Lancaster Travel Guide

Discover the best things to do, see, and experience in Lancaster, Southern California, including local culture, food and drink, outdoor adventures, and nearby destinations.

Introduction to Lancaster

Located in Antelope Valley, in Los Angeles, Southern California, Lancaster is an humble hub of entertainment, outdoor activities, and local culture worth adding to any California itinerary. Known for its vivid poppy fields and aerospace industry, Lancaster boasts an eclectic mix of museums, galleries, and historical attractions, as well as outdoor adventures, hiking and biking trails, and local food and drink scene. In this comprehensive guide, you will discover the best things to see and do, where to stay, what to eat and drink, and how to get around safely and enjoyably.

List of Places to Visit in Lancaster

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Lancaster Museum of Art and History: The museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art and pieces of local history, including artifacts from aerospace industry, Native American heritage, and early settlers’ lifestyle.
  • Antelope Valley Indian Museum: Nestled in the Mojave Desert, the museum exhibits Native American art, crafts, and folklore, as well as a series of trails leading to rock formations and scenic views.
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve: The reserve features eight miles of trails that lead to a breathtaking display of poppy fields, lupines, and wildflowers, as well as wildlife, and rock formations.

Natural Attractions of Lancaster: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area: The park offers a series of hiking trails, scenic views, and activities like rock climbing, bird watching, and stargazing, as well as a variety of plant and animal life endemic to the area.
  • Tropico Gold Mine: The mine is a historic site that tells the story of the region’s mining industry and offers tours that take visitors to the inside of a gold mine.
  • Apollo Community Regional Park: The park is home to a man-made lake, picnic areas, playgrounds, and seasonal activities like fishing, boating, and camping.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Lancaster

  • Poppy Reserve Trail: A moderate hike that covers a distance of 3.5 miles, offering a glimpse of the wildflowers and plant species endemic to the area.
  • Devil’s Punchbowl Loop Trail: A challenging hike that covers a distance of 8.5 miles, offering panoramic views of the natural surroundings, rock formations, and varied wildlife.
  • Lancaster City Park Loop Trail: A family-friendly trail that covers a distance of 1.5 miles, offering a chance to explore the scenic views of the park, grasslands, and play areas.

Best Things to Do in Lancaster: Activities and Tours

  • Flight Test Historical Center: The center showcases the history of aviation testing and serves as a venue for events and exhibitions.
  • Lancaster Performing Arts Center: The center features a diverse range of performing arts shows, concerts, and workshops.
  • Western Hotel Museum: The museum is a historic site that showcases the early days of the Lancaster community and serves as a venue for educational programs and events.

Week-Long Itinerary for Lancaster

Day 1 Visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Day 2 Explore the Lancaster Museum of Art and History in the morning and then step back in time at the Antelope Valley Indian Museum in the afternoon
Day 3 Hike or bike the Devil’s Punchbowl Loop Trail
Day 4 Experience the gold rush at the Tropico Gold Mine and then explore the scenic views of the Apollo Community Regional Park
Day 5 Attend a workshop or a performance at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center
Day 6 Visit the Flight Test Historical Center and Western Hotel Museum
Day 7 Enjoy a picnic or a day of fishing at any of the city parks in Lancaster

Food and Drink Scene of Lancaster

Must-Try Dishes

  • Deep fried chicken: A southern classic that can be found in various local diners and restaurants across the city.
  • Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking: A seafood restaurant that serves a variety of steam-cooked dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and seafood boil.
  • Blackbird Cafe: A cafe that offers a variety of local and organic dishes, as well as specialty coffee and drinks.

Local Beverages

  • Wolf Creek Brewery: A brewery that serves a variety of locally crafted beers, ales, and lagers, as well as pub-style food and live music.
  • Agua Dulce Vineyards: A vineyard that serves a variety of locally crafted wines, as well as a selection of cheeses, and snacks.

Where to Stay in Lancaster: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Lancaster: A hotel that offers a variety of rooms and suites, as well as free breakfast and Wi-Fi.
  • Best Western Plus Desert Poppy Inn: A hotel that features spacious rooms and suites, as well as an outdoor pool and patio area.
  • The Cotta Inn: A guesthouse that offers a variety of cozy rooms and private suites, as well as a garden and outdoor patio area.

What to Buy in Lancaster: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Lancaster jams and jellies: Locally made jams and jellies that feature fresh fruits and preserves from the valley.
  • Antelope Valley Fair and Event Center: A venue that hosts the annual Antelope Valley Fair and a variety of events throughout the year, offering a chance to experience local culture, food, and entertainment.

Local Culture and Customs of Lancaster

  • Respectful behavior: Lancaster is an inclusive community that values diversity and respect for all cultures and traditions.
  • Local events: Lancaster hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the California Poppy Festival, which celebrates the poppy fields bloom.
  • Local dialect: The local dialect includes the usage of certain local phrases and terms that may take some time to get used to.

Best Time to Visit Lancaster

The best time to visit Lancaster is between March and May when the wildflowers are in bloom, and the weather is mild and favorable for outdoor activities. The fall season, between October and November, is also a great time to visit, when the weather is cooler and the cultural events are in full swing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Lancaster


  • Respect the local culture and customs.
  • Explore the natural wonders of the area.
  • Engage with the local community and attend cultural events.


  • Litter or damage the natural surroundings.
  • Disrespect local traditions or customs.
  • Engage in any illegal activity or behavior.

Safety and Health

Safety in Lancaster

  • Follow the local traffic laws and observe pedestrian safety guidelines.
  • Keep a safe distance from any wildlife and natural surroundings during outdoor activities.
  • Be vigilant when dealing with strangers or unfamiliar situations.

Health in Lancaster

  • Take precautions against the sun and sunburn during outdoor activities.
  • Be aware of any allergies or health conditions before engaging in physical activities.
  • Stay hydrated during outdoor activities.

Getting to Lancaster: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Lancaster

  • Bob Hope Airport: Located in Burbank, California, the airport is approximately 47 miles away from Lancaster and offers a range of domestic and international flights.
  • Los Angeles International Airport: Located in Los Angeles, California, the airport is approximately 80 miles away from Lancaster and offers a range of international flights.

Bus Stations Near Lancaster

  • Antelope Valley Transit Authority: The local bus service that operates throughout the Antelope Valley region.
  • Greyhound Bus Lines: A national bus service that offers long-distance travel to and from Lancaster.

Other Options

  • Car rentals: A variety of car rental services are available in the area.
  • Uber and Lyft: ride-sharing services are available throughout the city, offering a convenient and affordable option for transportation.

How to Get Around in Lancaster

  • Car rentals: A variety of car rental services are available in the area.
  • Bus: The Antelope Valley Transit Authority offers a range of local bus services throughout the region.
  • Taxi and ride-sharing services: A variety of taxi and ride-sharing services are available throughout the city.

Where to Go Next from Lancaster: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Palmdale: Located approximately 11 miles away, Palmdale offers attractions like Lake Palmdale, DryTown Water Park, and Palmdale Amphitheater.
  • Los Angeles: Located approximately 70 miles away, Los Angeles offers attractions like Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Getty Center.
  • Santa Clarita: Located approximately 40 miles away, Santa Clarita offers attractions like Six Flags Magic Mountain, Vasquez Rocks, and the Old Town Newhall Historic District.


Lancaster may be a small city, but it packs a big punch when it comes to entertainment, outdoor activities, local culture, and history. Whether you’re looking to explore the poppy fields, hike the scenic trails, or experience the local food and drink scene, Lancaster has it all. So, pack your bags and hit the road to discover the best of Southern California’s Antelope Valley!