Like most travelers, I have driven past Barstow many times on the way to Vegas, only to stop briefly for a stretch break without giving much thought into exploring the town. The town is situated in the middle of the desert and I never thought it had much to offer outside of the outlet mall and fast food arena.
This time, I decided to do something different. I decided to stay there overnight and found out that there are many scenic detours within Barstow that are well worth a visit.
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Barstow Amtrak Station
The Barstow Amtrak Station, aka the Harvey House, aka "Casa Del Desierto" is a National Historic Landmark built in 1911. Before there were outlet malls, Barstow was mostly known for being a major train junction due to its central location. This structure has an elegant presence in the middle of the desert. The architecture is done with arches, domes, and brick. This station is mostly deserted except for a Train Museum and Route 66 Museum. There are plenty of colorful vintage train engines to visit too.
Calico Ghost Town
This Ghost Town is about 20 minutes from Barstow and was definitely worth a trip. We originally reserved one hour to tour this ghost town, but it quickly turned into two hours and we begrudgingly had to leave even though there was plenty more to see.
I expected the ghost town to be a barren wasteland of old abandoned buildings, but instead it was more like the Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town. The town is a registered historic landmark and was once settled in 1881 as a silver mining town which has been completely recreated with a blacksmith house, schoolhouse, hotel, and saloon. It even featured an impromptu gun show with actors recreating the lifestyle of the 1800's silver boom. Visitors can go inside the actual silver mine (hardhats provided) and ride a train around the miner's village.
Next time you pass through Barstow, stay a while and check out these detours.
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.