Known as the “The City in the Country,” due to its inland geographic location, lack of urban culture, and large open spaces, Poway approximately twenty miles from downtown San Diego.
Visitors to the areas can enjoy nearby Museums, Zoos, Parks, Arenas, and Botanical Gardens, including the Stuart Collection, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Pasqual Battlefield State Historical Park, and Old Poway Park, all within easy driving distance while taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the surrounding wilderness areas.
A good place to start your trip would be to visit the Poway Historical and Memorial Society, located in the Heritage Museum at the Old Poway Park. The society serves as a repository for many Poway historical artifacts and memorabilia.
While touring Old Poway Park on a vintage 1907 Baldwin No. 3 Steam Locomotive, 1894 Los Angeles Yellow Trolley Car, or 1950 Fairmont Speeder, you may want to disembark and check out the museum. Though small in size, it offers insightful exhibits that highlight Poway’s early history.
Trains rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, except on the 2nd Sunday of each month which is a quiet day. The Steam Locomotive runs on the 1st & 3rd weekends of each month. Speeder or Trolley rides on the last weekend of the month. Train ride schedule is subject to change. Please call (858) 668-4576 for the latest information.
Museum exhibits change frequently, so you are likely to see entirely new displays if you have visited the museum recently. Poway Midland Railroad is located in Old Poway Park. The railroad is operated by volunteers and runs weekends except for the second Sunday of each month.
Visitors to the park can also tour the historic Nelson House and several other historic buildings, including an operating blacksmiths shop, enjoy a peaceful picnic or barbeque in the Green Park picnic area, or grab lunch dinner at the Hamburger Factory.
The museum is only open on weekends, but tours can be arranged by appointment. Before you leave, check out the museum store that sells various items, including books, coffee mugs, and collectible knives. It is a great opportunity to take home a piece of your Poway experience. Old Poway Park Address: 14134 Midland Rd, Poway, CA 92064. website.
Once you’ve learned a little about the area’s history, it’s time to hit the open-air experiences that the area has to offer. Lake Poway is a great place to kick off the day. The lake serves as a trailhead for San Diego County’s best hiking trails, including the popular Mount Woodson Trail.
There is a large grassy area for picnicking and pits for barbecues. Daily fishing permits and state licenses may be purchased at the lake concession, as well as a tackle if you don’t have your own. Anglers can also rent a boat here or launch their own.
This is a nicely marked trail with signs stating how many more miles until you reach the peak, which is three miles from the bottom of the lake. There are three other trails along the way to Mount Woodson if you want to expand the experience. Lake Poway address 14644 Lake Poway Road Poway, CA 92064. website.
Once atop Mount Woodson, avid rock climbers will enjoy one of the area’s premier climbing spots. One of the most popular hiking destinations is Potato Chip Rock. The hike takes about 2.2 hours up and 40 minutes down. The reward is a picture of you and your friends standing. On weekends there can be an hour wait for a pic on the rock.
Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
Another hiker’s delight is the northerly route, where you can pick up the trail either to the left of the concession store or from behind the City’s workshop. This one-mile trek drops you down behind the dam and close to the camp leading into Blue Sky Ecological Preserve. The Preserve boasts its own set of hiking trails and connects to a 1.5-mile up steady but never too steep incline to beautiful Lake Ramona. Address: 16275 Espola Rd, Poway, CA 92064. website.
Finally, if you’re looking to turn your day trip into an extended stay, there are plenty of overnight accommodations, including hotels, motels, RV parks, and campgrounds.