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Best Places To Explore in the Inland Empire

One of my favorite parts about blogging is sharing with you some of the most unique and unusual places to spend a day or weekend exploring in Southern California.  Today, I take you back out to the Inland Empire to discover 2 MORE great places to visit either on a school field trip or with your family.

Fortcross Wilderness Education, Cherry Valley


Archery at Fortcross Wilderness Education

Last September, Celebration Education kicked off their school year with a field trip to Fortcross Wilderness Education located within the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.  When you visit Fortcross you feel like you have stepped back in time.   In fact, one of the employees named TJ Black, lives on the mountain full time and is a true mountain man!  He lives with no power and is often accompanied by his blind horse Bridger, who can only see with TJ on his back.

Fortcross Wilderness Education’s purpose is to educate, inform, and experience nature through the use of hands on activities.  They offer a variety of day trips, overnight camping and guided tours.

Panning for gold at Fortcross Wilderness Education

Specifically, our students went on the Native American tour where they participated in acorn grinding, tomahawk throwing, bow and arrow making, swimming in the lake and taking a canoe ride.  We were there from 9 am to 3 pm and could have stayed longer.

Fortcross Wilderness Education also hosts monthly U-pick fruit and vegetables tours.  The cost is $25 person and includes fruit, a guided nature hike, t-hawk throwing, archery, canoeing and musical entertainment.

Apple picking at Fortcross Wilderness Education

Apple picking at Fortcross Wilderness Education

Their monthly U-pick schedule is as follows:

  • January thru April – Mushroom Hunt
  • May – Strawberries
  • June – Cherries
  • July thru September – Raspberries & Blackberries
  • October – Apples
  • November – Beautiful Scenery and Fall Leaves
  • December – Mistletoe

To learn more about Fortcross Wilderness Education’s story and living history tours visit

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center, Jurupa

Field Trip Boy at The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

Field Trip Boy at The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

Last spring, my kids and I went with my friend’s homeschool co-op to The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center in Jurupa.  When you visit Jurupa imagine pure dessert.  It is very hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

We went on their Rock Collecting at the Dinosaurs tour and collected some very interesting rocks.  We learned about minerals, how rocks and fossils were formed, saw giant dinosaurs as we hiked up to the dinosaur mesa and collected 12 rock and mineral specimens to take home.

Field Trip Girl and Field Trip Boy collecting rocks at The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

After our rock collecting tour, we visited their museum which includes specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils from around the world.  Inside they have the largest Dinosaur Egg Collection from China on display in United States, a Mining display, Fluorescent Mineral display, Crestmore Quarry display and much more.

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center in The Inland Empire

The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sundays 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  Also every Saturday is Family Day at the JMDC!

The center’s field trip options include:

  • Gold Panning (With Gold & Pyrite)
  • Introductory Lapidary*
  • Fossil Shack
  • Archaeology Dig
  • Geology of California*
  • Rock Collecting at the Dinosaurs (their most popular)
  • Indian Pictograph
  • California Rockhound
  • Dinosaur Dig
  • Adobe
  • Brick Making
  • Magic of Minerals

So the next time you have a free weekend, think about traveling to the Inland Empire for some exploration and fun!

Happy Field Tripping!


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