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The 20 Best Things to Do in Riverside, CA

Relax at Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

Riverside is a city in California that sits alongside the Santa Anna River, and it is part of the Greater Los Angeles Area. The city was founded in the 1870s, and it is known for being the birthplace of California's citrus industry. However, the city offers so much more than citrus fruits and history. If you choose to visit this location, you will find a diverse range of activities to enjoy. Here are the 20 best things to do in Riverside, CA.

The Cove Waterpark

20. Have Some Fun at The Cove Waterpark

A great way to combine cooling off from the California sunshine with having a fun day out is to go to The Cove Waterpark. It is one of the most popular family attractions in the Jurupa Valley. There is plenty of water-based fun for visitors to enjoy, including a lazy river, a competition-sized swimming pool, a flowrider, various waterslides, and multiple other rides and attractions. This attraction is also used to deliver swimming lessons and various water exercise sessions. There is an on-site restaurant where visitors can grab a bite to eat, and it is possible to hire out the venue for parties or events.

Entomology Museum

19. Go to the Entomology Museum

An interesting museum to add to your Riverside vacation itinerary is to go to the Entomology Museum. The museum was established in 1923, and it is on the University of California Riverside Campus. It boasts a diverse collection of preserved insect specimens from across the globe, and it is one of the University of California system's oldest insect collections. Over the years, the collection has grown thanks to the university's researchers and private donations, and there are now more than three million species housed in the museum. Although the museum's aim is to educate the public, it is also used by the university as a research center for undergraduate and graduate students. Visitors must make an appointment in advance to see the exhibits.

Ride a Steam Locomotive at Riverside Live Steamers

18. Ride a Steam Locomotive at Riverside Live Steamers

An unusual way to spend a couple of hours in Riverside is to visit Riverside Live Steamers and take a ride on the mini railway. The company was founded by Joe Hunter, who was a locomotive enthusiast who lived in the city in the 1950s. As technology in the rail industry progressed, Hunter realized that it was likely that steam locomotives would become outdated, so he decided to set up an attraction to celebrate this mode of transport. He bought a 40-acre plot of land, then built a 4,300-foot railroad on which he could operate a steam locomotive with three cars. Hunter operated the attraction himself until he died in 1995. The RLS then bought the attraction and expanded the railroad to 10,000-feet. Each year, approximately 20,000 people visit this attraction to ride the steam locomotive along the miniature track.

Hangar Trampoline Park

17. Have Fun at Hangar Trampoline Park

Hangar Trampoline Park is a fantastic place to have some fun indoor fun on a rainy day. Inside this venue, there are wall-to-wall trampolines where visitors can have lots of fun. There are also open jump areas, dodgeball courts, bubble soccer, a basketball area, and trick areas with protective foam pits. Therefore, people of all ages can have plenty of fun at this attraction. Visitors can also grab a bite to eat, as there is an on-site café.

Play a Round of Golf at Oak Quarry Golf Club

16. Play a Round of Golf at Oak Quarry Golf Club

If you love nothing more than spending time on the links, then head to Oak Quarry Golf Club to play a round of golf. It is a championship-level, 18-hole golf course that was built in 2000 by Dr. G Morgan and Schmidt-Curly Design. The golf course features various challenges that will suit different skill levels, and there are several practice areas. Another reason to play at this course is its stunning surroundings. After playing a round of golf, visitors can enjoy a meal at the clubhouse's restaurant, which is also open to the public.

Relax at Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

15. Relax at Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

If you want to relax during your vacation, then The Crazy Tourist recommends a visit to the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. It is a historic hotel that was built in 186, and it originally had just 12 bedrooms. Over the years, the hotel has expanded significantly, and it now has 238 bedrooms. The hotel is one of the top accommodation options in the city, and its spa is also open to the public if you book in advance. They offer a wide range of treatments and therapies that aim to relax and rejuvenate guests.

Gourmet Detective

14. Solve a Mystery at Gourmet Detective

Although there are multiple restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal in Riverside, Gourmet Detective offers something different from its competition. It is an interactive murder mystery dinner experience hosted in restaurants such as Hyatt Place Riverside and Flabob Airport Café. While the guests eat an excellent meal, professionals act out a murder mystery scenario with clues provided in the scenes throughout the night.

Van Buren Drive-In Theater

13. Watch a Movie at the Van Buren Drive-In Theater

One of the top ways to spend an evening in Riverside is watching a movie at the Van Buren Drive-In Theater. So that visitors can hear the audio of the film from their car without disturbance from surrounding noise, the audio is broadcast over FM radio. Many movie-goers bring along blankets so they can snuggle up warm in their car. The grounds of the drive-in are also used for swap meets.

Go to March Field Air Museum

12. Go to March Field Air Museum

There are multiple museums to visit in Riverside, and each has a different focus. Those who are interested in aviation might enjoy a visit to the March Field Air Museum. The museum has been open since 199, and its aim is to preserve and promote aviation history. There are more than 0 historic aircraft in the museum, including World War II bomber jets, cargo planes, helicopters, and an SR-71, which is one of the world's fastest manned airplanes.

