It’s no secret that Riverside is one of the most incredible cities in the southern part of California. With picturesque sights, and only a short drive from Orange County and Los Angeles, it’s the perfect getaway for anyone looking to spend a few days exploring. From hiking and biking to visiting museums and exploring the city’s unique architecture, Riverside has something for everyone.
For those on a budget, there are plenty of free things to do in Riverside. The city has plenty of parks and recreation areas to explore, as well as free walking tours of the downtown area. You can also visit some of the city’s historic landmarks. In the following list, you will find some of the best free things do in Riverside so you don’t have to spend a penny on entry!
Note: Although admission is free, parking may be charged at a small selection of the places on our list.
California Citrus State Historic Park
Address: 9400 Dufferin Ave., Riverside, CA 92503
A must-see attraction in southern California is the California Citrus State Historic Park. A full 247 acres of the old citrus grove are dedicated to telling the story of the citrus industry in California. The park itself is entirely walkable and gives a phenomenal glimpse into a huge part of California’s history.
The visitor center and museum was built as a full replica of a citrus packinghouse where you will learn the whole history and process of citrus farming. The park also has a gift shop where you can buy items like marmalades and candy.
California Museum of Photography
Address: 3824 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501
The California Museum of Photography is the perfect place for anyone who wants to take a look back at the technology advances of photography. With over 500,000 pieces in its collection, and a state of the art theater, you can spend a full day here and still be able to come back and find new pieces.
The museum’s expansive collection is complemented by rotating exhibits, as well as a theater where upcoming independent films and documentaries can be viewed without a fee as well.
Address: 2601 Fairmount Blvd., Riverside, CA 92501
Fairmount park is a historic part of Riverside, having been created over 100 years ago. It is also home to a variety of plants and wildlife, making it the perfect place for nature lovers to explore. The park features walking trails, picnic areas, and a children’s playground.
In particular, the children’s playground is an extremely unique feature of the park, because it is a universal design playground, meaning that it is ADA accessible, so any child can have access to it.
Fairmount Park is a registered historic landmark and other features here include: a rose garden, pedal boats, golf course, lawn bowling, historic band shell, splash pad, and more.
Address: 8193 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA 92504
The Heritage House in Riverside is a historic home and museum that was built in the late 19th century. It is one of the few remaining Victorian-style homes in the city, and it is dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural heritage of the city. The house is filled with artifacts, furniture, and decorations from the era, and visitors can take guided tours of the house and learn about the history of the building.
The heritage house also hosts many special events throughout the year, including the Moon Festival in the fall, the Victorian Christmas Open House, and plenty of tea parties throughout the year.
Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
Address: 7621 Granite Hill Drive, Riverside, CA 92509
The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center is a perfect place to take kids on a budget, with free admission for everyone and a very small parking fee, you can spend your whole afternoon exploring the fossils and dinosaurs the park has to offer.
Aside from the dinosaurs and fossils they have in their discovery center, they also have many plants, reptiles, and insects in their collection that adventurous children will enjoy checking out!
Mary Vagle Museum & Nature Center
Address: 11501 Cypress Ave. E, Fontana, CA 92337
The Mary Vagle Museum & Nature center offers a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life by allowing you to take a step back and admire the beauty that’s all around you. The center features a variety of exhibits and activities, including interactive displays, nature walks, and educational programs. Admission is free, making it accessible to everyone.
In addition to all of the exhibits and nature walks that they have, they also have a selection of different animals that they take care of that they will bring out for visitors to see. The staff members at the center are also very knowledgeable and eager to share their knowledge with the visitors.
Mission Inn Museum
Address: 3696 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501
The Mission Inn Museum is a must-see for any visitor to Riverside. Located in the historic Mission Inn Hotel, this museum showcases the history of the building and the city. There is a paid tour, however admission to the museum itself is free and exploring yourself is encouraged.
