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Top 15 Best Things to Do in Riverside, California

Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Riverside, California

Riverside is known for the birth of the citrus industry in California. Nationally registered historic sites and landmarks pay homage to this legacy, most notable the California Citrus State Historic Park. A historic block-long guesthouse, Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, is also found in Riverside, with a guest list of former presidents and royalties. Riverside never forgets to honor its past, but it also never forgets to welcome the new. The University of California Riverside brings youthful, arts-oriented, and nature-centered attractions that attract tourists from other states. The peak tourist season in Riverside is during the summer when parks are full of life, gardens bloom with seasonal flowers, and water parks are a way to escape the heat.

California Citrus State Historic Park

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California Citrus State Historic Park photo via Wikimedia cc

The California Citrus State Historic Park is an open space museum that displays the citrus legacy of the state, the second gold rush of California. The citrus economy began when the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent two navel orange trees to Eliza Tibbets, a Riverside local. Since then, the trees have thrived due to Southern California’s temperate climate and healthy soil.

The park occupies 248 acres of land and greets visitors with an orange-shaped fruit stand at the entrance. Visitors can take guided tours around the park and sample fresh citrus from the Sunkist Center. Paved pedestrian trails run through the park, and the planted orange trees.

Location: 9400 Dufferin Avenue, Riverside, CA 92503

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UC Riverside Botanic Gardens

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View of the University of California, Riverside, Botanic Gardens by Rick Sidwell via Wikimedia cc

The Botanic Gardens at the University of California, Riverside has a horticultural collection of rose gardens, cactus gardens, herb gardens, and a shaded area with California riparian trees called the Alder Canyon. Plant species worldwide are also cultivated in the gardens, like the desert plants from Australia and South Africa.

Visitors can take a pedestrian trail to explore the 40 acres of garden-occupied land. This trail runs through a horticultural collection and multiple gardens, from the South African Garden to the Lilac Lane to the Butterfly Garden. Visitors can also opt for a guided tour to learn about the types of plants in the Botanic Gardens.

Location: 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is a park designated by the Riverside Cultural Heritage Board as Landmark No. 69. The park is surrounded by three bodies of water, Lake Evans, Brown Lake, and Fairmount Lake. Around the lakes are pedestrian and bicycle trails that connect to other park amenities, including a boathouse with pedal boats available to rent. Children can run around in the designated playgrounds and the park’s open spaces. Families and friends can gather in the picnic facilities and have fun on the tennis courts and the 9-hole golf course. The park’s main feature is a large rose garden enclosed by wrought-iron fences that bloom in May.

Location: 2601 Fairmount Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92501

Mount Rubidoux Park

Located near Fairmount Park, Mount Rubidoux Park is a city park and landmark with many historic markers and memorials around the mountain. Its most prominent historical marker is the summit dedicated to Father Junípero Serra. The park occupies 161 acres of land and 3.5 miles of paved roads, and several pedestrian and bicycle trails. Daily, dozens of casual walkers, joggers, and cyclists take on the mountain. Owners can bring their dogs into mountains, although etiquette and rules must be followed. Mount Rubidoux Park is maintained by the city government and the Friends of Mount Rubidoux, a non-profit organization with the mission of restoring and preserving Mount Rubidoux Park.

Location: 4706 Mount Rubidoux Drive, Riverside, CA 92501

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park has a network of pedestrian and bicycle trails throughout its 1,500 acres of land. Local residents and visitors can enjoy an exhilarating day by taking on these trails. Within the park is diverse wildlife filled with native plants like the scarlet monkeyflower and wild animals like rattlesnakes.

Location: 400 Central Avenue, Riverside, CA 92507

Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park

Box Springs Mountain Reserve is an ecological park that overlooks the cities of Riverside and Moreno Valley. The mountain covers 3,400 acres of land and is 3,000 feet in elevation. The Reserve has pedestrian and bicycle trails that are easily accessible from downtown Riverside. The Reserve has public bathrooms, picnic tables, and parking areas to accommodate local residents and visitors. One of the most recommended trails for visitors is the “M” Trail, a moderate-level trek that offers a panoramic view of the nearby cities.

Location: 9699 Box Springs Mountain Road, Moreno Valley, CA 92557

Oak Quarry Golf Club

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Gold and Country Club

The Oak Quarry Golf Club is recognized as one of the highest-rated golf courses in Southern California and is home to a championship-level 18-hole golf course. The golf course was established in 2000 and features practice areas, a clubhouse, and a restaurant.

