Anyone who’s travelled to an unfamiliar area with the intention of experiencing as much as possible knows how invaluable the knowledge of a local can be. There is no better resource, and having it can make the difference between a mediocre trip and a truly memorable one.
It’s the mission of each of the 18 (soon-to-be 19) California Welcome Centers scattered throughout the state to enable all visitors to have the best experience possible, and they take that local-is-best approach to heart. Each one is staffed with personal travel concierges, knowledgeable experts who are ready to provide information that will enhance and enrich your visit no matter what your focus—the arts, local culture, family activities, sports, the great outdoors, shopping or all of the above. They’ll have advice on what and where to eat, where to stay and how to get there. Welcome Centers also offer free maps and brochures on local attractions, state and national parks in the area, and things to see and do.
From the North Coast to the Deserts, California’s Welcome Centers will help you to discover the best the Golden State has to offer. See below for more information on all of them, organised by region.
Shasta Cascade (Anderson)
Gold Country (Auburn, El Dorado Hills)
San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Santa Rosa)
High Sierra (Truckee, Mammoth Lakes)
High Sierra (Mammoth Lakes)
Central Valley (Merced)
Central Coast (Gilroy, Pismo Beach, Salinas)
Los Angeles County (Los Angeles)
Orange County (San Clemente)
Deserts (Barstow, Yucca Valley)
San Diego County (Oceanside)
Inland Empire (Ontario)
Coming in 2019:
San Diego County (San Diego Cross Border Express, 2745 Otay Pacific Drive)
Located at the south end of Shasta Outlets, the Anderson California Welcome Centre is operated by the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association. Stop in and discover all the recreational wonders of Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity counties, the eight eastern counties in northern California that together comprise the Shasta Cascade Region.
Come in for free maps, brochures and sightseeing information for National and State Parks including Lassen Volcanic National Park, McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Castle Crags State Park, and Whiskeytown National Recreational Area just to name a few. Browse great historic and informational exhibits, including our geocaching display, view wild trout in our waterfall pond, take your photo with Joe Tourist, our friendly mascot, or Ed our life-size bronze grizzly bear. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is available to assist you 7 days a week, 361 days a year.
Hours: Monday thru Friday 9 am to 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm
Placer County is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs, epicureans and history buffs alike. Though Placer County is famous for its rich Gold Rush history, there is as much “gold” in the modern day activities as the famous American River that flows through the canyons. In Placer County you can hike among pine trees, raft the glorious rivers, mountain bike in the endurance capital of the world and then picnic under live oaks with a bottle of Mediterranean style wine all in one day. If it is a leisurely pace you desire, sip wine at an award-winning winery in the central county communities of Auburn, Newcastle and Loomis, tee up at one of the many pristine golf courses or sail the emerald waters of North Shore Lake Tahoe. And finally, if history is what you are looking for, Placer County is rich with an abundance of museums and historic sites.
Allow our past to catch up with you as you visit the many antique shops and unique museums. Let a drive through the rich agricultural lands that will refresh and revitalise you. Feel pride in our history as you attend one of our fine festivals. Seek the quiet serenity of nature on one of the many wilderness peaks or the thrill of a lifetime as you ski down one of Lake Tahoe's mountains.
Outdoor enthusiasts thrill at the county's abundance of year-round recreational activities while others marvel at the array of galleries, theatres, musical and festival events. Shoppers love the large selection of boutiques, speciality shops and farmer's markets. Everyone enjoys the variety of restaurant choices from fine cuisine to family style dining and the range of lodging and accommodation from the luxurious to quaint and romantic.
Whether you come for lunch or a lifetime, we invite you to visit and discover Placer County for yourself.
Hours: Monday – Saturday from 9:30am – 4:30pm and Sunday from 11am – 4:30pm.
TThe California Welcome Center Barstow is located inside the Tanger Outlet Center off of I15, halfway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The staff at the California Welcome Center can provide you with great trip planning information as you visit our local area where you can shop, museum hop, hike, explore the Mojave Desert and visit the Old West at Calico Ghost Town or they can provide you with details and ideas for the rest of your stay in the Golden State. Barstow is the perfect place to stay since plenty of day trips are within two hours and we offer a vast array of hotels and motels, some right on historic Route 66.
Hours: Monday – Friday from 11am to 6pm.
With so much to see and do in the OC, a stopover at the California Welcome Center Buena Park is a must for visitors. Located in the historic Stage Stop Hotel, built in 1890, the hotel was once a popular overnight rest stop for stagecoach travellers and now continues its legacy of assisting Orange County visitors.
The charming town of Buena Park is home to the lovable Snoopy at Knott’s Berry Farm, Knott’s Soak City Waterpark, several interactive dinner shows –Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and Teatro Martini, Los Coyotes Interpretive Center and the Nutrilite Health Institute.
The center’s friendly staff can assist travellers with driving directions and dining and local landmark recommendations. Visitors can also pick up free city maps, destination travel guides, attraction brochures, computer and internet access, purchase California merchandise and book last minute hotel rooms.
