20 Things To Do In Riverside

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The 11th largest and 12th most populous city in California, Riverside is a destination that often flies under the radar. Located on the eastern outskirts of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, its rural location and more famous neighbours mean it simply gets overlooked.

While Riverside admittedly doesn’t have the abundance of tourist attractions that some other cities in the LA Metro have, it is an authentic location to experience southern California’s relaxed lifestyle, culture and atmosphere. Unfortunately, with it being less talked about, it means those who do decide to make the trip are often left not knowing what to do when they arrive. With that in mind, here are the 20 best things to do in Riverside, California.

Riverside, California

20 Things To Do In Riverside

1- Peruse The Exhibits At The Riverside Art Museum

riverside gandhi statue
Downtown Riverside is an outdoor museum with statues of great leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Dosan Ahn Chang Ho, Eliza Tibbets, who planted and bred America’s first naval orange tree.

Riverside Art Museum is a non-profit museum designed to exhibit local art and hosts art classes, lectures and workshops while allowing visitors to purchase certain pieces.

Its permanent collection contains around 1500 pieces, while an average of 20 rotating exhibits are held each year.

The building is also one of the most historic in Riverside and is listed on the U.S. National Register Of Historic Places.

It is stunningly beautiful with a combination of Classical and Mediterranean architecture, blending concrete, glass, terracotta, and wood.

Riverside Art Museum is at 3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, 92501.

2- Explore Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park

riverside aerial
The city may not be as well-known as other Californian destinations. Here are some fo the things to do in Riverside if you’re planning a visit.

Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park is a 1,100-acre (445 ha) ecological park that centres around the Box Springs mountains.

With 15 miles (24 km) of biking, hiking, and horse riding trails, it is a fabulous location to explore the region’s natural side.

With the top of Box Springs Mountain standing 3,080 ft (940 m) in the air, it is also a wonderful place to take in some stunning vistas of Riverside and its surroundings.

Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park is at 9699 Box Springs Mountain Road, Moreno Valley, 92557.

3- Have A Fun Day Out At Castle Park

Castle Park is a family-friendly amusement park that has been operating in Riverside since 1976.

With a collection of 22 different rides, including two rollercoasters and various other attractions, it is the perfect opportunity for some carefree fun with all the family.

With additional features like an arcade, magic show, mini-golf course, water play area, a range of concessions stands, and venues for private rentals, the options for fun are endless at Castle Park.

Castle Park is at 3500 Polk Street, Riverside, 92505.

4- Enjoy A Walk In California Citrus State Historic Park

things to do in riverside two oranges on a tree
One of the things to do in Riverside is to learn about the area’s citrus industry.

Established in 1993, California Citrus State Historic Park is an open-air museum, park and garden dedicated to preserving the history of California’s 20th-century citrus industry boom.

Numerous exhibits and accounts from people involved cover the movement’s cultural, environmental, and political aspects.

With the park still producing citrus fruit to this day, it is a perfect place to learn about this side of California’s industry while seeing things first-hand.

California Citrus State Historic Park is at 9400 Dufferin Avenue, Riverside, 92503.

5- Learn About Plants At The UC Riverside Botanic Gardens

fun things to do in riverside big white flowers blossoming during spring season, california tree poppy in closeup, nature background
Wandering around the botanic gardens is one of the things to do in Riverside California.

The UC Riverside Botanic Gardens is a 40-acre site dedicated to teaching people about plants and nature while letting them see everything for themselves.

With over 3,500 different species of plants, more than 200 breeds of birds, a butterfly garden, and a turtle pond, guests can enjoy a vibrant collection of experiences from the surrounding region and further afield.

Riverside Botanic Gardens is at 1 Botanic Gardens Drive, Riverside, 92507.

For more California ideas, see:

6- Go Hiking In Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park

skyline riverside
The Riverside skyline.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a 1,424-acre (576 ha) wilderness area within the Riverside city limits.

