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11 Cool Things To Do In Riverside You Haven't Thought of Yet

11 Cool Things To Do In Riverside You Haven't Thought of Yet

While in Riverside, make it a point to do these cool things to make your trip memorable.


5 min read

February 28, 2024

For an all-encompassing experience of Golden State’s Inland Empire, Riverside is calling your name. Being there feels like flipping through the region's resume—and there’s no shortage of achievements either. To name a few, this place is where the first-ever public screening of Gone With the Wind took place, SoCal’s first polo field and golf course was opened, and, of course, the oranges. Riverside practically gave birth to California’s citrus industry, an entire empire built around the sweet and zesty navel orange. But all of this doesn’t even begin to cover all the fun things to do in Riverside—you’ll have to keep reading for that.

Fun Things to Do in Riverside 

If you went to the movies and didn't eat popcorn, did you really go to the movies? Make sure you stock up!

1. See a Drive-In Movie 

Is there anything more romantic than taking your S.O. to a retro drive-in movie? Experience a double feature at the Van Buren Drive-In Theatre, where one ticket grants you access to back-to-back movies. Enjoy the films' soundtracks through FM broadcast, allowing you to immerse yourself in the stories from the comfort of your car. Pack some pillows, snuggle in, and prepare to be transported to distant worlds and captivating adventures.

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2. Take Your Kids to Castle Park

Ever since opening its doors in 1976, Castle Park has been a funhouse for both the young and the young at heart. Armed with 27 different types of rides—including a drop tower, roller coasters, a water log slide, and a merry-go-round—this amusement park is a perfect remedy for a long afternoon. Castle Park even features more than 200 arcade games for all ages, so you can just spend the entire day having fun; wave those daily stresses goodbye.

California Citrus State Historic Park is an open-air museum interpreting the historic cultural landscape of the citrus industry.

3. Squeeze in a Visit to California Citrus State Historic Park

‘Orange’ you glad we mentioned this one? California Citrus State Historic Park is the place to go in Riverside if you want to hear all about, you guessed it, the citrus industry. Groves of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit cover most of your peripheral vision, as the near-perfect weather soothes every bit of your soul. You can even join a free guided tour to sample the famed, freshly-grown California oranges—see their a-peel for yourself.

4. Tee Off at Oak Quarry Golf Club

Nestled in Riverside, the Oak Quarry Golf Club offers a premier 18-hole course that's perfect for golf enthusiasts. This gem in Southern California prides itself on its top-notch facilities, including expansive practice areas, a spacious 7,200 square-foot clubhouse, and a welcoming eatery where guests can enjoy breakfast and lunch. It's the ideal spot to hone your golf skills, relax, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding hills as they come alive with color.

The Riverside Live Steamers was established in 1966 by a group of local railroad enthusiasts to maintain the city's train and railroad.

5. See the Riverside Live Steamers 

In Riverside, there's a unique spot that might not be everyone's cup of tea, yet it's a paradise for train aficionados. The Riverside Live Steamers (RLS) is home to a special railroad dedicated to miniature steam engines. Founded by Joe Hunter, a steam locomotive enthusiast, he was driven by the fear of modern technology rendering these marvels extinct. To preserve the legacy, he acquired 40 acres and built a 4,300-foot railway complete with a steam locomotive and three cars. Today, visitors have the opportunity to explore this fascinating piece of history firsthand.

Awesome Things to do in Riverside County

6. Attend a Performance at Ballet Folklórico de Riverside 

The Riverside Ballet Folklorico is a vibrant dance troupe that celebrates Mexican heritage through their year-round performances. Established in 1977 by Ana de la Tejera, the group's mission is to honor and keep alive Mexican traditions with their music, dance, and colorful attire. With a roster of over 75 talented performers, the troupe lights up the stage at four major events annually, including the Calabaceado Festival, Dia de Los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and a special showcase at UCR. Their performances are a feast for the senses, showcasing incredible skill and passion for dance, offering audiences a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the richness of Mexican cultural arts.

Exhibitions at the Mission Inn Museum look at the hotel's past as well as its long-lasting effects on Riverside and the surrounding area.

7. Visit the Mission Inn Museum 

Consider yourself a bit of a fine-art connoisseur? Plan a visit to the Mission Inn Museum; it’s one of the top things to do in Riverside. Frank Miller—founder and owner of Mission Inn—left behind a variety of artifacts that range from strange to historic. Renowned for his keen eye for detail and valuables, Miller collected everything from upscale aviation trinkets, heirlooms, and art pieces to (strangely enough) marketing records and chronicles. To see all of this up-close, hop on the museum tour and cruise the exhibits of key Riverside events, historic milestones, and other creative achievements.

8. Get Your Photo Fix at the California Museum of Photography

The UCR/California Museum of Photography is a treasure trove for anyone passionate about photography in all its forms. Thanks to backing from the University of California, this museum boasts an extensive collection featuring thousands of photographs from talented individuals worldwide, offering endless inspiration.

For those keen on diving deeper, there’s a fascinating exhibit dedicated to exploring photography's significant influence on history and culture. Additionally, movie enthusiasts will find much to appreciate here, as the museum places a strong emphasis on the world of cinema, frequently showcasing works from a diverse range of filmmakers both from the local scene and across the globe.

Surrounded by the San Gorgonio Wilderness, the Whitewater Preserve is a fantastic place to relax, hike, and cool down.

9. Scout for Rare Plants at the Whitewater Preserve 

Created to protect the environment around the Whitewater River, the 2,850-acre Whitewater Preserve is a slice of rustic bliss. Diverse riparian plants like the southwest willow flycatcher and Bell's vireo dot the area, creating a nice little adventure scouting for these beauties. Not to mention, you'll be surrounded by the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountain Range as well as the San Gorgonio Wilderness the entire time. There's also plenty of animal sightings around the area, including bighorn sheep, deer, bear, and the endangered fringe-toed lizard. Trek the preserve's numerous trails and relish in your time alone with nature's wonders.

10. Shop at the Riverside Certified Farmers Market 

Nestled in the heart of Riverside, this farmers market is the place to go to get your hands on homegrown goods, fresh-baked bread, and other specialty foods. Popular picks include the hummus from Mom's Specialty Food and the decorative plants from Dignan Growers. But if those aren't what you're looking for, there's still plenty to explore—just make sure to come to Main Street any Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Slipping and sliding your way through summer is our definition of fun. Meet ya at the bottom of the slide!

11. Splash around in the Cove Waterpark 

The Cove Waterpark in Jurupa Valley is a hit with families, offering a wide range of thrilling activities. This aquatic playground features an exciting assortment of attractions, including waterslides, a relaxing lazy river, and the adventurous FlowRider, along with various entertaining competitions that are open for everyone to join. If this sounds like your kind of fun, remember to bring along your favorite mineral-based sunscreen and your most stylish swimsuit, and come enjoy a day full of sun and splashes.

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