The Annual Riverside Festival of Lights




Riverside Festival of Lights- Photo Taken by Jim Souza via Flickr

The 24th Annual Riverside Festival of Lights is now open to the public. The switch-on ceremony took place on November 25th. The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce and the City of Riverside sponsor the festival. The annual event features more than four million lights.

The festival will feature some crowd favorites like Magical Moments with Santa Clause, music and entertainment, and food vendors will provide visitors with tasty treats. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the artisans collective will be set up.

The artisans collective is an arts market where festival goers may purchase art from local artists, hear music from local bands, and participate in art workshops.

The 2016 entertainment schedule has been released and a number of bands, solo artists, and high school choirs will be taking the stage at the festival. Performing at the Ben Franklin Stage will be Groovelabs, Riverside Concert Band, and Centennial High School Madrigal & Treble Choir among others. The main stage will feature Sol De Mexico Ballet Folklorico, Colors In Motion Dance Crew, and Poly Theatre Arts.


Mission Inn Lights- Photo Taken by Don Graham via Flickr


Horse carriage rides are also available. All festival visitors may board the carriages using one of the three sites set up throughout Main Street. The Century Wheel, Vintage Carousel, and Trackless Train Ride are new attractions this year.

In 2015 USA Today named the Riverside Festival of Lights the Best Holiday Festival. In 2014 the festival won the 10Best Readers’ Choice award for Best Public Lights Display.


The Most Popular Mountain in the City of Riverside


Mt. Rubidoux Panorama-Photo Taken by Randy McEoin via Flickr

Mount Rubidoux is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the City of Riverside. Historic landmarks and an amazing view await anyone who makes it to the top.

Thousands of hikers visit the four-mile trial everyday but not many people realize just how significant this mountain is and how rich in history it really is. This is a trail visited by many people throughout the year. Some go up there with their family and friends, others use it as a fitness routine or just as a pleasant way to walk their dog and get a wonderful view.

Mount Rubidoux’s history dates back to the mid 1800’s when the property was first purchased by Louis Rubidoux in 1847. In February of 1907, Brigadier General Hiram Chittenden completed a road to the top of Mt. Rubidoux. In order to commemorate the opening of the road the United States Flag was raised on top of the mountain. It has become an iconic part of the mountain and remains up at the top to this day.

There are multiple ways to get to the top. There are dirt roads and paved roads. There is no right way to get up there all roads lead to the top it is up to each person to decide what works for them. One of the trails will take you straight up the side of the mountain while another is a loop. The loop will take you around different parts of the mountain. This may be a good option for those who wish to get the full experience and see all parts of Mt. Rubidoux and the surrounding area.

While there are dirt areas that allow hikers to get to the top, the smooth paved trail makes it a much more pleasant hike for many visitors. The paved trails have proven to be among the most popular because of their accessibility. Having a paved trail makes it easier for younger visitors to get to the top as well as senior citizens who wish to make the trip to the top.

Hikers can use the available parking at Ryan Bonaminio Park. From there it is a short walk to the paved trail up to Mt. Rubidoux. Carlson Dog Park is located on Mission Inn Avenue and may also be used for parking. There are areas where parking is not allowed so all those who plan to go up Mt. Rubidoux are advised to take precaution and be aware of where the designated parking areas are.

The flag along with the cross on top of Mt. Rubidoux are visible for miles when approaching the area. The top of the mountain is a very popular place among visitors because it serves as a picnic area, some love the amazing view or chose it as a spot to sit and think, and for the younger visitors it is the perfect spot for a selfie.

On your way to the top there are different things to see. There are benches along the way for anyone who wants to sit and admire the view. On clear days it has been reported by some hikers that you can see all the way out to Chino! If you go up Ben-Lewis Bridge it will take you straight to the top. Chose to go under it and you will still have to go around the other side of the mountain to get to the top. The bridge is named after Ben H. Lewis the thirteenth mayor of Riverside.


Mt. Rubidoux Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge-Photo Taken by Randy McEoin via Flickr

Other landmarks that you will find if you decide to visit Mt. Rubidoux will be Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge. Both built in 1925 in honor of Frank Miller who developed the park and installed the road that leads to the top.

The cross located at the top of Mt. Rubidoux was placed there in April 1907 and was dedicated to Fray Junipero Serra, founder of the California Misssions. On November 10, 1976 Mt. Rubidoux was designated as a Cultural Heritage Landmark.

Mt. Rubidoux is right in our own backyard. Anyone who visits this incredible place will not be disappointed. It is a great way to spend the day with family and friends. For those who want to change up their daily workouts this could be the ideal spot.

Sweets, Treats, and Scary Streets!


Pumpkin Patch at Cal Poly Pomona

I’ve been living in Riverside for two months and while I’ve been around Downtown Riverside enough to know my way around (not really), I realized that I have never explored my own neighborhood.

I live in a gated community and honestly it’s a very small area. My old home in Pomona was located on a major intersection and I was very used to all the commotion. Now living here it feels strange to look out the window and not see a single person walk by at all hours of the day.

So we decided that Halloween night would be the night that we would finally meet some neighbors and get to know our new community. The streets were full of kids and everyone was dressed up in their costume enjoying the environment that was created by everyone on the street.

I guess I learned that you have to adapt to new surroundings and that it is not always a bad thing. This is a community filled with the sounds of children playing on the street but at the same time quiet and peaceful. Definitely not the environment I grew up in but I am glad to have such a positive change now that I can truly appreciate it.

Image author’s own

Riverside: Taco Station


Taco Station Patio

One of the things that I disliked the most when I moved away from Pomona was leaving my local eateries.