With an abundance of wildlife, plus hiking and biking trails running throughout it, connecting it to many of the surrounding neighbourhoods, it is the ideal place to escape from the city and enjoy nature.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is at 400 Central Avenue, Riverside, 92507.

7- Take In The Sights In Mount Rubidoux Park

things to do in riverside ca world peace bridge at dusk
One of the most popular things to do in Riverside CA is to visit the World Peace Bridge atop Mount Rubidoux Park, which is is an important landmark and religous site in Southern California.

Mount Rubidoux Park is a park and garden centred around the 484 foot (148 m) Mount Rubidoux.

Among its most prominent attractions is a white cross at the mountain’s peak dedicated to Father Junipero Serra and the iconic Peace Tower historical landmark.

With hiking trails around the park and up the mountain and incredible views offered on all sides, the park is equally suited whether you want to hike, enjoy the vistas and history, or take the dog for a walk.

Mount Rubidoux Park is at 4706 Mount Rubidoux Drive, Riverside, 92501.

8- Go For A Swim In Lake Matthews Estelle Mountain Reserve

The Lake Matthews Estelle Mountain Reserve is a 4,000-acre nature preserve centred around Lake Matthews.

A manmade reservoir constructed in 1961, the lake provides the opportunity for a scenic swim.

Enjoy the water beneath the California sun while making the most of the stunning views, beautiful plant life, and a collection of wildlife that includes kangaroo rats and various birds.

Lake Matthews Estelle Mountain Reserve, Corona, 92883.

9- Test Your Nerve In The Gothic Hills Cemetery

things to do in riverside at night vector drawing of haunted house
Looking for a fun thing to do in Riverside? There’s a haunted house attraction for some scares.

The Gothic Hills Cemetery is a haunted house attraction in southwest Riverside that has carefully produced sets and is decked out to recreate a chilling version of a cemetery, complete with tombs and crypts.

If you love ghosts, ghouls and other scary things, this is the perfect opportunity to have some fun and test your nerve in Riverside.

Gothic Hills Cemetery is at 11109 Middleborough Road, Riverside, 92503.

10- Attend A Performance At The University Theatre

things to do in riverside this weekend gold and silver masks
One of the things to do in Riverside at night is to attend a theatre performance.

The University Theatre is a 492 seat performing arts theatre just to the south of the University Of California, Riverside campus.

Home to a wide range of productions covering art forms that include disciplines like dance, drama, and music, it is the perfect place to catch an outstanding performance while helping to support up-and-coming performers in the state.

The University Theatre is at 900 University Avenue, Riverside, 92507.

11- Be Amazed By The Photos In UCR Arts

UCR Arts, also known as the California Museum Of Photography, is an art gallery dedicated to photography exhibits relating to art, history, and technology.

Considered the most comprehensive collection of photographs in the western United States, the museum is split into four interlinked areas.

With hundreds of thousands of negatives and prints and cameras and photography equipment, it is a must-visit location for anyone even remotely interested in the art form.

UCR Arts is at 3824 Main Street, Riverside, 92501.

12- Uncover History At The Mission Inn Museum

riverside historic house 2
Admiring historic architecture is one of the things to do in Riverside.

The Mission Inn Museum is a United States National Historic Landmark hotel that has been converted into a museum dedicated to local history.

Its beautiful Mission Revival architectural style and a comprehensive collection of local art and history exhibits allow you to learn about the area while seeing one of its most stunning locations first-hand.

Mission Inn Museum is T 3696 Main Street, Riverside, 92501.

13- Study The Architecture Of The Chinese Pavilion

things to do in riverside california (historic county courthouse)
Admiring architecture is another of the things to do in Riverside to kill some time. Pictured here is the country courthouse.

The Chinese Pavilion is a traditional Chinese pagoda located in an urban park on Mission Inn Avenue.

Created using vibrant colours, traditional Chinese styles and sculptures, it gives you the chance to embrace diversity, soak in the stylings of a different culture, and relax while watching the world go by.

The Chinese Pavilion is at 456 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, 92501.

