Things to See, Eat and Do in Bishop, California

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

Bishop is located in the Eastern Sierra region of California. It is close to Death Valley, Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes. The city is incredibly picturesque, sitting in-between 14,000 foot peaks, with the Bishop Creek running through the town. If you are familiar with the California Water Wars and the movie, Chinatown (1974), Bishop sits in the Owens Valley where the LADWP took the water from.

Things to do in Bishop

Rock Climbing

Bishop is famous for its bouldering. There are multiple areas to boulder, some of the more popular areas get very busy at the weekends, but there are still plenty of boulders to go round. The Buttermilk Boulders, and the Happy and Sad Boulders are the more popular areas, they are accessible by car with only a short walk to the climbing areas. Even if you do not like climbing, it is worth going out and seeing the climbers in action. They make these problems look easy, but believe me, they are not.


There are so many incredible hikes around Bishop and the surrounding areas. If you are a hardcore hiker then head up Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. Easier trails are the Druid loop, the Coyote Creek Trail or Sabrina Lake Trailhead, to name but a few.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is located just a short drive from bishop and is home to some of the oldest trees in the world, the Bristlecone Pines. There are various hikes that you can do in the area as well as a visitor centre. If you are a photographer, the pines make wonderful subjects.


Bodie is one of my favourite places to visit, even if you do not like history, it is worth seeing as it truly unique. Bodie is a small, 19th century gold mining town that is literally frozen in time. Everything that is located in Bodie was left there when the last residents left. Leave a whole day as there is so much to see. There are daily tours of the stamp mill as well as other special tours that are run by the Friends of Bodie.

Elizabeth Iris

Laws Railroad Museum

Laws is often in the shadow of Bodie, but the museum is absolutely worth visiting. Laws was once a depo along the Carson and Colorado railroad. The railroad connected Reno, NV to Keeper, CA. The railroad ceased in the 1960s, when the Southern Pacific donated the depot to the City of Bishop. Over the years, Laws has collected other buildings and items from the local area to form a makeshift town. The Slim Princess steam train offers train rides, be sure to check the website for the schedule.

The museum is open 10am-4pm most days and admission is by donation.

Laws — Elizabeth Iris

Keough’s Hot Springs

There are an abundance of natural hot springs in the area, but if you want something a with a few more facilities then this is the place. They also have lodging and camping. The hot springs opened in 1919 and is the largest natural hot springs pool in the Eastern Sierra.

Mon-Wed-Thur-Fri: 11:00 am — 6:00 pm

Saturday-Sunday : 9:00 am — 6pm

Owens Valley Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center

Small museum that tells the history of the Shoshone and Paiute peoples that are native to the local area. Entry is free, check the website for opening hours as they have summer and winter times.

Manzanar War Relocation Camp

Manzanar tells the tragic story of the Japanese-Americans that were placed in relocation camps in 1942. In total, some 110,000 men, women, and children were relocated to any one of the 10 camps that were built in the United States.

After the war, the buildings were removed from Manzanar. However, some of the original buildings were found and brought back, as well as replica buildings put in the place of originals. As you walk around, imagine how scary it must have been to be placed in such an isolating place with scorching hot summers and freezing winters.

Elizabeth Iris

Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery

The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery was founded in 1917. Originally it provided fresh trout to the Sierra Nevada region. Today they focus on preservation and education. They have exhibits, a shop and an an interactive fish feeding exhibit.

10:00 am to 3:30 pm Thursday — Sunday

Closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday


Mammoth is about a 45 minute drive from Bishop. If you visit in winter, then there is an abundance of winter pursuits to partake in. In summer there is hiking, mountain biking and you can take a trip up the mountain on the gondolas.

Elizabeth Iris

Bishop Twin Theatre

In the early 1900s, a man named Harry Holland passed through Bishop as an entertainer with a travelling Chautauqua show. He loved it so much that in 1918, he purchased the old Opera House. Sadly, this wooden building burnt down in 1924, when Harry moved to the present location.

The movie schedule can be found here.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake is about an hours drive from Bishop. The lake is at least 760,000 years old and is a saline soda lake. The lake is home to an abundance of wildlife including birds and brine shrimp. The lake was used as a movie location, firstly in Fair Wind to Java (1953) and then in High Plains Drifter (1973). The lake is perhaps most famous for its tufa towers.

Where to Eat

There are so many great choices to eat at in Bishop and this is only a list of the places that I have personally tried and would recommend.

Mahogany Smoked Meats

If you are a meat eater and are looking for a sandwich or some jerky, this is the best place in town. Their sandwiches are probably the best that I have ever had. I like the BLT and the Capone.

BLT with avocado from Mahogany Smokes Meats — Elizabeth Iris

Whiskey Creek

For more of a formal meal, Whiskey Creek is worth a visit. It used to be more of a sports bar, but a refurbishment a few years ago turned it into an upscale restaurant. I recommend the Teriyaki Salmon or the fish tacos.

Looney Bean

Looney Bean is a great lunch spot. They serve breakfast, lunch, coffee, cakes and smoothies.

Rusty’s Saloon & Grill

Rusty’s is a traditional small town bar. Cold beer and friendly staff, what more could anyone want.

Aaron Schat’s Roadhouse

For a casual evening meal, Schat’s Roadhouse do great burgers.

Holy Smoke Texas BBQ

IF you want meat then this is the place to go. They serve traditional Texas BBQ.

Back Alley Bowl and Grill

Bowling, beer and a burger, a perfect evening. This place offers hearty food in a casual setting.

Bishop Burger Barn

Burgers galore! These are said to be the best burgers in town. They have indoor and outdoor seating and also serve homemade ice cream.

Where to Stay

The Creekside Inn

This hotel is absolutely number one on my list of places to stay in Bishop. On the downside, it is not cheap, a standard room will set you back somewhere in the region of $200. The hotel has gone through a vast refurbishment in the last few years. Rooms come with a delicious breakfast, don’t forget to try the blueberry scones and coffee is available in the lobby all day. Rooms have a fridge, safe and Keurig coffee machine and the hotel has a heated pool and hot tub.

Holiday Inn Express

You can’t go wrong with a Holiday Inn, this one is clean, rooms come with breakfast and it has an indoor pool. However, room rates are not that much cheaper than the Creekside Inn.

Eastside Guesthouse and Bivy

For cheaper accommodation that it nice and clean, this is your best option. They have bunk rooms with shared bathrooms, apartments and rooms with private bathrooms. Prices start at around $70 per night.

Benton Hot Springs

If you want to be away from the town, Benton Hot Springs is about a 40 minute drive from Bishop. They have an inn and small cabin rentals. They have hot tubs and you can take the self-guided walking tour of the historic town and cemetery, provided by the Historic Benton Hot Springs non-profit organisation.

Further Reading




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Elizabeth Iris

Elizabeth Iris

Photographer and like to try stuff out.

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