One perfect day in Riverside, CA

Take a trip to the creative side of the Inland Empire. This Riverside neighborhood has found its inner artist

Chantal Lamers

Why go now: This Riverside neighborhood has finally found its inner artist.

Flashback: The 909 gets a bad rap for being a former citrus town turned hot, smoggy sprawling, B-class Inland Empire suburb.

Flashforward: A slow but steady overhaul has snazzed up the Downtown Arts & Culture District.

Coordinates: Four walkable blocks from Mission Inn to University Avenues, between Lime and Market Streets.

What's here: A small but cutting-edge art scene, with a creative niche of hipsters and academics.

Cool refurbs: Two dozen galleries and museums have taken up residence in abandoned deco, Beaux-Arts, and Spanish colonial-style buildings along the leafy streets.

Stretch your legs: The pedestrian promenade, Main Street Riverside, is lined with fountains, sidewalk cafes, and public art from 5th to 10th Streets.

Start your weekend early: At the free Riverside Arts Walk on First Thursdays (6-9 Mar 3; 951/682-6737).

An art trifecta: Three gems make up the UCR Artsblock: The new Culver Center of the Arts has soaring skylight ceilings and quirky exhibits. In the same building is the relocated Sweeney Art Gallery. Next door, the California Museum of Photography (note the camera-shaped building) has a collection of old-fashioned cameras and a walk-in camera obscura. $3 combined admission; closed most Sun; 3834 Main St.; 

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