14- Embrace Diversity At The Cheech Marin Center For Chicano Art & Culture

The art centre is a brand new attraction, opened as a partnership between the legendary comedian and the Riverside Art Museum.

It displays Cheech Marin’s personal collection of Chicano art, which is considered to be one of the world’s best.

Hundreds of drawings, paintings, photos, sculptures, and video art, by both famous and lesser-known artists, create an impressive collection of Chicano art.

Cheech Marin Center For Chicano Art & Culture is at 3581 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, 92501.

15- See The World’s Largest Paper Cup

The World’s Largest Paper Cup is a unique landmark originally built for the Sweetheart Cup Company.

Standing 68.1 ft (20.8 m) tall and made of poured concrete, this unique building is designed and painted to look just like a paper cup.

While there isn’t much to do at the site, it is undoubtedly a quirky attraction and one that is well worth stopping at to take a few fun photos.

The World’s Largest Paper Cup is at 800 East Citrus Street, Riverside, 92507.

16- Discover The Area’s Past At The Center For Social Justice & Civil Liberties

It’s an archive, art gallery, educational centre and research museum in a stunning 1926 California Churriguresque Revival-style building.

With exhibits dedicated to civil rights, Inland Empire history and social issues, visiting this centre is an excellent thing to do in Riverside to learn about the history of both art and diversity in California.

There are various educational programs, films, paintings and a large collection of works by Japanese American artist Miné Okubo.

The Center For Social Justice & Civil Liberties is at 3855 Market Street, Riverside, 92506.

17- Relax In Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is a beautiful 250-acre park in north-central Riverside.

Rose gardens, lawns, woods, and picnic areas are ideal for those who want to take a relaxing stroll, while three beautiful lakes give you the chance to go fishing, swimming, or rent a pedal boat and explore the water.

Add attractions like a bandshell, bowling green, gazebo, golf course, playground, jiu-jitsu garden, exercise classes, barbeques, memorial installations and tennis courts.

The park hosts numerous public events and is a central place to enjoy being outdoors.

Fairmount Park is at 2601 Fairmount Boulevard, Riverside, 92501.

18- Play A Round On The Fairmount Golf Course

The Fairmount Golf Course is a small golf course and driving range in the north section of Fairmount Park.

Being a smaller course and having a range to work on your drive makes it ideal for new golfers, while the scenic surroundings mean it can be enjoyed by those with more experience as well.

The facilities are all top-notch, while it even has a well-stocked pro shop and snack bar and boasts reasonable prices, making it an ideal choice for a fun yet active day out under the California sun.

Fairmount Golf Course is at 2681 Dexter Drive, Riverside, 92501.

19- Be Entertained At The Van Buren Drive-In Theatre And Swap Meet

The Van Buren Drive-In Theatre And Swap Meet has a collection of historic 1964 outdoor drive-in theatre screens.

With the drive-in movie becoming a thing of the past, this location provides the chance to experience a disappearing iconic American pastime with a roster of classic and modern movies.

For those who aren’t interested in movies, or even if you can’t get enough of the venue, the site hosts a swap meet every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, between 6 am and 2 pm.

With over 300 vendors, you can pick up some bargains and have fun while enjoying historical surroundings.

Van Buren Drive-In Theatre is at 3035 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, 92503.

20- Catch A Show At The Fox Performing Arts Center

things to do in riverside, ca Fox Performing Arts Center
Seeing a show at the Fox Performing Arts Center is one of the things to do in Riverside at night.

The Fox Performing Arts Center is a building constructed in 1929 using a blend of Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival architectural styles.

Considered the heart of the Riverside art and culture movement, its claim to fame is hosting the world premiere of “Gone With The Wind” in 1939.

Deemed an important Riverside Landmark, it underwent a $35 million renovation from 2006 to 2009.

Since reopening, it has hosted some of the biggest and best Broadway revivals, concerts, and classic movie screenings, making it a great place to enjoy the best entertainment in iconic surroundings.

3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, 92501. 

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.