The largest American city to lie completely under sea level, El Centro, CA is an industrial center for transportation, retail, and agriculture. It also serves as a gateway for people flowing to and from Mexico. Stay with Choice Hotels and experience the border attractions that include:
A century ago, Punjab Indians settled in the Imperial Valley. You will learn about that migration and more at the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum, where various exhibits and galleries honor the different ethnic communities and the history of settlement in the area. A war memorial honors local women and men who served from the Civil War to Desert Storm.
For fun, head over to the Brunswick Zone for 36 lanes of bowling, four billiards tables, laser tag, video games, and more—even a dance floor! A full restaurant menu is available.
You do not have to be a birder to enjoy the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, located at the southern end of the Salton Sea and 227 feet below sea level. It is part of the Pacific Flyway, an important migration route for birds—and more than 400 species of birds have been recorded here. Come at any time, but the best migration viewing is between November and May.
El Centro is very close to an amazing natural phenomenon, the Algodones Dunes, which are a large accumulation of sand collected in the valleys between mountains and picked up by prevailing westerly winds. They are definitely worth a look—it is rare to find a place with absolutely no vegetation—and are a paradise if you enjoy using off-road vehicles.
If you are not an off-road enthusiast, then head north to the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, where a hike up Stonewall Peak will reward you with an amazing (and very windy) view of the park and Lake Cuyamaca. It’s a relatively easy hike on the east side with switchbacks and beautiful scenery at every turn. Bring plenty of water and park at the Paso Picacho Day Use area before crossing the street to get to the trailhead.
If you are feeling adventurous, then cross the border into Mexico and you will almost immediately find yourself in Mexicali. Right across from the tourist office is the Teatro del Estado, the Stadium Theater, where there is always a show of some sort. Concerts, plays, performance art, and films are offered year-round, and there is always room: the theater seats 1,100. Check out the Café Literario not just for coffee but for a retrospective film series as well.
The motto of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce is “Where the Sun Spends The Winter,” but you will be surrounded by desert beauty no matter when you visit. Check out the El Centro hotels below and book today!
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