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Things to Do in Riverside, California

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Live Your Best Life in Riverside, California!

The City of Riverside is a vibrant college town that welcomes and supports a diverse community. UC Riverside (UCR) shares the city with over 15 other higher education institutes. This makes Riverside home to a mighty collection of college students who are attracted to the city’s perfect balance of small-town friendliness and big-city fun.

We’re talking year-round Main Street festivals that celebrate everything and everyone. Thousands gather each year for our mesmerizing Fourth of July fireworks lit from the peak of our beloved Mount Rubidoux — and month-long wintertime "Festival of Lights," which was voted #1 Best Public Holiday Lights Display in the nation. (USA Today 10 Best, 2018)

For everyday excitement, Riverside has a heavy sprinkling of eclectic eateries, music venues, craft breweries, indie shops, and quaint boba and coffee houses — some owned and operated by UCR alumni.

But what people love the most about Riverside is the location! It’s in the heart of Southern California — only an hour's drive to beaches, deserts, mountains, and metropolitan cities.

 

A City for Fun-Seekers

Riverside offers art, adventure, nature, music, comedy, sports and just about anything else you can think of to feed your mind, body, and soul. Broadway plays fresh from New York? We’ve got that. Heart-pounding concerts with world-famous headliners? We've got those, too! Serene hikes that bring you magically close to candy-colored sunrises and sunsets? You better believe we've got that!

Two students celebrating Dia de los Muertos in downtown Riverside by taking a selfie with a face-painted friend.

We have your kind of fun:

  • Downtown music, art, cultural and food festivals throughout the year, like the IE Taco Festival, Riverside Tamale Festival, Riverside Dickens Festival and Riverside Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) — just to name a few.
  • Monthly Riverside Artswalk, featuring art, music, and food.
  • Karaoke spots all over town.
  • Public art installations throughout the city, like Mariposa Alley.
  • LOL (laugh-out-loud) comedians showcased at the Fox Performing Arts Center, including Dane Cook and Jerry Seinfeld.
  • Affordable bowling and skating all over town.
  • Carnival rides, arcade games and mini-golf at Castle Park
  • Miles of multi-level trails for hikes, bikes, and off-roading adventure.
  • Yoga studios, health food centers and many places for mindfulness meditation.

By the Numbers: Sunny Icon

277 Sunny Days

79.5°F (26.3°C) annual high temperature

By the Numbers: Music Icon

20+

music, dancing, comedy and art venues around campus

By the Numbers: Movie Icon

Free

movies and concerts at Fairmount Park in the summer

Come to Riverside to study but stay for the scene!
#UCRLovesRiverside

 

Colorful sunset atop a lake at Fairmount Park with silhouettes of palm trees.
Two UCR students happily enjoying boba tea drinks.
Two UCR students laying in the back of a vehicle looking out a drive-in screen, while enjoying popcorn.
Three UCR students taking a hike along a dirt trail that is surrounded by large rocks and green grass.
Two fruit ice cream bars; one is pink and the other is white with slices of strawberry, kiwi and peach.
Aerial view of Downtown Riverside that shows historic buildings, tall palm trees and car-lined street.
UCR student wearing a UC Riverside shirt, proudly standing in front of historical building.
Someone holding a blue ice cream donut sandwich at Afters Ice Cream.
Lunar Festival celebration in Downtown Riverside with Chinese lanterns strewn across the lamp posts.
Three UCR students standing atop a giant boulder enjoying the view of blue sky and green grass.
Historic cross-topped building in Downtown Riverside surrounded by tall trees.
Colorful sunset and panoramic view of Riverside California.
Bougainvillea flowers looking down at historic Downtown Riverside, California building.
Upward, silhouetted view of super tall palm trees.
Six UCR students wearing UCR tube top shirts, while holding cheerleading pom poms.
Two fruit smoothie cups with sliced assorted fruit and nutty toppings.
Beautifully round orange hanging from a leafy tree.
Smiling student wearing a floral dress standing atop a stone-paved walkway.
 
Local Tip

Want to learn more about Riverside’s deep roots in the citrus industry? Visit the California Citrus State Historic Park, just 10 miles (17 km) from UCR.

 

A City for Foodies

There is no denying that Riverside’s diverse population plays a major role in the variety of cuisines offered around town. You'll find flavors to satisfy every cultural craving within walking distance of campus or quickly delivered to your door. Hungry for specialty food truck treats? They’re scattered all around the city. Keep your eyes (and noses) open.

  Eats For Everyone

Aerial view of cheesy pepperoni pizza being shared by group of friends.

 

Quick and Affordable Bites

Whether you're looking for familiar flavors that remind you of home or want to try something new, Riverside definitely has it. You'll find 10+ pho/ramen spots, 20+ pizza places, 30+ burger joints or 40+ taco shops — all within two miles (3 km) of UCR.

Group of friends sitting around a small table, eating various foods.

 

Group Meals with Friends

Share a meal at one of the many fun restaurants that serve enormous plates of nachos, jumbo bowls of pho and all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches. Can't get the group to agree on one type of cuisine? Try Riverside Food Lab, a trendy food hall with 10+ different eateries to choose from.

Two people sitting across from each other at a small table, eating healthy meals and drinking refreshments out of glass jars.

 

Date Night & Sophisticated Palates

Treat yourself (or a special friend) to a meal at one of the many fine-dining restaurants that serve dishes like flambéed brie, bourbon maple glazed pork belly, cauliflower risotto, lobster bisque and goat cheese-filled squash blossoms.

 
Local Tip

In-N-Out has the best affordable burgers, fries and shakes, and it’s only 6 miles (9.5 km) from campus. Check out their "not-so-secret" menu for items like "animal style fries."

