Manzanar: Japanese Internment Camp Museum

Want to learn a little dark side of the U.S. history? Well, during World War II, the government had over a hundred thousand of Japanese Americans rounded up and sent to internment camps all ove the country.

Manzanar main visitor center

About The Place

Manzanar was one of the largest camps in the country. The historic site is located in Independence, CA in Owens Valley just 4 hours north of Los Angeles via HWY 395.  More than 10,000 people were placed here at the peak of tension between Japan and the U.S. Although much of the buildings are torn down, there are a few well preserved buildings that are open for the public to enter. The main building has a decent size exhibition about the history of the place and World War II.


This place is FREE! Which makes it the perfect stop along the 395 on your way to either Death Valley or LA. At the ground, you get to learn more about the history of the place and interact with many items and artifacts from the period. It is definitely a must stop if you happen to be driving on the 395.

My friend walking toward one of the main cabins

Beside the main museum building, there are several other exhibitions inside the cabins. You can go inside the cabins and get to kind of imagine what it was like for the people who were here. Each cabins were filled with dozens of families. There were no privacy and the living condition was cramped.

Kitchen room at manzanar

You can also visit the mess and see their dining room. Everyday people of Manzanar would line up at this building to get their meals in which they would never get enough food.


It is right off the HWY 395. From Los Angeles, you will head north on the 395 and after nearly 4 hours of driving, you will get off at Manzanar Reward Road. You will start to see signs for the site a few miles out so it is hard to miss.

If you want to learn more about the place, make sure to visit Manzanar official website for calendar, programs, and history.


  1. I had visited Manzanar 10 years ago for research for my novel, Eyes Behind Belligerence. I need to revisit it now it has all these reconstructions. Very cool that you blogged about this. Not very many people understand our history’s past.

    1. Hi K.p.

      Thank you very much for your comment! It is very important indeed for more people to visit places like Manzanar. If more people visit them, then the state will see the importance of preserving these historic places. I’m sure it has changed so much for the past 10 years! Keep me updated of your visit and let me know what you think.

  2. wow, I never knew about this place… but I knew about the dark side of this history from reading historic war novels. It may be fiction but the story is almost always based on their actual researches of people and what really happened.

    1. Certainly! It was a stop on 395 and I found it by accident when I was researching for cool places along the hwy. It was even more awesome that it was FREE. Not a lot of free things to do these days. Even $10 to $20 admission fee really adds up when I was doing many stops on the same days and camping in a few national parks. You should visit if you ever do a drive that way. It also worth a visit on its own too.

What do you think about this cool place?

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