Summer Guide

Posted June 5, 2008 in Feature Story

Ah, summertime in the Inland Empire. It just has a certain hot to it, doesn’t it? Like all those Cars songs from back in the day, only with the Salton Sea’s pickerel smells crowding over us like radon. For most of us, the IE summer is Hades served by ladle—a landlocked swelter so many miles from the cooler beachfronts, with a sun the size of nickel blazing through the hazing, training its intolerable beams on our backs as if we were army ants and God were holding a magnifying glass on us just to watch us sizzle and smoke and, eventually, perish. But you know as well as we do that it’s nothing an ice cream can’t take care of. Or a refreshing swimming pool, or a good old-fashioned picnic, or a shady Farmer’s Market. Here’s a look at some ways to beat the heat this summer around the IE, or at the very least, embrace it. Have some fun in the sun this summer, and don’t forget your sunscreen!


Claremont’s Big Fourth of July Bash


There isn’t another holiday that pulls a community together more strongly than Independence Day, and the city of Claremont celebrates the 4th of July with a gusto that honors our founding fathers fittingly. The best part? To enjoy the celebration in its totality, one doesn’t even have to leave the commemorative square-mile area it’s held in the whole entire day.


The fun starts at the crack of dawn at Memorial Park, located at Indian Hill Blvd. and 10th St, with the Claremont Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast from 7-10am (tickets are $3). While enjoying your flapjacks you’ll probably notice a couple of hundred fitness nuts milling around with numbered bibs attached to their shirts. These people are participants in the Annual Claremont Village Freedom 5K run and 1K fun walk. The 5K is a corker of a wake-up call, the course winding around the Claremont Colleges and down to 1st Street with the final half-mile on an uphill incline. Don’t worry, the partygoers on 8th Street will offer you beers and cheers just before the finish line like good Samaritans. 


Then comes the flag-raising ceremony at 10am, followed by the all-day Festival at Memorial Park. It’s a wild brew of games, food, contests, music and an assertion of 1st Amendment rights. The Speakers Corner is always a gas; citizens get their chance to express viewpoints on freedom and liberty, or to just tell a story about the good ol’ days. Meanwhile, kids can wear themselves out on the rock-climbing wall, rope ladder or inflatable jumper.  


Towards mid-afternoon (4pm), the surrounding streets will fill with star-spangled vehicles queued up for the coming 4th of July Parade.  Warning: VIP seating along the route is reserved days in advance, in the form of foldout chairs and blankets. If you can’t barter a spot, you’ll have to stand back on the sidewalk. You’ll know when the parade has started, as half of Claremont’s kiddy corps descends on Indian Hill Blvd. in a red, white and blue Bike Brigade.


When the parade is finished, there are a couple of hours of downtime to retire to a friend’s house for a festive barbecue (read: get your drink on), or to take a tour of the House Decoration contest winners before the Fireworks show, held at Pomona College’s Strehle Track. The fireworks show starts at 9pm, but the gates open at 6:30pm, and it’s always advisable to arrive early for a good plot. After the grand finale has lighted up the night sky and only silent smoke streaks drift in its place, the local legends LCR Band will detonate their own classic rock pyrotechnics. Pre-sale tickets are $6 ($8 at the gate).


What gives Claremont’s 4th of July celebration its charm is the way the whole city comes together, old, young, and newborn. Teens mix with elders, friends and families revel and relax, activists mingle with moderates, everyone with everyone. This year happens to be the city’s 60th annual program. 


Those who have attended in the past can testify to the need to arrive early, as available parking in the streets surrounding Memorial Park fills up fast. You don’t want to be one of the people lurching down 6th Street minutes before the parade, only to encounter a traffic barrier and the enmity of an entire patriotic community, do you? (Kevin Ausmus)


For further information contact the City of Claremont Human Services Dept. at (909) 399-5490


What’s Cooking at McCarthy Park? Barbecue!