See a Performance at the Fox Performing Arts Center

11. See a Performance at the Fox Performing Arts Center

The best place to watch a performance while staying in Riverside, CA, is the Fox Performing Arts Center. Its main theater accommodates up to 1,650 people in the audience, and it hosts various performances and events throughout the year. If you want to watch a performance, it is advisable to book tickets in advance. In addition to the main theater, there is also a movie theater, which was famously the first place to screen Gone with the Wind in 1939.

Jurupa Mountain Discovery Center

10. Enjoy the Exhibits and Animals at the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center

There is something for people of all ages to enjoy at the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center. The museum is set in nine acres of manicured botanical gardens, plus 92 acres of land in the Jurupa Valley. In the gardens, ten dinosaur statues capture the interest of younger visitors before they even step inside the attraction. Inside, there is a wide range of fun and educational exhibits, many of which are interactive. There are also live animals, including fish, turtles, and tortoises.

Heritage House

9. Go to Heritage House

If you like visiting historical landmarks when you visit a new location, then include a visit to Heritage House in your vacation itinerary. It was built in 1891 for James Bettner and his wife. The house is considered one of Riverside's best examples of Victorian architecture, and it has been well-preserved. Visitors can tour the house to see what life was like in the 19th century for people like the Bettners, who had a high income and were well-respected within the community.

Riverside Art Museum

8. See the Art at Riverside Art Museum

A top venue for art enthusiasts is the Riverside Art Museum. The museum is set in a stunning building that was built in 1929. It boasts both permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase artists' work from across the globe. Alongside the art of lesser-known local artists, there are also pieces by famous artists. The museum hosts art classes for various skill levels, although you should book a place in advance.

Whitewater Preserve

7. Explore Whitewater Preserve

If you like spending time outdoors, one of the most beautiful places to explore is Whitewater Preserve. It covers 2,851-acres, and it was created to protect the natural environment around the Whitewater River. The park is surrounded by the wilderness of San Gorgonio, the San Bernardino Mountain Range, and the San Jacinta Mountain Range. Surrounding the river, there is a diverse riparian habitat, which includes many rare plants. It is also home to many animals, including multiple bird species, deer, bears, bighorn sheep, and the fringe-toed lizard, which is an endangered species. There are numerous trails throughout the park so that you can explore the landscape.

Castle Park

6. Take the Kids to Castle Park

A great place to entertain the kids for a couple of hours is at Castle Park. It is a family-friendly amusement park that has been open since 1976, and it offers something for people of all ages. There are 27 rides within the park, including a waterlog slide, roller coasters, a merry-go-round, and a drop tower. There is also a water playground, carnival games, and four miniature golf courses. Furthermore, the attraction has retail outlets and eateries.

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

5. See the Exhibits at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

One of the best places to learn more about the local area's history is at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. It has been open since 1924, and it originally boasted a collection of Native American artifacts donated to the museum by Cornelius Earle Rumsey. Due to donations, the museum soon expanded, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It expanded further in 2004 when the museum acquired Harada House. There are now three main collections at the museum: history, culture, and nature.

Photographs at the California Museum of Photography

4. Enjoy the Photographs at the California Museum of Photography

A popular attraction in Riverside is the California Museum of Photography. There are thousands of photographs on display by photographers from all around the world. In addition to the images, there is also a collection of photography technology artifacts. Additionally, another exhibition looks at the impact of photography on culture and history.

University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens

3. Stroll Around the University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens

One of the prettiest attractions in Riverside is the University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens. The garden is divided into various sections that you can explore, each showcasing different types of plants and features. While Alder Canyon is shaded with California riparian trees, the horticultural collection consists of rose gardens, a cactus garden, and herb gardens. Another section has plants that grow in the Sierra Foothills region, and the geographical collection boasts desert plants from South Africa and Australia.

Mission Inn Museum

2. Go to Mission Inn Museum

You can learn about various aspects of Riverside's history and see a wide range of artifacts collected by the founder of the historic Mission Inn at the Mission Inn Museum, set on the famous hotel's grounds. Frank Miller founded the hotel, and some of his passions were fine art and aviation. The museum houses many interesting items he collected that reflect Miller's passions. Some artifacts show visitors about key events from the area's history and the city's citrus-growing industry.

California Citrus State Historic Park

1. Visit California Citrus State Historic Park

According to Vacation Idea, one of the best things to do in Riverside, CA, is to visit California Citrus State Historic Park. Southern California's citrus economy began in 1873 after two orange trees were sent to a local woman, Eliza Tibbets, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the California Citrus State Historic Park, visitors can learn more about the citrus industry's history in the area. Within the park, there are picnic areas and an amphitheater.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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