The Inland Empire, tucked between powerful Los Angeles to the west and the imposing California deserts to the east, contains the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino. The region boasts a diverse combination of lakes and forests, urban centers and rural wilderness. Big Bear Lake is a haven for winter and summer outdoor enthusiasts. Home to the two ski hills at Big Bear Mountain Resort and year-round fun at Magic Mountain Recreation Area, the district is alive with leisure activities and lodging choices. The city of Ontario hosts the largest outlet mall in California; Riverside is home to the Castle Park entertainment center, and the excitement of NASCAR racing can be found in Fontana at the California Speedway. Village theaters, fishing derbies, art galleries, and festivals are all part of the pleasure when visiting the Inland Empire.
Directly east of Los Angeles lies the Inland Empire city of San Bernardino. Home to California State University, Glen Helen Hyundai Pavilion and Inland Center Mall, San Bernardino presents an exhilarating mixture of academia, culture, history, and hospitality. Boasting a vibrant arts community, the city boasts the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and offers music venues, multiplex theaters, galleries and exhibition halls. Glen Helen Raceway Park and Orange Show Speedway offer seasonal motocross, grand Prix and stock car racing and Route 66 Rendezvous presents an annual classic car show. One of the best-loved local events is the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which runs weekends from mid-April until the end of May. Minstrels, dancers, jugglers, crafters, vendors, and stage performers combine to make the 16th-century-style fair a delight for everyone. Nature lovers can spend some time at the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area and at San Bernardino National Forest, which offers camping, fishing, and hiking areas.
Known as a city of arts and innovation, Riverside orange trees were planted in 1871 and within a few years, Riverside had successfully established a thriving citrus industry, also known as California’s —Second Gold Rush,— which visitors can learn more by visiting the area’s California Citrus State Historic Park. Riverside is also rich with culture and history and features more than 100 city landmarks and numerous buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. One of the city’s most famous landmarks is the Mission Inn Hotel, which was built in the 1800s and the Fox Theater, which was the site of the first public screening of —Gone with the Wind.— Historic landmarks aside, the city has a little something for everyone and visitors can also enjoy Riverside’s many museums and parks, play a round of golf at one of its many courses or visit one of the original fruit trees from which the state’s orange industry descended.
Big Bear Lake
Boasting more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Big Bear Lake is a popular mountain destination for visitors to California. The lake reveals a wealth of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, picnicking and hiking, all at an elevation of over 7,000 feet. A major draw in the winter is the Big Bear Mountain Resort, which combines two ski hills, accommodations and restaurants catering to outdoor enthusiasts. For summertime activities, visit the San Bernardino National Forest, which surrounds the lake and features trails and a discovery center. Many families enjoy spending time at the Magic Mountain Recreation Area, which provides year-round entertainment, from go-karting to bobsledding. To learn about the local history, the Big Bear Museum is open to teaching people about the gold rush of the 1800s. Another look at the town’s golden history is found at the annual Old Miner’s Days, which coincides with the annual Fourth of July festivities.
Located 40 minutes east of Los Angeles, the city of Ontario offers an abundance of shopping, recreational and cultural attractions that attract visitors year-round. Ontario Mills Mall is a shopper’s haven, as it features 23 anchor stores and more than 200 specialty shops, as well as restaurants and a 30-theater cinema. Scandia Amusement Park is a popular destination for all ages, as it boasts 25 thrilling rides, in addition to a miniature golf course and batting cages. A popular cultural attraction is the Museum of History & Art, which educates visitors on the art and cultural traditions of the greater Ontario area. Outdoor fun can be found at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park, a day-use area that offers fishing, a picnic area, a swimming area, and boat rentals. Two golf courses are also located in Ontario, the Creekside, and Whispering Lakes, each offering a challenging round of golf.
Sights & Attractions
Big League Dreams of Riverside Mira Loma
The Big League Dreams of Riverside features five ball fields that are replicas of Fenway Park, Polo Grounds and Forbes Field. Other attractions include batting cages, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts and a sports-themed Stadium Club Restaurant and bar. There is a multi-purpose indoor pavilion available for all kinds of events. Address: 10550 Galena Street | Mira Loma, CA
California Citrus State Historic Park
The California Citrus State Historic Park is located in Riverside and chronicles the history of the citrus industry in California. The park is open daily while the Visitor Center is open on Wednesdays and weekends. Address: 9400 Dufferin Ave | Riverside, CA | 92504
Jensen-Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum
The Jensen-Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum is a living-history museum open to the public on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Weekday group tours available by reservation only. Address: 4307 Briggs Street | Riverside, CA | 92519
Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center offers a variety of Scout classes. The cultural center also has an earth science museum, horticulture information and field trips. Address: 7621 Granite Hill Dr | Riverside, CA | 92509
Landscapes Southern California Style
The one-acre garden was designed to assist the public in choosing water-efficient landscaping for their own properties. The garden showcases over 200 species of plants in a natural setting. Open daily from 10am to 4pm. Address: 50 Alessandro Boulevard | Riverside, California | 92508
March Field Air Museum
For a small admission fee, visitors can experience the March Field Air Museum daily from 9am to 4pm. The museum contains over 60 historic aircraft and is located next to the March Air Reserve Base.
Address: 22550 Van Buren Blvd. | Riverside, CA | 92518
Mary Vagle Museum & Nature Center
Open Wednesday through Sunday. Features changing monthly exhibits including ocean life, astronomy and dinosaurs. Address: 11501 Cypress Avenue | Fontana, CA | 92335
Mission Inn Museum Tours
The Mission Inn Museum offers daily tours of Riverside’s historic Mission Inn that allow visitors to see parts of the Inn that are usually inaccessible to the general public. The Mission Inn Foundation and Museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Riverside’s historic landmark. In addition to showcasing several exhibits and collections, the museum offers 75-minute walking tours that are led by trained docents and feature the art, architecture and history of the Mission Inn.
Overlooking Riverside, the top of Mount Rubidoux offers breathtaking and scenic views. This historic spot is the site of the nation’s first outdoor interdenominational Easter Sunrise service in 1909.
Museum of History & Art Ontario
The museum presents changing exhibits, photography and permanent displays. Address: 225 South Euclid Avenue | Ontario, CA | 91762
Pechanga Resort & Casino
Boasting more than 2,000 slot machines, 162 table games, a non-smoking poker room, and several restaurants, the Pechanga Casino and Resort offers a number of entertainment services to people in Temecula.
Scandia Amusement Park Ontario
Scandia Amusement Park in Ontario California offers more than 25 rides, miniature golf, arcade, batting cages and restaurants. There are various special events throughout the year. Group sales options are available. Address: 1155 S. Wanamaker Ave | Ontario, CA
Sherman Indian Museum
The Sherman Indian Museum houses traditional Native American collections and preserves the history of the Sherman Indian High School. Address: 9010 Magnolia Avenue | Riverside, CA | 92503
University of California Riverside Botanic Gardens
Forty acres of hills on the east side of the University of California is home to the Botanic Gardens. The living museum features over 3,500 species of plants from around the world. Address: University of California | Riverside, CA | 92521
World Museum of Natural History – Riverside
The museum features displays of amphibians, reptiles, birds from around the world, primates, carnivores, minerals and gems, over 100 species of trees and petrified wood from the Western USA. Open Saturdays from 2 to 5pm. Group tours can be taken at other times by appointment. Address: 4700 Pierce St. La Sierra University | Riverside, CA | 92505