You know how they say that the mountains or the beach is only an hour away when you live in Southern California? Well, as it turns out, if you go just once more hour you can also get to a real ghost town! We took the kids on a Calico Ghost Town day trip last month and we had such a great time. It was adventurous, educational and we caught picturesque moments that we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t ventured out further into California.
Calico Ghost Town is known as California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town. It’s located off of Route 66 somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. First established during the largest silver strike in California, it was a bustling town around the 1881 until about 12 years later when the price of silver dropped and everyone left town. Interestingly enough, it was Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm) that bought the town and refurbished some of it. Since then, Calico has received State Historical Landmark 782 and became “California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town” by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Calico Ghost Town makes for a great family trip because there’s something for everyone, kids of all ages can enjoy it, and you’ll come across tons of unique places to discover and peek into to. There are plenty of restrooms, eateries, and spots to just chill out and relax.
One of our favorite spots was the old school house at the top of the hill. You have to cross this little bridge to get to it, and inside it’s set up as school houses used to be. The kids got a kick out of learning about what school was like, and looking inside to see all the desks set up like they were. They couldn’t believe that kids of all ages were put in the same classroom! And a chalkboard? Yeah, that had to be explained.
We also took them to the top of another hill that overlooks Calico. You can see the train passing through the mountains, the restaurants, cemetery, school house – basically everything. It’s a great place to take pictures too. The top of the mountain is a bit rocky and uneven, so make note of that and make sure to bring your closed-toe shoes.
We picked up a few souvenirs at their gift shops, enjoyed treats like their old fashioned sodas (and yeah, I picked up a coffee too) and headed out after a day at Calico Ghost Town happy to have discovered a location that we hope to return to one day. As we drove out, we saw many people camping in their RVs out by the front of the town. They also have a KOA available for travelers. We went in April, so the weather was perfect. When you visit, I recommend dressing comfortably and bring a light sweater. It does get warm. Also, it’s a popular spot for tourists (and tour stops) as well as school groups, so definitely try to get there early.
p.s. many of the silver mines are closed off – but you can view them through the wired fence. The town is also known for ghost sightings, and if that’s your thing, I suggest you check out the Calico Ghost Town ghost tour.
To get a more detailed account of our visit, visit Travelocity.com where we share our stop-by-stop itinerary.
Calico Ghost Town
36600 Ghost Town Road
Yermo, CA 92398
I-15 at Ghost Town Road Exit
Open daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except Christmas Day
Fax: (760) 254-2047
Online Camping Reservations: http://www.sbcountyparks.com
Central Reservation: 1-877-387-2757