Fun Things to Do in the Inland Empire (2024)

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Discover the hidden gems and thrilling adventures awaiting you in Southern California’s expansive Inland Empire, where every turn reveals a new surprise!

Looking for some fun things to do in the Inland Empire, but don’t know where to start? It can be hard to figure out what activities are available or how to plan an enjoyable day.

You don’t want to spend all day searching the web when you could be out having fun!

Take the guesswork out of planning by checking out our blog post about things to do in the Inland Empire. We’ve got you covered with plenty of ideas for an epic day or weekend full of fun.

SBT Highlights

  • Explore the historical and natural beauty of the Inland Empire, from fascinating museums to breathtaking parks.
  • Enjoy an array of activities including hiking, dining, and visiting local attractions in cities like Riverside and San Bernardino.
  • Discover why the Inland Empire is an ideal destination for families looking for adventure and fun in Southern California.


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Table Of Contents

  1. Fun Things to Do in the Inland Empire
  2. Cheap Things to Do in the Inland Empire
  3. Free Things to Do in the Inland Empire
  4. Further Afoot
  5. Where to Stay in the Inland Empire
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. SBT Summary: Things to Do in the Inland Empire

Fun Things to Do in the Inland Empire

The Inland Empire is a great place to explore with your family. There are plenty of fun things to do, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.

Being so huge, there are so many options for what you can do in this southern California region. There are things to do for everyone from your toddler to your great-grandma (read: family-friendly activities). Outdoor activities, including parks and picnic areas, abound in the region.

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lovers, or just looking for some good old-fashioned fun, you’ll find something to enjoy in this corner of California. So, grab your kids, and get ready for some adventures!

Let’s check it out!

1) California Citrus State Historic Park (Riverside)

If you’d prefer to spend your time learning about the area’s history, head out to California Citrus State Park. This citrus plantation is now also a state historic park and lets visitors take a look back at life in early 20th Century Southern California. This “park within a park” among the citrus groves also includes a visitor center.

2) Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (Riverside)

The historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa was originally opened by Frank Miller in 1876. Over the years, it has grown to be the National Historic Landmark that it is today. The gorgeous architecture houses artwork and antiques from around the world. Find out more at the Mission Inn Museum!

It’s also the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion!

Crowds flock to the Mission Inn every Christmas season, for the annual Festival of Lights. The property glows with zillions of lights. Make sure to allow time to find a parking spot!

3) Castle Park (Riverside)

If you’re looking for things to do in the city of Riverside, check out Castle Park! Considered the best amusem*nt park in Riverside, Castle Park has it all!

  • Ride Park (from thrills to a kid-friendly roller coaster)
  • Arcade
  • Buccaneer Cove (water park)
  • Mini Golf
  • Year-Round Events
  • Birthday Parties & Corporate Events
  • Restaurants

4) March Field Air Museum (Riverside)

March Field Air Museum features nearly 80 aircraft and an extensive collection of vintage uniforms and war memorabilia. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, and the docents are fantastic! It’s one of the best things to do in the IE for kids (and adults!) that love airplanes!

5) Southern California Railway Museum (Perris)

The Southern California Railway Museum in Perris is a great place to explore. This museum offers visitors the opportunity to step aboard historic railcars and take a peek at what things were like on the railway in years gone by.

6) The Cove Waterpark (Riverside)

The Cove Waterpark in Riverside is a great place to take the family during the IE summer heat. From the Lil’ Mates’ Lagoon, to the Crow’s Nest Slides, Ne’er Endin’ River, and Riptide Reef FlowRider, there are lots of attractions to help you cool off.

7) Fiesta Village Family Fun Park (Colton)

Fiesta Village Family Fun Park is a great place to go if you want to have some fun with the kids. It has an arcade, laser tag, go-karts, carnival rides, mini golf, batting cages, a skating rink, and summertime waterslides!

8) Kimberly Crest House & Gardens (Redlands)

If you’d rather spend your time exploring things that people have built, head out to Kimberly Crest House and Gardens. This beautiful Victorian mansion was built in 1897 and is now a historical landmark. Tours take visitors through both the interior of the building as well as its expansive gardens, and special events are held throughout the year.

9) Auto Club Speedway (Fontana)

Auto Club Speedway in Fontana is a short drive away from San Bernardino. This large racing facility hosts NASCAR events and racing schools.

10) Fox Performing Arts Center (Riverside)

The Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside is a great option if you have teens or young adults in your family. It features music, dance, and theater performances by professional groups from around the world, so you can get a taste of some high-quality culture while visiting the Inland Empire!

11) Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center (Riverside)

The Jurupa Mountain Discovery Center is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Inland Empire. This unique indoor/outdoor museum focuses on paleontology and earth sciences, making it an exciting stop for young explorers and curious minds.

The center features a spectacular dinosaur garden with life-size replicas, botanical gardens with a diverse range of succulents, and a variety of educational exhibits. Here, children can learn about fossils, rocks, and minerals while having fun.

Whether you’re a science enthusiast or just looking for a fun outing, the Jurupa Mountain Discovery Center offers an unforgettable experience.

NOTE: Jurupa Mountain Discovery Center is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekdays are reserved for school field trips.

12) Ontario Mills Shopping Mall (Ontario)

Ontario Mills Shopping Mall is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts exploring the Inland Empire. As one of the largest shopping malls in California, it offers an exciting blend of top brands, designer outlets, and unique specialty stores. Whether you’re in the market for fashion, technology, or home goods, Ontario Mills has you covered.

This vast shopping hub also boasts a variety of dining options and entertainment facilities, including a state-of-the-art movie theater. It’s not just a shopping mall, but a comprehensive entertainment spot for the whole family.

13) Skull Canyon Ziplines (Corona)

For the adventurous families visiting the Inland Empire, Skull Canyon Ziplines in Corona is an absolute must-experience. This adrenaline-filled attraction offers a unique way to appreciate the natural beauty of the area from a bird’s eye view. With multiple zipline courses to choose from, including a beginner’s course for those new to ziplining and an extreme course for the seasoned thrill-seekers, there’s something for everyone.

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Cheap Things to Do in the Inland Empire

14) San Bernardino County Museum (Redlands)

For the history buffs, the San Bernardino County Museum is a must-see. The museum features numerous exhibits on natural science and local history. This is a great museum and well worth the nominal fee.

15) Riverside Art Museum

The Riverside Art Museum has an extensive collection of pieces, including works by Toulouse Lautrec and Marc Chagall. Also in the works is The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, which will be part of the museum.

The Riverside Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Inland Empire, and the admission fee is nominal.

16) Magic Mountain Recreation Area (Big Bear)

A visit to the Inland Empire would not be complete without a trip to the Magic Mountain Recreation Area in Big Bear. This family-friendly destination offers year-round outdoor fun and excitement.

In the winter, you can enjoy thrilling activities such as snow tubing and bobsledding. The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain offers an exhilarating toboggan ride down a quarter-mile track. During the summer, the fun doesn’t stop – with go-karts, miniature golf course, waterslides, and a mountain coaster (the first in California!).

No matter the season, Magic Mountain Recreation Area promises a day filled with laughter and adventure for the whole family.

Free Things to Do in the Inland Empire

17) Redlands Bowl

If you want to hear some live music during the summer months, head out to Redlands for a show at the Redlands Bowl. It is one of the oldest outdoor amphitheaters in the country where they host things like jazz concerts and musical theater performances. Live entertainment under the stars! It’s one of the best places to really feel what’s special about the IE. (P.S. FREE admission!)

While you’re in Redlands, check out the shops and restaurants on State Street, the main street in Downtown Redlands.

18) Mount Rubidoux (Riverside)

Mt. Rubidoux has a paved road along the ridge for hikers and history buffs alike. There are several historic markers and memorials, including the cross at the top of the mountain. It is dedicated to Father Junipero Serra.

19) Fairmount Park (Riverside)

Fairmount Park in Riverside has a Universal Playground that is suitable for children from 2 to 12 years old. The playground has two play areas (one for younger kids and one for older kids), a sand play area, and a sensory play area.

There’s also a water feature play area where kids can run around and get soaking wet in the summer months!

20) Play in the Snow!

The San Bernardino Mountains and the San Bernardino National Forest are less than an hour away from Riverside. If you’re up for some winter fun, watch the weather, and be ready to head up the hill during the few times it snows in the region. Angelus Oaks is a favorite spot!

21) Take a Hike!

The Inland Empire has plenty of nature trails and paths for hikers of all levels. If you love being outdoors in slightly higher elevations, head to Lake Arrowhead, or go on a beautiful hike around Lake Gregory, or take a walk along Big Bear Lake. The San Gabriel Mountains are nearby, and there is plenty of desert hiking as well.

Semi-Budget Travel Savings!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time in the IE!

Further Afoot

There are, of course, many other areas of Southern California beyond the Inland Empire. If you’ve got more time in the state, you might want to visit:

  • San Diego
  • Temecula Valley
  • Desert Hot Springs
  • Joshua Tree National Park (one of the closest national parks)
  • Living Desert Zoo
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Orange County (“the OC”)

Where to Stay in the Inland Empire

Semi-Budget Travel Booking Resource!

