If you haven’t visited California Citrus State Historic Park then what are you waiting for? Head to Riverside to learn about the history behind the citrus industry in Southern California. My family and I recently visited the park and we loved spending time here. It smells amazing! It’s also free (parking is $5) and you get to go home with fruit if you get on one of their tours!
Southern California experienced a 2nd Gold Rush in the 1900s and it was filled with Vitamin C! Riverside’s landscaped changed Eliza Tibbets life after she planted two navel oranges on her property. People came from far and wide to be a part of the sweet agricultural development that was happening in the state.
California Citrus State Historic Park preserves this landscape and educates visitors on the story of citrus. 100 various fruits grow here.
I highly recommend visiting Friday, Saturday and Sunday to sign up for a “Tour and Tastes”. A knowledgeable volunteer conducts the tours where they share the history of citrus in delicious detail as well as how the park currently functions. On the walking portion of the tour, characteristics of the various trees are pointed out, including the growing process and information on why navels don’t have seeds and how these trees grow in the arid SoCal climate is explained plus much more.
Our tour guide picked fruit earlier in the day and we had a tasting after the tour. We tried various delicious grapefruits, zesty lemons and an oranges plus other exotic and hybrids we never heard of. We didn’t get to try any naval oranges since they are not in season. One fruit that I was excited to learn and try was the Australian Finger Lime. The packed interior looks like clear caviar! The fruit was fragrant and had a tart lemon/lime taste.
When should you visit? Citrus bloom in the winter months and grow during the summer. The best months to visit are December through Mid February. The citrus is plentiful and I imagine the fields make for a beautiful and bright photo op. But any month is worth a visit.
My daughter also participated in the Junior Rangers event during our visit. Every program lasts an hour and explores a different theme. This week the Junior Rangers searched the area for signs of wildlife. We discovered many animal and bird tracks, scat and a live gopher sighting! These curious the kids were able to determine that wildlife does exist in the area even if animals aren’t seen in person. You have to look for clues! After the walk, the kids did an activity that correlated with the tour. At the end of the program each child receives a Junior Ranger booklet, badge and sticker. This program is for kids 7-12 years old and is free of charge to those who paid park entrance. Not all of the parks participate in this program so check out this list for the ones who do!
We also stopped at the Citrus State Historic Park visitor center and museum to check out the exhibit and store to shop for cool California themed merchandise. We purchased tangerine marmalade that was made locally!
Check out their website for all the info you need on the California Citrus State Historic Park like parking, hours, tours, as well as their Junior Ranger program: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=649