So you've parked the Tesla at the SuperCharger and you need to hit the loo. Or you just want to stretch your legs. Or you are driving through town and your kids need a break. Or you are headed to the Alabama Hills and you want to pre-load some historical context around the film sets you'll see there. Regardless, the unimposing Museum of Western Film History is a 10/10 stop in Lone Pine -- a hidden gem for all audienes that should not be missed.
This small, but visually intense museum offers plenty of entertainment to fill an hour or two, including a movie overview of the history of film in the area, introductions to legends of film from silent to modern, immersive displays, and meaningful memorabilia.
The docents are have a wealth of local info about the film and general history of the area, and they offer pamphlets and self-guided tour books for those headed on to the 'back lot' of the Alamaba Hills. You can access some of this info through the museum website.
If you're backpacking in the area, the museum offers long-term parking.
Wondering where to eat or what else there is to do around Lone Pine? Check out our article Lone Pine Top Stops.
Need a Tesla charge and wondering what to do while you wait? Need a snack? Wanna stretch your legs before you press on down the loneliest road in America? (Let's face it, there are parts of 395 that are as desolate as they come). Lone Pine is a quintessential western town where you never know what you'll see. It is a great stop for food, Tesla charging, sightseeing, and more.
Click on the photo for more info about our favorite food stops in town: Frosty Chalet, Subway, the Grill, and Lone Pine Smokehouse
Thing to do in and around town
Whether you want to spend an afternoon or a few days, Lone Pine has plenty to do to keep you busy. Click on the photo to read more.
Like many kids of my generation, I spent most of my youth oblivious to the injustice done to Japanese Americans during World War II. And when I did learn of it as a college student, I remember my shock to learn that the US government could detain citizens in remote, isolated, relocation camps. When I moved to California and learned about Manzanar's Visitor's Center and exhibits, I was anxious to take my kids to visit.
Plunked down and fenced in just off a lonely stretch of 395, Manzanar is a bleak place, and it is not hard to imagine the loss and desolation these Americans must have felt on arrival. Almost nothing of the original camp remains, but a committed group of descendants and goverment organizations are working to recreate and restore the camp and museum. Barracks have been rebuilt to paintakingly reanimate the experience of the people interned and the museum includes interactive, immersive, engaging educational activites.
Because this was a fairly large town, though, the grounds are expansive and many areas can be accessed by driving through the camp and stopping occasionally to explore. There are relics of the Japanese's people's everday lives including enchanting gardens that are a testiment to the gracious spirit, competitive drive, and love of beauty they enjoyed.
If you're thinking this sounds like a drag, and not something you want to experience while you're on vacation, you're so wrong. While we were there, my family hiked, explored, imagined, listened, watched, discussed and engaged. And when we left, we were filled with pride and compassion for the resilient, passionate, gracious people we felt we had come to know through their stories.
I'm not usually one for grand speeches, but .... this stop along the 395 gives you a great opportunity to engage your kids about the Constitution, fear, war time decisions, the world as it is now. As terrible as Japanese interment was, my family coud not help but be impressed by the stories of the residents, their gardening competitions, the "fishing club," their many churches and activities, and their weeks long trips into the Sierras fishing for trout. There is a lot to admire about the indomitable spirit of the people who endured internment.
Looking for a perfect stop to get the wiggles out or to have a picnic? Check out the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery. Located just a few hundred yards off 395, the hatchery offers leg-stretching activity for kids and kids at heart.
As you turn from the stark, desolate 395 to climb a few hundred yards to the hatchery, the access road opens to reveal classical architecture and a lush, wild-life-filled pond of the The Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery.
For nearly a a hundred, the hatchery provided fresh trout to the Eastern Sierra. But after environmental setbacks in the early 21st century, the hatchery shifted its focus to education and preservation of the areas natural resources.
Now it provides the perfect place for families or couples to relax in the shade, even on the warmest Sierra summer day. Take a tour, feed the fish, check out the exhibits. Or simply relax under a shade tree and soak in the architecture and natural beauty, framed by the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Sure, let's be honest. Mojave seems like just a little crossroads town with a prominent display of lycra leggings (and now masks), billboards you don't want your kids to read, and tons of questionably-safe options for cheap gas.
But Mojave is also home to an international test pilot school, some of the most exciting space and aviation test going on, an eerie airplane boneyard, a bank of Tesla superchargers, and a fantastic Thai restaurant. It also happens to be where, in 2017 and 16 years old, my son did his first solo in an airplane built by his grandfather in the 1970s.
Driving through Mojave can be tricky ... traffic is usually pretty heavy with tired travelers, dusty trucks, and impatient aviation employees. It is also a well-known speed trap. So slow down and take a minute to look around at the interesting and somewhat bizarre sights along the way.
The airport is open to traffic, but most aerospace hangars and offices are not accessible and not open to visitors. You can see the boneyard from the 14 as you pass to the north of the airport.
There are a couple of decent options for dining in Mojave. Mojave Thai Cuisine is a favorite of the test community who work in the area, and the airport also has a traditional diner called the Voyager, which is fun for adults and kids alike and offers a ring side seat for the flightline.