Best Things To Do In Riverside California

When we have some downtime, we enjoy writing about places we have previously lived for extended periods of time. That brings us to Riverside, California where we spent the first 7 years of our marriage. Even though we have moved on, Riverside, California holds a special place for us.  We’ve compiled a list of the Best Things To Do In Riverside California.

Riverside sometimes gets a bad rap when speaking to people around the Orange County and San Diego areas, but they genuinely don’t know what they’re talking about. We have lived all over Southern California, Orange County, San Diego County and when we think back, Riverside was always one of our favorites.  I know this is a long-winded explanation, but I wanted to pump Riverside’s tires a little before getting started.

If you are in Riverside, either on a business trip or vacation with your spouse, you can go to TripAdvisor and find the top 10 things to do; however, I believe you need to get information from someone who knows it on a more personal level. There are so many little things that make this city great that never get mentioned.

Of course, there are four or five things that I suggest as top things to see that will be on everybody’s to do list, but I’m also going to give you five or six things that hardly ever get mentioned. I’m going to start in an area that we lived in for many years. It’s called Orangecrest and the zip code is 92508 if you want to look it up on a map.

National Cemetery, Golf & Yummy Food

Riverside National Cemetery

  • The Riverside National Cemetary is one of those attractions that is on everybody’s list of Must Do’s when in Riverside. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful cemeteries and Veterans Memorials you’re ever going to visit. The landscaping is impeccably maintained year-round, and it has a beautiful view of the vast mountains. It is such a beautiful resting place for our Veterans.

General Old Golf Course

  • The course is very close to the National Cemetery.  I remember spending countless hours here improving my game. The prices are always great, and a large bucket of balls means a large bucket of balls!! One of my favorite times to play golf at General Old is right before the sun sets during the warmer months. The temperature is usually perfect, the views are beautiful, and your stress melts away. Full disclosure if you are somebody that only plays the best courses available this one might not be for you. The greens are always in amazing shape, but fairways can be sketchy in some areas. That being said it’s a very challenging course and will test every part of your game. Their twilight rates are fantastic; you can usually play for under $30. Check GolfNow for great deals.


There are a few that we like but for different reasons. I’ll go over our top picks and the reasons why.

Indian Food

  • If you like Indian food, I highly recommend you check out Gandhi Indian Cuisine. I go here for the buffet during lunch hours. For around $12 or $13, you’re going to eat some of the best Indian food you’ve ever had in your life. The garlic naan bread is to die for!! The address is 1355 East Alessandro Boulevard, or you can Google it.

Italian Food

  • If you are looking for take-out, give Antonio’s Pizza a try.  It ‘s a local favorite, and the prices are quite reasonable!!  There is no indoor seating so its take-out only. If you are in the Orangecrest area and you are looking for more of a sit-down bar type experience, give Ramono’s a try.  It would be considered the sports bar in the area; we enjoyed going on Sunday’s to watch football and meet up with friends.  It is a popular hangout spot on Friday and Saturday nights. Is the pizza good? Yes, we love their Quattro Formaggi Pizza, Pepperoni, and their antipasto salad is terrific.

Thai Food

  • Whenever we felt like Thai food, we would always go to Gra Pow.  Their Happy Hour is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. to midnight daily is pretty awesome!!  They have delicious food and drinks at a great price. There are two sides to Gra Pow; one is a bar area and the other is more of a sit-down dinner type restaurant. If you’re in the mood to grab a couple of appetizers and a drink we highly recommend that you check this place out for Happy Hour or dinner.

Downtown Riverside

Downtown Riverside

So now we are going to move North and cross over the 91 freeway. I’m going to lump the next part of the blog into Downtown Riverside. Again, if you go online, you will find five or six attractions which the major sites are going to suggest you visit, some of them are good which we will mention, others I am going to leave out. We don’t find them worthy of making our list for couples.

