SoCal Families | San Bernardino County Museum

By: Megan McClain


It’s not anywhere you can dress up as a sheriff, crank up a car by hand or explore prehistoric sea life, but at the San Bernardino County Museum, my sons have been enjoying that and much more.

The San Bernardino County Museum has been open since 1957 and in its Redlands location since 1974. It has been providing opportunities for local schoolchildren to tour their history while offering visitors a cool place to visit in the summer (the lowest level is always the coldest, FYI). It is centered on local and southwestern cultural and natural history, including a large plant garden and exhibits featuring travel through the area and beautiful collections from the Mojave, Vanyume, Serrano and Gabrielino tribes in the Hall of History.


We’ve had a membership to the museum the last few years and have been taking my boys since they could walk. We have also been enjoying the many changes the museum has gone through the last couple of years as well. Walking up to the museum, there are two different areas that provide shade and seating for a picnic lunch. The front entrance has a large shaded area with plastic tables, and grass and is mostly separated from the large cactus garden. In the back, you'll find picnic tables and enough area for kids to run out some energy before making your way into the museum. I'm always sure to bring a stroller to help control my little guy, who gets a kick out of some of the museum, he usually ends up running around screaming. Toddlers, right?


Easily my elder son’s favorite exhibit is the Hall of Geological Wonders' “Fossils Afoot,” which features fossils and models of dinosaur, fish and mammal life from the immediate area. On weekends, we’ve seen people working on fossils in the lab. Be sure to head all the way around the exhibition to check out a giant globe. We also always head down the stairs passed the two ramps full of gemstones, crystals and rock specimens to the Mammal Hall, where a polar bear tormented me in my earlier years (it took me forever to walk up to that window!). There are a lot of animals in there from the local region including bears, deer and coyotes, as well as those all the way to Alaska and the Artic. There are also many reptile windows.


One of the fun changes that families can enjoy are the “Remember Ramps,” which lead from the mail lobby up to the bird hall exhibits.  These ramps include items such as typewriters and calculators, and they are intended for people to share with their families about growing up with that technology. Outside the museum, which you can access by going down a ramp there Exploration Station, you can find live animals including giant cockroaches, snakes and mice. Currently, the museum is featuring a mountain man exhibit in the Hall of History, featuring Jebediah Smith, the first American to enter California using an overland route, as well as a display of Navajo textiles entitled “Spider Woman’s Legacy.”

The San Bernardino County Museum along with various museum sites have a large variety of lectures, family events and special exhibits, so check out the events calendar, and follow them on Facebook to keep in the know. Yearly, the museum hosts special events such as a model-train weekend (our personal favorite) and pioneering activities. On May 30th, the main branch will have a “Sheep to Shawl” event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also has a day camp open for registration, and days where families can drop in to check out the fun.


San Bernardino County Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military or seniors, $7 for students, and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Memberships are available and highly encouraged! They have member-only nights to preview exhibits and partake in extra fun.


For more posts featuring family fun ideas in the Inland Empire check out other features in our SoCal Families section.