33 Best Sights in The Inland Empire, California

Big Bear Discovery Center

Fodor's choice

Exhibits here explain the area's flora and fauna, and staffers provide maps and camping and hiking information. You can sign up for canoe and kayak tours of Big Bear Lake or naturalist-led tours of the Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve in spring and summer or snowshoe excursions in winter. The center is also the starting point for Cougar Crest Trail and the paved Alpine Pedal Path Trail. 

California Botanic Garden

Fodor's choice

Founded in 1927 by Susanna Bixby Bryant, a wealthy landowner and conservationist, the garden is dedicated to the preservation of native California plant species. You can meander here for hours enjoying the shade of an oak tree canopy or take a guided tour of the grounds, whose 86 acres of ponds and greenery shelter California wild lilacs, big berry manzanitas, four-needled piñons, and other specimens. Countless bird species also live here.  Guided tram tours are offered the third Sunday of the month (reserve by the 15th of the preceding month).

1500 N. College Ave., Claremont, California, 91711, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Garden $10, tram tour or 1-hr guided walking tour $15 (includes garden admission)

Mission Inn Museum

Fodor's choice

The crown jewel of Riverside is the Mission Inn, a Spanish-Revival hotel whose elaborate turrets, clock tower, mission bells, and flying buttresses rise above downtown. Taking his cues from the Spanish missions in San Gabriel and Carmel, architect Arthur B. Benton designed the initial wing, which opened in 1903. Locals G. Stanley Wilson and Peter Weber are credited with the grand fourth section, the Rotunda Wing, completed in 1931.

You can climb to the top of its five-story spiral stairway, or linger in the Courtyard of the Birds, where a tinkling fountain and shady trees invite meditation. If a wedding isn't taking place, you can also peek inside the St. Francis Chapel, where celebrities such as Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, and Richard and Pat Nixon tied the knot before the Mexican cedar altar. Ten U.S. presidents have patronized the Presidential Lounge, a bright, wood-panel bar.

Docents of the Mission Inn Foundation, whose museum contains displays depicting the building's illustrious history, lead guided tours. On occasion, Friends of the Mission Inn ( www.friendsofthemissioninn.com) host silent movie nights with music played by the pipe organ in the Ball Room. 

Recommended Fodor's Video

Oak Tree Mountain

Fodor's choice

What started as an apple shed has become a 14-acre fun park and plaza with eateries, a petting zoo, a candy store, a creamery, train rides, shops, trout fishing, gold panning, local artisans, archery, a cider mill, and more. Be sure to grab a fresh-baked apple pie from Apple Annie’s Bakery. Some activities are seasonal.

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain

In summer, beat the heat by slipping down the dual waterslide or breezing down the twisting Olympic-style bobsled course. The facility also has an 18-hole miniature golf course, a mountain coaster, and go-karts. The arcade and snack shack make this the type of place families can spend an entire day.  Winter highlights include inner tubing down the hill, which is lit up at night, and taking the Magic Carpet lift back up.

800 Wildrose La., Big Bear Lake, California, 92315, USA
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Rate Includes: Alpine Slide $9 single rides, $40 5-ride pass; $40 all-day snow-play pass; coaster $20, Tubing available Nov.–Easter

Asistencia Mission de San Gabriel

Franciscan Fathers built the mission in 1819, but it functioned as one for only a few years. In 1834 it became part of a rancho and later served as a school and a factory. The current mission is a replica. The landscaped courtyard contains an old Spanish mission bell, and one building holds a small museum.

Benton Museum of Art Pomona College

This teaching museum exhibits contemporary art, works by old masters, and American Indian art and artifacts. The new building, opened in 2021, is its own work of art designed by Machado Silvetti. Among the 18,000 items spanning 22 centuries are a mural by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco, first-edition Goya etchings, and 15th- and 16th-century Italian panel paintings. 

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

This rescue and rehabilitation center specializes in animals native to the San Bernardino Mountains. Its residents may include black and (non-native) grizzly bears, bald eagles, coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, snow leopards, and bobcats.

42801 Moonridge Rd., Big Bear Lake, California, 92315, USA
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Rate Includes: $15, On snowy days, zoo may open later or not at all for snow removal

Big Bear Marina

The 25-passenger paddle wheeler Big Bear Cruzer departs from here on 90-minute lake tours ($22). The marina also rents fishing boats, Jet Skis, kayaks, and paddleboards.

California Polytechnic University at Pomona

The university occupies 1,438 rolling acres of the Kellogg Ranch, originally the winter home of cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg. Cal Poly specializes in teaching agriculture, and you can find rose gardens, avocado groves, many farm animals, and a working Arabian horse ranch. The Farm Store (4102 S. University Dr.;909/869–4906) sells deli and gourmet foods, meat and produce from campus farms, and plants grown in the university nursery.