The golf course is often booked for private events, like weddings and corporate meetings, among many others. Visitors can take individual and group golf lessons with trained professionals and purchase different kinds of gear in the onsite shop.

Location: 7151 Sierra Avenue, Riverside, CA 92509

March Field Air Museum

Featuring over 70 aircraft and several aviation artifacts, the March Field Air Museum aims to promote an understanding of mankind’s reach for the skies and the pivotal role of Riverside’s historic March Field in the development of flight. The museum has a large collection of cargo planes, helicopters, and bomber jets used during World War II and one of the world’s fastest manned airplanes, the SR-71.

Location: 22550 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92518

Castle Park

Castle Park is a family-friendly amusement park with 27 different rides and attractions catering to children and adults. These include a water park, carnival rides, 20 different arcades, and seasonal festivals. There is also a miniature championship 18-hole golf course, roller coasters, a merry-go-round, and a drop tower.

Local residents and visitors can rent the amusement park for special events, such as birthday parties and family reunions, and stay in the cabanas at the park.

Location: 3500 Polk Street, Riverside, CA 92505

The Cove Waterpark

The Cove Waterpark is an aquatic adventure park with water-play areas for children of all ages. The waterpark has multiple water attractions like the Crow’s Nest Slides, Ne’er Endin’ River, and 35-meter competition pools, as well as the Riptide Reef FlowRider®, which simulate the actual wave of an ocean.

Location: 4310 Camino Real, Riverside, CA 92509

California Museum of Photography, Riverside

The California Museum of Photography is an off-campus art institute that displays photography as an art in different forms. The museum’s collection focuses on fine art photographs, research collections and archives, and photographic technology artifacts. Museum exhibits explore the impact of photography on history and culture. There are also regular film showings of movies produced by directors worldwide.

Location: 3824 Main St, Riverside, CA 92501

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum first opened in the 1920s and has a large collection of history, natural sciences, and anthropology artifacts. The museum also has exhibits on Native American artifacts donated by the widow of Cornelius Earle Rumsey, founder of the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO). The museum continues to grow from donations from local organizations and private sponsors.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum also oversees the Heritage House, a restored Queen Anne Victorian-style estate that offers guests and visitors a glimpse of the life of affluent citizens in the 1800s.

Location: 3580 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center is a science museum focusing on earth science through nature-themed activities and hands-on learning of rocks and fossils. The museum features 9 acres of botanical gardens, and on the manicured lawns of the botanical gardens are dinosaur statues that can attract every child’s attention. Besides large dinosaur statues, the JDMC has several live animals like tortoises, turtles, and goldfish. The JDMC also has 82 acres of land often used for community events, school field trips, and learning expeditions. These learning expeditions include Rock Collecting at the Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Dig, Fossils Through Time, Gold Fever, and California Rockhound.

Location: 7621 Granite Hill Dr, Riverside, CA 92509

Riverside Art Museum

The Riverside Art Museum has a comprehensive collection of temporary and permanent exhibitions that present artworks by artists from all over the world, as well as local artists and students. Visitors can take the museum tour program the Riverside Art Museum offers, where visitors can enjoy an art lesson at the end of the tour. A walking distance from the art museum is the historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.

Location: 3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and Mission Inn Museum

Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is a historic landmark and a Historic Hotels of America member. The hotel occupies an entire block in its Spanish Mission-style architecture. Its history dates back to its humble beginnings as a boarding house, its devastating bankruptcy, and multiple renovations. The hotel has stayed true to its elegance and legacy since it welcomed its first guests in 1876.

Inside the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is the Mission Inn Museum. The museum displays artifacts from Frank Miller, the founder, and owner of Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. Frank Miller and his family also played a significant role in the economic growth of Riverside. Visitors can see exhibits on Riverside’s history, and learn about the citrus legacy in California and Frank Miller’s artifacts.

Location: 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

How to get there

Riverside is accessible via land and sea. Bus services with a terminal in Downtown Riverside are Greyhound Lines and Megabus, while the regional train service in the area is Metrolink. The nearest airport to Riverside is the Ontario International Airport. The Riverside Transit Agency has a fixed-route bus to get around the area.

Our Top Hotel Picks for Riverside, CA

Riverside CA Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of cheap Riverside CA hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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