Updated for 2023
There are so many family-friendly things to do in Riverside, that you may have to consider the city of Riverside for your next vacation. It’s an ideal destination if you’re looking for a place to explore that is rich with history, offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for children of all ages, and it’s not too far away from Los Angeles.
20 Ideas for Family Fun in Riverside
Mission Inn Museum
3696 Main St., Riverside, CA 92501
The Mission Inn was first an adobe boarding house back in 1876. The Mission Inn Museum features exhibits related to the history of the famous Mission Inn as well as the aviation and citrus industries, the California Missions, and much more.
Families can take a 75-minute tour which includes the Museum as well as parts of the Inn that the general public isn’t usually able to see. Advance reservations are recommended; information about dates and times is available online.
Related: You can book a stay at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa
8193 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA 92504
This Victorian-style home was built in 1891. A visit to Heritage House will give families a sense of what life was like more than a century ago.
Keep in mind that Heritage House has limited hours. It is closed during the months of July and August. Families can visit Friday through Sunday, from 12:00 pm to the last tour at 3:15 pm. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.
3500 Polk St., Riverside, CA 92505
Castle Park is a popular amusement park that was founded in 1976. Spread out over 25 acres, families will find 35 rides and attractions here, as well as miniature golf courses, a video arcade, carnival games, a water playground, and more. Information about hours and admission is available online.
Van Buren Drive-In Theatre
3035 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, CA 92503
Yes, drive-in theatres still exist. The Van Buren Drive-in Theatre first opened in 1964 on the site of a former orange ranch.
Tickets are $1 for children ages 5-9, and $9 for those 10 and older, and all admission prices are for double features. Check the website for some tips on how to best enjoy your drive-in experience. All movies are shown in the evening, and the drive-in is open seven days a week. During the day, the Drive-In is the site of a swap meet (open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm).
Related: Drive-in Movie Theaters around SoCal
California Citrus State Historic Park
9400 Dufferin Ave., Riverside, CA 92504
A visit to the California Citrus State Historic Park will provide families with an understanding of the citrus industry and its influence on our state. The Park is a “living historical museum,” with citrus groves still producing oranges, grapefruit, and lemons.
Upon arrival at this open-air museum, you’ll find a replica of a roadside fruit stand. There’s also a Visitor’s Center (open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm) as well as plenty of picnic spots available too. Take advantage of tastings and guided tours of the groves. Check the website for details.
Related: Things to do in Big Bear with Kids
Fox Performing Arts Center
3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501
The Riverside Theater originally opened in 1929, and was the location for the first public screening of Gone With the Wind. The Theater closed in 2007 for a three-year renovation. Since that time, the “historic structure has been reinvented as a state-of-the-art performing arts theater for Riverside and the Inland Empire.” Families can enjoy a variety of live performances at the Fox Performing Arts Center.
GLO Mini Golf
1299 Galleria at Tyler St. E106, Riverside, CA 92503
It’s miniature golf like you’ve never played it before. You’ll feel like you’re taking an around-the-world trip as you navigate through the indoor, glow-in-the-dark course. You’ll see the “Eiffel Tower,” the “Great Wall of China,” and more as you play through 27 holes. You can even play with 3D glasses if you’d like.
In addition, you’ll find over 30 arcade games as well as an Xbox Gaming Room within this 15,000-square-foot space.
UCR/California Museum of Photography
3824 Main St., Riverside, CA 92501
For those with an interest in photography, make sure to visit the California Museum of Photography. Through its exhibits, the Museum takes a closer look at photography, individual expression, and society at large.
In its permanent collection, you’ll find fine art photographs, research collections and archives, and a variety of photographic technology. In fact, the Museum currently possesses 10,000 cameras, viewing devices, and related photographic equipment. It is considered to be one of the most complete “public camera collections in the western states.”
March Field Air Museum
22550 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, CA 92518
Families can learn about the history of aviation when they visit the March Field Air Museum. You’ll find one of the largest collections of military aircraft on the West Coast, including over 80 aircraft and more than 30,000 artifacts on display, some of which date back to World War I. Set on 30 acres of outdoor exhibit space, and with two indoor hangars as well, this museum is sure to keep you busy learning and exploring.
On display is a full-scale replica aircraft from 1903 that helped launch the era of powered flight, as well as spy planes, unmanned aircraft, cargo planes, bombers, helicopters, and more. Docents are on hand to give context to the collection and scheduled guided tours are available for an extra fee.
While most sections of the Museum follow the “look, but don’t touch” rule, there are a few special interactive sections where kids can have a chance to get hands-on and pretend they are a pilot. Every second Saturday they host Up Close Aircraft days when one type of aircraft is featured. In addition, there are multiple special events held at the museum every year, including an awesome Air Show, featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Not to be missed!
The Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except on holidays and for special closure dates. Advance ticket sales are required. Tickets may be purchased onsite or online. There’s free admission for Blue Star families at certain times of the year. And on select holidays, like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, admission is free for all Veterans. For more information please visit their website.
Related: Things to do in the Inland Empire with Kids
Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center (JMDC)
7621 Granite Hills Dr., Riverside, CA 92509
Open six days a week (closed on Mondays), the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center offers free admission to a portion of the property including its 9 acres of botanical gardens — which include over ten dinosaur sculptures as well as a turtle pond.
