Upon moving to Riverside I was immediately stunned by how dull and
uncultured it was (uncultured in this context being about the same as
"Lacking of California Pizza Kitchens".) However, I have discovered a
number of places and things to do that make Riverside quite pleasant.
Here are some of my random thoughts, activities, and favorite places:
- Random thoughts -
- Driving - Driving can actually be pleasant here. I highly
recommend swearing off the use of freeways except in extreme
circumstances. They are not that much faster, they are in poorish
condition, and they are not much to look at. Instead, try to take the
back ways. If you are heading from the University area south, take
Chicago or Victoria. Chicago leads into the very nice hilly areas,
has few stop lights, and is quite pretty. Victoria leads through the
country club, and if you take it down past Arlington it is just about
the prettiest road you could ever drive on. Nice orange stands down
there too, if you want some fresh fruit. I try to take Magnolia,
Brockton, Chicago, Central, and Victoria to get wherever I'm going.
Even the major journeys (like to the Galleria at Tyler) only take
10-15 minutes longer from University, and are much more pleasant. Are
you really in that much of a hurry?
- Mini-Golf, Arcade, Rides -
Castle Park, just south of Tyler on the 91, is a fairly
impressive little amusement park. Very nice mini-golf. Good fun for an
evening. Downside is that the bastards make you pay for parking sometimes,
which makes it a bit too expensive for my taste. (I mean, mini-golf
for two is OK at $11-$12, but not at $16-$17.)
If paying for parking isn't your speed, another similar park is
Scandia located on I-15 between CA-60 and I-10 (take the Jurupa exit
west, you'll see it.) Basically the same setup, but free parking.
Not as much of an amusement park, but the mini golf is good.
- Walking and Hiking -
- Box Springs - The mountains east of UCR campus are known as Box
Springs. They are deceptively steep. For example, when hiking up
to the "C" on the side of the hill (park on Big Springs road east of
Watkins), it is about 3/4 mile with an elevation gain of 1000 feet.
Once at the "C" you are just a couple long stone's throw(s) away
from the summit. Nice view.
- Mt. Rubidoux - Kinda like the Disneyland of hills. There are
lots of trails that wind around the mountain, little man-made
structures, a stone bridge, a bell-tower, big steps, all sorts of
things. A very popular place for hikers/bikers/climbers. This is
the big lone hill that rises up to the west of Downtown. Mission
Inn Blvd (or Mission Avenue, depending on where you are) passes just
north of it.
- Sugarloaf Mountain - The westernmost and northernmost bump in
the Box Springs "range" is called Sugarloaf Mountain. You can drive
up a bit of it by taking Blain/3rd east to Mt. Vernon road north and
driving up past all the (nice) houses. There are a number of places
to park that are scattered around, the one I usually use is in the
residential neighborhood about a mile west of Mt. Vernon. There is
a paved access path there that seems pretty legit to park at. A guy
that I presume owned the house we parked in front of waved at us
when we came down. This is a good couple-hour hike, fairly steep,
but a very nice view if the air is clear. Well worth it.
- UCR Botanical Gardens - The botanical gardens on UCR's campus
are quite wonderful. If you are in need of a quick escape from the
bustle of campus, a nice place for a picnic, or a refreshing breath
of tree-filtered air, the botanical garden is a perfect place.
- California State Citrus Historical Park - East of Victoria,
South of Jackson, there are 300+ acres of orange groves open to the
public here. Nice parking, great place for a picnic.
- General note - There is a fairly large community of Geocachers in Riverside, with
new caches being placed all the time. A
$100 $70 GPS unit is a
wonderful investment if you are interested in finding more
interesting places to wander around here.
- Food -
- Antonius NW Pizza (scattered) - There are a number of these
around, there is one on Magnolia north of Central, one is on the
pedestrian mall in Downtown, and I think there is one right off the
91 south of Arlington. Good pizza, cheap. Lunch specials put a
reasonable meal in the $3-$4 range. Can't beat their cheese pizza.
- B.J's (Harriman Place, San Bernardino) - "Chicago style" (sorta)
pizza, microbrewed beer. Generally everything is great, the only
exception is often the service. Happy hour deals are great, sit in
the bar. BBQ chicken pizza is good, beer is better.
- Bossa Nova Grill (Spruce & Chicago) - Tolerably good Mexican
food, doesn't make you feel quite so out of place as going to the
Mission Inn. About the same cost (food isn't quite as good though.)
Very extensive tequila bar, but oh-my-lord is it overpriced!
Drinking outside the home is just too spendy.
- Cafe Fusion (Alessandro blvd west of the 215) - Bizarre,
tasteless decor, but really good food. I very much like the Hukelau
chicken, and the desserts are some of the best I've ever had.
- Chipotle (Riverside & Central) - Chain food arrives in
Riverside. Burritos the size of babies, runs about $6-$7 per
person. Seems to be giving free drinks if you can show student ID
lately. Very good food, just watch out: the burritos are probably
on the order of ~1400 calories.
