San Bernardino is the largest county in the lower 48— the kind of place where both the Olive Garden and the San Bernardino Fire Department get five-star ratings on Yelp and cities like Fontana are referred to as Fontucky. People use "swamp coolers" because the average temperature in some cities during the summer is a bog-ass-inducing 110 degrees. There are hardly any bars or good restaurants, but on the bright side, there is Big Bear…
Bulldog Pub - This pub is a serious what-the-fuck kind of place. There are two types of people here—those in their 20s and those in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. The kids like to smoke on the patio and eat Scotch eggs and fish and chips, and the old-timers like to sing karaoke and bust some ugly moves. Think we're kidding? Just go and try to get in the way of Mabel and Earl's duet on "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."
1667 N. Mountain Ave., Ste. 117, Upland, 909-946-6614.
Rosa Maria's Photo: Nicholas Serrato:
Underground - The place for $2 wells and $2 drafts. Being here means you can avoid Charlie Jewels and the raised truck, Skin Industries-tank-topwearing, uber-aggressive locals.
19 E. Citrus Ave., Ste. 103, Redlands, 909- 798-1500.
The Vault - Come here for a distinct lack of gross dudes, $2 wells on Tuesdays, a smoking patio that makes you feel like you're definitely not in Redlands (where sometimes they project old black-and-white movies), and heavy-pouring bartenders who love the ladies.
20 E. Vine St., Redlands, 909-798-2399.
King Taco - This place started as a taco truck in the 70s and has since become legendary in Southern California. Their sopas are the exact right balance of crispy and chewy, and their menu is totally authentic—any place that serves cabeza and lengua is worth its weight in lard.
406 N. Mountain Ave., Ontario, 909-933-9150.
The Original Cucas in Redlands - There are a couple of these around the IE, but this is the original, the one that still looks like the taco stand that started it all a million years ago. It has traditional, solid Mexican food and great horchata. The lines can get pretty long, so call ahead.
527 E. State St., Redlands, 909-335-9557.
Amapola Rico Photo: Sean Kling
The Sycamore Inn - The Sycamore Inn's not a bad little spot. It actually has something rather foreign to most of Southern California: history. It's really old, used to house a brothel, and has good prime rib. And ghosts. Yeah, the place is supposedly haunted, specifically with a couple who were involved in a lovers' quarrel and got themselves killed. It's creepy and creaky and fucking awesome.
8318 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, 909-982-1104.
Auto Club Speedway/California Speedway - When in Fontucky, do as the Fontuckians do and go to the California Speedway. Seriously, there's nothing like camping infield, chugging a cold PBR nestled inside its Jimmie Johnson beer cozy, and listening to the roar of the 750 hp engines of 43 cars among lot-lizard-esque women and men with ZZ Top facial hair. Try and make it for the Pepsi 500.
9300 Cherry Av e . , F o n t a n a , 1-800- 944-RACE (7223).
Big Bear Lake and Big Bear Mountain - This is where everyone goes to snowboard. You can visit during off-season, too, and do the following things: go to the thrift shops that sell Harley Davidson hoodies, maybe go parasailing on the lake, take a tour on the Time Bandit pirate ship, check out Senor Hogs, or go to the cliquey Ren Faire. But what you really should do is make a special trip to the Bowling Barn—a bowling alley IN A BARN.
Mitchell Caverns in Essex - In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Jack Mitchell stumbled on these awesome caves. And thanks to Mr. Mitchell, you can now explore them with guided tours. No, it's not extreme cave diving or anything, but ask for the "old tour" and you'll get an interesting experience. Just make sure your fat ass can squeeze through some pretty tight places, and if you're claustrophobic, forget about it. We don't want your deadweight holding up our tour.
Route 66 Rendezvous - If you live in Southern California, you love cars. They're your life. You live in them, you're a slave to them, and you're judged by what kind you drive. You also completely lust after any and all cars involved in the Route 66 Rendezvous. Forties-era Ford trucks, Carrier work trucks in the burnout contest, '65 Chevy Novas, even the 70s Mustangs in the neon-light contest.
Downtown San Bernardino, www.route-66.org.
World's tallest thermometer in Baker - If you're out in the middle of nowhere at Mitchell Caverns, you might as well make a whole road trip out of it and visit the world's tallest thermometer. You can eat at Bob's Big Boy next door after you're through staring at the 134-foot-tall electric sign. What, you thought it was an actual thermometer? Sucker.