Riverside is one of the largest cities in the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles. Palm trees line the sidewalks of this city of 300,000 people, and the stunning architecture of Southern California defines the sprawling streets of downtown. The historic Mission Inn, in the heart of the city center, sets the tone for the rest of the city, with impressive Renaissance architecture that spans an entire block. The historic Mission Inn is an aesthetic piece of the architecture of the Spanish Mission that sets the tone for the rest of the downtown district.
It occupies an entire block with a presence similar to that of a castle. And while this historic hotel has a long legacy in the city, it offers modern comfort and luxury in the heart of the city center. From a pension to bankruptcy and more than one renovation, the hotel's history spans more than a century and can be felt on the walls and in the elegant decor. In addition, as one of the best hotels in Riverside, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa allows guests to continue the legacy of nighttime visits.
The Mission Inn is also home to many award-winning restaurants, such as Duane's Prime Steaks and Seafood. Reservations at this popular surf and grass restaurant are recommended. To enjoy the holiday cheer, the Mission Inn hosts a Festival of Lights for six weeks at the end of each year. Starting with an eye-catching lighting ceremony, more than five million Christmas lights illuminate the hotel in an instant, followed by a high-altitude fireworks show.
Alongside the lights, tourists find animatronic exhibits, horse-drawn carriages and even freshly fallen snow. The entire Inland Empire is also on display at the top of Rubidoux with a 360-degree perspective, providing a great place to pack a lunch and enjoy the view. Depending on the route, the trip up and down usually takes between two and three hours, also depending on the time you spend admiring the panoramic landscape. This 250-acre state park is located southwest of the city center and is dedicated to the state's citrus legacy, also known as California's second gold rush.
Colorful citrus fields encompass half of this historic park, demonstrating the important landscape of California's history. And the visitor center tells the story of the citrus industry with exhibitions and interpretive exhibits. These botanical gardens welcome visitors to a lush environment on the University of California's Riverside campus, in the foothills of Box Springs Mountain. Four miles of trails explore the 40 acres of the garden, with well-placed benches and interpretive information along the way.
The Van Buren Drive-In Theater also hosts a popular Swap Meet with more than 300 vendors. This shopping market takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from early in the morning until late afternoon. The March Field Aeronautical Museum presents more than 70 aircraft and thousands of artifacts on display, covering a chronology of aviation over 100 years. These generations of aircraft are on display both inside and outside the museum, with several of the larger aircraft parked near the hangar.
The Riverside Museum of Art exhibits rotating exhibitions complemented by a permanent collection of more than 1500 works of art. It's less than two blocks from the historic Mission Inn and always has something new on display. Various media are also on display, ranging from lithographs to posters and watercolors. When finished, the Santa Ana River Trail will cover 110 miles between the San Bernardino National Forest and the ocean at Huntington Beach.
The trail is approximately 60 percent complete today and follows the river of the same name all the way. The part that stretches along the northwest side of Riverside is completely intact and connects several of the city's most excellent outdoor spaces. This downtown museum dates back to the 1920s, when it first opened as the Riverside Municipal Museum. Since then, the museum's collection has grown to encompass a wide variety of artifacts from across the region.
And the name change in 1991 to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum reflects that broader approach. Nowadays, the three aspects of the museum's collection are history, natural sciences and anthropology. Visitors learn about topics such as native rocks and minerals and the vast citrus industry that fueled the city's initial growth. The entire collection is showcased with eye-catching exhibits, including 3D dioramas and several photographs.
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum also oversees the Heritage House, south of the city center. This restored Victorian estate features authentic furniture and decor from the turn of the century, giving a glimpse of a well-to-do lifestyle from the 19th century. Guided tours are available approximately between September and June. Fairmount Park offers a wealth of open space to explore next to Mount Rubidoux Park.
A picturesque bike path surrounds Lake Evans, the water fountain that defines the park, and connects other park services, such as a soundtrack, play areas, tennis courts and a historic pier where you can rent pedal boats. Adjacent to the University of California's Riverside campus, Box Springs Mountain Preserve allows visitors to walk directly into nature from the moment they get out of the car. It's a welcome getaway, easily accessible from the city center, and the constant flow of nearby traffic dissipates the further you go along one of the trails that lead to the top of this 3,000-foot mountain. The M Trail, a recommended but rugged route to reach the top, tests your legs and offers a 360-degree view that encompasses Riverside and Moreno Valley.
The Ride Park is perhaps the most popular spot in Castle Park. This crowded area has more than 20 attractions, ranging from spinning flying saucers to the Riverside Express train ride. This area of the park has a variable schedule throughout the year. See the official website for current operating hours.
Minigolf at Castle Park is also especially fun and is available all year round. It has four highly themed 18-hole courses with several built elements, such as windmills and pagodas. Visitors can opt for a single 18 or buy a pass to play on all four fields. Riverside, California, was established in 1870 and was named for its proximity to the San Ana River.
Riverside County is east of Los Angeles County and Orange County. It often doesn't get the same press as those other famous places in Southern California. Located in Riverside, 24 km from Auto Club Speedway, Hampton Inn Riverside Downtown offers accommodation with an outdoor pool, private parking, a shared lounge and barbecue facilities. This 2-star hotel offers free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk and a business centre.
Guests can have a drink in the snack bar. The hotel rooms include a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. The rooms at Hampton Inn Riverside Downtown have air conditioning and a wardrobe. The accommodation offers a buffet or American breakfast.
More than 80 aircraft are on display outside the museum, including an Aero Commander U-9A, a Boeing B-29A Superfortress and a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird. Inside the museum, visitors can see a replica of the Wright Flyer and a section of the cabin of a Boeing B-47, which was part of the filming set of Jimmy Stewart's 1955 film “Strategic Air Command”. The university calls its gardens a “museum of living plants”, which has more than 3500 species of plants and thousands of specimens from places with Mediterranean climates, as well as California. Visitors can also stroll through the Iris Garden, with its 150 different types of bearded lilies, and along Lilac Lane, which is located inside the Chancellor's Canyon and has flowers in winter.
Slightly older children (and adults too) will have fun on the Crow's Nest slides, which have 180 feet of slippery slides that flow into a lagoon. In general, the park is better for parents and their young children. Anyone under 10 years old will probably enjoy all of the fun and silly pirate-themed water fountains in the park. Adventurous teens and adults may need a little more excitement than the park can offer.
Some of the most interesting pieces of souvenirs in the museum are the 18th century helmets used by European firefighters. The Rose Garden is a popular wedding venue and is in a convenient location close to highways 91 and 60. Although you can walk around the park grounds in just a few hours, it's easy to spend an entire afternoon exploring the gardens. Looking for day trips from Riverside? Whitewater Preserve covers an incredible 2,851 acres and is nestled in the San Gorgonio Desert.
The road to the reserve is long and winding, but the destination is well worth the time it takes to get to the park. There are five trails to enjoy in the park, and older children and dogs can easily walk the 3.5-mile circular trail. Just be sure to watch carefully as you walk, as trails aren't always easy to distinguish between the bush. Discover the best travel tools Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit more than 10 countries in a year.
While you might assume that Orange County has all the oranges in Southern California, it's actually Riverside that claims the state's biggest citrus industry. The UC Riverside Botanical Gardens are located on the east side of the University of California's Riverside campus and are the perfect place to get away from the traffic and hustle of Southern California. Riverside County is home to several museums with exhibits of art, photography, natural history, and local culture. However, the city of Riverside and the surrounding county are home to more than one hundred historic sites, parks and museums.