California Citrus State Historic Park – The moment you step out of your car you are hit with the sweet smell of orange blossoms and treated to a sight fast disappearing from the Inland Empire.
The park is situated on a hilltop with views of mountains and some of the last remaining orange groves in Riverside.
There is an excellent visitor center with exhibits and movies about the history of Citrus in California. Outside you will find miles of trails to explore, a gazebo with a rose garden suitable for weddings and, of course, Orange groves.
Your day trip to California Citrus State Park should start at the visitor center where you can view some impressive exhibits and ask questions.
From there you can drive down to the lower section of the park or take a stroll through the orange groves and take in the scenic vista of the inland empire.
Please remember do not pick or remove fruit from California State Parks. The terrain of the park hilly, with elevations ranging from 920 to 1,060 feet above sea level. There are several paved trails that get you up close to the orange trees.
The Mockingbird Canyon arroyo—a drainage tributary to the Santa Ana River—bisects the park, abutting foothills to the south.
Approximately one-third of the park remains unchanged. The Less Ranch fruit stand located at the entrance to the park sells fresh citrus and juice are a must stop entering or leaving California Citrus State Historic Park.
The orange groves within the park still produce high-quality fruits which are harvested by Gless Ranch with most of the profit returned to the park.
California Citrus State Historic Park is a very popular place to host weddings. The Sunkist Center can accommodate large groups inside the building and there is also covered gazebo surrounded by orange groves.
Southern California Citrus History
In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.”
The lush groves of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit gave California another legacy—its lingering image as the Golden State—the land of sunshine and opportunity.
In 1873, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forever changed the history of Southern California when it sent two small Navel orange trees to Riverside resident Eliza Tibbets.
Those trees, growing in near perfect soil and weather conditions, produced an especially sweet and flavorful fruit.
Word of this type of orange quickly spread, and a great agricultural industry was born.
Getting to California Citrus State Historic Park
California Citrus State Historic Park is located in Riverside, at 9400 Dufferin Avenue (at the corner of Van Buren).
Plan on spending about an hour and a half at the citrus park, longer if you bring along a picnic lunch.
October-March 8 am-5 pm 7 Days a Week. April-September 8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday. 8 am-7 pm Saturday, Sunday. Visitor center is open weekends
Weddings and Sunkist Building rentals available seven days a week through the California Citrus Non-Profit Management Corporation. School tours are provided by park volunteers.