Looking to grill some meat and throw a football? McCarthy Park offers a little bit for anyone who wants to spend time outdoors and barbecue a few brats under a blue sky. There are plenty of picnic tables placed majestically throughout the park. Image pastel mountains as your romantic backdrop while your wiener sizzles and spits. Every picnic table has a built-in barbecue, a rather personal touch if you ask us, and is perfect for larger parties to get down with some charcoal. Toddlers and smaller children are going to have a crazy awesome time at the playground featuring swings, slides, a zip line, and giant poles that release mist. Have a dog that needs some air? There’s a trail that swings around the park that’s great for taking your furry friends for a walk. Like to drop some rock? Check out the legendary basketball court, dominated by locals exploit their competition on their McCarthy Mix Tape Volume IV DVDs. These are green hills and azure skies and the cool refreshing feel of grass on your back. 


Located in northern Upland, McCarthy Park can be absolutely gorgeous at dusk. When the sun ducks under the western curve, the mountains are painted brilliant lavender and the sky orange. The evening breeze in the summer is the stuff of great memories, whether you’re forming them as a child or remembering them as an adult.


So pack up some chicken, a slab of ribs, some soy burgers, some soda, and a stereo with some sweet summer jams (Don Henley strictly verboten). With the sun staying up until nine-at-night, it’s a perfect place to while away those lazy summer days. (Nicholas Giunta)


McCarthy Park, 20th and North San Antonio Avenue, Upland


Summering in Corona? 

Here are some activities to keep you busy 



The Fender Center’s “Kids Rock Free Program”

This year marks the tenth anniversary for the The Fender Center’s Kids Rock Free Program, and this summer they’re offering performing arts education including piano, guitar, bass guitar, combo band, vocal performance and drums to children ages 7–17, as well as adult music instruction in most genres. Summer Sessions run June 23 through August 16. The best part? The first six months are free. The asterisk? Executive director Debbie Shuck says there’s a waiting list for for the free sessions but that openings for their low-cost sessions are available now for $150. That’s an entire session—think about it, cheaper than a babysitter and your kids get to rock out all summer. And of course there will be the Center’s summer events—the Woody Johson, June 28, fun rides, magic shows and game booths galore—with all proceeds benefiting the Kids Rock Free Program. Entrance is free, and $5 gets you unlimited rides. Sounds like a cure for the summertime blues.


Fender Center for the Performing Arts

Summer Session June 23–August 16

365 N. Main Street, Corona

(951) 735-2440 ext. 203


Curtain Call Performing Arts Academy

Looking to do more than watch television and play video games this summer? How about the arts? The Curtain Call Performing Arts Academy is a non-profit arts education school that’s offering classes in musical theatre, acting, dance, piano, music theory, costume design, make-up, musical theatre history, technical theatre, art and production. That’s a lot of stage-prep! Summer classes (June 16-August 23) for children and adults are available now, and the CCPAA also offers Saturday workshops. “As local school, budget cuts effect our students’ arts education, the need for a place for students and adults of the community to cultivate their endless creative possibilities is undeniable,” says executive director, Noah Scott. “Our summer workshops are an educational alternative that gets kids away from the TV and into a creative and fun learning environment.”


Curtain Call Performing Arts Academy

June 16–August 23

(951) 737-9119


Or email Noah Scott, at:



Other fun family things to do in Corona

Dos Lagos Ampitheater Summer Concert Series, Thursdays July 10–August 14 Dos Lagos Ampitheater, 2755 Lakeshore Drive, Corona, (951) 736 2241, 7:00PM, Free

Family Movie Night Series

Everyt Tuesday, August 5–26, Centennial High School Pool, 1820 Rimpau Avenue

Corona, (951) 736-2241, 7:00PM, Free


Family Movie Night Series

Every Friday, August 8–29, City Park Bandshell, 930 E. 6th Street, Corona, (951) 736-2241, Free, 7:00PM


The Cars of Summer


With the temperature rising and gas prices rising even faster, the need for some summer-appropriate (and economy-appropriate) wheels comes into play. You want something fun, you want something frugal and you want something that’s not going to render you penniless by July. Don’t get stuck with sticker-shock when you purchase a car this summer. We’ve got a few examples of some wheeled greatness available to roll in the impending heat.



