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Insider’s Guide to Attractions and Activities Around UC Riverside

Insider’s Guide to Attractions and Activities Around UC Riverside

Visit the Botanical Gardens, tour UC Riverside and enjoy the many things to do around the university campus.

Natasha Kouyoumjian


6 min read

November 09, 2022

It’s schools like the University of California, Riverside, and UCR for short, that make obvious decisions even easier. From prospective students to their families and tourists in general, UC Riverside is an interesting locale for anyone to cross for a light and fluffy expedition. Drawing in tourists from everywhere, the university and its surroundings offer a variety of eccentric and exciting adventures. Museums, theaters, architecture, and hiking trails are all present in the city, making it even more aesthetically pleasing.

The campus belltower is one of the most iconic features to witness on the UC Riverside campus, and incoming students should grab a photo by the famous

1. The Campus

Location: 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92521

UC Riverside is a campus full of surprises. Ranked as No. 19 on the Best Public Global Universities for Engineering in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report in 2021, the campus is always filled with forthcoming students scrutinizing the campus. If you’re visiting the campus, the tall bell tower with a hanging clock is one thing you shouldn’t miss out on. If you’re lucky, the gates at the back might even be open, granting you access to a smooth lift up the tower. On another note, the university library can be a cool place to go while at UC Riverside, CA

If you’re still wondering whether UC Riverside is right for you, there are plenty of aspects that can lead you right out of your doubts. Enjoy a series of world-renowned snacks and coffee shops on campus. If you share the millennial gene of working from a coffee shop, you might want to follow the tantalizing aroma of black gold – some might even call it coffee. Likewise, plentiful things are located on this nature-oriented campus, directly reflecting the history of the university and Riverside itself. Yes – the citrus green parks are what we’re referring to. Make sure you find the cumquat tree for a sour-sweet refreshing bite. 

2. UCR Botanical Gardens Trails

Location: 1 Botanic Gardens Dr, Riverside, CA 92507
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 50 min
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 298 ft
Route Type: Loop

As if the campus needed more reasons to pull students in, the UCR Botanical Garden hiking trail is there to give the students a soothing and beautiful hike from the botanical garden itself. Enjoy a series of greenhouses and mountains opening up in front of you on this short trail. The trail is pet-friendly, wheelchair friendly, and has active wildlife. Also, the trail is well known for its hikers as well as runners that enjoy trekking the trail on a fresh morning run. How’s this for fun things to do in Riverside?

To add to this fiesta, the Botanical Garden of UC Riverside, lodged on university property, is completely free of charge. You will want to pass by this garden to embrace some grounded energy evoked by the various plant species, and invite some tranquility into your day. Get ready to be lured into the little rose garden, when the fragrance emitted from the colorful parade tickles you in the nose. Be sure to check out the turtles basking in the sun on the little pond, and the unique Ficus grove. If you’re interested in taking part in the plant preservation project, the garden welcomes donations.

3. Unity Escape Room

Location: 2015 W Park Ave #2b, Redlands, CA 92373

We won't sit here and antagonize the magic that is technology, but detaching from our cell phones for some quality bonding time with our surroundings can be a truly rewarding activity. In fact, one of the super fun things to do in UC Riverside – one that has become a tourist attraction – is the Unity Escape Room. While bonding with strangers can feel a little prudent, escape rooms are just the tool you need to have a precious connecting experience. Most times, tapping out of the virtual and engaging in face-to-face interactions with body language and everything in between can be the only refreshment you need. If you’re a student or a visitor at UC Riverside, sure enough, you’ll want to make some room in your day to escape into this charming adventure.

Any seat could be the best seat in the house in this retro art center.

4. Fox Performing Arts Center

Location: 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

With an old-school, small theater setting, you’ll have the best seat in the house no matter where you’re placed in this Arts Center. Yes, UC Riverside might be the Engineering hub of California, but it doesn't mean it can’t look and sound artsy while doing it. With easy access to great food and ongoing shows, this is easily one of the great things to do in Riverside at night. Though it draws in a lot of art buffs, it still remains a tourist attraction, and one of the theaters you need to see.

You can’t really get to know a city without visiting its downtown area, and downtown Riverside is boasting beautiful, palm tree-studded streets.

5. Main Street Riverside

Location: Main Street, Riverside, CA

A charming pedestrian alleyway with a full blend of unique shops is only the beginning of what you can find here. This perfect shopping destination has everything you’ll want to find for you and your special someone. Besides the captivating shopping experience, the unique merchandise, and the vibrant atmosphere, trying the specialized cuisine and restaurants must be on your list of things to do in Riverside. And if you’re searching for pedestrian areas, you can also find many Riverside county parks to reset amongst beautiful nature.

We’re just as confused as you are. Is it a mission, a resort, or a museum? Aaron Guzman, CC BY-SA 4.0.

6. Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

Location: 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is genuinely a confusing place at first glance given its extraordinary beauty, you almost second-guess what you’ve walked into. But we can assure you that this is a must-see Riverside landmark. Hosting up to ten US Presidents, countless luminaries, and even a movie star or two, this Mission Inn Hotel is the definition of Mediterranean Revival architecture. If you’re thinking majestic, this is it. Built around 1876 as a 12-room adobe, this place stood as a competitor to the Winchester Mystery House. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a full-day treatment, be sure to clear up your schedule to meet this divinity on your trip to UC Riverside.

Often referred to as the Mission Revival, the Hotel soon grew into one of the west’s greatest getaways. If you’re still confused about its name, the founder, Frank Augustus Miller, traveled the world bringing back keepsakes and inspiration from the Orient, Europe, and Spain. So, enjoy a wonderful time basking in the international beauty of the Inn, the fine restaurants, and the luxurious jazz spa. But our greatest tip is to book your stay at Glenwood rooms, for an unimaginable view of the Spanish patio. 

The spiral staircase of the museum will coil you down to colonial times.

7. Mission Inn Museum

Location: 3696 Main St, Riverside, CA 92501

Whether or not you’re staying in the hotel shouldn’t be a concern when considering visiting this divinity. A 75-minute walking tour inside the mission at the museum will give you the chance to learn about the mission’s history. You’ll be fascinated to find out that 7 million dollars worth of History is carefully picked and situated near the blissful UC Riverside

A chapel with 7 Tiffany stained-glass windows and a gold leaf cedar altar from the 1700s is a part of the museum’s unique selection, which is famed for destination weddings. You’ll be swept away by Henry Chapman's California mission paintings and the numerous tower bells. Be sure to take a closer look into the cupula to shower your eyes with the details of the miniature scenes from Ramona – Helen Jackson's book. 

Ever danced in the fantasy of becoming the President of the United States? We all have. Get ready because UC Riverside is where your dreams will come true. Outside, the Presidential lounge has a display of all of America’s presidents and even President Taft's chair – and yes, you can sit on it! Have your cameras fully charged, because you will want to make this moment last.

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