As in earlier instalments of this series, all directions are from downtown Riverside.
First off, why not start locally? Downtown Riverside is a veritable treasure trove of museums. The Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, the UCR-California Museum of Photography, and the Mission Inn Museum all reside right downtown. If you're reading this post after this October, you'll also find the UCR-Culver Centre for the Arts, which will contain the Sweeny Art Gallery among other things. Best of all, you can visit all four of these institutions combined for under $10- the Metropolitan Museum is free ($5 suggested donation), the UCR-CMP is free until September 1st, the Riverside Art Museum is $5, and the Mission Inn Museum is $2 (not including the tour). The Metropolitan Museum, Riverside Art Museum and Mission Inn Museum are all within a block of each other on Mission Inn between Market and Lemon. The UCR-CMP is on the Pedestrian Mall just past University.
Further south in the City is the California Citrus State Historic Park. This working citrus farm celebrates the economic legacy of Riverside and the surrounding region, and is a great place to snag cheap, farm-fresh oranges as well. Best of all, there are no fees for pedestrians or cyclists. Take 1, 10, 12, 13, 14 or 15 to the Galleria at Tyler (1 is usually the quickest, followed by 14) and grab a Hemet-bound 27 to Magnolia & Dufferin, or take the 22 to Van Buren and Trautwein and catch the Riverside-bound 27 in to the same stop. Barring that, the park is only a block or two from the excellent Victoria Avenue bikeway- just take 14th street to Victoria, turn right and keep riding.
The San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands is an excellent institution, with an extensive natural history collection that shows the geological and biological past of the Inland Empire. At only $8, it's a bargain. Take Omni 215 to Mt. Vernon & Centrepoint, then cross the street and grab the Redlands-bound Omni 19 to Redlands & Nevada. Walk north on Nevada to Orange Tree Ln, then west on Orange Tree until you get to the museum. There are also a number of museum remote sites that you can visit- check Google Transit for directions.
For the rock star in you, there's the Fender Museum of Music and the Arts in Corona. The museum is a short walk from the North Main-Corona Metrolink (91 and IE-OC Lines), or you could ride the 1 to Belle & 6th, walk over to Main & 5th and catch either the 3 or the Corona Cruiser Blue Line to the stop adjacent to the Corona Plaza shopping centre, within half a block of the museum.
If you like trains, like I most obviously do, you can visit the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris. Wandering around their extensive collection of the golden age of both passenger rail and streetcars- including what's left of the Los Angeles Electric Railway and Pacific Electric fleets- is free, but on weekends, the museum operates some of their equipment. An all-day pass to ride costs $12. To get there, take the 22 to Perris Transit Centre, walk west on 4th street to A, turn left and walk about a mile to the museum. However, if it's a weekend, you have the option of arriving in style- the museum trains run from 11am to 5pm, and you can simply purchase your ticket at the Perris Depot (adjacent to the Transit Centre) and ride the rails to the museum. (I previously wrote about the OERM, and took lots of pictures on my last visit.)
If your tastes run more to the warm and fuzzy, the Santa Ana Zoo may be just the thing. Joseph Prentice, the man who donated the land for the zoo, did so with the stipulation that the City of Santa Ana keep at least 50 monkeys on site at all times. At an adult admission price of $8, that's 16 cents per monkey. Take the Metrolink IE-OC Line to Santa Ana station, then either walk the ~1.2 miles to the zoo (east on Fruit St., then right on Eastwood Ave., left on 4th St., right on Grand, left on 1st and right on Elk) or catch the OCTA 59 on Santa Ana Blvd. (just walk north on the Metrolink platform to the street, then turn left) to Grand & Chestnut, then cross the street and walk east on Chestnut to the zoo.
There are, of course, plentiful museums and attractions in Los Angeles. For all of these, you'll need to ride the Metrolink to Union Station. On weekdays, take the Riverside Line directly there. On weekends, you'll need to ride the IE-OC line to Orange and then the OC line north, or take the Omni 215 to San Bernardino, walk or take the Omni 4 to the San Bernardino Metrolink and ride the San Bernardino line to LA. All directions for the following attractions are given from Union Station.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles features a wide variety of, well, contemporary art. The museum is spread across two sites. The MOCA Grand Center is located at Grand & 3rd, a short walk from the Civic Center station on the Red and Purple Lines. From the station, walk northwest on 1st to Grand, and then southwest on Grand to the museum. For the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, take the Gold Line towards Soto and get off at Little Tokyo/Arts District. Walk northwest on 1st and turn right at the plaza between the buildings. Adult admission is $10 and is valid at both sites, and admission is two-for-one with your valid transit ticket. (Note- to get from one to the other, just walk the ~6 blocks down 1st street, or take the Metro 30 from Broadway & 1st to San Pedro & 1st.)
The Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the California Science Center are both located in Exposition Park, across from the USC campus. Each have enough science-y goodness to delight any geek or geek in training. Take the Metro Red or Purple Line to 7th/Metro Center and catch the
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits are on opposite sides of a park from each other. Satisfy your curiosity about the art of the past century, or the flora and fauna of the last Ice Age, with one convenient bus trip. Take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Wilshire/Vermont, then catch the Metro 720 or 920 Rapid to Wilshire & Fairfax. Walk back the way you came to get to the Page Museum. LACMA is behind the field of street lights.
Griffith Observatory is an astronomy geek's dream. The site has been a centre for public education about the stars since the turn of last century, and continues to stun visitors after its recent renovation. Unless you're a big, big fan of hiking, this is a weekends-only trip. Take the Metro Red Line to Vermont/Sunset, then grab the LADOT DASH Griffith Park Shuttle, which will take you straight to the observatory. This route is not in Google Transit, so do your own trip planning.
The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA is an art museum and botanical garden of the highest calibre, and has one of the most popular museum free days in the area (1st Thursday, reservations required, August is already sold out). Unfortunately, it isn't terribly easy to get to on transit, but if you feel like 1.5 miles worth of walking, take the Metro Gold Line to Allen and either start walking south on Allen or catch the Pasadena ARTS #10 to Del Mar & Allen, then start walking.
Finally, Los Angeles also has a zoo. Take the Metro Red Line to Universal City, then the Metro 96 to the zoo. Keep your transit ticket- it's good for $3 off the $14 adult admission charge.
Oh, and a special mention to a location that ought to be on here, but isn't- the Getty Center Los Angeles is one of the premiere art museums in the country, if not the world, and it's free. So why not include it in this guide? The transit trip to the Getty is over 5 hours. With Metrolink being Metrolink, by the time you get to the museum, you'd have a whole half an hour there before having to turn around and come back- barely enough time to ride the tram from the entrance gate to the museum grounds. For the curious, it's a ride on the Red line to Universal City, then a trip on the 750 to Ventura/Sepulveda and the 761 south to the museum. DO NOT TRY THIS, unless you have somebody bringing you home. If you want to take transit to the Getty, advocate for the Subway to the Sea- phase one of the Purple Line will bring riders to Wilshire/Westwood, where you could catch the 761. In the meantime, you could snag a ZipCar.
As always, standard disclaimers apply. Plan your trip carefully, and make sure you're not so lost in your outing that you miss the last bus home. RiR is not responsible for bad trip planning.