Considering moving to Riverside? This Southern California city is best known as the birthplace of the state’s citrus industry, but it also has great outdoor recreation, unique annual festivals, and a lower cost of living compared to other California cities! Here are 18 things to know about living in Riverside.
An Affordable Cost of Living in the Inland Empire
Living in Southern California doesn’t mean you have to live beyond your means! Riverside is part of the Inland Empire region in Southern California, and the cost of living is 13% lower than the rest of the state. If you want to rent an apartment in Riverside, the median monthly rent is $1,194. And since the median home value in the city of Riverside at $286,600, potential homebuyers can live comfortably and own a home in this sunny state!
Job Opportunities for Every Professional
Riverside is home to several big employers across many industries like healthcare, electronics manufacturing, university administration, as well as a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper. Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center has served “newborns to seniors” for the last 60 years and specializes in joint replacement surgeries. Riverside Community Hospital was voted the best of Inland Empire’s hospitals and is Leapfrog Safety Grade accredited, among other distinctions. Bourns, an electrical manufacturing company headquartered in Riverside, produces key electrical components for medical equipment, the automotive industry, wearable technology, and other items. The University of California employs about 5,000 Riverside residents in the fields of academic research, facility management, and administrative support. And there’s The Press-Enterprise, Riverside’s Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, which covers SoCal news and other human interest pieces. No matter what type of work you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Riverside!
It’s Easy to Get Around
If you don’t want to drive, Riverside has several options for cross-country trains, as well as public transportation. Choose from a variety of passes—from single-day and monthly to $10 weekend passes—with Metrolink. From Riverside’s Amtrak 91/Perris Valley stop, you can plan a day trip to Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino, or even Los Angeles. For in-town travel, Riverside Transit Agency has over thirty bus routes throughout the metropolitan area and partners with CommuterLink Express for out-of-county trips.
Colleges that Fit Every Lifestyle
There are many options for anyone wanting to earn a degree in Riverside! Study some of the most popular programs at La Sierra University like business administration, criminal justice, or exercise science. The Palm Desert Graduate Center at the University of California Riverside has something for every new or returning student that features advanced studies from citrus farming to writing. Learn about the psychology of sports and performance, counseling psychology, or social work in California Baptist University‘s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Study liberal arts at Riverside City College, which offers top-notch programs in performing arts, culinary arts, and technical degrees like cosmetology and automotive technology, too!
Year-Round Fun in the Sun
In Riverside, the weather is influenced by the Mojave Desert instead of the ocean like other SoCal cities. This means the Inland Empire reaches an average annual high of 80 degrees and an average annual low of 51 degrees. Riverside also ranks as one of the top cities in California for good weather! With few rain showers, tons of sun, and no snow days, the weather in Riverside is nice year-round, making it the perfect California home for outdoor enthusiasts and retirees!
Experience Nature Up Close
If you like lush greenery, breathtaking mountain views, or wild hiking paths, Riverside has several trails and parks to choose from. Take a scenic walk through the sage shrub-covered Box Spring Mountains that overlook Riverside and Moreno Valley. Get some fresh air at the Estelle Mountain Reserve that towers over Lake Matthews and is an important feeding and resting site for many migrating bird species. Hike through Walker Canyon and experience the yearly poppy super bloom that engulfs the side of the mountains with brilliant colors. Hike, bike, or walk any of the 1,500 acres of trails at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. And after you’re finished, relax in Fairmount Park‘s peaceful rose gardens, well-manicured lawns, or beautiful gazebo.
Explore Over 50 Miles of Trails
Get your fill of Southern California nature on the Santa Ana River Trail! Riverside sits along the Santa Ana River and connects to the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach. Plan a trip hiking, biking, or walking the 50.3-mile stretch of trail along the gorgeous river. Take a rest in one of the many neighborhoods like Cooley Ranch and Valley View. If you’re up for it, get off your bike and head to any of the shopping centers or restaurants near the trail. Construction is underway to eventually extend the Santa Ana River Trail the full 110 miles along the waterway.
