Located about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles along the Santa Ana River, Riverside has long played an important role in the economic fortunes of California. The 12th largest city in California is the home of the state’s thriving citrus industry, with the first three orange trees being planted in the area in 1871. Although two died fairly early, one of the original orange trees is still alive and well at the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington Avenues.
Part of the Inland Empire with no access to the coast, Riverside is home to the University of California-Riverside campus, museums, theaters and performing arts centers and other cultural attractions that take center stage. Because the warm, fairly dry climate makes it an ideal outdoor destination all year long, there are many festivals and special events hosted in Riverside annually, including the Riverside Dickens Festival, the Thunder Over the Empire air show and Riverside International Film Festival.
Sunny Riverside provides many opportunities for filming, photo shoots, conferences, weddings and other events welcoming both visitors and locals. Indoor and outdoor venues are available in all shapes and sizes, and the community has many local support services and businesses ready to help out.
Attractions in Riverside
Since the Ocean is about an hour’s drive away, Riverside recreation is focused on cultural activities, education and other outdoor opportunities such as hiking and biking. In addition to its museums, Riverside is home to the world’s largest Mission-style building, the Mission Inn.
- Whitewater Preserve
Nearly 3,000 acres surrounding the Whitewater River make up the Whitewater Preserve, a riparian habitat rich in native plant and animal life. The preserve offers ample opportunities for hiking (stay on the trails, please), wildlife viewing, natural light photography and camping. The preserve is an important wildlife corridor, and visitors can observe many species of birds, deer, bears and bighorn sheep. It’s also home to endangered species like the fringe-toed lizard.
- Riverside Art Museum
Located inside the historic 1929 Riverside YMCA building, the Riverside Art Museum is a collection of permanent and visiting artworks of all media. The museum’s permanent collection houses more than 2,000 works, including sculpture, painting, lithographs and more. Visitors will find works from early-career artists and California natives alongside well-known artists like Marc Chagall and Toulouse Lautrec. The Riverside Art Museum is also home to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture.
- The Mission Inn
Constructed in 1876 as a no-frills boarding house, the Mission Inn was redesigned as a classic, luxury hotel in the early 20th century. It’s the largest Mission Revival style building in the world, and it features architectural elements from more than 20 Spanish-style missions in the state. The museum features information and artifacts about the history of the building from its early days through development to modern luxury hotel and spa.
Production Locations in Riverside
Because of its proximity to Hollywood, filming locations in Riverside have been used since the film industry was navigating its earliest days. Riverside was first used as a filming location for 1919’s Boots, and its popularity continues with Nixon, the Man in the Iron Mask and Eagle Eye, among several TV series and specials.
It may not seem like the most popular category for filming in Riverside, but the city has a wide variety of churches, some historic, for filming scenes involving weddings, funerals, Christenings and even some horror scenes. This old cathedral with a private courtyard is perfect for wedding scenes and has ample space for other uses, including a music video, “Mi Problema.”
- Private Homes
Because of its agricultural history, Riverside has a number of private homes located on large tracts of property surrounded by beautiful scenery, citrus groves and more. These homes provide some of the best photo shoot locations in Riverside and can be found in almost any style, from a ranch style home with a red barn to a modern studio downtown. Many homes have beautiful in-ground pools for photo shoots featuring swimwear or other high-fashion clothing.
- Studio Space
Sometimes photo shoots aren’t always best on site – wind, rain, environmental pollution and other factors can wreak havoc on shots and equipment. There are many studio spaces available for use, and some come with green screen setups already in place. These studios are also great places to film short pieces like advertisements, commercials and company branding videos.
- Parks and Scenic Locations
Riverside is surrounded by both mountains and low hills, including Mount Rubidoux. Citrus groves, palm-lined avenues, historic neighborhoods and buildings all provide beautiful backdrops for photo shoots and movie scenes. The Santa Ana River and natural parks are quiet places for undisturbed shots.
Event and Meeting Spaces in Riverside
The city has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for all types of events, whether you’re looking for a Riverside wedding venue or space for a corporate event or conference. Gatherings of all sizes can be accommodated, whether you’re inviting friends or family to a birthday party or hosting a conference for 500 industry professionals.
- Conference Centers
If you’re hosting a trade show, hiring event, annual meeting or another large organizational event, consider using a conference center or other large professional space. There’s room for a variety of setups, ample parking space, rooms for breakout sessions or interviews, presentations and demonstrations. If your event is on a smaller scale, there are numerous conference spaces like an airy conference room for smaller groups or committees.
- Parks and Recreational Facilities
The greatest benefits to hosting an outdoor event at a park or other recreational facility are easy access and easy cleanup. Parks are great places for Riverside birthday party venues since they are affordable, have plenty of parking, allow guests to bring their own food and beverages, have restroom facilities and allow for easy cleanup.
- Private Homes
For a smaller gathering with an intimate feel, consider renting one of Riverside’s beautiful private homes or mansions for a one-of-a-kind quinceanera, birthday, graduation party or wedding. If you’re not going for a formal event but still want to have a get-together with friends or family, many homes come with private backyard pools, room for entertaining and rooms for everyone to sleep comfortably before brunch in the morning.