Historic Downtown Redlands

Historic Downtown Redlands, San Bernardino, California (A)

The Historic Downtown Redlands walking tour takes visitors on a tour of historic sites not found anywhere west of the Mississippi River in the United States. The tour includes the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, the largest collection of memorabilia on the American Civil War in the Western U.S.; the unique U.S. Post Office Museum; and the Redlands Bowl. The tour also includes interesting boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Historic Downtown Redlands
Guide Location: USA » San Bernardino
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Author: Daniel Coats
Author Bio: I am a lifetime resident of Southern California and know the Orange County and Inland Empire regions by heart. I'm currently a college student and donate my time volunteering with the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • University of Redlands
  • Open Kitchen
  • Redlands Santa Fe Depot
  • State Street
  • A.K. Smiley Library
  • Lincoln Memorial Shrine
  • U.S. Post Office
  • Redlands Bowl
University of Redlands

1) University of Redlands

The University of Redlands is a prestigious private four-year university with a student enrollment of 4,500. It was founded in 1907 and many of the buildings on its 160 acres are from the early Twentieth Century, making it an excellent introduction to this historic area. Visitors can visit the University of Redlands Library, watch one of the many athletic events (more information on this at www.goredlands.com), take in a performing arts event, or just take a leisurely stroll along the palm-lined Colton Avenue, the main road through the campus. Please be aware that only certain parking areas are accessible without a student permit and parking regulations are strictly enforced; please park only in designated visitor parking.
Open Kitchen

2) Open Kitchen

A tasty and inexpensive dining experience in the middle of Downtown Redlands, Open Kitchen offers Chinese cuisine with no MSG and is easy on the spices, making it a healthy choice for people with dietary limitations. Especially tasty is the sesame chicken, crunchy chicken cooked in their special sweet and sour sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled atop. Combination plates cost $5.98 and come with soup, an eggroll, and either steamed or fried rice. The establishment has been serving the Redlands community since June 2000 and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. More information, including a complete menu, is available at www.open-kitchen.net.
Redlands Santa Fe Depot

3) Redlands Santa Fe Depot

No longer a working train station, the Redlands Santa Fe Depot was an important stop for travelers on the transcontinental rail line from Los Angeles to the East Coast in years gone by. The depot has been preserved in excellent condition and, with comfortable benches with a canopy above, is a great rest stop on a hot day. The area surrounding the train depot is the Redlands Santa Fe Depot Historic District, an area designated by the City of Redlands made up of twenty-six buildings that were built between 1888 and 1946 and made up the heart of this community at the time.
State Street

4) State Street

A very walkable outdoor shopping district, State Street has retail shops, restaurants, and services that will be of interest to people of all ages. Of particular interest here are several jewelers, including Ozel Jewelers, Wilson Jewelers, Smith Jewelers, and Redlands Jewelers. Also visit some of the excellent antique shops, including Redlands Estate Sale Consignments, and Redlands Galleria. There is a selection of clothing boutiques and Frugal Frigate Children’s Books, which has some good values. Royal Falconer British Pub and Restaurant offers a little taste of the British Isles in this interesting shopping district. Most shops are open banking hours, often including weekends.
A.K. Smiley Library

5) A.K. Smiley Library

From the outside, it may be obscured by overgrown trees, but the A.K. Smiley Library is a unique experience in Southern California. It is a regular stop for students of architecture, who admire its unique turn-of-the-century architectural style and its interesting paintings and sculptures inside. This building was constructed in 1898 and has served as the city’s main public library ever since. On a more practical level, the basement of the library has a Friends of the Library Book Shop that offers a great selection of books, DVDs, CDs, videos, and cassette tapes for excellent prices, mostly $1.50 or less. It has an especially good selection of textbooks from area colleges and high schools. Open Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lincoln Memorial Shrine

6) Lincoln Memorial Shrine

Located directly behind the A.K. Smiley Library, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine is purported to have the largest collection of Civil War era memorabilia west of the Mississippi River, including a bust of Abraham Lincoln, cannons and other period weaponry, authentic letters and photographs from the era, and a large collection of books for researchers on the Civil War and its effects. The shrine was constructed in 1932 by architect Elmer Grey and underwent a major expansion in 1998. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. It is also the site of a variety of special events, including the Inland Empire Civil War Roundtable.
U.S. Post Office

7) U.S. Post Office

The U.S. Post Office may not sound like a typical visitor attraction, but in Redlands, it is, as it not only is a working post office, but also is the site of the Redlands Post Office Museum, housed in the former office of the local postmaster. The building was built in the Mission/Spanish revival style in 1935, though many of the artifacts in the museum significantly predate this. See antique scales made to weigh mail as well as uniforms and bags used by mailmen in those bygone days. This is the only postal museum in the entire United States other than the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., so it’s definitely worth a look.
Redlands Bowl

8) Redlands Bowl

The Redlands Bowl is host to special events throughout the year, most notably the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival held every June to August. It is the oldest continuous free music concert series offered by a municipality in the United States. The open-air facility is also host to the Redlands Shakespeare Festival as well as various performing arts events throughout the year. Even without a special event, the Redlands Bowl is an interesting architectural site to see. It has excellent acoustics and has an outstanding seating layout that allows the entire audience to have a full view of the stage. For more information on events, see www.redlandsbowl.org.