It’s the newest kid on the block, and a damned small one at that, but if your needs are minimal—as in you need a quick runabout for you and a companion—then this little charmer will happily do the job. In a recent test drive, we found the Smart to be a bit noisier than most cars (the rear-mounted, one-liter three-cylinder powerplant was our likely source) and the gas mileage to be not entirely amazing, but it’s very well suited to trolling the city streets with ease (they’re also freeway legal and can hang with speed of traffic). Plus, for those horrible at parking, this’ll be a big boost of confidence behind the wheel! (Available at select Mercedes Benz dealers; Base MSRP $16,590.)



This venerable roadster captured the hearts of many—and even had a healthy waiting list with deposits—when it arrived on the scene in the late ’80s with a price tag just north of $13,000. Times have changed, the queues have disbanded, and the Miata’s base price has risen accordingly (Base MSRP: $20,635) but nearly all of the soul and simplicity that initially had attracted buyers still remains. As with the Smart, it’s only going to hold two bodies plus a morsel of luggage, but that hasn’t stopped many from making this mover their daily driver. The Miata is reliable, handles great, and sports a timeless look that’ll always make for some sweet eye candy.



Our only four-seater on this list, the Mini convertible aims to please not only you, but a few friends as well (granted, they’re on the smaller side). The rear quarters aren’t what we’d call spacious, but it could make do for a short hop. This car’s all about style, exuding some of the classic elements of its British forbearers whilst concurrently breaking new ground in modern design. The Mini’s highway ride is a bit stiffer than most standard convertible four-placers, but it’s otherwise a well-planted runner, available in both naturally aspirated and supercharged four-cylinder engine configurations. (Base MSRP: $22,600).

–Waleed Rashidi


Riverside Farmers Market—Less Goths, More Apricots


Over the last ten years the city of Riverside has had a love/hate relationship with its organized events and festivals. On the one hand, city officials have wanted to spread the image of Riverside as a culturally aware town, hipper than you might have thought, yet all the while maintaining a connective sense to its past. Despite the fact that this was 99% wishful thinking, the city kept plugging away with its Downtown Wednesday Nights over the summers, as well as the Orange Blossom Festival every spring. But lo, the city grew squeamish after a couple acts of violence and, paired with its tendency to pinch a penny, both met their demise over the last couple of years. However, there’s at least a semblance of both of these items at the Farmers Market every Saturday on the downtown square. 


And it’s one hell of a clean farmers market—no kid’s rides, no evangelicals hoping to find a convert in you, only a smattering of freaks. Delicious and cheap tangy cherries, succulent strawberries, and fresh peaches, plums, and apricots abound. Not as many drunks, but a wide variety of vegetables to choose from, all tastier, healthier, and cheaper than your nearest Ralph’s or Vons. No awkward Goth or Emo teens, just artisan breads, honeys, and even olive oils. You get the picture. All produce is of course organic, and there are flower stalls aplenty. On many days, there’s live music. It’s at least one slice of Riverside utopia, and you can get a chunk of your shopping done at in a pleasant summer setting. (Bill Gerdes)


Riverside Farmers Market, Main Street and University, 8AM–1PM, Every Saturday

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!


Like ice cream? Here’s where you go this summer:


Frio Divino, 6200 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, (951) 689-1596


Mexican ice cream with a twist! The limited selection rocks, each flavor made in small batches using the freshest ingredients. Divine is the Guanabana, a refreshing fusion of guava and melon flavors, and familiar is the Horchata, a cinnamon and rice milk concoction whose starchiness surprisingly doesn’t overwhelm the palate.


Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt, 373 S. Mountain Ave., Upland, (909) 946-9077


It’s a chain store based in Ohio, voted tops by National Geographic in 2006 over everybody else and the only location in California happens to be the IE. A four-scoop sampler for $5 overflows beyond gluttony and each bite creamy and light. 


