Day 1: Book a downtown walking tour with the “LA Cowboy,”Brady Westwater (213-804-8396). Be sure to ask for “The hidden Wild West history of L.A.” Then, check out the not-so-hidden history at Will Rogers State Historic Park, where you can tour the ranch, take in movies, go on guided trail rides, and in the warmer months, catch a few polo matches on the weekends (310-454-8212, parks.ca.gov). The Autry National Center also maintains a superb cache of Western history and will offer the much-anticipated Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West exhibition in April (323-667-2000, theautry.org). Return to downtown for a meal at Pacific Dining Car—in operation since 1921, the business literally started in a railway car and is now managed by its fourth-generation owners (213-483-6000, pacificdiningcar.com).
Day 2: In April, be sure to hit up the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival for some top-drawer poetry, music, food, and entertainment (661-250-3735, cowboyfestival.org). Otherwise, another impressive equine facility is the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, where there is more trail riding, as well as a little shopping (818-840-9063, la-equestriancenter.com). To wet your whistle after hitting the trails, the not-to-miss cowboy bar in L.A. is the Cowboy Palace Saloon, filming location of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar (818-341-0166, cowboypalace.com). Then, to Taylor’s Steak House for one of the best steaks in town (818-790-7668, taylorssteakhouse.com).
Day 3: It’s a little-known fact that the Earp clan maintained strong ties to L.A., but a visit to San Bernardino History Central will fill you in on the details of Wyatt and his brothers growing up here and returning after their forays through the Wild West (909-885-2204, sbhistoricalsociety.com). The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum is equally worth a visit (909-888-3634, sbdepotmuseum.com). If it’s boutiques you’re looking for, swing through Horsetown, USA—better known as Norco—where the preferred method of travel is horseback. Or, if you’re in town in late summer, the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo—one of the richest in the nation—should not be overlooked (rmvrodeo.com). Wrap up the journey at Duane’s Prime Steaks & Seafood at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, the undeniable cherry on top of your surprisingly cowboy experience in Los Angeles (themission.com).
Built at the turn of the century and encompassing an entire city block in downtown Riverside, Calif., The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa—a National Historic Landmark—offers guests 239 rooms (nine of which are designated as presidential suites), four restaurants, a day spa, and the St. Francis Chapel, as well as marvelous architectural features such as medieval domes, exterior arcades, a five-story rotunda, and a pedestrian sky bridge. It has also hosted legendary country singer Merle Haggard. 951-784-0300,