Inside the Museum, you’ll find one of the largest collections of Chinese dinosaur eggs on public display in North America as well as other fossils, rocks, and more. Additionally, the JMDC hosts field trips and special events throughout the year.
The Cove Waterpark
4310 Camino Real, Riverside, CA 92509
When you need to cool off, head to The Cove. Kids (and adults) will enjoy the variety of water slides, spray features, and more at this popular spot. Among the attractions is the “Riptide Reef” which simulates a surfing experience. (Certain height restrictions do apply for certain attractions). For those wishing to dive, swim, and practice some aquatic exercises, there are facilities for that as well.
Check the website for information about admission pricing. Parking is free. And remember to bring your own towels as The Cove does not provide them. (The Cove is open seasonally; check the website for information about the upcoming 2022 season.)
2601 Fairmount Blvd., Riverside, CA 92501
At Fairmount Park, families can enjoy time outside in a very picturesque setting. It is the largest of Riverside’s many parks.
The Park features tennis courts, a children’s playground, picnic facilities, a lawn bowling green, rental pedal boats, a colorful rose garden, and more. You’ll also find a Universal Playground here, an area designed for all children — including those in wheelchairs and those who are visually impaired and need special sensory features.
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park
400 Central Ave., Riverside, CA 92507
There are many trails within the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. Within the 1424-acre park, these trails connect with the surrounding communities. This means families can spend their time within the Park in many different ways. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are popular activities. And be sure to check out the Ameal Moore Nature Center while you’re there.
The Nature Center (open Thursday – Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm) offers exhibits, hands-on learning opportunities, nature walks, and more. Check the website for a map to plan your outing. Be sure to bring plenty of water, and be on the lookout for a variety of wildlife, including the Federally-listed endangered species, the Stephen’s Kangaroo Rat.
5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Ste. 23, Riverside, CA 92507
Kiddos 101 is an indoor “early enrichment center, filled with open-ended play opportunities” designed for children (age 6 and younger). The facility is about 2,000 square feet and is designed with two main areas — one for those ages 6 weeks to 2 years old and another for children 2-6 years of age.
The facility is described as an “indoor museum-style activity center,” and your children will find lots to do and try here. Check the website for details about pricing and hours. (And keep in mind — special Kiddos 101 Grip Socks are required.)
Riverside Art Museum
3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501
The Riverside Art Museum is housed in a building designed by architect Julia Morgan (the architect who designed the Hearst Castle). The permanent collection includes mixed media works, print works, and watercolors. The Museum also hosts a variety of classes and workshops (for children as well as adults).
Hidden Valley Nature Center
11401 Arlington Ave., Riverside, CA 92505
The Hidden Valley Nature Center is located on 1500 acres and includes 25 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. The Nature Center is open on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and includes a variety of interactive activities for children, including the chance to observe live animals. Families will also enjoy the pond and picnic area. A variety of educational activities are held throughout the year. Check the website for details.
Rancho Jurupa Park
4800 Crestmore Rd., Riverside, CA 92509
Rancho Jurupa Park is a 200-acre area that offers much for families to do. In this “semi-rural setting of shady cottonwood trees, graceful meadows, and two lovely lakes,” families won’t run out of things to do.
Take advantage of the opportunities to play miniature golf, use the rock climbing playground, go on a hike, get wet at the splash pad, and more. You can also extend your visit by staying overnight (camping in tents or RVs or by renting a cabin).
Riverside Public Library System
Several branches including:
3900 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501
You’ll find the main branch of the Riverside Public Library system conveniently located next to the Mission Inn. This particular branch “houses one of the largest collections in Southern California.” The Library hosts a variety of special programs including performances, weekly storytimes, cultural events, and more. Check the website for details.
Luv 2 Play Riverside
4790 La Sierra Ave., Riverside, CA 92505
Children of all ages will enjoy spending time at Luv 2 Play Riverside. The 18,000-square-foot facility consists of 3 levels of indoor playgrounds including crawl tubes, tunnels, slides, a building area (using Duplo Blocks), and much more. Additionally, a separated baby crawling area comes complete with sensory play panels and soft toys. And there is a designated area for toddlers ages 1-4. There is also an on-site café.
10781 Indiana Ave., Riverside, CA 92503
You can do much more than bowl at Bowlero Riverside. In addition to the 40 bowling lanes, families will also enjoy the arcade games and billiards. Check the website for information about weekly specials, including Sunday Funday and Monday Mayhem. And when you get hungry, just order and the food will be delivered to your bowling lane.
Places to Stay in Riverside
If you’re spending time in Riverside and need a place to stay, here are a few options to choose from:
- Hampton Inn & Suites Riverside/Corona East, 4250 Riverwalk Pkwy., Riverside, CA 92505
- Hyatt Place Riverside Downtown, 3500 Market St., Riverside, CA 92501
- Days Inn by Wyndham Riverside Tyler Mall, 10545 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA 92505
- Riverside Hub w/Shared Pool – 1 Mi to Downtown! — access to fun area attractions
- Classy SoCal Spanish Villa-Pool & Grand Piano — great location, pool
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).
Wednesday 11th of April 2018
The jurupa discovery center is Not FREE admission is actually $10
Friday 13th of April 2018
Thank you for letting us know! Admission to a portion of the property is free and other areas there is a charge. We've corrected the post.