Catch Breathtaking Views from Mt. Rubidoux
Located just west of Downtown Riverside, Mt. Rubidoux towers over the city with an elevation of 1,337 feet. Make it a part of your daily walk or jog, since the landmark opens dawn and closes at dusk. Mt. Rubidoux’s paved trail covers 161 acres of land and a portion of the Santa Ana River flows at the mountain’s base. Visit The World Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge, located near the summit of the mountain to see the cobblestone aesthetics of Spanish Mission Revival architecture. Gather for Easter with thousands of other Riverside residents at Mt. Rubidoux’s non-denominational Easter Sunrise on the mountain’s top. Or take your dog on a walk at the Mt. Rubidoux Trail, which loops for a total of 2.7 miles.
Attend SoCal Festivals
Riverside offers many festivals that celebrate different cultures and artistic traditions. Attend the Annual Tamale Festival, honoring Mexican heritage through live music, dancing, Lucha Libre matches, and a homemade tamale competition. Learn about the similarities between the present and the Victorian Era at Riverside’s premier literary event The Riverside Dickens Festival. Take a deep dive into California’s haunted past on Riverside’s Ghost Walk tour that highlights the historic buildings of Downtown Riverside. Explore Riverside’s diverse art scene at the Riverside Arts Walk on the first Thursday of every month. Celebrate Greek heritage every May at Riverside Greek Fest with dancing and Baklava. Or go back to the time of knights, blacksmiths, and fools at one of the only Ren fairs in Southern California—the Koroneburg Renaissance Festival!
There’s No Shortage of Golf Courses
As one of the first cities to have a golf course in Southern California, Riverside has several notable golf courses. Play a quick nine near the historic Jensen Quarry, which is the background for the Oak Quarry Golf Club. Challenge your golfing skills at Jurupa Hills Country Club with sprawling greens and tactically placed bunkers. Get in a hike while golfing at Indian Hills Golf Club with the courses changing elevations. Sharpen your driving, putting, and chipping skills at the Van Buren Golf Center. Excel with a challenging game of golf at Canyon Crest Country Club, surrounded by tropical palms, pines, and eucalyptus trees. Walk 55-acres of luscious green grounds at Fairmont Golf Course. Or golf at the Victoria Club located within the Tequesquite Arroyo and known for its great views and 130 acres of gorgeous palms and green.
The Citrus Industry Was Born Here
Riverside is the birthplace of the California citrus industry! This includes oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus staples raised by local farmers. The citrus industry, once known as California’s second gold rush, brought wealth to first-generation citrus farmers and the local economy. Today, you can visit over 400 fruit-filled acres at California Citrus State Historic Park, brimming with palm trees and rows for fruit-bearing trees. Check out the digital scavenger hunt using your phone to unlock hidden secrets about the park. Or take the walking tour of their Varietal Grove, featuring the old-fashioned orange stand replica!
Take Your Kids to the Museums
If you’re a lover of art, history, and science, Riverside’s many museums are a great place for the whole family. Check out the Riverside Art Museum for a mixture of indoor rotating works and permanent outdoor sculptures, including brightly-painted iron letters standing outside. See photos of California’s past at the California Museum of Photography, sponsored by the Art Institute of Riverside. Dig for dinosaur bones at The Jurupa Mountain Discovery Center and find out more about natural history all while getting in your daily outdoor recreation. Stop by the Museum of Riverside and learn about the nature of the Inland Empire and the industrial history of the Santa Ana River. Explore 40 acres of gardening oasis at the University of California Riverside’s Botanical Garden and their collection of 3,500 plants.
Take Flight at March Air Reserve Base
With over 8,000 military and civilian employees, March Air Reserve Base is a top employer in Riverside. It’s also one of the oldest existing airfields and has been run by the U.S. military since 1916. March Air Reserve Base offers recruitment for the Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force Civilian Service. Given its lasting stay in Riverside, the base has its own museum. Walk through the exhibits at the March Field Air Museum that showcase displays of aircrafts and signature planes from different eras. Every year, the March Field Air Museum also puts on an annual airshow, where they fly many of the museum’s historical planes, fighter jets, and air cargo carriers.