Over the past 20 years that I was in Pomona I found places that served amazing food. Alex Tacos on Mission Boulevard served the best burritos. El Cabrito on Reservoir Street had the best birria and Senor Baja on Philadelphia Street had great seafood.

Now living in Riverside I found that I’ve had to find new places that serve great food. I heard from friends that live in the area that downtown is full of great restaurants.

For me finding a restaurant that serves good Mexican food is important. It’s the food that I grew up on. When I moved to Riverside that was my first mission, finding a good Mexican restaurant was important to me.

That first day in my new home I drove all around downtown looking for a place that served Mexican food. Just as I was about to give up I drove down Mission Inn Avenue. There in a little corner I found Taco Station.

At first I didn’t think this place was that good. It looked like any random food place. Honestly I didn’t think it would have any good food. But the first time I tried their food I thought: I found my place.

I tried their burrito and it was amazing. I knew I had to go back. I decided that I would go there personally. I had to visit this place that made me so happy. The second time I visited Taco Station was with my mother. Their establishment looked like it came straight out of the 1950’s.

It has an old gas pump out in the front. They also have a 1950’s car that made the place look so cool. Their menu not only had the traditional Mexican favorites. They have things like “The Pit Stop” and “The Fender.”

I think what attracted me the most to this place was that even though their appearance makes it look like they are a very “American” restaurant their food is very Mexican.

It has such a relaxing environment. I drove down to Taco Station with my brother and a few friends. We were there for about an hour and a half. We sat outside in their patio area. It was a nice night. Everyone was really enjoying the environment that Taco Station has to offer.

It is right in Downtown Riverside. A lot of people come to downtown to hang out in bars and consume alcohol all night. I like the fact that my group of friend prefers to hang out in a mellower place.

For us it is important to find a place that allows us to have a good conversation while enjoying a great meal.

I would definitely recommend Taco Station to anyone who is visiting Downtown Riverside. It not only has a great environment, the staff is friendly and courteous. They try to make sure that your experience at their establishment is a pleasant one.

Photo: Jeff3629

The church that wasn’t: Riverside Municipal Auditorium


Riverside Municipal Auditorium

Walking down Mission Inn Avenue you can’t help but notice how many church looking buildings there are. In fact I made that mistake on my first stroll down this street. Situated next to the Riverside Art Museum is the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Yes, I did think it was a church and it wasn’t until I took a better look that I noticed it wasn’t.

Architects, Arthur Benton and G. Stanley Wilson, designed the Riverside Municipal Auditorium in 1928. The auditorium serves the community as a meeting and live performance venue.


Front steps of the auditorium

The Riverside Wine and Beer Festival will be hosted by the RMA in December. Concerts by artists Sum 41 and Lupe Fiasco will take place in November. Latin artist Belanova and Alejandra Guzman will also perform throughout that month.

The RMA was upgraded in 2011 through a 10 million dollar renovation by the City of Riverside. The building also serves as a memorial for 87 military members from Riverside County who served in World War I. Walking around back, the auditorium has beautiful gardens and a fountain surrounded by palm trees.

The RMA can be used for special events such as receptions and banquets. For more information you can go to their website.

All images author’s own.

Riverside: New Home, First Adventure

Moving to a new city can be a daunting experience. Some people see it as a chance to discover new places and meet new people. Others, like me, prefer to avoid the hassle of readjusting to a new city. Let’s face it no one likes feeling lost while they’re trying to find a grocery store.

Living in Pomona for 20 years, I knew everything about the city. I knew that it would take me 15 minutes to get to school. If I wanted to avoid traffic I had to take all the small streets no one knew about. Over the summer we bought our first house and moved to Riverside.

Now I’ve decided to embrace the change and get out there. I want to exlore this new city and feel like a local not just a tourist passing by for the day.

Riverside is such a big city and there is so much to explore. Downtown Riverside is full of tourists everyday. The Mission Inn and Fox Theatre are a few of the attractions in the area. The Riverside Metropolitan Museum is also located in this area. This was the first stop on my long list of places I want to visit.


Outside the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum or RMM is located in the historic Mission Inn District. It is a historical, anthropological, and natural science museum. The RMM is home to more than 200,000 artifacts. Walking in I was amazed at how much there is to see. I will admit I was expecting some crappy little museum with nothing really interesting to see. I was wrong! They have animals in jars or “Spirit Collections” that include two-tailed chuckwalla’s and Cyclops cats among other creatures.

Wildlife from the Riverside region is displayed throughout the RMM.


The “Spirit Collection” inside the museum.

There are permanent and special exhibits housed throughout the year. The Cahuilla Continuum is a special exhibit that will run until August 2017. It tells the story of the Southern California Native people – the Cahuilla. As you make your way through the museum displays are set up explaining the life of the natives who lived in the area many years ago.


Exhibit depicting the life of the Cahuilla natives.

Rising Above-Entertainment and the struggle for African-American identity was also one of the exhibits available to the public. The exhibit depicts the struggle that the African-American community faced within the entertainment industry.


The Rising Above exhibit.

Not only does the RMM house thousand of artifacts, the museum also owns and operates two historic houses. Heritage House and Harada House. Heritage house is a Victorian style house that depicts life in Riverside back in the 1800’s. While Harada house is an important civil rights landmark in California. Tours are available to the public throughout the day Friday-Sunday.


A collection of documents published in the 1900’s.

The RMM was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family. The museum is appropriate for adults and children. For two hours I was there and many parents walked in with their kids ready to discover what each exhibit had to offer. Now that I have started I can’t wait to discover what else this city I now call home has to offer.

All images author’s own.