Doctor Bob’s Handcrafted Ice Cream, 155 C St., Ste A, Upland, (909) 920-1966


An IE homegrown chain familiar to patrons of upper end food stores like Gelson’s and Bristol Farms as well as local college brats. And why not? Mined from the imagination and ingenuity of Dr. Robert Small, a Cal Poly Pomona professor well versed in wine and spirits, the intensely thick, fat, and buttery solids feel like a cool summer breeze and taste like it’s straight from the cow’s udder. Even the simple vanilla has more intensity than the brightest light bulb and the rich and dark chocolate that rivals Lady Godiva herself!

–Nancy Powell


Where to Picnic This Summer? 


C’mon, you know you love it—the smell of smokin’ beef or pork wafting into your nostrils, an ice cold beer or wine cooler in your hand, all the cubicle hell or daycare purgatory long gone, just chilling with your honey on a comfy park bench or blanket or grassy woodland and getting into that wonderful restorative picnic vibe. Say you’re gung-ho and ready to buy your briquettes, but you don’t know where to go? We got you covered Hot Mamas and Fevered Daddy-Os. Read below and learn: 


Heritage Community Park

Beryl and Hillside, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 477-2760

Admission: Free


Rancho Cucamonga has lots of parks for its residents—28 to be exact, and sunny Heritage is one of them, a well-sanitized multi-use facility popular for tot play dates, kiddie birthdays, family reunions, and sports gatherings. Includes covered picnic areas, a gigantic play area for kids ages 3–12, nature trail, and sporting facilities—a soccer field, two baseball diamonds, two half-court basketball courts, and equestrian area. 


Yucaipa Regional Park

33900 Oak Glen Rd., Yucaipa, (909) 790-3127

Admission: $5 per vehicle weekdays, $6 on weekends (day use)


For picnickers who love the outdoors. Voted the best, if not the most picturesque, picnic spot by residents in the IE, 885 acres at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains afford plenty of recreational opportunities with camping, boating, and fishing amongst its three lakes. Playground, volleyball areas, as well as a one-acre swim lagoon and two water slides also reside on the premises.


Lake Gregory Regional Park, 24171 Lake Dr., Crestline, (909) 338-2233

Admission: $3 per person


Nestled among pine trees at 4,700 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains, picnickers are entreated to more activities than can be counted on one hand—sunbathing on white sand beaches, cooling off on 300-foot waterslides, and a friendly rivalry on the sand volleyball courts. Rent a boat or aqua cycles and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake. 


California Citrus State Historical Park

1879 Jackson St., Riverside, (951) 780-6222

Admission: $5 per vehicle (day use)


Enjoy a quiet day among aromatic citrus groves (377 acres), one that harkens back to the early days of the cash cow that facilitated so much of SoCal’s eventual economic development. But please, don’t pick the forbidden fruit or be prepared to endure the precipitous fine!


Mount San Jacinto State Park

25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, (951) 659-2607

Admission: $5 per vehicle (day use)


Drive up by car or take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. Picnic areas with barbecue stoves are just a short walk away from the tram station. Better yet, hike out on one of the wilderness trails and enjoy lunch overlooking the Coachella Valley.


Temecula Valley Wine Tasting

Various Wineries, Rancho California Rd., Temecula


Looking for a little more sophistication? Why not wine and dine on the road in relative style? Try a one-day drive through wine and taste tour off Rancho California Road and stop off for a homemade nibble at these facilities:


Callaway Vineyard & Winery, 32720 Rancho California Rd., (909) 472-2377


Don Frangipani/Maurice Carrie Winery, 34225 Rancho California Rd., (909) 676-1711


Mount Palomar Winery, 33820 Rancho California Rd., (909) 676-5047


Ponte Winery, 35053 Rancho California Rd., (909) 694-8855


Van Roekel Vineyards & Winery, 34567 Rancho California Rd., (909) 699-6961

Raging Waters

The one constant in every summer in the IE is heat—raw, furnace-like, smog-laden heat. It’s a time when we actually curse the fact that we live here under a surveillance of sweat, right in the heart of trapped desert valley heat. When the beach is too far to go cool off, enter Raging Waters—a solution to your summer perspirations.  

