Top 10 Things to Do in Riverside, California in 2024

We’ll take you on a journey through the top  things to do in Riverside, offering a local perspective on the hidden gems that make this city truly unique. About 50 miles from Los Angeles, in the Inland Empire, sits Riverside, the 12th largest city in California, a city that calls with its rich history, diversified culture, and the plethora of adventures just waiting to be discovered.

This city gave rise to the citrus industry in California. It has a rich history over the past century and is home to the well-known Mission Inn in addition to other esteemed colleges.

Top 10 Things to Do in Riverside

If you’re looking to explore the neighborhood, these are some of the favorite spots to go in Riverside.

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1. Mission Inn

Mission Inn

In the heart of Riverside, California, stands the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. Originally built as the Glenwood Cottage in 1876, the Mission Inn has changed throughout time as Riverside has changed. Having welcomed presidents, celebrities, and dignitaries since it reopened as the Mission Inn in 1902, it has earned recognition as a California Historical Landmark and membership in the Historic Hotels of America.

The Mission Inn’s architectural splendor is immediately apparent as you approach its awe-inspiring facade. A harmonious blend of Spanish Gothic, Renaissance, and Mediterranean Revival styles, the hotel’s architecture reflects the vision of its founder, Frank A. Miller. The intricate detailing, archways, and courtyards create an ambiance that transports guests to a different era.

Beyond its architectural grandeur, the Mission Inn is a living museum, adorned with a rich tapestry of art and artifacts. Guests can wander through hallways adorned with antiques, paintings, and stained glass windows, each telling a story of the hotel’s storied past. The art collection is a testament to the Inn’s commitment to preserving history and culture.

For those seeking for things to do in Riverside, relaxation and rejuvenation in the Kelly Spa at the Mission Inn is a sanctuary of serenity. The spa offers a range of treatments and therapies, combining modern spa techniques with ancient rituals. The luxurious setting and expert therapists create an oasis where guests can unwind and pamper themselves.

2. Citrus State Park

The California Citrus State Historic Park, tucked away in the center of Riverside, California, is a monument to the city’s illustrious agricultural past and its crucial role in the citrus industry. This dynamic park is a must-visit location for anybody interested in learning about Riverside’s past and present since it provides visitors with a unique blend of history, education, and the delicious scent of citrus trees.

California Citrus State Historic Park pays homage to Riverside’s citrus legacy, which played a crucial role in shaping the region’s identity. As you enter the park, the fragrance of citrus blossoms envelops you, setting the stage for a journey through time and the evolution of California’s citrus industry is one of the amazing things to do in Riverside.

The park is home to meticulously maintained citrus orchards, showcasing a diverse array of citrus varieties. For a deeper understanding of the park’s history, guided tours are available. Knowledgeable guides lead visitors through the orchards and share captivating tales of how citrus cultivation shaped the landscape of Riverside.

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3. Mt Rubidoux

Perched majestically on the western edge of Riverside, California, Mt. Rubidoux is not merely a geographical landmark; it is a natural sanctuary that weaves together scenic beauty, historic significance, and recreational allure. This iconic mountain with its elevation of more than 500 feet, offering panoramic views of Riverside and beyond, is a beloved destination for hikers, history enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike.

Beyond its natural splendor, Mt. Rubidoux is steeped in history. The mountain is adorned with historic landmarks, including the Peace Bridge and the World Peace Tower. These monuments, dating back to the early 20th century, paying homage to the visionaries who sought to create a space that promotes unity and peace is also one of the things to do in Riverside. The landmarks add a layer of cultural significance to the mountain’s allure.

Mt. Rubidoux beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its network of hiking trails that wind through the lush landscape. As you ascend, the scent of native flora fills the air, creating a refreshing backdrop for a nature-filled escape. The well-maintained trails cater to hikers of all skill levels, making Mt. Rubidoux a popular spot for both seasoned trekkers and casual walkers.

4. Riverside Food Lab

Visiting the Riverside Food Lab is one of the things to do in Riverside. It stands as a culinary haven in the heart of Riverside, California, redefining the city’s dining landscape with a fresh and innovative approach.

