A trove of dis­cov­er­ies in un­der-the-radar So­cal home base

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY CHRIS­TINE DELSOL

ON­TARIO IS KNOWN pri­mar­ily as an al­ter­na­tive home base away from the chaos of LAX, strato­spheric ho­tel rates in LA and the beach cities, and leg­endary free­way conges­tion. But once they land at pain-free On­tario In­ter­na­tional Air­port, vis­i­tors soon find the un­her­alded his­toric spots, shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment of On­tario and its sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, dubbed Greater On­tario, well worth seek­ing out.

The Sunkist wa­ter tower south of down­town harks back to On­tario’s ori­gin in 1882, when the Chaf­fey broth­ers founded the model town­ship and named it af­ter their home prov­ince in Canada. That era lives on in On­tario’s Mu­seum of His­tory and Art and at the Graber Olive House, where the same fam­ily has used the same recipe since 1894. More re­cent his­tory en­dures at the quaint Lo­gan’s Can­dies shop, fa­mous for candy canes it has made the same way since 1933 (in­clud­ing a record-break­ing six-footer). For more glimpses of the past, get the His­toric Down­town On­tario self-guided walk­ing tour map at on­tar­i­oca.gov.

Next door in Ran­cho Cu­ca­monga (where leg­endary Route 66 runs right through town on the way to its ter­mi­nus at Santa Mon­ica) is the ex­quis­ite home of Sam Maloof, per­haps the most renowned fur­ni­ture de­signer of the post­war pe­riod. Twice-weekly guided tours show why Maloof in­sisted on call­ing him­self sim­ply a wood­worker—his crafts­man­ship shines in ev­ery de­tail.

On­tario claims the largest con­cen­tra­tion of movie screens west of the Mis­sis­sippi, while Cit­i­zens Busi­ness Bank Arena hosts acts rang­ing from Lucha Li­bre to the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers to Cirque du Soleil to Mi­randa Lam­bert. More in­ti­mate en­ter­tain­ment can be found at the Lewis Fam­ily Playhouse and the Im­prov at On­tario Mills, which hosts top com­edy acts.

Shop­pers can choose from more than 200 stores and en­ter­tain­ment venues at On­tario Mills, or find a change of pace at Ran­cho Cu­ca­monga’s Vic­to­ria Gar­dens. Its an­chor stores are sur­rounded by small shops ar­ranged as city blocks with a pedes­trian walk­way lead­ing to a cul­tural cen­ter in­clud­ing a the­ater and city li­brary.

While Greater On­tario en­joys its prox­im­ity to scenic moun­tain and desert land­scapes, one of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s stand­out nat­u­ral sites is in its own back­yard: Ran­cho Santa Ana in Clare­mont claims the largest botanic gar­den ded­i­cated to Cal­i­for­nia na­tive plants, me­an­der­ing through nat­u­ral ter­rain.

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