Located in San Dimas between Inland Empire and LA counties, the park sits there just as blue and cold wet as a desert mirage. Only Raging Waters is entirely real (as real as Bill and Ted, at least, who made San Dimas famous). There are thirty-six (36) rides and attractions, all designed to keep you cool against that oppressive ball of solar gas.  

There’s the Flowrider, an artificial wave that’s better than the natural waves at Newport on your average day in June, and which can be ridden on a surfboard (assuming a certain level of competence) or a bodyboard (less competence required). There’s “Drop Out,” a water slide where one practices to die in a sense, falling seven screaming stories in about four screaming seconds, getting the water wedgie of a lifetime in the process. If you feel like chilling out for a while, take a cruise in an inner tube down the Amazon Adventure, a quarter-mile long, 18-foot wide simulated river that’s a nice way to rest your stomach after some of the more extreme attractions. 

Another sweet deal at Raging Waters Waterpark is the free life jackets, so even if you can’t swim you can still go hog-wild on experiences like the High Extreme, which is, well. . . the name sort of says it all doesn’t it? (Bill Gerdes)

Raging Waters Waterpark, Raging Waters Dr San Dimas, (909) 802-2200. Children under 48 inches $19.99, everyone over 48 inches $ 34.99; Online Tickets, $29.99. Visit for park hours

Wedding? $999

A life’s worth of happy memories? Priceless


Want to treat yourself and your betrothed to a fantastically fun and memorable wedding for under $1,000? Here’s how:  


First, go out and go nuts on a $899 shopping spree. It doesn’t matter what you buy—shoes, that suede jacket you’ve been eyeing, a summer’s worth of video games—just do it: You can lie to yourself and everyone else that it’s for the wedding. 


Then, drive down to the Riverside County Clerk’s office (2724 Gateway Drive, Riverside), and shell out $76 for a marriage license. The license is good for 90 days—ample time to build up your courage or have a serious change of heart. Schedule the ceremony—the County Clerk’s office performs them at the same location—for a Friday. 


When the blessed date arrives, throw on whatever you feel like wearing (t-shirts and jeans would probably be stretching it a bit), grab a handful of your favorite family members and/or friends, and head back to the county office. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the spouse-to-be.  


You’ll be asked to plunk down an additional $25 for the ceremony. That pays for a private room and the officiator of the proceedings. If you want, you can bring your own priest, minister or rabbi to conduct the service, but that just adds to the tab. The great thing about being married by a county employee is you’d really have to go out of your way to shock him or her with your behavior. 


After the ceremony, caravan over to Coffee Depot (3204 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside), for some caffeine-fueled reminiscing among loved ones about those glorious days of singledom gone by. This will actually be a lot more fun than it sounds: Coffee Depot, once a mission-style train station, is quiet, clean, spacious and friendly—in other words, the perfect venue for such a poignant gathering. Hang out there for as long as you like, but at least until 5PM. Because that’s when Café Sevilla (3252 Mission Inn Ave.), located just across the parking lot from Coffee Depot, opens its doors. It’s inside this beautifully decorated den of delectable Spanish and Basque cuisine that you’ll have your wedding reception.


Imagine celebrating a life-long union of two souls by consuming mass quantities of heavenly seasoned tapas and fiery paella washed down with glass after glass of ice-cold, homemade sangria. Imagine drunkenly twirling your partner around the dance floor to the staccato rhythm of flamenco music and the raucous laughter your closest friends in all the world. So close, in fact, that they happily agreed when you suggested earlier that—in lieu of wedding presents—they might pick up the food and bar tab at the end of the soiree. 


An evening’s festivities at Café Sevilla should ring up to about $400 for a party of seven. Minus you and your new spouse, that’s less than $100 a person—about the price of a really, really good toaster. If your friends are anything like ours, they’ll consider that a bargain—and will happily drive you home when the evening’s over. 


So, let’s do the final math: $899 for the shopping spree (optional) + $76 for the marriage license + $24 for the marriage ceremony + $15 for coffee + $400 for tapas and sangria—$415 because your witnesses stepped up and did the right thing = One helluva memorable wedding day for under $1,000!  


And in case you haven’t figured it out already, that’s exactly how this writer got married two years ago. Good times. (David Silva) 








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