Riverside is part of the Inland Empire area. Situated 60 miles west of Los Angeles near the Santa Ana River, Riverside has a population of 300,000-plus people. Riverside is known as the hub of the California citrus growing industry and as the home of the University of California, Riverside. The City has a large collection of fun tourist attractions, shopping malls, and entertainment venues to explore on your weekend getaway.
The Pacific Ocean and Southern California's famous beaches are approximately 50 miles away from Riverside.
1. California Citrus State Historic Park
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California Citrus State Historic Park tells the story of the citrus industry's rapid development in Southern California. The citrus economy began in 1873 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent two little navel orange trees to Eliza Tibbets, a Riverside local. The trees thrived due to Southern California's temperate climate and healthy soil.
Once locals tasted the sweet fruit grown in Eliza Tibbets' yard, groves of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits began popping up all over the state. At the California Citrus State Historic Park, visitors can join a free guided tour that includes samples of freshly-grown California oranges. The park also has an amphitheater and picnic areas that groups can rent out for a small fee. Browse our California weekend getaways guide for more ideas.
9400 Dufferin Avenue, Riverside, CA 92503, Phone: 951-780-6222
2. Mission Inn Museum
© Mission Inn Museum
The Mission Inn Museum is located in the famous Mission Inn Hotel on the corner of Main Street and Mission Inn Avenue. The museum contains a variety of artifacts from Frank Miller, the founder and owner of the inn. Miller was well known for his love of aviation, his fascination with fine art, and his marketing brilliance.
Miller and his family also played a key role in turning Riverside into a center of economic and cultural activity. During the Mission Inn Museum tour, visitors can see exhibits on key events from Riverside's history, view artifacts from Frank Miller's life, and learn about the citrus growing industry in California.
3696 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-788-9556
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3. University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens
© University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens at the University of California, Riverside contain vast amounts of flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. The horticultural collection is comprised of rose gardens, herb gardens, a cactus garden, and Alder Canyon, a shady area with California riparian trees.
At the geographical collection, visitors can see a selection of desert plants and displays with plants from Australia and South Africa. There is also a large plot of plants that grow in California's Sierra Foothills region. Altogether, the park contains hundreds of different plant species from all over the world. Admission to the gardens is free, but guests are encouraged to make a $5 donation.
900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, Phone: 951-827-1012
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4. Riverside Metropolitan Museum
© Riverside Metropolitan Museum
The Riverside City Council opened the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in December of 1924. At first, the museum consisted of Native American artifacts donated by the widow of Cornelius Earle Rumsey, who was known for his role in starting the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO). The museum rapidly grew with donations from private citizens and local organizations.
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum made its way on to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and in 2004, the museum acquired the historic Harada House. The museum has three main collections that focus on the nature, history, and culture of the Riverside area. There is also an extensive archive that includes scores of documents, photographs, and ephemera from Riverside's history.
3580 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-826-5273
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5. California Museum of Photography
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The UCR/California Museum of Photography contains an array of exhibits dedicated to the art of photography in all its forms. With support from the University of California, Riverside, the museum has amassed thousands of images from photographers around the world. The off-campus facility houses a permanent collection of photography technology artifacts.
The exhibit also explores the impact of photography on history and culture. Film is a major focus of the museum, and there are regular showings of movies produced by American and international directors. The California Museum of Photography also hosts special events, such as lectures, workshops, and performances.
3824 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-827-4787
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6. Whitewater Preserve
© Whitewater Preserve
The 2,851-acre Whitewater Preserve was created to protect the fragile environment around the Whitewater River. The area around the river is home to a diverse riparian habitat that includes rare plants like the Southwest willow flycatcher and Bell's vireo. The San Jacinto Mountain Range, the San Bernardino Mountain Range, and the San Gorgonio Wilderness frame the picturesque Whitewater River.
Animal life in the area includes bighorn sheep, deer, bear, and the endangered fringe-toed lizard. Visitors can check out the reserve's numerous trails while watching for unique wildlife and enjoying the ponds that dot the landscape.
9160 Whitewater Canyon Road, Whitewater, CA 92282, Phone: 760-325-7222
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7. Castle Park
© Castle Park
Castle Park is a family-friendly amusement park that has attracted Riverside locals and out-of-town visitors since 1976. The park has 27 different types of rides, including roller coasters, a drop tower, a water log slide, and a merry-go-round. Castle Park also has four championship miniature golf courses, a water playground, retail shops, and a massive selection of carnival games.
Lastly, the park features more than 200 fun arcade games for players of all ages. Castle Park has rental options for birthday parties, corporate events, family reunions, and other types of get-togethers. There are also cabanas and lockers at the park so that guests can safely stow their valuables. Out-of-town guests will find plenty of family-friendly lodging options close by.
3500 Polk Street, Riverside, CA 92505, Phone: 951-785-3000
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8. Riverside Art Museum
© Riverside Art Museum
The Riverside Art Museum is located in Riverside's historic Mission Inn district. Housed in a beautiful 1929 building, the Riverside Art Museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase the talents of artists from around the world. Visitors can view works from more than a dozen famous creators as well as pieces made by talented local artists and high school students.