This unique food hall concept brings together a diverse array of local eateries under one roof, creating a vibrant hub for food enthusiasts and community members alike. What sets the Riverside Food Lab apart is its commitment to showcasing the best of local flavors while embracing global influences.

The Riverside Food Lab isn’t just a place to eat; it’s an invitation to embark on a culinary adventure. The space is home to an eclectic mix of food vendors, each offering a distinctive menu inspired by global cuisines. From gourmet burgers and artisanal pizzas to exotic sushi and tantalizing desserts, the Food Lab is a celebration of culinary diversity.

5. March Field Air Museum

March Field Air Museum

The March Field Air Museum, located in Riverside, California, on the former grounds of March Air Reserve Base, is a fascinating example of the area’s rich aviation history. This museum provides visitors with an immersive journey through time with a remarkable collection of aircraft, relics, and displays that reflect the evolution of aviation. It is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of military aviation.

Stepping into the March Field Air Museum is among the things to do in Riverside, you’re immediately transported into the fascinating world of military aviation. The museum’s expansive collection spans decades, featuring aircraft from different eras, each with its own story and significance. From vintage planes to modern jets, the exhibits provide a comprehensive overview of the technological advancements and historical milestones in aviation.

One of the highlights of the museum is its remarkable collection of historic aircraft. Visitors can marvel at iconic planes that have played pivotal roles in military history, from World War I and World War II to the Cold War era. The meticulously restored aircraft, displayed both indoors and outdoors, offers a close-up look at the engineering marvels that have graced the skies.

6. Fairmont Park

A visit toFairmount Park is considered one of the best things to do in Riverside, a lush haven that provides both locals and tourists with a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city, located in the center of Riverside, California. One of the park’s hidden gems is its enchanting rose garden. Bursting with vibrant colors and fragrant blooms, the garden provides a romantic setting for couples and a serene escape for those seeking quiet contemplation.

The carefully curated collection of roses adds a touch of elegance to the park’s natural beauty. Whether it’s a morning run, a game of frisbee, or a family-friendly outing, the park caters to diverse interests.

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7. Santa Ana River Trail

Stretching through the beautiful landscape of Riverside, the Santa Ana River Trail is a recreational gem that beckons outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and fitness seekers alike. Spanning miles along the Santa Ana River, this trail offers a blend of natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and a myriad of activities, making it a must-explore destination  and one of the best things to do in Riverside for those eager to experience Riverside’s outdoor splendor.

The Santa Ana River Trail serves as Riverside’s outdoor escape, providing a tranquil haven away from the city’s hustle and bustle. As you embark on the trail, the gentle murmur of the Santa Ana River accompanies you, creating a serene backdrop for a variety of outdoor pursuits.

The trail unfolds along the banks of the Santa Ana River, offering panoramic views of the waterway and the surrounding landscape. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a jogger, or simply looking for a peaceful walk, the scenic beauty along the river makes every step a refreshing journey through nature.

8. UCR Botanical Gardens

The UCR Botanical Gardens is a peaceful haven of biodiversity tucked away amid the bustling University of California, Riverside (UCR) campus. This live plant museum offers guests an immersive experience that blends education, conservation, and the breathtaking beauty of nature.

There are more than 3,500 distinct plant species to view. One of the defining features of the UCR Botanical Gardens is its impressive collection of plant species. From native Californian plants to exotic specimens from around the globe, the gardens are a living testament to horticultural diversity.

The meticulously curated landscapes offer a feast for the eyes, with themed gardens providing insights into the fascinating world of plants. The UCR Botanical Gardens provide an unparalleled botanical experience for individuals searching for a tranquil haven amid Riverside, making it one of the best things to do in Riverside.

9. Drive-In Theater

The Drive-In Theater is a timeless landmark that transports visitors to a time when the open road and the silver screen came together. It is nestled in Riverside’s nostalgic embrace. Families, friends, and movie buffs may get together for a night under the stars with this timeless cinematic experience, which offers a distinctive fusion of vintage charm and contemporary excitement.

The Drive-In Theater is among the things to do in Riverside. It captures the essence of a bygone era while providing a contemporary escape for moviegoers. As you pull into the expansive parking lot, the towering movie screen becomes a beacon, inviting you to a cinematic adventure that blends the magic of film with the freedom of the open air.