Have Your Pick of Fine Art Events
It’s easy to find world-class entertainment in Riverside! Check out the extensive list of touring broadway shows and comedy specials at Fox Performing Arts Center. Catch a concert at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium featuring touring musicians from every genre. See the yearly performance of The Nutcracker, one of Riverside’s holiday traditions, by premier classical ballet school Riverside Ballet Arts. Get tickets to a show by Performance Riverside and experience a fresh annual calendar of plays and musicals. And if your kids are interested in theatre opportunities, the Riverside Children’s Theatre has provided educational opportunities in the performing arts since 1957!
Enjoy a Day at Castle Park
If you’re looking for a thrilling day out, take the family to Riverside’s Castle Park. Opened in 1976, Castle Park has now expanded to 27 rides and other attractions. Ride on the 35-foot high spinning rollercoaster called the Screamin’ Demon. Let the little ones splash around in Castle Park’s water playground, Buccaneer Cove. Putt-putt at any one of their 18-hole championship mini-golf courses. Blast some ghosts or other feature-film creatures in Castle Park’s arcade, which features 200 iconic video games. Or catch Anthony the MAGIC perform one of his hourly shows that’s sure to mesmerize the whole family.
Relax at the World-Class Mission Inn
Riverside’s Historic Mission Inn is a hotel, restaurant, spa, museum, and golf course designed in the signature style of Spanish Mission revival, and it features clay roof tiles, sweeping arches, and spires. Take your pick of eight dining options at The Mission Inn and Spa, where famous guests like former presidents and A-list celebrities have visited. Go on a walking tour with The Mission Inn Foundation and hear detailed accounts of the hotel’s 150-year history. Tour through the Mission Inn’s several art galleries and halls of historical objects, collected by the original owner. The Mission Inn Resort & Club offers two champion courses and is listed as a top 25 U.S. course by Golf Advisor. Watch the night sky illuminate at the Mission Inn Lights Festival, which coordinates a light show with the downtown district of Riverside.
Eat at One-of-a-Kind Restaurants
Riverside has many local restaurant options from almost every background. Chow down at Punjab Palace, where you can try their spiced fritters called Chicken Pakoras or Vegetable Samosas. Grab a slice of the Fiesta Pizza at Antonious Pizza, or choose from more traditional items like Fettuccine Alfredo. Get a traditional Mexican feast at Jon Aguilar’s Templo Del Sol with Menudo Soup paired with Carnitas Tostadas. Order fresh Greek entrees like a Falafel Salad or Grilled Steak Wrap at Greek Street Grill. Take a trip to Southern California’s first gourmet food hall Riverside Food Lab, where you can choose from items like Lebanese Hummus & Pita Wraps, Baba’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, or freshly made beignets. Or try made-from-scratch desserts like homemade pie, a Cheesecake Tart, or The World’s Best Brownie from Lenoir’s Bistro & Bakery.
Check Out Riverside’s Nightlife
Looking to unwind after a busy day of Riverside activities? The Inland Empire has plenty of bars to choose from. Join a public wine tasting at Canyon Crest Winery, where they use local grapes from Temecula wine country. Crack some billiards or play some darts while enjoying one of the 13 beers on tap at Shooters Bar & Billiards. Taste some of Riverside’s premium drafts like the Scaldis Blonde Triple or Rare Barrel Crocodile Fun-dee at Thompson Brewing Company. Try the Euryale Brewing Company signature drafts based on Greek goddesses and relax with signature pretzels. Burst out in song at the regular karaoke nights at Brooks Bar, or take part in guided painting sessions of outdoor scenery. Go to the speakeasy-inspired tavern The Brickwood, which serves beer flights in an industrially designed space. Or check out Riverside’s premier cocktail lounge, The Lobby, which serves smoking cocktails and specialty items on tiki Tuesday!
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