Top 10 Reasons to Visit Riverside, California

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Riverside is a charming city located in Riverside County, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.  Initially famous as the cradle of the California citrus industry, today, this city has more than 100 historic landmarks and is rich with flavorful culture and history.

Thinking about paying Riverside a visit? Read on to find out about this city’s top locations and events that make it an excellent destination for your next traveling adventure.

1. Historical Houses

Riverside has thirteen historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Home to many beautiful, historically significant buildings, these districts are known for their various architectural styles, including Victorian, Craftsman, Art Deco, and Mission Revival.

Many of Riverside’s charming, vintage buildings are well-preserved and open to visitors.  One of the most notable houses is the Weber House, which even has 3D tours available online.

There are other similar iconic houses in this city built by outstanding architects, so if you’re interested in American architecture, you should definitely learn more about historical homes in Riverside, CA.

2. Riverside Metropolitan Museum

This museum features exhibits on the history of Riverside and the surrounding area. It includes artifacts of the city’s founding and development, indigenous peoples’ history, Riverside’s arts, and science history, and many others.

You can see Native American basketry collections,  machinery from Riverside’s citrus industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, archaeological remnants from Riverside’s Chinatown, and many other fascinating reminders of past times.

3. The Mission Inn

Located in downtown Riverside, The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa has been a popular destination for tourists and famous people for over a hundred years. It is a magnificent example of the Mission Revival Style of architecture, built in the early 20th century by Frank A. Miller, a local businessman.

The hotel, which spans an entire city block, has four restaurants, a day spa, 239 guest rooms (nine are designated presidential suites), and a golf course. The Mission Inn has been renovated and expanded over the years and is a National Historic Landmark, a California Historic Landmark, and Riverside City Landmark.

It is a crucial part of Riverside’s history and a great, charming place to stay while visiting.

4. Fox Performing Arts Center

Sitting in the heart of downtown Riverside is the Fox Performing Arts Center. Built-in a beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival style, this charming theatre was opened in 1929 and completely overhauled in 2009.

This center is most famous for being the first theatre to screen the 1939 film Gone With the Wind. The theater offers diverse events, including dance performances, theatre productions, and concerts by local and national artists.

It is a site worth visiting for people interested in the cultural landmarks and the history of the Inland Empire.

5. Mount Rubidoux

Located west of Riverside, Mount Rubidoux is a popular destination due to its historical and recreational significance. The mountain is home to several hiking trails and offers panoramic views of the city. Mount Rubidoux is also known for the Easter Sunrise Service, the longest continually running outdoor Easter service in the US.

At the mountain’s summit is a memorial to Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar who played a vital role in the spread of Catholicism in California during the 18th century. The mountain also has a rich indigenous cultural history, as it was a sacred site for the local Native American tribes for thousands of years.

Mount Rubidoux Park takes up 161 acres of land, with 3.5 miles of paved roads and hiking paths. It is a well-liked location for climbing, jogging, cycling, walking, bird watching, and other outdoor pursuits.

6. Fairmount Park

Located next to the Santa Ana River trail, Fairmount Park has a breathtaking natural environment and a lot of space for various outdoor activities. It offers picnic areas, playgrounds, a spray park, a disc golf course, hiking and biking trails, a skatepark, courts for soccer, basketball, baseball, and other sports, and a community center with a gym and a pool.

Overall, Fairmount Park is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors after an exhausting day of sightseeing in the city.

7. Riverside Botanical Gardens

These fantastic botanical gardens at the University of California, Riverside campus are home to a wide variety of plants, flowers, and trees, as well as several scenic walking paths and areas for picnics and relaxation.

You can visit different areas, such as a succulent garden, a rose garden with more than 1000 rose varieties, a native plant garden that showcases plants native to the Riverside area, and a palm collection featuring over 60 different types of palms from around the world.

8. California Citrus State Historic Park

At its peak in the 19th and early 20th  century, the Inland Empire was home to thousands of acres of citrus groves and was one of the largest citrus-producing regions in the world. This industry, formerly detrimental to the region’s development and growth, has declined significantly in recent decades.

While residential and commercial developments have replaced many former citrus groves, The California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside aims to preserve the legacy. It is a fantastic place to learn about the citrus industry’s history and see various trees up close. The Park is open to the public and offers guided tours for visitors.

9. March Field Air Museum

The aviation history museum resides on the March Air Reserve base. It displays over 100 significant aircraft used by the US military throughout history.

Visitors to the  March Field Air Museum can see military planes, helicopters, and experimental aircraft collections. Furthermore, there are exhibits on the history of aviation, and displays of military uniforms, weapons, and other equipment. With an adjacent gift shop selling aviation-themed souvenirs and memorabilia, and different educational programs and activities, it is a fun site to visit for families and tourists.

10. Riverside Festivals

Fans of festivals are in for a treat if they decide to visit Riverside. Three major festivals occur at different times of the year:

  • The Riverside Festival of Lights has been a Christmas tradition in this city for decades. The center of the display is the Mission Inn hotel, which hosts the event, but the rest of the town also gets in the Christmas spirit. You can stroll down Riverside streets, visit shops and vendors and enjoy the warm California holiday cheer.
  • The annual Riverside Tamale Festival showcases the city’s vibrant Latino heritage. It reminds residents of the story of Lorenzo Trujillo and the ten founding families that crossed the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico and settled in the Riverside region in the 19th century. This festival features traditional Mexican dishes, drinks, performances, and vendors selling arts, crafts, and other items.
  • The Riverside Lunar Festival honors various  East-Asian communities in this area. It celebrates the Lunar New Year, which typically falls between January 21st and February 20th on the Gregorian calendar. The Riverside Lunar Festival is a family-friendly outdoors event, with many residents and visitors attending each year. It allows you to learn about and experience East-Asian cultures, see traditional performances, try delicious food, and participate in fun activities and games.

Experience the Sunny Side of Life in Riverside

As you can see, there are many reasons to visit this small but vibrant city. Now that you know all the top places to check out in Riverside, you can indulge your curiosity and cross out another destination on your traveling list.

We hope you have a lovely time!

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