 
Young adult looking at tomatoes while in the produce section at a grocery store.

 

  Grocery Stores + Farmers Markets

Whether your recipe is American, international or health-conscious, you’ll find a wide variety of ingredients at the 20+ fresh produce markets within 2 miles (3 km) of UCR.  And don’t forget about the handful of farmers markets scattered around town throughout the week. This is where you’ll find local honey, handmade hummus, homegrown herbs and fresh-cut flowers.

Delivery person holding a reusable bag full of fresh produce and other foods.

 

  Convenient Delivery Services

Riverside also participates in popular third-party delivery services like Instacart, Doordash, UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates — which can deliver foods and other necessities from just about any restaurant and store in the area within one hour. Perfect for students who don’t have a car or just want to enjoy the ease of these online delivery services.

 
Local Tip

Some pizza places deliver as late as midnight, while other restaurants around town are open 24/7 — which is perfect for late-night study sessions.

 

 

 

The Best City

Riverside was voted the best city to live in! (Press Enterprise’s Best of IE, 2017)

 

Young at Heart

Riverside is ranked 3rd most moved to metropolitan area by millennials in the nation. (Time, 2017)

 

 

Full of Opportunity

Riverside is ranked 8th in the metro area for retaining college grads. (CityLab, 2018)

 

Safe & Sound

Riverside is the 14th safest metro city in America. (safewise.com, 2018)

Learn more about how Riverside is an award-winning city

A City Full of Help & Resources

UCR is surrounded by many resources and businesses that college students need when starting a new stage in life. You’ll find all your banking, grooming, cell phone and vehicle needs met within a few miles of campus. Local businesses value students and they’re ready to help.

Need to buy some new sheets for your bed or new clothes for yourself? No problem. Riverside has many malls, outlets, flea markets, vintage/antique shops and outdoor promenades that are only a short distance from campus.


If you’re ever in need, on-campus medical services are available to all UCR students Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Student Health Services. For after-hours care, check out all the hospital and health centers in Riverside.

 
Local Tip

We have two Target stores and one Walmart Supercenter within 5 miles (8 km) of UCR. These popular retailers carry everything from clothing, accessories, household necessities, kitchen appliances, furniture, food, personal care/beauty products, pet care, sports/outdoor equipment, video games, movies, music, books, electronics, school supplies and so much more.

 

A City to Call Home

We suggest that freshmen students reserve their spot at one of UCR’s many residence halls or off-campus apartments to get the full college experience. But if you’d like to venture out on your own, these are near-to-campus neighborhoods that are most populated by UCR students. Learn about all of Riverside’s different neighborhoods on RiversideCA.gov

Three UCR students hanging out inside a dorm room, while wearing UCR-branded clothing.

 

University District “College Living”:
  • Population: Majority of college students.
  • Housing: Many standard apartment complexes and multi-resident (roommate-style) homes.
  • Amenities: Student-serving businesses and many diverse restaurants.
Group of friends playing basketball at a court located at an apartment complex that has park-like scenery.

 

Canyon Crest “Suburban Living”:
  • Population: Mix of college students, young professionals and families.
  • Housing: Mix of luxury condos, deluxe apartments and single-family homes.
  • Amenities: “Everything-you-need” shopping center and parklike surroundings.
Golden-hour shot of downtown Riverside skyscrapers.

 

Downtown “City Living”:
  • Population: Artists, musicians, young professionals, college students and families.
  • Housing: Victorian homes renovated into apartments, luxury lofts and Craftsman-style homes.
  • Amenities: Music venues, art galleries, nightlife and many restaurants.
Riverside: Map
 
Local Tip

The cost of living in Riverside is much lower than metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. This makes renting or sharing an off-campus apartment or house a lot more affordable.

 

A City to Work In

If you are looking for an internship, seasonal, part-time or full-time job, you can start with Handshake, an online job search tool where you will find a list of job openings from local companies who are looking for students like you. Search from the comfort of your room 24/7 or, create a few search agents that will notify you via email when a match is made.

Find a job on handshake

 Forbes ranked Riverside as one of The Best Places for Business and Careers (2018).

A City That’s Easy to Get Around In

Riverside supports many modes of transportation that are safe, affordable and convenient. Many community members walk, skateboard, bike or use motorized scooters*.

Students board a Riverside Transit Agency bus to explore the city.

 

UCR students can use their R’Card (student ID) to get FREE rides on RTA busses. People who are venturing further away from campus or beyond the city can also pay for rides through taxis, Uber, Lyft, Zipcar rentals or Metrolink trains.

A roomy Point-to-Point Shuttle Service van that is used to transport students to and from the campus and their off-campus home.

 

UCR also provides students with a FREE Point-to-Point Shuttle Service that takes students from a designated on-campus meeting point to their off-campus home, as long as it’s within the coverage area.

Please note that UCR has transportation policies that are separate from the City of Riverside:

  • *Motorized scooters are NOT permitted on campus.  You can ride them through the city and to the edge of campus but not onto (or through) the campus.
  • Due to limited parking availability on campus, first-year/freshman students who are living in UCR’s Residence Halls are prohibited from bringing a vehicle on campus.

Explore Surrounding Cities & Activities

Go solo. Grab some friends. Or, find out how UCR’s Outdoor Excursions can help you visit all of these places.

 

Popular Points of Interest

We've collected some of the most frequented locations near (and not-so-near) campus that may be useful to students.
Click on the icon in the upper left-hand corner of this interactive Google map to view the full menu and select the layers/categories you want to see.

 

 

 

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