- Cold Stone (East of Arlington & Illinois) - Good ice cream.
A nice change from Ben & Jerry's. Portions are very big.
Victoria and I usually can't finish a Medium ($3.39) split between
us. If you really want to get fat, get into the habit of splitting
a Cold Stone Creation (one of their lots-of-mixins specialties),
like the Banana Splitacular. Wow.
- Dehli Palace (Hospitality Lane, San Bernardino) - Fairly
expensive, but very very good indian food. Might be the best indian
restaurant I've been to. The service is incredible, it is almost
like having your own waiter at every table. Portions are not
skimpy, food is delicious. If it wasn't quite as expensive, I'd
- Del Taco (Everywhere) - It is funny, there are more Del Tacos in
Riverside than there are any other fast food place. It really seems
like you can drive down any road and find one within 5 miles. (I'm
not sure that is true, but it is probably close.) I only mention it
because of the glut of them in town.
- Getaway Cafe (Canyon Crest Drive, across from UCR Lot 24) - The
bar for UCR. Food is generally surprisingly good, although not
spectacular, good selection of beers, surprisingly bad at math
(about 30% of the time I wind up at least a dollar ahead because
they guys at the counter are in such a hurry). Certainly worth
trying out. On the downside, as a bar there isn't even a bar, so it
ain't a bar to go meet people at (to my mind), and as far as I've
seen they only have booze on tap, but perhaps the liquor is hidden
in the back. And the entire place is a bit grimy. Avoid the restrooms.
- Islands (Central between Magnolia and CA-91) - Uppity chain
restaurants have arrived in Riverside. The food at Islands is great
if you are wanting a burger, chicken sandwich, salad, or tortilla
soup. Problem is they are freakin' expensive: an $8 burger doesn't
even come with fries. Pretty good if you aren't paying, but there
are a lot of better places to go.
- La Villa (Magnolia, just north of Central) - A fairly authentic
mexican food restaurant, reasonably priced, with INCREDIBLE speed
and service most of the time. (Once you order it seems like only a
minute or two before your food is served.) Victoria and I often
get the Enchiladas Verdes and an order of Nachos, which is more than
enough for two, and costs only a total of like $13. Good stuff.
- Liberty Pizza (Iowa & Blaine) - With a domain name like www.corporatepizzasucks.com
it has to be good. And it is. Quite reasonable prices, very good
pizza from what I've had of it. We had a vegitarian supreme the
first time we ate from there, and it was 4 meals, delivery and tip
made it less than $4 / person, and it was some of the best pizza
I've had in a while. I'm certainly done ordering from corporate
places. Update for the last several orders from these guys,
the food hasn't been nearly so good. One in particular was nearly
inedible, for reasons unclear to me. I think I'm back on Papa
- Little Emperor (Canyon Crest center, north of Ralph's) - Chinese
and Thai food, very very good. A little pricy for most dishes, but
the portions are quite generous. Pad-thai noodles and cashew
chicken are really good, an order of those with white rice feeds
3-4. This is being added to my "regular" list of restaurants.
- Mission Inn (Downtown) - The mexican food place in the Mission Inn is
wonderful. If you are not a real big eater, it is entirely
reasonable to split an entree here. Victoria and I like the chicken
enchiladas a lot. They also have a very fine selection of tequila,
which I personally appreciate quite a bit.
- Old Spaghetti Factory (East edge of Downtown) - The one major
intrusion of corporate chain good-food that is present in Riverside
proper. (Down the 91 a way you can find a Mimi's and a Claim
Jumper, but I don't find those to be worth the 15-20 minute drive.)
Entirely reasonable, but not a great place to "go out" to, just
because they are almost too efficient in getting people in and out.
Not enough time to relax unless you really make an effort. (And
then what is the point?)
- Souplantation (Hospitality Lane, San Bernardino) - The nearest
proper salad bar. Expensive for dinner, considering it is mostly
salad that you fill up on ($8.50 a plate), but you get 10% off for
being a AAA member, and it is only like $7 a plate at lunch, which
isn't bad. The salad is always fresh, they have many things to put
on it, and they have some wonderful baked goods (cornbread,
blueberry muffins, etc) that come along with the meal.
- Table for Two (Central between Riverside & Magnolia) -
Modern, Americanized Thai food. Very nice place, good prices,
exotic foods (red curry duck, etc). I recommend the pad thai
noodles. Good stuff.
- Rising Savor (SE corner of Chicago & University) - Cheap
Chinese fast-food place. Orange chicken is good, chow mein is good,
some other things are tolerable. Lots of food for cheap. We actually
figured that it is cheaper to go to Rising Savor and split a 2
entree meal than to cook for ourselves most of the time. Although
we'd probably die if we did that very often. It's . . . sketchy.
- Riverside Brewing Company (2 blocks East of Mission Inn) -
Riverside's only microbrewery (I think.) Beer is pretty good, I'd
give it 4 stars out of 5, food is good but not great.