Callaway Vineyard and Winery

One of Temecula's oldest wineries is centered on a stunning steel-and-glass cube with vineyard views all around. Callaway made its reputation with Chardonnay, but these days is also known for Roussanne, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The winery's Meritage Restaurant specializes in tapas, salads, and sandwiches.

32720 Rancho California Rd., Temecula, California, 92591, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Tasting $20; tour and tasting $25, Daily 10–5; tours weekdays 11, 1, 3; weekends 11, noon, 1, 2

Claremont Heritage

College walking tours, architecture tours, and art tours are conducted quarterly by Claremont Heritage. The organization gives 2½-hour guided walking tours ($10) by reservation. Self-guided tour maps can be found on the group's website.

Doffo Winery

This Italian-Argentine wine-making family with a 30-acre property at the Temecula Valley's northeastern edge takes a passionate and quirky approach. Winemaker Damian Doffo and his father, Marcelo, play music for their vines, whose grapes go into small-lot wines, among them a rich Syrah and the signature Malbec, from estate grapes. Tastings of these and other wines take place inside a refurbished garage. The family's racing and vintage motorcycles, which guests can view on free self-guided walking tours, are displayed in an open-air showroom nearby.

36083 Summitville St., Temecula, California, 92592, USA
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Rate Includes: Tastings $20–$30, tour $65, Daily 10–5; tours weekdays 11 and 2, weekends 10, 12, 2, and 4

Edward-Dean Museum & Gardens

Just outside of Oak Glen, this museum features late 16th to early 19th century European, Indian, and Asian works of art. Founder Dean Stout designed the interior to resemble a home with seven historic rooms including a library with over 2,700 books from the 17th to the 19th centuries. After visiting the museum, stroll the grounds to enjoy the koi pond, garden maze, and the popular Legacy Rose Garden.

9401 Oak Glen Rd., Cherry Valley, California, 92223, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: museum $10; guided tours $10, Closed Sun.–Wed.

Europa Village

Though all of this luxury wine resort's dining, lodging, winery, and other components won't be completed for a few years, a pleasant tasting room here serves wines made from French, Spanish, and Italian varietals. The selections range from Vermentino, Albariño, and other light whites to reds like Syrah and Primitivo. Winemaker dinners take place in the village, which also presents live music on some weekend nights.

33475 La Serena Way, Temecula, California, 92591, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Tasting $15, Daily 10–5


The site of the Los Angeles County Fair, North America's largest county fair, the Fairplex exposition center hosts open-air markets, antiques shows, roadster shows, historical train and model train exhibits, horse and dog shows, and the annual International Wine and Spirits competition. Also here is the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum(www.museum.nhra.com), which pays tribute to the history of American motor sports with exhibits of vintage racing vehicles and an amusing collection of tricked-out drag-racing cars.

1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, California, 91768, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Museum $10, Museum closed Mon. and Tues.

Idyllwild Nature Center

At the center you can learn about the area's Native American and natural history. Outside are several miles of hiking trails, plus biking and equestrian trails and picnic areas. The park is pet friendly.

25225 Hwy. 243, Idyllwild, California, 92549, USA
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Rate Includes: $4, Closed Mon. and Tues., Tues.–Sun. 9–4

Joseph Filippi Winery

The Filippi family continues a tradition that was started in 1922 when Giovanni Filippi began growing grapes in the Cucamonga Valley. These days his descendants make everything from sacramental, sparkling wines, and port sherry to Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel. A small museum chronicles the history of Rancho Cucamonga wine making.

12467 Base Line Rd., Rancho Cucamonga, California, 91739, USA
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Rate Includes: Tastings $7–$10, Closed Mon.

Kimberly Crest House and Gardens

In 1897 Cornelia A. Hill built what's now Kimberly Crest House and Gardens to mimic the châteaus of France's Loire Valley. Surrounded by orange groves, lily ponds, and terraced Italian gardens, the mansion has a French-revival parlor, a mahogany staircase, a glass-mosaic fireplace, and a bubbling fountain in the form of Venus rising from the sea. Alfred and Helen Kimberly, founders of the Kimberly-Clark Paper Company, purchased the estate in 1905, and their daughter, Mary, lived here until 1979. Most of the 22 rooms are in original condition.

1325 Prospect Dr., Redlands, California, 92373, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $10, Closed Mon.–Wed. and Sat.; closed Aug., Thurs., Fri., and Sun. 1–3:30

Lincoln Memorial Shrine

The shrine houses the largest collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts on the West Coast. You can view a marble bust of Lincoln by sculptor George Grey Barnard, along with more than a dozen letters and rare pamphlets. The gift shop sells many books, toys, and reproductions pertaining to the Civil War.

Oak Glen Preserve

This 909-acre preserve encompasses the Southern California Montane Botanic Garden, the Children’s Outdoor Discovery Center, and the Los Rios Rancho Apple Farm. Three well-marked trails—ranging from 2 to 4.8 miles—wind past ponds, streams, wetlands, oak and pine forests, chaparral, and willow woodland.

