When the heat bears down during this Riverside summer, don’t just sit there and mop the sweat from your brow — take advantage of your summer free time and do something about it! Riverside’s got restaurants, shopping malls and beautiful natural landscapes to keep you occupied this summer. Amusement parks and a number of nearby cities and towns aren’t that far away, either. Whether it’s something you enjoy doing, or taking an adventure to experience something new, Riverside and the nearby vicinity has got something for you.

Things to Do

With July 4 coming up, there’s no better thing to do than barbeque a pack of hotdogs while you watch the fireworks light up the sky. Mt. Rubidoux is one of the most well-known places to view a fireworks show, but because the fireworks inevitably set the tinderbox mountain on fire every year and force the show short, La Sierra and Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery are better options.

If you’ve got money to burn, shopping is always an option. And if you’ve got no money, window-shopping is just as fun! The Galleria at Tyler, the Moreno Valley Mall, the Ontario Mills and Victoria Gardens are a hop, skip and a jump from UCR and have restaurants, arcades and stores selling clothes, technology, snacks and much more. If perusing old trinkets and doodads is more your style, the Mission Galleria in downtown is four stories of 1960s posters, ornate furniture, dollhouses, dusty tomes and more random stuff than you can shake a stick at. For those wanting to pick up some unique food, farmers’ markets in downtown Riverside and by the Galleria are held every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and every Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., respectively.

Amusement parks abound, with the closest, Castle Park, also being the cheapest. Six Flags Magic Mountain offers riders thrills galore with its brand-new roller coaster, Full Throttle; Knott’s Berry Farm is an alternative for those wanting to travel less far and partake in the delicious food the local restaurants have to offer. Both have water parks too, perfect for cooling down in the oppressive Riverside heat. Knott’s Soak City has a location in Orange County, but if you’re willing to travel out to Palm Springs, the 110-degree weather will make that splash at Knott’s Soak City all the more enjoyable. For all your concert and movie needs, Riverside also offers a vibrant music scene for the summer, ranging from concerts at Fairmont Park to public movie showings on Main Street.

Places to Go

Riverside may not appear to be the most scenic place at first glance, but there are nuggets of nature hidden around the city for those with an observant eye. If you’ll be spending much of your time around campus, the botanical gardens are a great place to start. Hiking up to the golden C atop the Box Springs Mountains is a rite of passage every UCR student must do, and summer provides a good opportunity to take in the vista from the mountain. Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, only a short drive south, contains a number of prime picnic locations and good hikes as long as you wake up early before the sun starts blazing.

If Riverside doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have to go too far afield to have a good time. Joshua Tree National Park’s desert scenery isn’t appealing to everyone, but its appeal becomes apparent when the sun sets. With the desert cooling to the perfect temperature, Joshua Tree’s clear skies full of stars and free of smog is the perfect sight to camp under. Big Bear is just as inviting, with its opportunities to go hiking in the cool mountain weather. There won’t be much snow, but there’s nothing stopping you from exploring the town and going to the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which houses animals like the alpine fox and the serval. Once apple season is underway in September, students should also visit Oak Glen, a hideaway nestled at the foot of the San Bernardino National Forest. Here, you can take in the beautiful mountain scenery as you chow down on food with apples in everything. If you’re lucky, you may even see a peacock or two around the main town!

Food to Eat

After a long day, good food is a must, and fortunately Riverside has a number of great restaurants. During Riverside’s Restaurant Week, relax and invite friends to any of 20 restaurants around downtown, all of which are offering special meals at special prices. ProAbition, The Salted Pig and Lake Alice are a smattering of the eateries offering a smorgasbord of delectables, including dishes like pork belly flatbreads and browned butter shrimp sandwiches. The grub’s only available until the end of June, so grab it while it’s still here.

There are loads of other restaurants to partake in after Restaurant Week is over. Mr. Kebab offers delicious Mediterranean food (their chicken shawarma is particularly good). The Thai iced tea from Best Thai is perfect for a parched throat in the summer heat, and their food is excellent too. For Mexican food, both Templo del Sol and Doña Timo’s are a stone’s throw away from UCR and very friendly to a student budget.