep your head on a swivel that way you don't miss any! While you are at it, keep an eye out for oranges for sale! Many properties still have orange groves on them and sell bags in little unmanned booths at the end of their driveways! I recommend buying a bag to snack on during your tour!    

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING - FREE WIFI - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY - GOOD FOR WORKING HOURS:  MON to FRI 6 30 AM- 7 PM|   SAT to SUN 6 30 AM- 5 PM    

GOOD FOR KIDS - FREE STREET PARKING - FREE WIFI - WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY - GOOD FOR WORKING

HOURS:  MON to FRI 6 30 AM- 7 PM|   SAT to SUN 6 30 AM- 5 PM  

 

But if you are really hungry or want a fun drink, stop at Olive Avenue Market! It is a two minute drive from downtown and a half a block from the bowling alley house! They have tasty sandwiches, tons of craft sodas, great iced tea, and all the coffee options you could hope for! There is a relaxing back patio and a mini free library outside! The market was built in 1924 with a very modern and contemporary architecture for its time and was renovated into a specialty food store in 2002. The home we grew up in is about a 15 minute walk from the market and when we were old enough we could walk down by ourselves. We felt extremely cool when we walked in and would buy their 25 cent candies with our allowance. 

Fairy Houses!?

Yes. It is true. And they are magical! There are three little streets next to one another and every house is tiny, magical and cute. I have always wanted to live in one of these, but sadly there aren't any like these (that I have seen) in South Orange County. If it is a cool enough day, I suggest grabbing a yummy drink and walking from Olive Avenue Market! It is maybe a 5 minute walk. I hope they make your heart happy, as it does to mine!