Take a drive and look at the Historic Homes

  • One of the coolest things about Riverside and why the city has so much character is the town is over 140 years old. If you have a rental car, I suggest taking a drive around the “Wood Streets area” to check out some of the homes. The architecture, build quality and landscaping are all things that are truly beautiful in this area, and everyone can appreciate. Best of all the only cost to you is some gas.

Walk up Mount Rubidoux

  • While traveling, we have a theme of staying healthy. (#abroadworkouts on Instagram).  There is a great hike that you can take which is Mount Rubidoux.  We like this hike or walking trail because it is for most fitness levels, from beginner to advanced. It’s also dog-friendly as long as your dog is on a leash. Round trip this hike is around 2.7 miles and the best part is when you get to the top, where you will find a 360-degree view of Riverside.  The one thing you need to be careful with is parking your car. Make sure you read the signs because there are pesky city parking enforcement guys/gals that seem to hide in the bushes waiting to give tickets.

Fox Performing Arts Center

  • This theater is a great place to either start or end a night out together. It’s a beautiful Spanish Colonial style building that was revamped in 2009. I’m not really into plays all that much, but we have gone to a few concerts at the theater, and they were a lot of fun.   Again, it’s a great way to either begin or end the night in the downtown area. If you Google Fox Performing Arts, you will find a schedule of upcoming events and times that you can attend.

Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

Every travel website is going to have the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa on their things to do list in Riverside. Hopefully, we can give you some insight on specific things that might not be mentioned on their site.  First off, if you are in Riverside from the day after Thanksgiving until early January, you must see the Annual Festival of Lights. This place is an incredible sight during the holidays when its decorated for Chrismas. It was named Best Public Lights Display in the Nation by US Today. If you’re with your spouse or family, make sure you go check it out and take advantage of everything that’s going on!! Whether it’s the skating rink, food vendors, restaurants or beautiful Christmas lights there is something for everyone.  Don’t forget your camera. If you’re not in Riverside during the Christmas lights, don’t worry there’s still so much to see and do. Our top things around the Mission Inn are:

Presidential Lounge in The Mission Inn

  • Many Friday or Saturday nights we would start at the lounge for a drink and then walk around the hotel before deciding on which place to eat.  Sit around the bar, grab a drink and enjoy the ambiance. We can feel the history while sitting chatting with people.

Las Campanas

  • Our favorite restaurant in the Mission Inn is Las Campanas. If you like Mexican food I would check this place out. One of the reasons we enjoy this place so much is the outdoor dining area. It’s surrounded by beautiful palm trees, lush vegetation and beautiful decor. We suggest that you call and make reservations as sometimes they get pretty packed. We also love the weekly specials, enjoy your night out and don’t break the bank, which is something everybody loves. On Sunday and Monday, they have Margarita specials for $5.95 each. Taco Tuesdays are two filet mignon gourmet tacos, a la carte, corn tortillas onions and cilantro and they are served with mixed vegetables and Chile de Arbol salsa.

Mario’s Restaurant

  • Directly across the street is Mario’s Restaurant. This was probably the place we would frequent most on weekends. The owners are friendly and are always walking around talking with customers. I would consider this place on the high-end scale for dining in Riverside. We are not huge eaters, so we usually split a couple of appetizers. Two of the best appetizers you’re ever going to taste anywhere are the Caesar salad and the calamari. I have no idea how they make the Caesar salad but it’s incredible. A suggestion would be to sit at the bar. The bartenders give excellent service and you can eat your full meal while having a great conversation with people. After we finish eating we always get a glass of wine and sit out on the patio.


Closing Words

I’m sure there are attractions you will find online that we did not hit on with this blog post. We gear our blog posts mainly towards couple’s so amusement parks don’t make the list… ha. If you have specific questions on this area, please don’t hesitate to email us, we’d be glad to answer questions and give you even more options of cool things to do. Hope this helps and enjoy your time in Riverside, it’s a beautiful historic place. On a closing be aware that Riverside is hot in the summer months. I’d say the best months weather-wise are October and November but generally speaking the weather is usually awesome.

If you’d like to read about another Southern California town we’ve lived in, check out our post on the beach town of San Clemente.

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