The Drive-In Theater embraces the spirit of double features and midnight premieres, allowing moviegoers to make the most of their night out. From classic films to the latest blockbusters, the theater’s programming caters to diverse tastes, ensuring there’s something for everyone. It’s an opportunity to indulge in a cinematic marathon under the stars.

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10. Tios Tacos

Tios Tacos

The last on our list of the things to do in Riverside is Tio’s Tacos a culinary and artistic institution that provides more than simply an eating experience, Tio’s Tacos is tucked away in the center of Riverside. A trip through an artistic paradise accompanied by the delicious scents of real Mexican food awaits guests at this energetic restaurant, which is a celebration of Mexican culture, creativity, and sustainability.

Tio’s Tacos is not just a restaurant; it’s a visual feast for patrons. The entire establishment is a living art installation, adorned with a kaleidoscope of recycled materials and vibrant sculptures crafted by the owner, Martin Sanchez. From towering bottle structures to bicycle-powered sculptures, the artistic ambiance of Tio’s Tacos is a testament to the fusion of creativity and sustainability.

As you explore the restaurant, you’ll encounter a collection of eclectic sculptures made from discarded items, showcasing Martin Sanchez’s commitment to recycling and environmental consciousness. Each piece tells a unique story, transforming discarded materials into whimsical and thought-provoking works of art.

Frequently Asked Questions about Riverside, California

1. What is Riverside known for?

Riverside is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and scenic beauty. It’s home to the historic Mission Inn, the University of California, Riverside (UCR), and Mount Rubidoux. The city is also recognized for its citrus industry heritage and as a hub for outdoor activities.

2. What are the must-visit attractions in Riverside?

Some must-visit attractions in Riverside include the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Mount Rubidoux, Riverside Art Museum, California Citrus State Historic Park, and the March Field Air Museum. The city offers a blend of historic landmarks, cultural institutions, and natural wonders.

3. Is Riverside a family-friendly city?

Yes, Riverside is known for being a family-friendly city. It offers numerous parks, family-oriented events, and attractions suitable for all ages. The Riverside Unified School District also contributes to the city’s family-friendly atmosphere.

4. What outdoor activities are available in Riverside?

Riverside provides a range of outdoor activities, including hiking at Mount Rubidoux, exploring the Santa Ana River Trail, picnicking in Fairmount Park, and enjoying the citrus orchards at the California Citrus State Historic Park. The city’s pleasant climate makes it conducive to outdoor pursuits.

5. How can I explore Riverside’s cultural scene?

To explore Riverside’s cultural scene, you can visit the Riverside Art Museum, attend events at the Fox Performing Arts Center, and explore local galleries and theaters. The city also holds a number of cultural festivals and events all year long.

6. Are there family-friendly dining options in Riverside?

Yes, Riverside offers a variety of family-friendly dining options. Places like Tio’s Tacos, restaurants in the Riverside Plaza, and local eateries around UCR provide diverse menus suitable for families.

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7. What annual events take place in Riverside?

Riverside hosts several annual events, including the Riverside Festival of Lights during the holiday season, the Riverside Airshow, and the Riverside Dickens Festival. These events showcase the city’s vibrant culture and community spirit.

8. How is the transportation system in Riverside?

Riverside has a well-connected transportation system, including public buses operated by Riverside Transit Agency (RTA). The city is also accessible by car, with major highways like the 91 and 215 providing convenient transportation options.

9. Is Riverside a safe city?

Riverside is generally considered a safe city. Like any urban area, it’s essential to take standard safety precautions. The city has a dedicated police force working to maintain public safety.

10. How can I get involved in community activities in Riverside?

To get involved in community activities, you can check local community centers, volunteer organizations, and event listings. Riverside often hosts community events, clean-up initiatives, and cultural activities that welcome community participation.

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As we conclude this guide to Riverside, we hope you’ve gained insights into the city’s hidden gems. From historic trails to culinary delights, artistic expressions, and cultural celebrations, Riverside offers a diverse range of experiences. So, put on your explorer hat and delve into the charm that makes Riverside a unique destination worth discovering.

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