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Aerial View of Riverside California

17 Things to Know About Living in Riverside

Considering moving to Riverside? Known as the birthplace of California’s citrus industry, this SoCal city is also a hub for golfing, entertainment, and unique annual festivals. Here are 17 things to know about living in Riverside!

Live Comfortably in the Inland Empire

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Though California cities tend to have higher costs than many other parts of the U.S., Riverside’s cost of living is actually 19% lower than the state average. It’s especially more affordable than major Golden State cities like Los Angeles or San Fransisco. Due to Riverside’s warm, dry climate, the average electricity rates are 33% lower than the California average. Additionally, Riverside’s median home price sits at $605,000—significantly lower than the California median—while the average rent for Riverside apartments is $2,138 per month. If you’re in need of financial assistance, the city has a number of affordable housing projects, as well as down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Find Job Opportunities for Every Profession

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Riverside’s top employers span a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, university administration, and more. Find employment at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center, which has served the community for over 60 years and specializes in joint replacement surgeries. Work at Riverside Community Hospital, a Top Performing Hospital and “one of Riverside County’s only STEMI (heart attack) receiving centers.” Produce key electrical components for medical equipment, wearable technology, and the automotive industry at Bourns, an electrical manufacturing company. Join over 5,000 other Riverside residents and work in academic research fields, facility management, or administrative support at the University of California. Or find the scoop when covering SoCal news and human interest pieces at Riverside’s Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, The Press-Enterprise.

Navigate a Bustling California City

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Though Southern California is known for high-traffic roads and busy streets, Riverside transit provides flexible options for getting around. Choose from a selection of passes—from single-day and monthly passes to $10 weekend day passes—with Metrolink. Plan a day trip to Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino, or even Los Angeles from the 91/Perris Valley stop at Amtrak. Travel to Orange County and San Bernardino via the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), which has over thirty bus routes throughout the metropolitan area and partners with CommuterLink Express. For seniors or people with disabilities, Riverside Connect provides round-trip reservation services anywhere within the city limits. And for those who prefer to travel on foot, the downtown area is considered a walker’s paradise, making it easy to run daily errands or find nearby entertainment.

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Earn Your Degree at Riverside Colleges

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There are great options for anyone wanting to earn a degree in Riverside! Choose from nearly 60 undergraduate degree programs, including biochemistry, criminal justice, or exercise science at La Sierra University. Take classes in business, sociology, mathematics, art, and more at University of California Riverside. Study fields like nursing, engineering, or behavioral and social sciences at California Baptist University. Or explore visual performing and creative arts, culinary arts, and technical degrees like cosmetology and automotive technology at Riverside City College!

Enjoy Year-Round Fun in the Sun

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Riverside’s warm climate makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors year-round! Because of the city’s location in the Inland Empire region, the weather in Riverside is influenced by the Mojave Desert instead of the ocean like other SoCal cities. This means Riverside’s climate is particularly hot and dry, with an average annual high of 80 degrees and an average annual low of 51 degrees. The city receives approximately 11 inches of rain per year, allowing residents to take advantage of around 277 days of sunshine. And although Riverside can sometimes deal with air pollutants such as smog, there are a number of precautions you can take to stay safe and healthy.

Experience Nature Up Close

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If you like lush greenery, breathtaking mountain views, or wild hiking paths, Riverside has several trails and parks to choose from! Plan a trip hiking, biking, or horseback riding on the 57.7-mile Santa Ana River Trail. Take a scenic walk through the rocky paths overlooking Riverside and Moreno Valley at the Box Springs Mountain Reserve. Get some fresh air at Lake Mathews and stop by the feeding and resting site for many migrating birds at the Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Reserve. Escape the noise of the city and encounter Riverside flora and fauna—including reptiles, migratory birds, aquatic life, and more—at the Hidden Valley Wildlife Area. Hike, bike, or walk any of the 1,500 acres of trails at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. Or relax in the peaceful rose gardens, well-manicured lawns, or beautiful gazebo at Rose Garden at Fairmount Park.

Catch Breathtaking Views from Mt. Rubidoux

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Located just west of Downtown Riverside, Mt. Rubidoux towers over the city with an elevation of 1,339 feet above sea level. A portion of the Santa Ana River flows at the mountain’s base. Mt. Rubidoux park is open from dawn to dusk and features both paved and dirt trails—making this natural landmark the perfect place for a scenic walk, jog, or mountain biking adventure. See the cobblestone aesthetic of Spanish Mission Revival architecture near the mountain’s summit by visiting The World Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge. Gather on the mountain’s peak to celebrate Easter morning with thousands of other Riverside residents during the non-denominational Mt. Rubidoux Easter Sunrise Service. Or enjoy Independence Day with friends and family by witnessing a dazzling display of aerial fireworks at Riverside’s Fourth of July Spectacular.

Attend Lively SoCal Festivals

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There is no shortage of Riverside festivals celebrating international cultures, identities, and artistic traditions. Honor Mexican heritage through live music, dancing, and a homemade tamale competition by attending the annual Riverside Tamale Festival. Learn the social similarities between the modern day and the Victorian Era at Riverside’s premier literary event, the Riverside Dickens Festival. Dive deep into California’s haunted past with a whimsical tour highlighting the city’s historic buildings at Ghost Walk Riverside. Explore the diverse Riverside art scene—including museums, galleries, and studios—on the first Thursday of every month at the Riverside Artswalk. Recognize Riverside’s thriving LGBTQ community by participating in the annual Pride Gayla and Inland Empire Pride Parade with Riverside Pride. Or travel back in time to see knights, blacksmiths, and fools at the Koroneburg Renaissance Festival, one of the only permanently built Renaissance fairs in Southern California!

Tee Off at Riverside Golf Courses

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As one of the first cities with a formal golf course in Southern California, Riverside has several notable spots to practice your swings. Play 18 holes on a championship golf course at Oak Quarry Golf Club, located near the historic Jensen Quarry. Hone your skills by navigating sprawling greens and tactically placed bunkers at Jurupa Hills Country Club. Go hiking while golfing in Riverside with an 18-hole course that features dramatic elevation shifts and no parallel fairways at Indian Hills Golf Club. Sharpen your driving, putting, and chipping skills at the Van Buren Golf Center, one of Riverside’s top multipurpose golf facilities. Tee off while taking in picturesque views of the San Bernardino Mountains at Canyon Crest Country Club. Play a quick nine holes at Fairmount Golf Course, a well-maintained municipal course spanning 55 acres. Or golf through 130 acres of land situated in the Tequesquite Arroyo at Victoria Club, one of the oldest country clubs in Southern California.

See the Birthplace of California’s Citrus Industry

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The California citrus industry was born in Riverside and has been called California’s second gold rush because of the wealth it brought to first-generation citrus farmers and the local economy. Today, the citrus industry continues to flourish thanks to the oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus staples raised by area farmers. Riverside residents can visit over 400 fruit-filled acres brimming with seasonal palms and rows of fruit-bearing trees at the California Citrus State Historic Park. Walk along the 11.91-mile-long Gage Canal, which brought water all the way from the Santa Ana River through Citrus Park’s terminus to double citrus production. Stroll past lush fruits like Fischer Navels, Star Ruby Grapefruit, and Lisbon Lemons growing at The Groves. Sit down for a family picnic while enjoying open-air presentations, summer concerts, and interpretive exhibits at Citrus Park’s Picnic Area. Or unlock the park’s hidden secrets by using your phone to access a digital scavenger hunt!

Explore the City’s Museums

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If you love art, history, and science, Riverside’s many museums are a great place for the whole family. Check out a mixture of rotating art exhibits and permanent sculptures, including the brightly-painted iron letters standing outside the Riverside Art Museum. View over 20,000 photos of California history—from 1840 to the present—at the UCR ARTS California Museum of Photography. Take your kids to dig for dinosaur bones, go rock collecting at Dino Mesa, and learn about geology and archaeology outdoors at Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center. Get educated on the natural and industrial history of the Inland Empire at the Museum of Riverside. Walk through an elegantly restored 1800s Victorian home decorated with vintage nineteenth-century architecture at the Riverside Heritage House. Or explore 40 acres of a garden oasis and collection of 3,500 plants at the UCR Botanical Gardens.

Take Flight at March Air Reserve Base

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Covering 160 acres and employing over 8,000 military and civilian workers, March Air Reserve Base is one of the top public employers in Riverside. It offers recruitment for the Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force Civilian Service. It’s also one of the oldest currently operating airfields and has been run by the U.S. military since 1918. Because of its lasting presence in Riverside, the March Air Reserve Base has developed attractions and events that draw Riverside residents. Visit stunning displays featuring more than 30,000 artifacts and 108 aircraft from different eras—including World War I and II—at March Field Air Museum. Pay tribute at war memorials like the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial, the West Coast War Dog Memorial, and the 15th Air Force Wall in Heritage Courtyard. Or watch the annual SoCal Air Show at March Field, featuring performances from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Patriots Jet Team, the F-18F Super Hornet West Coast Demo Team, and more!

Appreciate Riverside Performing Arts

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From theatre to ballet and other live performances, it’s easy to find world-class entertainment in Riverside! Check out the extensive list of upcoming Broadway shows, comedy specials, and more at the Fox Performing Arts Center. Catch a concert from touring musicians like Joyce Manor, Sammy Johnson, and the Black Veil Brides at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. See the yearly performance of David Allan’s The Nutcracker by classical ballet school Riverside Ballet Arts. Experience Riverside plays and musicals throughout the year—including award-winning classics like Cinderella, Grease, and Mary Poppins—at Performance Riverside. Get tickets for incredible shows in the Main Stage Series, Family Series, or Spotlight Series at one of the oldest continuously operating community theatres in America, the Riverside Community Players. And if your kids are interested in theatre opportunities, the Riverside Children’s Theatre has provided educational opportunities in the performing arts since 1957!

Bring the Family to Riverside’s Castle Park

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If you’re looking for family fun in Riverside, visit Castle Park! Opened in 1976, Castle Park currently has 27 rides and other attractions. Zip through rushing rapids and take a jaw-dropping descent on the old-school Saw Mill Plunge. Let the little ones splash around with water tunnels, spray cannons, and water slides at the water playground, Buccaneer Cove. Take a scenic park tour by riding the old-fashioned mini-locomotive, Riverside Express. Play putt-putt at four meticulously designed 18-hole mini-golf courses, including the Prince and Princess courses, the Duke course, and the Merlin course. Try your hand at Ghost Blasters or play iconic arcade games like air hockey and pop-a-shot in the Castle Park Arcade. Find spooky fun with haunted experiences like the Cinema of Fear, Haunted Highway, and Night Shift mazes at Castle Dark—one of the best theme park Halloween events. Or catch mesmerizing magic shows for kids every Saturday from Anthony the MAGIC.

Relax at the World-Class Mission Inn

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The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside is a historic hotel, restaurant, spa, and museum designed in the area’s signature Spanish Mission architectural style—featuring beautiful clay roof tiles, sweeping arches, and spires. Plan a walking tour and hear detailed accounts of the hotel’s 150-year history from The Mission Inn Foundation. Appreciate Old World artwork and statues at the European-style Galleria or admire the Miller family’s vast collection of California Mission paintings in The Spanish Art Gallery. Choose from a wide variety of dining options, including the signature Mission Inn Restaurant or The Presidential Lounge, where former presidents and A-list celebrities have visited. Unwind with a Holiday Spiced Cider Bath Facial from Kelly’s Spa, or pick up souvenirs and skincare products at Kelly’s Boutique. Or see the night sky illuminated with thousands of coordinated holiday lights at Downtown Riverside’s premier community celebration, Mission Inn Festival of Lights.

Eat at One-of-a-Kind Restaurants

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The city of Riverside boasts a whole host of vibrant local restaurants representing almost every background. Wake up with a delicious Riverside breakfast of Bagels with Cream Cheese, Challa French Toast, or the Winter Omelette from Simple Simon’s Bakery & Bistro. Chow down on casual Indian cuisine like curried Shrimp Saag, Shrimp Biryani, and spiced Chicken Pakoras at Punjab Palace. Grab slices of tasty Riverside pizza like Fiesta or Honolulu Pizza, or try traditional Fettucine Alfredo at Antonious Pizza. Dig into a Mexican feast of classic eats with Mendou Soup, Huevos Rancheros, and a Machaca Burrito from Joe Aguilar’s Templo Del Sol. Order fresh Greek dinner plates like Souvlaki, Calamari, and Grilled Salmon at Greek Street Grill. Or get a Falafel Bowl from Fufu’s Grill, Baba’s Chicken Sandwich Combo from Baba’s Chicken, or Vegan Yakisoba from Soho Ramen at “the Inland Empire’s first food hall,” Riverside Food Lab.

Check Out Riverside’s Nightlife

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Looking to unwind after a busy day of activities and attractions? There are plenty of breweries, wineries, and bars in Riverside to choose from. Attend a wine tasting to sample locally-made options like Italian Pinot Grigio and German Gewurztraminer at Canyon Crest Winery. Shoot pool or throw darts while enjoying one of the 13 beers on tap at Shooters Sports Bar & Grill. Taste premium drafts like Coffee Cream, Tangerine Wheat, and Slowpoke Barrel Aged Barleywine at Thompson Brewing Company. Pair delicious pretzels with Greek goddess-inspired brews like the Iota IPA, Persephone Tropical Blonde Ale, and Calypso Pina Colada Sour at Euryale Brewing Company. Burst into song at the regular Riverside karaoke nights or take part in guided painting sessions at Brooks Bar. Sip on craft beer, cider, and kombucha while socializing at the industrially-designed speakeasy tavern, The Brickwood. Or check out specialty cocktails and feel-good food on Tiki Tuesday at Riverside’s premier cocktail lounge, The Lobby!


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.