Save time and money by getting your discounted attraction tickets at Southern California Ticket & Tour Center, located inside the California Welcome Center. Conveniently open 7 days a week, they offer a variety of ticket options including Go Los Angeles Cards. Don’t wait in long lines—get your tickets ahead of time at the Center!
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm, Sunday 9 am - 12 pm
To grasp California’s true gold, you can escape to the foothills for outdoor recreation. Experience the magic at Lake Tahoe, surrounded by world famous ski-resorts with legendary snow in winter, with arts, music and festivals in summer. Hike to a swimming hole, four wheel on the Rubicon or shop in El Dorado Hills' Town Center – this region has everything to make your California visit unforgettable.
The California Welcome Center in El Dorado Hills is conveniently located right off of US Highway 50 in Town Center. The friendly staff can help you find local restaurants, book hotel rooms near and far and provide your furry friend a respite in its pet friendly location.
Hours: Monday – Friday from 9:30am – 5pm and Saturday – Sunday 10am – 4pm.
Mammoth Lakes’ motto is, ‘Come as you are. Do what you love.’ This applies to the surrounding area as well. As the gateway to California’s natural wonders located in the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth Lakes is a great base camp and information hot spot for travellers.
During the summer, the most popular reasons people visit the area is to take in the natural sightseeing, hike, participate in other outdoor sports like fishing and biking, and learn about mining history. The Mammoth Lakes area also has a robust summer festival season. During the winter, Mammoth Mountain is the main attraction in the area for skiing and snowboarding, along with other outdoor snow activities.
The California Welcome Center located in Mammoth Lakes is unique. This Center is a collaboration of multiple agencies to provide the best possible information to travellers. These partners include: US Forest Service, National Park Service, Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Eastern Sierra Interpretive Center. In addition to information and referrals, this center also issues backcountry permits, sells local and educational-based souvenirs and leases bear boxes.
Access is easy. Take the scenic and not so curvy US 395 or fly! The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is only 10 minutes from Mammoth Lakes. Flights are available year-round on Alaska Airlines, and during the winter on United Airlines.
Opening hours: daily 8 AM - 5 PM
Spend a day, the night, or better yet the weekend. Merced is a unique city, filled with warm, friendly people who instantly make visitors feel welcome. Merced offers a wide variety of attractions, historical sites, accommodations and dining opportunities that are sure to please. Merced is the Gateway to Yosemite. Whether summer, autumn, winter or spring, Yosemite is picture perfect whenever you visit Merced.
Try planning your trip around one of the areas great events. Visit the California Welcome Center for information on the Merco Cycling Classic which brings world-class riders from around the globe to Merced each spring. Kiki Raina Tahiti Fete, the longest existing, annually held Tahitian Dance and Cultural Festival outside of French Polynesia, is held in Merced each March.
Art and culture are thriving is this proud community. From the galleries at our Multicultural Art Center to the live performances at Playhouse Merced there is something for everyone! Come play, stay and experience Merced!
A classic Southern California beach town, Oceanside’s central location offers visitors an ideal place to stay and experience California’s casual spirit. With 3.5 miles/5.6 kilometres of sandy beach, a quaint New England-style harbour, California’s longest wooden pier and a stellar year-round climate, Oceanside is an ideal place for enjoying active pursuits including surfing, kayaking, boating, fishing, bike-riding and more. The city also boasts a number of important cultural attractions including Mission San Luis Rey (The King of Missions), the California Surf Museum and the Oceanside Museum of Art.
Hours: open seven days a week from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm
The Greater Ontario area hosts some of the very best in extreme sports, quiet retreats and spas and is home to some of California’s ultimate shopping and dining opportunities. The city is the gateway to experiencing Southern California gems such lush green vineyards and Prado Regional Park to the South. While a short drive North brings you to historic desert communities and the California Route 66 museum.
Eastern travellers seeking serenity can experience mountain resorts near Big Bear Lake or take on the thrill of NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. And a short drive brings visitors to the biggest and the best of entertainment with California’s premier theme parks waiting to be explored.
The California Welcome Center – Ontario is located at the Ontario Mills Premium Mall and is excited to assist with planning your Southern California vacation with Greater Ontario being your home away from home. We look forward to your visit!
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10AM-9PM, Sunday 10AM-8PM
NOTE: The California Welcome Center in Pismo Beach is temporarily closed. Visitor services are available at our Welcome Centers to the north in Gilroy and Salinas or to the south in Los Angeles.
Pismo Beach California Welcome Center offers Public Telephone, Restrooms, Picnic Area, Internet/E-mail, Refreshments, Travel Information/Brochures, Maps, Hotel Information and Referrals, Nearby Restaurants, RV Parking Handicapped Access, and a Lounge.
Shop the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets which offers over 40 brand-name stores for your shopping convenience. Enjoy Hearst Castle, see the Elephant seals, cruise the State Dunes with over 115 kilometres of beach, watch The Great American Melodrama, browse the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market, eat at the famous Splash Cafe & Hoagies. Stay on the beach at the Sea Venture, the Cliffs, The Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge, Dolphin Bay, Pismo Lighthouse suites, The Spyglass Inn & then enjoy a romantic evening dinning at Lido, Marisol, and Guiseppe’s.
