Get Wild in the Inland Empire: 18 Fun Things to Do

Who says you have to hit the beach or a big city to find something to do? The Inland Empire is full of fun activities for those looking for something a bit different.

Whether you’re looking to explore nature or soak up some culture, there’s an activity just waiting for your arrival.

Here are 18 great things to do in this picturesque area that will make your visit truly unique.

With these amazing places to see and activities to try, it will be hard not to find something fun and exciting in the Inland Empire!

1. Oak Glen

Calling all nature lovers, outdoor adventurers, and curious folk; Oak Glen is the picture-perfect utopia of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Here you can enjoy sun-filled days of apple picking and lunching outdoors at one of the many orchards in the area.

Witness some of California’s best agricultural scenery as you take in sprawling fields of row crops and berry bushes that line the road.

At the end of a peaceful day, you can treat yourself to a little shopping spree!

Fire up your wallet and stop by Artisan Village, home to local artisan shops and quaint vendors.

With an array of one-of-a-kind items, you’re sure to leave with a smile on your face!

San Bernardino Valley from the San Bernardino Mountains
San Bernardino Valley from the San Bernardino Mountains

2. Riverside Art Walk

The Riverside Artswalk is a monthly event that celebrates the city’s unique culture, from visual and performing arts to incredible shopping and dining experiences.

So instead of beach lounging, take in some art by visiting over 22 stops during this event? Trust us, you’ll have your hands full!

3. Temecula Valley & Old Town

A trip to Temecula is the perfect opportunity to check a few items off of your bucket list.

From extraordinary spa experiences, fabulous shopping and award-winning vineyards, you’ll find all that you need for the perfect getaway.

The most adventurous among us may even opt to take in the view from on high with a hot air balloon over this wine country!

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4. Riverside Food Lab

At the Inland Empire’s first food hall, the Riverside Food Lab, you’ll be sure to find something that tickles your taste buds.

Start your journey with some vegan burgers from one of the many stalls, followed by a steaming bowl of ramen and an aromatic cup of coffee.

Then head over to Bricks & Birch for some brick-oven pizza that is sure to blow your mind, paired with craft beer from Beerfarm.

Whatever it is you came looking for when it comes to food and drinks, one thing is certain: you won’t leave here hungry.

Victoria Gardens at dusk Inland Empire
Photo by Victoria Gardens

5. Victoria Gardens

The Inland Empire begs to differ when it comes to shopping, dining and entertainment; just take Victoria Gardens as evidence!

From Zara for the trendsetter in all of us, to AMC Theaters for the movie buff, you can make a full day of it.

And if you find yourself hungry after all that shopping, head to Cheesecake Factory or Gyu Kaku for some Japanese BBQ.

6. Hike the Claremont Loop

For a fun-filled day outdoors, put on your hiking gear and make your way to the Claremont Loop trail.

It’s not for novice hikers though – prepare for it to be a bit of a workout up and down the terrain.

You will be rewarded, however, with some scenery that is sure to make your jaw drop; majestic mountains along the horizon and lush green in all directions.

The best times of year are March to October and man’s best friend is always welcome – just be sure to keep them close!

7. Go Bouldering at HANGAR 18

So, you’re looking for a way to shake up your weekend routine? Head on over to Hangar 18 and get reacquainted with gravity.

Their friendly staff and incredible climbing routes are sure to leave you feeling more nimble than a Spider-Man stunt double.

So grab your harness and ready those nerves of steel; it’s time for some serious airborne antics.

The Cove Waterpark on a nice sunny day Riverside CA
Photo by The Cove Waterpark

8. The Cove Waterpark

Beat the summer heat by taking a dive into The Cove Waterpark in Riverside.

Boasting a variety of attractions from the calming vibes of the Lil’ Mates’ Lagoon where kids can safely play and explore, to the thrilling Riptide Reef FlowRider which simulates surfing, you’ll be sure to keep your cool all day.

Afterwards, recharge with a burger at The Galley Grill and remember to rent a cabana so you can relax in style.

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9. Southern California Railway Museum

One of the most unique attractions that you won’t want to miss out on is the Southern California Railway Museum.

Founded more than 60 years ago in Perris – the city known for its sky diving experiences – this 100-acre behemoth of a museum pays homage to California’s railway history.