The museum has a variety of artifacts and documents that tell the story of the hotel and the city. Visitors can also view the original furniture and decorations that were once used in the hotel.
Motte Historical Museum
Address: 28380 CA-74, Sun City, CA 92585
For any car enthusiast, you have to put the Motte Historical Museum on your list. The museum boasts a large collection of cars ranging from the 1910’s all the way to the 1960’s. Visitors can learn so much from these cars about the history of the automotive industry.
In addition to their staple collection of cars, the museum also hosts a yearly car and bike show where visitors can admire even more classic cars and bikes. The show also features live music, food vendors, and other fun activities.
Mount Rubidoux Park
Address: 4706 Mount Rubidoux Drive, Riverside, CA 92501
There is no better place in the city than Mount Rubidoux Park, no matter what time of year you visit. With their Easter sunrise service, Fourth of July fireworks, and many other events, to 3.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, there is always something to do at the park.
In addition to all of the fun things you can get up to, the view from the top of the trail is absolutely stunning. It is also a great place to picnic with friends and family. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and is free for everyone. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a day of relaxation and recreation.
Riverside Art Walk
Address: 3535 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501 (Corner of University & Lemon)
Map of Art Walk: https://www.riversideca.gov/museum/images/Arts-Walk/Arts-walk-flyer10.pdf
Riverside Art Walk is a monthly event the town of Riverside hosts to highlight some of the city’s amazing artists in a unique and creative way. During this event, all of downtown Riverside lights up with various creators ranging from paintings and sculptures to the performing arts.
The event is held on the first Thursday of every month, and helps sustain and promote the mission of the Riverside Arts Council. The event is free and open to the public, and is a great way to experience the creativity and culture of downtown Riverside. It also provides a platform for local artists to showcase their work.
Riverside National Cemetery
Address: 22495 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, CA 92518
For those wanting a look back on the country’s history, the national cemetery is a place that cannot be missed. With 1,250 acres it is one of the largest cemeteries managed by the National Cemetery Administration.
This cemetery is a place of honor and remembrance to the men and women who have fought in the armed forces and is an important part of the nation’s history. It is also home to several monuments and memorials that pay tribute to those who have served our country.
University of California Riverside Botanic Garden
Address: 1 Botanic Gardens Drive, Riverside, CA 92507
The University of California Riverside Botanic Garden is one of the city’s most beautiful attractions. The garden is home to more than 3,500 species of plants, from many locations around the world such as Australia and the Mediterranean.
In addition to the vast variety of plants the garden has to offer, they also are home to many wildlife species. With over 200 species of bird calling the gardens home over the years, and a turtle pond that holds fish and a few different reptile species.
Address: 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd., Whitewater, CA 92282
*Temporarily closed for road repairs
Whitewater Preserve is a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts. It is a 2,851-acre nature preserve located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and is home to many amazing species. The preserve offers hiking trails, a whitewater river, and plenty of gorgeous plants that surround you.
Whitewater Preserve is the perfect place for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. It is also an ideal spot to relax and take in the natural beauty of the area. The preserve is a great place for a day of exploration or a peaceful getaway.
More Free Things To Do In Riverside
- Riverside Splash Pads
- Riverside Skate Parks
- Tio’s Tacos & Sanchez’s Beer Bottle Chapel – Free to look at the artwork, but you may want to get tacos!
- World Museum of Natural History at La Sierra University
- World’s Largest Paper Cup (800 E Citrus Street, Riverside)
|Museums In Riverside
|Free Things To Do In Los Angeles
|Go City – Tourist Pass
|30 California Cities For A 3-Day Vacation
|Hidden Gems In Southern California
|SoCal Bucket List: Best Things To Do In Southern California
Morgan Mulac is a freelance writer who has spent years on the road as a nomad and now has settled back in California with her family. Some of her favorite spots to travel to in California are in Orange County and the many beaches along the coast. She’s an avid writer about her journeys and enjoys sharing the beauty California has to offer.