Take a wine tour through our incredible San Luis Obispo County Wine Country visiting Claiborne & Churchill, Sextant, Kelsey, Edna Valley Vineyard wineries. Tour the Paso Robles Wine Country with over 105 wineries rolling through the hills of beautiful Paso Robles. Jump on a wine tour with Breakaway Tours, Silverado Tours, Wine Wrangler and 101 Wine Tours.
Hours: Monday - Saturday from 10 am – 9 pm and Sunday from 10 am - 7 pm
Discover beautiful Salinas California, the gateway to the Monterey Bay in Steinbeck Country, where you'll find historic sites, unspoiled farmland, world-class wines, a quaint, historic downtown, and some of the friendliest people around. Author John Steinbeck was born here, so visit his boyhood home as well as the National Steinbeck Center while you're here. Salinas is famous as the Salad Bowl of the World for agriculture and our fresh, home-grown produce is available internationally. We have the best year-round climate in the entire North American continent, and some of the cleanest air in the United States of America!
Salinas' hospitality blends yesterday's charm with today's modern conveniences. Visitors can explore the beauty of nearby Monterey Bay beaches, historic missions of San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Carmel, and San Antonio de Padus and wineries of South Monterey County, Carmel Valley and Pinnacles National Monument.
Local attractions include more than 50 beaches, 60 plus parks, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Giant Redwoods of Big Sur and Santa Cruz, Gilroy Gardens Amusement Park, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a variety of history and art museums.
The area plays host numerous festivals, some celebrating agricultural heritage, such as the Artichoke Festival, Garlic Festival and Strawberry Festival as well as a great many music festivals like the world famous Monterey Jazz Festival, Blues Festival, and Bach Festival.
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm, Saturday – Sunday 10am – 4pm
Come visit and explore the Bay Area. San Francisco, the City by the Bay, not only offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay but an abundance of family fun and cultural experiences. Stop in to one of three California Welcome Centers in this region. Visit PIER 39 and the California Welcome Center to find free tourist information on all that California has to offer. The San Mateo California Welcome Center is located just minutes from San Francisco and San Francisco
International Airport. Just 55 miles north of San Francisco the California Welcome Center Santa Rosa serves all the wine country including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Marin Counties.
Explore through crystal clear tunnels at The Aquarium of the Bay to see marine life and don't forget to drop by the Welcome Center for free tourist information.
The California Welcome Center in Santa Rosa is conveniently located just off Highway 101 in the Railroad Square Historical District. It is housed in a beautifully restored 1904 train depot alongside the tracks for Amtrak and the future SMART rail project. The building’s importance to the quaint Railroad Square is that of a focal point for the local railway history and an important resource for visitors and the community. The depot houses the North-western Pacific train museum featuring railway artefacts and interactive displays.
The Center is within walking distance from a variety of fine hotels, as well as dining choices ranging from quirky independent coffee shops to first-class restaurants. There is a multitude of charming retail shops surrounding the depot offering a wide selection of goods.
Open seven days a week, the Center offers an array designer clothes, locally-made gifts and souvenirs, in addition to travel information, maps and brochures.
- Concierge Services
- Free maps, guides and brochures
- Gift Shop – selling local souvenirs
- Handicapped Access
- Hotel Bookings
- Nearby Restaurants
- Nearby Hotels
- Public Telephone
- Public Bathrooms
- RV Parking/Bus Parking
A charming mountain town with a rich history, Truckee is known as a welcoming, family oriented community that attracts adventurous people with a passion for the outdoors and the environment.
Truckee’s quaint downtown is the heart and soul of this community, with unique restaurants and shops set in authentic historic buildings.
Truckee is centrally located within minutes of six world-class ski resorts, epic golf courses, lakes, reservoirs, streams for water sports or fishing, hike and bike trails, mountain bike park and pump track, action sports camps and more!
Whether you are here in pursuit of adventure, to partake in Truckee’s “foodie” scene, enjoy the multitude of special events that take place all year or just relax and enjoy the blue skies and amazing smell of the pine trees, Truckee welcomes you.
Hours: Open seven days a week 9am - 5:30pm
Often referred to as the “gateway” to California’s outback, the Morongo Basin is conveniently situated just a short drive to some of Southern California’s great outdoor destinations. With the majestic Joshua Tree National Park on its southern border, the basin communities play host year-round to visitors and outdoor recreation enthusiasts from all over the world. The unique natural surroundings of the Joshua Tree National Park have made it a favorite destination for rock climbers, hikers, campers, photographers and natural enthusiasts!! The region’s California Welcome Center is found on State Route 62 in Yucca Valley and offers information and resources for the California Desert Visitor. From Idyllwild to Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, from Palm Springs to Big Bear, our courteous Ambassadors at our Center will show you where to eat, where to stay, and where to play while you're in our Basin and Southern California.
Hours: Monday thru Friday from 9 am – 4 pm, Saturday from 9 am - 2 pm and Sunday from 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm.