Before California was the land of movie stars, the Golden State had a different claim to fame: oranges. Those simpler times come to life at California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside.
Begin your travel through time with a walk along the easy 1.1-mile Citrus Interpretive Trail (also called the Knoll Trail). This mostly flat paved trail winds around the park, passing through some 75 varietals of citrus trees—oranges, grapefruits, lemons, kumquats…they have ’em all! The scent of orange blossoms fills the air as you journey through the groves, perhaps taking one of the many turnouts to pause at a scenic overlook. During your stroll among the rolling hills, read the informational panels to learn about the history of California’s primary crop. Fun fact: The first two Washington navel orange trees to arrive in California were gifted to a Riverside resident in 1873. Nearly all of the Washington navel orange trees in the state descended from those two. One of those original trees is still alive, growing at the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington in Riverside.
Despite the abundance of trees, the trails are pretty exposed to the sun, so seek shelter at the visitor center and museum. There you can learn more about the citrus industry and, yes, sample some of the fruit you’ve been coveting. No fruit picking allowed, though; to really get your citrus fix, stop by the fruit stand just outside of the park to purchase locally grown citrus, or some snacks or freshly squeezed lemonade to enjoy during your hike. Cool down at the end of your visit by enjoying lunch at the park’s old-fashioned picnic area, complete with grills and a large grass field where you can relax or play games. A charming throwback to the days when citrus ruled the Southland.
California Citrus State Historic Park is at the intersection of Dufferin and Van Buren in Riverside, just off the 91 freeway. Take CA-91 to Exit 58. Turn south on Van Buren, then left on Dufferin. Entrance is $5 per vehicle. The park is open daily. The museum and visitor center is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dog-friendly!