The museum also hosts art classes that cater to all different skill levels. At the Blue Door Museum Store, visitors can buy unique handmade souvenirs as well as books and art supplies.
3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-684-7111, (website link)
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9. Things to Do in Riverside: Heritage House
© Heritage House
The Heritage House, owned by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, was built in 1891, and the exquisite home is a prime example of Victorian-style architecture. Mr. and Mrs. James Bettner, a couple who came to Riverside in the late 1800s during the town's horticulture boom, once owned the home.
The Bradstreet Index, published in 1895, identified Riverside as the town with the highest per capita income in the United States at the time. The Bettners' tastes, interests and income level are well illustrated in their meticulously preserved historic home. Admission to the Heritage House is free, although the museum appreciates a $5 donation.
8193 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA 92504, Phone: 951-826-5273
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10. Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
© Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center (JMDC) is a fun and educational attraction nestled deep in the hills around Jurupa Valley. JMDC boasts nine acres of beautifully manicured botanical gardens. In the gardens, there are 10 large dinosaur statues that are sure to capture the imagination of young visitors. JDMC also has a collection of live animals, including tortoises, turtles, and goldfish.
JDMC covers an additional 82 acres of land that is primarily used for school field trips, paid expeditions, community events, and private parties. Lastly, there is an onsite gift store where guests can purchase fun souvenirs and educational materials.
7621 Granite Hill Drive, Riverside, CA 92509, Phone: 951-685-5818
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11. March Field Air Museum
© March Field Air Museum
Opened in 1979, the March Field Air Museum is home to more than 70 historic aircraft. The March Air Museum Foundation, an organization that seeks to preserve and promote aviation's rich history, supports the museum. Some of the highlights at the museum include the SR-71 (one of the world's fastest manned airplanes) and bomber jets used during World War II.
The museum also has collections of umanned aircraft, helicopters, and cargo planes. Aside from providing guests with an informative and entertaining experience, the March Field Air Museum has space available for special events, including parties, family reunions, and photo shoots.
22550 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92518, Phone: 951-902-5949, (website link)
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12. Fox Performing Arts Center
© Fox Performing Arts Center
The Fox Performing Arts Center regularly hosts shows and special events. The main theater can hold up to 1,650 guests, and the center is famous for being the first place to screen Gone with the Wind in 1939. Comedic sketches, musical performances, and dance productions are among the 3-5 shows that take place each month at the popular venue.
The Fox Performing Arts Center also organizes shows for children, teenagers, and families. Visitors can see a full schedule of upcoming shows by subscribing to the center's online newsletter or by visiting the center's social media pages. To purchase tickets for shows, guests can view the Fox Performing Arts Center's website.
3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
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13. Van Buren Drive-In Theatre
© Van Buren Drive-In Theatre
Opened in 1964, the Van Buren Drive-In Theatre is the perfect place for old-fashioned family fun. Tickets are $9 per adult and $1 per child, but each ticket admits visitors to two movies. Audio for the movies is broadcast over FM radio so that each guest can listen from inside their cars.
Oftentimes, theater-goers will show up with pillows, blankets, lawn chairs, and snacks from home. Popcorn, candy, nachos, and other treats are sold on-site. The shows go on at the Van Buren Drive-In Theatre even if the weather is bad, and the theater is open 365 days a year. All showings begin after dark.
3035 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92503, Phone: 951-688-2360
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14. Things to Do in Riverside: Gourmet Detective
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The Gourmet Detective puts on elegant and interactive murder mystery dinners at Flabob Airport Cafe and Hyatt Place in Riverside. Guests dine on a delicious meal while trained professionals act out an entertaining and thought-provoking mystery. As the night goes on, the victims, perpetrators, and innocent parties in the crime become clear.
Repeat guests will always be in for a surprise since the mystery changes on a regular basis. Gourmet Detective puts on special performances for groups of 10-plus people, corporate get-togethers, and private parties. Details about Gourmet Detective events as well as tickets to upcoming dinners are available online.
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15. Fairmount Park
© Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park is filled with recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages. The park contains a playground, picnic facilities, two tennis courts, a lawn bowling green, and a golf course. Three tranquil bodies of water in the park, Lake Evans, Brown Lake and Fairmount Lake, are perfect for fishing, paddle boating, and other water sports.
There is a historic boathouse near Lake Evans that is available for special events. Fairmount Park's recently renovated nine-hole golf course features two practice greens and a fully loaded snack bar. The golf course is open 365 days a year.
2601 Fairmount Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-826-2000
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16. Oak Quarry Golf Club
© Oak Quarry Golf Club
Oak Quarry Golf Club is home to a championship-level 18-hole golf course. Recognized as one of the most highly rated golf courses in Southern California, Oak Quarry was established in 2000 by Dr. Gil Morgan and Schmidt-Curly Design. The golf club features several practice areas, a 7,200-square-foot clubhouse, and a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch daily.
