The 10 Best Museums in Riverside

Riverside, California, is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, with its museums offering a window into the past, a glimpse of artistic brilliance, and a snapshot of local heritage. Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or just looking for a day of exploration, the museums here are sure to captivate your curiosity. Let’s dive into the top 10 museums that are the heart and soul of Riverside’s vibrant cultural landscape.

1. Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Nestled in the heart of downtown Riverside, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum is a hub of local history, natural sciences, and cultural artifacts. With exhibits that span the ages, from Ice Age fossils to Native American baskets, this museum offers a rich tapestry of stories. It’s a place where you can spend hours, and still feel the urge to come back for more.

2. Mission Inn Museum

The Mission Inn Museum is not just a museum; it’s a journey through the storied past of the iconic Mission Inn Hotel. Here, you’ll uncover the tales of its famous guests and learn about the hotel’s pivotal role in Riverside’s development. The architecture alone is worth the visit, with its blend of Spanish Gothic, Mission Revival, and Moorish Revival styles.

3. California Citrus State Historic Park

Ah, the sweet scent of Citrus! The California Citrus State Historic Park is a living museum dedicated to the citrus industry’s pivotal role in the region’s history. Stroll through Groves of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, and get a taste—literally—of Riverside’s citrus heritage during one of their fruit tastings.

4. March Field Air Museum

For those fascinated by the skies, the March Field Air Museum is a must-visit. With over 70 aircraft and thousands of artifacts, this museum celebrates the history of flight and the March Air Reserve Base. From vintage warbirds to modern jets, the collection is as impressive as it is educational.

5. Riverside Art Museum

Art lovers, rejoice! The Riverside Art Museum is a sanctuary for the creative spirit. Housed in a stunning Beaux-Arts building, the museum showcases a diverse array of works from local and international artists. Their exhibitions are thought-provoking and dynamic, ensuring there’s always something new to discover.

6. UCR/California Museum of Photography

The UCR/California Museum of Photography is a visual feast for photographers and enthusiasts alike. With its extensive collection of photographic technology and thoughtfully curated exhibits, this museum delves into the art and science of photography in a way that’s both accessible and enlightening.

7. Heritage House

Step back in time at the Heritage House, a restored Victorian home that offers a glimpse into Riverside’s elegant past. The house, with its period furnishings and lush gardens, tells the story of a bygone era with charm and authenticity. It’s like walking through a living postcard from the 1890s.

8. Sherman Indian Museum

The Sherman Indian Museum is a poignant reminder of the cultural diversity that shapes our nation. Located on the grounds of the Sherman Indian High School, the museum houses artifacts, photographs, and artwork that reflect the history and culture of Native American boarding schools in the United States.

9. World Museum of Natural History

Located at La Sierra University, the World Museum of Natural History is a hidden gem. With its collection of fossils, minerals, and taxidermy specimens, the museum offers a fascinating look at the natural world. It’s a place where curiosity meets science, and every exhibit tells a story of Earth’s wonders.

The Sweeney Art Gallery, part of the UCR ARTSblock, is a contemporary art space that challenges and inspires. With its focus on emerging and established artists, the gallery is a platform for innovative ideas and experimental art forms. It’s where art meets the avant-garde, right in the heart of Riverside.


  • Are there any museums in Riverside suitable for children?

    Absolutely! The Riverside Metropolitan Museum and the March Field Air Museum are fantastic for kids, offering interactive exhibits that make learning fun.

  • Do any Riverside museums offer free admission?

    Yes, many museums in Riverside, including the Riverside Art Museum and the UCR/California Museum of Photography, have days when admission is free. It’s always best to check their websites for the latest information.

  • Can I host an event at any of these museums?

    Several museums in Riverside offer event spaces for rent. The Mission Inn Museum and the Riverside Art Museum are popular venues for weddings and corporate events.


Riverside’s museums are more than just buildings with exhibits; they are storytellers, educators, and guardians of history and culture. From the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s local lore to the Sweeney Art Gallery’s contemporary pieces, each museum offers a unique perspective on the world. They invite us to look closer, learn more, and leave with a greater appreciation for the diverse tapestry that is Riverside. So next time you’re in town, make sure to carve out some time for these cultural gems. You won’t regret it!

In wrapping up, these top 10 museums in Riverside provide an enriching experience that caters to a wide array of interests and age groups. Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, these institutions serve as a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its rich heritage and vibrant arts scene. So, go ahead, plan your visits, and immerse yourself in the stories that each museum has to tell. Trust me, it’s an adventure worth taking!

Kurby Team

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