Riverside
John Bilous

Riverside

Riverside
Visit this Inland Empire city to learn about its citrus past, stay in a world-famous inn, and tour gardens and galleries

Sixty miles east of Los Angeles, Riverside boasts a number of firsts, including Southern California’s first polo field and golf course. The city also gave birth to the California citrus industry, an entire empire built around the sweet and zesty navel orange. Two dozen nationally registered historic sites and more than 100 city landmarks commemorate this city’s flavorful history, which you can get a taste of on the downtown walking tour, downloadable here or available at the Mission Inn Museum, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, and Riverside City Hall. 

Stop in at California Citrus State Historic Park to learn how citrus became king in Southern California. On a ranger-led tour, taste oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit that grow on the property. Look for more of the city’s citrus past in the Marketplace District’s packing houses and the manicured orange trees lining its downtown streets. 

As Riverside flourished, a local family opened the Glenwood Cottages guest house, which later grew into the world-famous Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, the largest Mission Revival–style building in the United States. The inn’s guest list has included presidents Nixon and Reagan, film stars, and royalty. The unmissable block-long inn is adorned with flying buttresses, archways, courtyards, stained-glass windows, a bell tower, a circular wrought-iron staircase, a chapel with a gold altar, and more than $7 million worth of antiques. Spend a night here—or two—or take the 75-minute tour, offered daily. From the inn’s rooftop, the 360-degree view includes nearby Mount Rubidoux, once owned by the inn’s founder. Year-round, the mountain beckons visitors to climb to its white-cross-topped summit. A paved, one-mile trail leads to the top. 

Riverside celebrates the new along with the old. More than 20,000 students at the University of California Riverside bring a youthful vibe to the city. Visit the campus to walk through the UCR Botanic Gardens, which comprise 39 acres of gardens, woodlands, and horticultural wonders. For an arts-oriented trip, visit the gallery, exhibition space, and film screening room at the Culver Center of the Arts, set in a renovated 1895 department store, and the neighboring UCR California Museum of Photography, one of the West’s best photographic museums. Also worth a trip is the Riverside Art Museum, designed by architect Julia Morgan of Hearst Castle fame. 

When night falls, check out who’s performing at the elegant Fox Performing Arts Center, a 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival theater that held the first public screening of Gone With the Wind. Before the show, grab a few eclectic starters (like Kung Pao Cracker Jack, a combo of fried peanuts, popcorn, and spicy garlic) and a pint of craft beer at popular gastropub The Salted Pig. Or go afterward to take advantage of the restaurant’s creative cocktails and late-night ramen special, served 10 p.m.–1 a.m.

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Discover the Inland Empire

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59
November
Average (°F)
Sept - Nov
91°
High
43°
Low
Dec - Feb
68°
High
39°
Low
Mar - May
80°
High
43°
Low
June - Aug
94°
High
55°
Low

With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.

Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 meters.

Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine-scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow flies. If you’re into action, get the adrenaline rush of seeing the world’s best NASCAR racers compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. For a dreamier escape, float in a hot-air balloon above rolling Temecula Valley wine country. 

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Courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts
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Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona is home to Club Mud, California’s only therapeutic red clay mud bath.
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Harriot Manley

Temecula Valley Wine Country

Taste your way through Southern California's leading wine region

For many visitors, the Temecula Valley wine country is still a surprise. After all, a lot of people just don’t expect to see gently rolling hills...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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John/Flickr
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Temecula Valley is known for its variety, growing and producing over 50 different varietals of wine; from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot to Mourvedre, Viognier to Chardonnay.
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Big Bear Lake

Escape to Southern California’s mountain wonderland

Just two hours from Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer a cool, pine-scented escape. At an altitude of 6,759 feet (2,060 meters), Big...

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Route 66

Get your kicks on America’s legendary highway

Back in its glory days, Route 66 began in Chicago and ended along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific, a 2,451-mile journey through farmlands,...

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Courtesy of Auto Club Speedway

Auto Club Speedway

Rev up for racing action at this classic track

Whether you’re into NASCAR, INDYCAR, or drag racing, Auto Club Speedway delivers all kinds of thrills for fans of powerful cars and high-speed...

March

Get into the checkered-flag spirit at this big and loud NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Cheer for your favourite drivers as they zoom for the front in this 5-wide race event. The action kicks off...

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Courtesy of Auto Club Speedway
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Trip 3-4 days 10 stops

Route 66 - Mother Road

Legendary Highway, California Dream
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Start your trip in this idyllic oceanfront city, bounded by a 3.5-mi/5.6-km-long beach, and feeling more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just a few minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Car-free options, including a shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport (8 miles/13 km south) make...

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On your way to this park, you’ll pass through the little community of Borrego Springs. Stop in at the town’s visitor center to get driving maps to an astounding collection of enormous prehistoric animals—metal sculptures made by artist Ricardo Breceda—that dot the surrounding desert landscape....

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The first Balloon and Wine Festival was launched in the spring of 1984 and was a monumental success for a town of only 9,000 residents. More than 4,000 people attended, as 35 balloons were launched from the Rancho California Plaza.
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Inland Empire Outlets

Find bargains on brand names at major outlet centers

The only thing better than scoring the perfect outfit or designer shoes is to get them for a bargain price. That’s why shopping in the Inland...

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Where to release your inner fashionista

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Robert Sheie/Flickr
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Brian Stevens

San Bernardino Museums

Discover local and natural history and see art from around the world at area museums

Two local museums let you experience everything from the natural side of the Inland Empire to the treasures of ancient Egypt.

The San...

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Brian Stevens

Idyllwild

Nature and the arts find a perfect balance in this quaint mountain hamlet

Backed by mountain wilderness and filled with galleries, Idyllwild is a haven for both outdoor recreation and the arts.

Steep forested...

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San Bernardino National Forest is the largest urban forest in the United States.
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Alex Farnum

Lake Arrowhead

Escape to an exclusive mountain haven

The drive from San Bernardino to Lake Arrowhead is a quick one—just 23 miles/37 km. But as you twist and climb from the busy valley and into the...