Oak Glen Schoolhouse Museum and Park

The original wooden schoolhouse (circa 1889) was replaced by this two-story stone structure in 1927, and it continued operating as a school until 1965. Today, it's a museum with vintage desks, blackboards, textbooks, a 48-star American flag, and artifacts dating from the 1880s. Outside the museum is a playground and picnic area.

Old Town Temecula

For a bit of old-fashioned fun, head to Old Town Temecula, where turn-of-the-20th-century-style storefronts and boardwalks extend for 12 blocks. Along with dozens of restaurants and boutiques, there are antiques stores, tasting rooms, hip brewpubs, a performing arts center and jazz club, and art galleries.

Pennypickle's Workshop—Temecula Children's Museum

If you have the kids along, check out the fictional 7,500-square-foot workshop of Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle, PhD. This elaborately decorated children's museum is filled with secret passageways, machines, wacky contraptions, and time-travel inventions.

Take one of the two-hour tours offered daily to get the most out of your visit.

Ponte Family Estates

Lush gardens and more than 300 acres of vineyards provide a rustic, elegant setting at Ponte, whose small-lot bottlings range from sparkling wines and light whites to very fine Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec reds. Another favorite in the light-filled tasting room is the flagship Super T wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon–Sangiovese blend. To find out how the wines are made, take the Premium Tour ($85) by electric bus of the vineyards and production facility. The tour (reservation required) concludes with a wine and cheese tasting. The shaded outdoor Restaurant at Ponte serves salads, wood-fired pizzas, and seafood daily for lunch, and on Friday and Saturday for dinner.

35053 Rancho California Rd., Temecula, California, 92591, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: Tasting $20, tours $40–$85, No dinner Sun.–Thurs., Winery daily 10–5; restaurant Mon.–Thurs. 11–4, Fri. and Sat. 11–8, Sun. 11–5

Riley's Farm

Employees dress in period costumes at this interactive, kid-friendly ranch. Riley's hosts school groups from September to June, and individuals can join the groups by reservation for tours on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Gold Rush, homesteading, and colonial farm life. You can hop on a hayride, take part in a barn dance, pick your own apples, press some cider, or throw a tomahawk while enjoying living-history performances. The farm is also home to Colonial Chesterfield, a replica New England–style estate where costumed 18th-century reenactors offer lessons in cider pressing, candle dipping, colonial games, and etiquette. 

12261 S. Oak Glen Rd., Oak Glen, California, 92399, USA
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Rate Includes: Free to visit ranch, fees vary for activities, Closed Sun.–Tues., Tours and theater productions by reservation only

Riverside Art Museum

Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan designed this museum that houses a significant collection of works by Robert Williams, Takashi Murakami, Shag, Käthe Kollwitz, James Gurney, Marc Chagall, Millard Sheets, Shepard Fairey, Corita Kent, and Don O’Neill. In 2022, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture joined the museum to showcase Chicano art in the form of paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures by artists including Patssi Valdez, Sandy Rodriguez, Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, and Gilbert “Magú” Luján.

3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, California, 92501, USA
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Rate Includes: $16; free 1st Thurs. of month 6–9, Closed Mon.

Temecula Valley Museum

A good introduction to Temecula, this two-story museum on the edge of Old Town focuses on the valley's role in California's history, from the early days of the Luiseño Indians and the mission and cattle-ranching periods to the present era of wine making and tourism. A permanent second-floor exhibit is devoted to Erle Stanley Gardner, the prolific author of the Perry Mason mysteries and a longtime Temecula resident.
28314 Mercedes St., Temecula, California, 92590, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: $5, Closed Sun. and Mon.

Tom's Farms

Opened as a produce stand along I–15 in 1974, Tom's Farms has grown to include a locally popular hamburger stand, a furniture showroom, a sweets shop, and a popcorn shop with fudge and candy apples. You can still buy produce here, but the big draws are various weekend attractions for children: tractor driving, Tom's mining company, a petting zoo, a children's train, a pony ride, free magic shows, a pirate ship, a Ferris wheel, a bounce house, and an old-style carousel. Most cost a modest fee. Of interest for adults is the wine-and-cheese shop, which has more than 300 varieties of wine.

23900 Temescal Canyon Rd., Corona, California, 92883, USA
sights Details
Rate Includes: entrance $1, attraction fees vary, Furniture store closed Tues. and Wed.

UCR/California Museum of Photography

With a collection that includes thousands of Kodak Brownie and Zeiss Ikon cameras, this museum—the centerpiece of UCR ARTS—surveys the history of photography and the devices that produced it. Exhibitions, some of contemporary images, others historically oriented, are always top-notch and often incorporate photographs from the permanent collection of works by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and other greats. The museum also hosts films, performances, and other cultural events.