Riverside is a place I haven’t explored enough. Aside from the Mission Inn most of my view of the city has been from the car window as I’m hauling down the 91 freeway. Recently, I was doing just that when I headed to Palm Springs for Modernism Week. As I zipped along I saw the historic marker for the California Citrus State Historic Park. Now, I’ve noticed that sign several times but this day I decided I just had to stop. I think it was fate. This happened to be a Monday when the park is usually closed but as it was President’s Day they decided to open. Lucky for me because I had an incredible visit and discovered a true California Treasure.
As I pulled up to the ticket booth and paid my admission fee ($5 per vehicle, not too bad) I was asked if I was going to take the citrus tour. Citrus tour? Why, I just might!
I arrived about 15 minutes early for the tour and visited the onsite museum while I waited. I wandered around the exhibits and learned all about the history of citrus from ancient times to the present.
I even had time to step on the back porch and sample some fruit harvested that morning.
Soon enough it was time for the tour to start. I joined three other people and we headed out to the groves. We were given a latex glove and two bags and told they would all come in handy. As we wandered among the groves our docent told us all about the history of citrus in Riverside and Southern California as a whole.
The Citrus State Historic Park is home to several varieties of citrus fruit. There are oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos of every shape and size. There are countless variations of each variety and the park is home to several. As we learned of the different fruits our guide sliced us samples so we could taste them. Wow. Wowwowwowwowwow. This was some of the juciest, tastiest citrus I’ve ever had. I enjoyed each and every morsel as the juice ran down my face and onto my fingers (now I knew what the gloves were for). In addition, for every fruit we tried we got one to take home.
Soon enough our bags were laden with fresh fruit of every shape and size. We asked if this was a normal feature of the tour. Yes, the tour does offer tastings and samples of the fruits but ordinarily there are more visitors so the amount is smaller. See? it was fate that I stopped by. On a normal day I wouldn’t have tried nearly the amount of fruit that I did nor would I have taken home so many samples.
In addition, I had a sore throat that day. Funny enough, by the time our tour was over it was gone. Vitamin C does work wonders!
I’m so glad I stopped at the California State Historic Park. It was a beautiful day, our guide was knowledgeable and gracious and the samples were generous. What other state park can you go to that offers this?