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Both historic and modern, this Inland Empire city reveres its agricultural past while moving toward the future

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Despite a name more evocative of points north, the city of Ontario is Southern California through and through. Named by its founders for their native province in Canada, the onetime citrus community near the base of the towering San Gabriel Mountains has grown from its agricultural roots into a booming modern city with its own international airport.

This city in the heart of the Inland Empire is home to Ontario Mills, one of Southern California’s top outlet malls, with 200 stores including favorites such as Nike, Nordstrom Rack, and Sunglass Hut, as well as a 30-screen movie theater. You can also find information about nearby destinations, including Auto Club Speedway and the North Etiwanda Preserve, by visiting Ontario Mills’ California Welcome Center - Ontario.

Close to Ontario Mills, Toyota Arena seats 11,000 people and hosts a diverse range of major events. Both the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, and the Agua Caliente Clippers, the Los Angeles Clippers’ NBA G League squad, play here. Leading musical artists, from country star Carrie Underwood to heavy metal legends Metallica, have performed at the arena.

Ontario’s historic downtown is centered on Euclid Avenue, a stately boulevard divided by a landscaped median and lined by majestic trees and grand homes, a few dating to the 19th century. A fourteen-block stretch of Euclid is a designated historic district, and the avenue is especially spectacular during the annual Christmas on Euclid, a tradition featuring twinkling holiday lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, and 12 vintage nativity scenes.

Along Euclid, the Ontario Museum of History & Art is located in Ontario’s onetime city hall, a Mediterranean-style landmark built in 1937. The museum has exhibits that tell the story of the community’s past, and also showcases the works of leading regional artists. And just off Euclid, downtown’s Logan’s Candies has been tempting locals since 1933 with an array of irresistible treats: chocolate-covered strawberries, maple fudge, and handmade candy canes.

For a sense of Ontario’s agricultural heritage, the Graber Olive House dates to 1894 and is the city’s oldest continuously operating business. Times change—the olives are now grown in the San Joaquin Valley—but you can tour Graber’s historic cannery building, which is still in operation, and pick up gourmet items in the gift shop. The Inland Empire also has a long history of winemaking and the San Antonio Winery, now in its fourth generation of family ownership, is where you can discover award-winning varietals produced with grapes grown on the Central Coast and in the Napa Valley.

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