The elegant clubhouse has spaces available for weddings, corporate meetings, and other special events. Oak Quarry Golf Club also has an onsite shop where golfers can purchase all kinds of custom merchandise and gear. The club also offers individual and group golf lessons with trained professionals.
7151 Sierra Avenue, Riverside, CA 92509, Phone: 951-685-1440
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17. Riverside Live Steamers
© Riverside Live Steamers
Riverside Live Steamers (RLS) operates and maintains a railroad track that is used solely by miniature steam locomotives. Joe Hunter, a steam locomotive enthusiast who lived in Riverside during the 1950s, founded the organization. As train technology hurtled toward the future, Hunter realized that steam locomotives would likely become a thing of the past.
Hunter purchased 40 acres of land and constructed a 4,300-foot railroad along with a steam locomotive with three cars. He operated the track until his death in 1965. Shortly after, the track was turned over to RLS, that expanded the railroad to more than 10,000 feet of track. Today, around 20,000 visitors ride along the historic miniature track each year.
1421 Iowa Avenue, Riverside, CA 92507, Phone: 951-779-9024
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18. Ballet Folklorico de Riverside
© Ballet Folklorico de Riverside
Ballet Folklorico de Riverside is an authentic Mexican-style dance company that puts on enthralling performances throughout the year. Ana de la Tejera founded the group in 1977. Her goal was to preserve Mexican culture through songs, dances, and costumes. Ballet Folklorico de Riverside now has more than 75 members who are led by four highly talented Maestas (teachers).
The brightly clad dancers perform distinctive and exciting routines at festivals, parties, and private events. Ballet Folklorico de Riverside holds four main performances a year for the Calabaceado Festival, Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and the annual UCR showcase.
7115 Arlington Avenue, Suite F, Riverside, CA 92503, Phone: 951-354-8872
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19. Things to Do in Riverside: California Riverside Ballet
© California Riverside Ballet
California Riverside Ballet (CRB) got its start in 1969. Today, CRB is known for its beautiful performances, outstanding choreography, unique style, and the impressive talent of its dancers and directors. The CRB usually holds two major performances each year.
When the company isn't performing, CRB members stay busy with community outreach efforts and fundraising events. CRB auditions are open to dancers of all ages, and many CRB members end up receiving scholarships and career opportunities from the time that they spend performing with California Riverside Ballet.
3700 6th Street, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-787-0879
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20. Riverside Certified Farmers Market
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Located in the heart of Riverside, the Riverside Downtown Farmers Market is one of the most popular places for buying homegrown goods, fresh-baked bread, and specialty foods. Some popular farmer's market picks include hummus from Mom's Specialty Food, organic vegetables from Sage Mountain Farms and Harvey Farm, and decorative plants from Dignan Growers.
The farmer's market takes place along Main Street every Saturday of the year.
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21. Grier Pavilion
The Grier Pavilion was opened in 2008 to commemorate Barnett and Eleanor Jean Grier, two of Riverside's most well known civil rights activists. The pavilion is located on the 7th floor balcony of City Hall. It features a 10-foot-wide mosaic art piece known as the Center Circle of Inclusion.
The pavilion is also adorned with quotes form some of the world's most celebrated civil rights leaders, including John F. Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge recognized the pavilion as a special symbol of togetherness and equality for the Riverside community in June 2008.
3900 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501, Phone: 951-826-5557
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22. Things to Do Near Me Today: Entomology Museum
© Entomology Museum
The Entomology Research Museum is located on the University of California Riverside Campus. With one of the oldest insect collections in the University of California system, the Entomology Museum has an incredibly diverse assortment of well-preserved specimens from all around the world.
The museum got its start in 1923, and over the years, private donors and university researchers helped grow the museum's holdings to over three million specimens. In addition to educating the public about insects, the Entomology Museums serves as a research center for undergraduate and graduate students across several majors. The museum is open to the public by appointment.
900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, Phone: 951-827-4315, (website link)
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23. Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties
© Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties
The Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties is dedicated to teaching people about American politics and culture during the 20th century. The center contains interactive displays that tell the stories of Japanese internment camp occupants and civil liberty activists.
The center is also home to the Mine Okubo Collection, a powerful assortment of paintings, drawings, and documents created by Mine Okubo during the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. The center is mainly used for research and education purposes, but it is open to the public on certain Sundays. Group tours and events can be scheduled in advance.
3855 Market Street, Riverside, CA 92521, Phone: 951-222-8846
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24. The Cove Waterpark
© The Cove Waterpark
The Cove Waterpark is a popular family fun center in Jurupa Valley. The park contains all sorts of exhilarating rides and attractions, including waterslides, a lazy river, a flowrider, and a competition-sized swimming pool. The pool is often used for local swimming and diving competitions, but it is also open to the public at certain times of the week.
The Cove's swim lessons, Jr. Lifeguard activities, the special needs aquatics program, and aqua zumba classes also take place at the junior Olympic-sized pool. The Cove Waterpark can be rented out at any time for birthday parties and other special events.
4310 Camino Real, Jurupa Valley, CA 92509, Phone: 951-360-1974
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