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Ontario, California Readies for the 2018 Small Market Meetings Conference

Ontario’s Attractions

Greater Ontario has an interesting history. It’s part of an area known as the Inland Empire, so named because of its agricultural roots that began in the late 1800s. Water from melted mountain snow flowed easily into the region and made growing fruits and vegetables a bonanza. “We were inland from the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles and became an empire because of the booming citrus industry,” said Oxarart. “There are also many historical sites in and around Ontario that pay homage to those days.”

A lot of people know Ontario Mills, which has 220 stores and is the largest shopping center in the western United States. The single-story outlet mall sits at the junction of two major freeways, so shoppers drive in from everywhere and make a day of the retail, restaurants and entertainment available. Visitors can take a break from shopping and relax in one of the two giant movie theaters. Together they offer 52 screens to watch, and moviegoers can generally walk right up and get a ticket and a good seat.

Tourists also enjoy the area’s entertainment options, which include comedy clubs; Dave and Buster’s, a family restaurant and arcade palace; and Rainforest Café, a restaurant with a jungle theme and animatronic animals.

Arts and culture thrive in Ontario, especially along historic Euclid Avenue, with its town square and amphitheater. There is a summer concert series and nearby antique stores and historic museums to visit.

The culinary movement is active in Ontario. The city is far enough away from Los Angeles that it has its own up-and-coming chefs who are making a name for themselves in their unique restaurants. The craft beer trend has also come alive in Ontario, particularly in some of the area’s industrial sections, making the breweries and pubs interesting and special. “The millennials, especially, love to explore that option,” Oxarart said.

The first registered winery in California is just north of the city in Rancho Cucamonga. In the early 1900s, the largest winery in the nation, the Vineyard, was nearby. Other local wineries offer lovely scenery and tasting tours.

Sports are big in Ontario. Citizens Business Bank Arena stages 200 annual events, including professional basketball, hockey and soccer. Rancho Cucamonga is home to the Quakes, the local professional baseball team and an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. NASCAR fans love Auto Club Speedway in nearby Fontana. Its big race earlier this year was the Monster Energy Drink NASCAR Cup Auto Club 400. There are track activities going on year-round, and groups can arrange to tour the track grounds.

Dan Dickson

Dan has been a communicator all his professional life, first as an award-winning radio and TV news reporter for two decades and then as a communications director for several non-profits for another decade. He has contributed to The Group Travel Leader Inc. publications since 2007.