Child-Friendly Activities in Riverside, California

By Tara Thomas
Riverside's warm weather encourages outdoor play.
Riverside's warm weather encourages outdoor play.

Riverside is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles in California's Inland Empire. Known as the birthplace of the California citrus industry, Riverside is also home to numerous parks, festivals, museums and historic landmarks. Take the family exploring and enjoy some of the many child-friendly activities Riverside has to offer.

Amusement and Water Parks

In a city where summer temps can soar into the triple digits, The Cove Waterpark can be a refreshing haven. Float along the park's lazy river or catch a wave on the rushing FlowRider surf simulator. The park also hosts birthday parties and a summer camp for kids ages 5 through 12. For a drier fair-weather activity, take the kids to Castle Park amusement park to try their luck at carnival games, play a round of miniature golf, enjoy the rides or check out the arcade. Castle Park's newest addition, Buccaneer Cove, offers another hot-weather oasis with water slides, spray cannons, water tunnels and cabanas for rent.

Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Riverside's Fairmount Park was designed by Frederick Olmsted, designer of New York's famed Central Park. Take a picnic or have a barbecue, rent a pedal boat, feed the ducks or fish at one of the park's three lakes. If you want to feel miles away from the city, then head out to Rancho Jurupa Park. This 200-acre park and recreational facility has two lakes, a rock-climbing playground, campgrounds and cabins for rent. For a bit of history, step back into a time when vast citrus groves were commonplace throughout southern California. At the California Citrus State Historical Park, meander through the 377-acre park's working citrus groves and pay homage to California's second gold rush -- the citrus industry.

Museums and Cultural Activities

Aviation buffs will be flying high after a trip to March Field Air Museum, home to more than 70 historic aircraft and displays. Guests can also observe modern military aircraft take off and land at adjacent March Air Reserve Base. If your kids prefer dinosaurs to airplanes, head to the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center. Children can see dinosaur models, embedded fossils and dinosaur eggs as well as browse Indian artifacts, sea shells and florescent minerals. Downtown's Riverside Metropolitan Museum features exhibits on local heritage and history, and the museum routinely hosts art walks, cultural events and family discovery days. In the summer, stop by the old-fashioned Victorian Ice Cream Social.

Indoor Recreation

Next time the kids are climbing the walls, take them to Hangar 18 Riverside, a state-of-the-art climbing gym with more than 12,000 square feet of climbing terrain and challenges. Lead routes ensure climbers of all ages and skill levels have fun, and the gym also has a competitive youth climbing team. Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park offers a foam pit, basketball jumps, trampoline dodge ball and giant trampolines to occupy the kids. Free WiFi and trampoline fitness classes may appeal to adults.

About the Author

Tara Thomas has been a writer and traveler since 1997. Her articles appear in various online publications. She also has experience authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory, which helped her develop a lifelong interest in environmentalism. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, and has worked as a mortgage consultant since 1998.