Tehachapi has always had its natural beauty and small-town mountain charm that has drawn people from afar. But in the last few years, more travelers are going out of their way to visit the Land of Four Seasons.

“Part of our goal is for Tehachapi to become a destination city,” said Cheryl Graham Wilson, who sits on the Visitor Center Committee and Tehachapi Tourism Commission. “That is coming through, and I’m so excited.”

The Tehachapi Visitor Center is a good stop for anyone who is new to the city — or even locals who want to catch up on what’s new in town. Wilson promises enthusiastic volunteers who can help curate a travel itinerary.

Wilson also recommends the Visitor Center’s free app for up-to-date information about events. Tehachapi is a community that appreciates the arts, so there is always live theater or symphony orchestra or an arts festival happening.

The app also features recommendations about where to stay, where to eat, where to worship and where to shop. That last tab is particularly rich for recommendations for antique shops, which are increasingly a big draw for out-of-towners.

Wine lovers will be excited to know that in 2020, the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area officially received its accreditation. That’s the same designation that goes to regions like Napa or Sonoma. And it’s putting Tehachapi on the map, Wilson said. Volunteers can direct you to the region’s award-winning wines such as Triassic Vineyards and the new Dorner Family Vineyards.

Many of these vineyards and breweries double as places to see live music or a place to host an event, whether it’s a milestone birthday or a wedding.

All year long, visitors come to take advantage of the outdoors. The annual Brite Lake Fishing Derby in spring brings in fishermen, and the Pacific Crest Trail brings hikers passing through.

The Visitor Center has a variety of day planners, depending on how you want to enjoy your time. Whether you want to hike, bike off road or on, camp, boat or fish, there will be a brochure for you.

Another way to take advantage of the outdoors is heading to the orchard. Apple picking in the fall for an apple pie and cider is a long tradition. But increasingly, growers are allowing visitors to pick berries, melons, peaches, pumpkins, herbs and really anything that’s growing on the farm. Volunteers at the Visitor Center can tell you what’s in season.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions also means the city plans a return to the outdoor festivals that brought in many visitors in years past, such as the late summer Mountain Festival or the autumnal Apple Festival.

Train buffs have always been drawn to the Tehachapi Loop. Those who would like to learn more about its history can head to the Tehachapi Railroad Depot Museum to learn more about the engineering marvel and California Historical Landmark.

“People do come from all over the world to see the loop,” Wilson said.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tehachapi history, Wilson has brochures from the Tehachapi Heritage League that will allow you to take a self-guided tour downtown past plaques and murals that illustrate the city’s history.

The League also supports the Tehachapi Museum and has helped with the restoration of the Errea House, the oldest structure in the city, which is across the street from the museum. The Tehachapi Museum features history about the early settlers starting with those who began during the Gold Rush. There’s also a newer section dedicated to the area’s original inhabitants, the native Kawaiisu tribe. It is the Kawaiisu word “tihachipia,” apparently meaning “hard climb,” that gave us the name of the city.