If you’d like even more options, take a look at this map! It combines hotels and vacation rentals all in one place. Super convenient!

It’ll even help you find experiences and restaurants, too! Just use the drop-down menu, and check it out!

(NOTE: On mobile, you might need to turn your phone sideways to see the drop-down menu.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Inland Empire?

The Inland Empire (also known as “the IE”) is a vast region in Southern California. It stretches from the far east boundaries of Los Angeles to the outskirts of Palm Springs.

The cities within the Inland Empire are mostly part of San Bernardino County and Riverside County, which is one of the largest counties in the United States.

The largest cities in the metropolitan area are Riverside, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, and Ontario.

Does the Inland Empire include Palm Springs?

Some may include the greater Palm Springs area as part of the Inland Empire, but it is usually excluded. Palm Springs lies in the Coachella Valley.

SBT Summary: Things to Do in the Inland Empire

The Inland Empire is a great place to explore with your family. There are plenty of fun things to do, whether you’re interested in history, nature, or just some good old-fashioned fun. You’ll find something to enjoy in this corner of California. So grab your kids (or yourself), and get ready for some adventures!


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Fun Things to Do in the Inland Empire (3)


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Fun Things to Do in the Inland Empire (2024)


What is Inland Empire famous for? ›

The Inland Empire was previously known as the Orange Empire because of the vast amount of oranges and other succulent fruits that grow here. Apricots, peaches and passion fruit will become a staple of your diet.

What scenic parks are in the Inland Empire? ›

The Inland Empire District manages California Citrus State Historic Park, Chino Hills State Park, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Mount San Jacinto State Park, Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, San Timoteo Canyon, Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, and Wildwood Canyon.

What is the largest city in the Inland Empire? ›

Inland Empire is a densely populated region, with the university town of Riverside as its largest city and San Bernardino as its second-largest city.

What is IE in Cali? ›

The Inland Empire (locally known as the I.E.) is a region in Southern California; an urban and metropolitan area centered around the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino. The Inland Empire is located east of Los Angeles County.

What are the poorest cities in the Inland Empire? ›

The three most-impoverished cities in the Inland Empire are San Bernardino, Hesperia and Perris. The three least-impoverished cities in the Inland Empire are Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills.

Why is Riverside called Inland Empire? ›

Originally coined to distinguish the area just east of Los Angeles and Orange County, the Inland Empire, or “IE,” moniker describes an area that was once part of the Orange Empire. Area cities such as Riverside, Corona, and Redlands played a major role in the American Citrus industry during the early 19th century.

Is Inland Empire High Desert? ›

California Inland Empire's High Desert region is located northeast of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains. This area is predominantly rural with agricultural, light industry and retail as it major commerce.

Is the Inland Empire a desert? ›

The Inland Empire is also one of America 's most unique regions and micro-climates, featuring pristine mountains, lakes, deserts, and ample recreation and sporting activities, all within an hour's drive to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Is LA in the Inland Empire? ›

The Inland Empire consists of two counties, San Bernardino and Riverside, and is considered part of Southern California. Yes, the two counties are part of the Los Angeles metro area, and have experienced explosive growth in the last two decades.

Why is San Bernardino famous? ›

San Bernardino is unique among Southern Californian cities because of its wealth of water, which is mostly contained in underground aquifers. Seccombe Lake, named after a former mayor, is a manmade lake at Sierra Way and 5th Street.

Where do most people live in California? ›

Los Angeles is the largest city in California and one of the largest cities in the Americas.

Why is the Inland Empire so big? ›

The Inland Empire population grew as a result of affordable housing, at least relative to the rest of Southern California, but most of the higher paying jobs are located in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties.

Is Rancho Cucamonga considered IE? ›

Rancho Cucamonga is part of the Inland Empire and San Bernardino County, a region that lies inland from the Pacific coast and directly east of Los Angeles County.

Is Temecula considered the Inland Empire? ›

The city of Temecula, forming the southwestern anchor of the Inland Empire region, is approximately 58 miles (93 km) north of downtown San Diego and 85 miles (137 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Temecula is part of the Greater Los Angeles area.

What is the story of Inland Empire? ›

How do you describe the Inland Empire? ›

The Inland Empire is an area in Southern California is composed of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and some parts of East Los Angeles County. It is a huge area, both counties contain over 27,000 square miles and have a population of over four and a half million.

Is the Inland Empire a good place to live? ›

Encompassing two counties – Riverside and San Bernardino, residents are drawn to the area for its peaceful surroundings and outdoor recreational opportunities. If you're considering moving to Inland Empire, you're in the right place.

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