Riverside, I’ve found, is a rather large city with a lot of hidden gems. The key to finding these gems is knowing where to look. One safe bet is that Downtown Riverside will always have something lively going on. I stumbled upon the Riverside Arts Walk one Thursday evening a few years ago. My friend happened to be running late and, like good friends, we waited for her. Long story short, we missed most of the event; we were only able to attend for the last 30 minutes. I saw enough to know that it was an event that I wanted to revisit someday.Well, someday finally rolled around this last month when I remembered that the Art Walk was still a thing. I decided to look into it, because free events are hard to come by these days and I felt like I was missing out. Here’s what I found—it is offered the first Thursday of every month from 6-9 pm, in the Mission Inn area. There are several locations that offer their space to promote artists and their work. The event consists of both indoor and outdoor exhibits.

The community is involved, with many local artists setting up booths and selling their creations. It’s fun to meet with the artists themselves because it allows the spectators to converse with the creators of the work and really understand everything that goes into it. In my experience, they are also very flexible on prices. The artwork feels personal; even if you only exchange a few words with the artist, the work still feels priceless because of the connection you can have with it.

Museums are also involved, some establishing fun themes. The last Arts Walk theme was “Insectorama!” Bugs are not my favorite, so I avoided the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, which was hosting the creepy crawlers. I’m sure that the themes aren’t always so phobia-triggering, so I would recommend checking it out.

Aside from the museums, other artsy places also contribute. The Arts Walk does not discriminate; all types of art are showcased, not just visual arts.  I saw a record store that was hosting artists, as well as offering their records for sale prices. Dance groups use this venue to perform. I even saw a drum circle playing their music in the area as well. Food vendors can be found on some corners, showcasing culinary art.

Overall, the art culture is prevalent all throughout Downtown Riverside every month, and it’s an event that should not be missed. Head out on the first Thursday of the month, and don’t forget to bring cash to support the artists that you like.  More information about the Arts Walk can be found at www.riversideca.gov/museum/artswalk.

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