With over 200 streetcars, this is an ideal destination for locomotive enthusiasts, industrial historians or those looking for a thrilling trip down memory lane.

So if you ever find yourself in the Inland Empire and looking for something fun to do, don’t forget to check out the Southern Californian Railway Museum.

10. Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is more than just a place to take a stroll or have a picnic; it’s literally an oasis in the middle of a bustling city!

As you wander through the park, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees, lush greenery, and sparkling lakes where you can paddleboat.

Keep your eyes peeled for the resident ducks and geese, who are always happy to make new friends (especially if you have some breadcrumbs to share).

And if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, grab a spot on one of the park’s many benches and soak up the sun. It’s the perfect spot for people-watching or catching up on your latest novel.

California Citrus State Historic Park Riverside CA
Photo by California Citrus State Historic Park Riverside CA

11. California Citrus State Historic Park

Why pack your bags for a vacation halfway across the world when you can explore the hidden gems waiting for you in your own backyard?

A must-see destination in the Inland Empire is California Citrus State Historic Park.

Not only does it provide a great opportunity to soak up some sun and learn more about history, but this open-air museum also offers a variety of activities like interpretive tours and fruit tasting that will please your inner adventurer.

And if events are more your thing, don’t miss out on the Citrus Tasting Festival, where you can discover more about California’s rich history.

12. Big Bear Lake

With breathtaking lake views, nature preserves, and a variety of recreational activities to choose from in the Inland Empire, Big Bear is undeniably one of the hottest holiday destinations.

Experience the majestic beauty of Big Bear’s wildlife zoo or go kayaking on its expansive lake.

Better yet, book a cozy little rental cabin and spend your holidays snuggled up by the fireplace while you read the latest bestseller – talk about a real winter getaway!

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13. Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

One of the few places in the IE that can make you feel like royalty, with the exception of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.

This National Historic Landmark will take your breath away with its gorgeous architecture and antiques from different parts of the world.

From presidents to movie sets, this hotel has seen it all – but our favorite time to visit is during Christmas when it looks like an illuminated winter wonderland.

14. Auto Club Speedway

The Auto Club Speedway is the place where speed demons come to get their fix, and where car enthusiasts can indulge in their need for speed.

As soon as you step foot on the track, you’ll feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins.

The roar of the engines, the smell of burning rubber, and the sight of cars whizzing by at breakneck speeds – it’s an experience like no other!

And if you’re not into racing, there’s still plenty to do here; check out the vendor booths, grab a bite to eat, or just soak up the atmosphere and watch the action unfold. Let’s rev those engines and hit the gas!

15. Hit the Slopes at Bear Mountain

With amazing terrain and classic SoCal vibes, Big Bear Mountain Resort is the ultimate destination for an awesome wintertime escape.

Strap on your snow skis or board and explore the world-famous runs of Bear Mountain.

Enjoy their endless acres of groomed cruisers or test your skills in the park – they’ve got something for beginners through experts.

Don’t miss out on one of their famous events like Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails to kickstart your season with style!

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16. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. With its unique geology and namesake Joshua trees, it’s definitely a sight worth seeing.

Many come to admire the teddy bear cholla cacti and massive monzogranite boulders; this park is replete with geologic wonders and wide-open desert sky.

No matter who you are, campers looking to explore or hikers searching for adventure, there’s something in this desert oasis that will appeal to everyone.

17. Castle Park

If you’re seeking a day of fun and adventure in Riverside, you can’t go wrong by checking out Castle Park.

It’s one of the best amusement parks in the city, packed full of entertainment options to suit all types of personalities!

Get your heart pumping at the Ride Park with a selection of exhilarating and family-friendly rides.

For a different flavor of fun, test your skills at the Arcade and battle it out while enjoying some classic games.

If you’re feeling daring, show off your water slides acrobatics at Buccaneer Cove.

18. San Bernardino County Museum

At the San Bernardino County Museum, history comes to life! This museum is more than just a collection of artifacts – it’s a journey through time, from the prehistoric era to the present day.

Explore the ancient fossils and learn about the creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. Discover the traditions and customs of the indigenous people who once called this land home.

But the San Bernardino County Museum isn’t just about looking at things – it’s about experiencing them! There are plenty of hands-on activities you and the kiddos can participate in.