Things to Do in the Inland Empire With Your Pre-Teen

Once kids reach a certain age, there begins the lament of “There’s nothing to do,” or “I’m bored,” on a weekly, daily, or (on really bad days) an hourly basis.  While my usual philosophy to these cries is to assign a chore, once kids reach a certain age you can’t take it for granted when they want to hang out with you because it won’t last much longer.  To that end, here is a collection of fun stuff you can do with your pre-teen here in the Inland Empire.

Like a classic with staying power, skate parties, sessions, and rinks are still around because it’s simple fun, gets your blood pumping, and comes with dance music!  Our area offers us Skate Express in Chino, Cal Skate in Grand Terrace, Roller City 2001 in Riverside, and Roller City Plus in Fontana.  The Inland Empire area also brings us quite a few ice skating rinks like IceTown in Riverside, Ontario Center Ice Arena and Ontario Ice Skating Center both totally different places in Ontario, and last but not least Desert Ice Castle in Cathedral City.


Laser tag can also offer an exciting time or a good party.  We have Laser Quest in Chino, Laser Island in Upland, and Triple O Lazer Tag in Moreno Valley.  Paintball takes this notion up a notch, Jungle Island Paintball & Airsoft Park in Lake Elsinore comes complete with a Little Warrior Arena especially for kids 6-12.  Along with Action Star Games Paintball Park in Colton and SC Village Paintball & Airsoft Park in Corona both with a minimum age requirement of 10, the inland has your pre-teen covered.  

If heart racing is how you like your fun, try indoor go kart racing at K1 Speed in Ontario, San Bernardino Raceway, or Pole Position Raceway in Corona.  Adams Motorsports Park in Riverside not only has outdoor kart racing but a Racing Academy with classes for ages 5-95 and a plethora of other motorsports available to watch.  The Auto Club Speedway in Fontana offers a quite a few races and other events to watch as well.

If your family enjoys watching sports together, save money on gas and support a local team.  Minor league baseball teams like The Inland Empire 66ersRancho Cucamonga Quakes, and Lake Elsinore Storm, have been around for years and offer tons of fun and great deals for families.  If baseball isn’t your thing, try heading to the Citizens Business Bank Arena to watch the Ontario Reign hockey team or the Ontario Fury arena soccer team or any number of other special events.

Lately my pre-teen has been singing “Let It Go” all day non stop on repeat so that must mean its time to take her to a show!  The Inland Empire has TONS to offer in terms of local theatre.  From a show at Landis Performing Arts Center in Riverside to California Theater of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino or the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga the inland has got you covered.  Plus there is even more theater in our community if you can appreciate all of it that exists on a smaller scale as well.  These theaters include but are not limited to: the Yucaipa Little TheatreLifeHouse Theater in Redlands, Redlands Theatre FestivalOld Town Temecula Community TheaterChino Community Theatre and the list goes on.  There are players and productions ALL OVER the Inland Empire.


With the weather warming up, the days are quickly approaching when places like The Cove Waterpark in Riverside, Soak City in Palm Springs, Splash Kingdom in Redlands will be opening.  A brand new Drop Zone water park in Perris is set to open by Memorial Day.  There are a few local parks that also offer water play including Celebration Park in Moreno Valley, Doty Trust Park in Riverside, or Citrus Park in Corona.  Days vary as to when they “turn the water on” so check with your local park for the days and times. 


View from Rancho Jurupa Park.

If you have an outdoorsy kid that loves to camp, fish, hike, bike, or just generally explore may I suggest Rancho Jurupa Park in Riverside or Lake Perris in Moreno Valley if you need to add boating to that list.  The former has a splash pad and miniature and disc golf courses and the latter not only offers you the opportunity to boat but to watch the occasional boat race.  To be honest though, growing up here some of my favorite parks were the San Bernardino County Regional Parks, Prado (for the tadpoles) and Guasti (for the pool) in particular.  Some city parks can offer up some great experiences too like Fairmount Park in Riverside (hungry ducks anyone?), look around and find one the whole family can enjoy!

things_to_do_inland_empire_riverside_fairmount_parkThe last thing I wanted to share was that good old Fiesta Village, an IE classic for almost 45 years, has kart racing, laser tag, a water park, outdoor rollerskating, and batting cages along with all the other fun stuff like mini-golf, arcade games, and amusement rides that accompany your typical Family Fun Zone.  There are reasons a classic remains a classic.    

Spring Crafts for Kids

InlandMoms Spring

Since Spring begins this week I’d like to show you how to make some Window Clings and Ribbon Baskets with your kids to help you prepare for the season.

My oldest child made the Window Clings as part of her science experiment this year and we had so much fun the first time, we decided to make them again!  There were some things I wanted to do with her batch that I couldn’t because it was her project so this allowed me to get creative with this craft.

Decorating berry baskets was something we used to do in grade school, using strips of construction paper instead of ribbon or yarn.  I like this craft because its cheap, you use what you have, and your creativity is the limit!

Window Clings from KidScience App

1.5 oz (6 packets) plain, unflavored gelatin
food coloring
drinking straw
cookie cutters
glitter (optional)


Boil 4 cups of water.  Open the unflavored gelatin packets into a small bowl.  Stirring as you go, slowly pour the gelatin into the boiling water.  Stir well until the gelatin has dissolved.  If there are any bubbles, remove them with a spoon.

InlandMoms WindowClingsAllow the gelatin to cool a bit, then pour the liquid gelatin into two large pans so that the liquid measures 1-1.5 cm deep.

If using glitter, now is the time to sprinkle glitter onto one of your pansof gelatin…or both, the diffusion with the food coloring will still occur with the glitter pans but the glitter clings can only be hung outside (or facing in) so that is why I only do one pan.

Let the gelatin harden in both pans.  This should take about an hour or so.  Using one end of a straw poke holes straight into the gelatin but not all the way to the bottom.  Spin the straw, then use a toothpick or skewer to pull out the gelatin plug you’ve made.  Sometimes I would just tilt the straw and use it to pull out the plugs as well.  Poke lots of holes into the gelatin a few centimeters apart.  The food coloring will diffuse in the glitter pan as well if you want to make a few holes in that one.

Add a drop of food coloring to each hole in the gelatin.  Keep the shapes of your cutters in mind if you want to make a shape a certain color.  Science experiment spoiler alert!: Greens and yellows diffuse the best and fastest, then blue, and red not so much.

Let the pans sit for 24 hours, then use cookie cutters to cut shapes from both pans of gelatin and carefully remove them with a spatula.  I remove them all at once onto a cookie sheet so that I can take them all to decorate my windows instead of one at a time.  The food coloring will continue to diffuse while the clings are on your windows.  When they dry, peel them off the windows.  The clings will last 3-4 days.

InlandMoms RibbonBasketsRibbon Baskets

What You’ll Need
plastic berry baskets
ribbon or yarn
pipe cleaners (optional)

Thread your ribbon or yarn through the hole of your basket, starting at the bottom.  Again, you can make these very simple by skipping a few and making large weaves or more intricate by weaving through each opening.

With my yarn basket, I wove through each opening, skipping one as I got three lines on each side so that I would have an alternating pattern (I used a total of nine lines).  I used a simpler pattern in the middle (two lines of four) because it was a little tricky weaving through the “product of USA” on the basket.  I used the same pattern on the top portion of my basket as the bottom.  I tied the yarn to the basket as I began to keep it in place.  I also pre wrapped the yarn around my basket to get an estimation of how much yarn to use so I could pre cut it to make it easier for weaving.

I used the pipe cleaners to make my handles.  Those were the one thing I had to buy which was surprising considering all the odds and ends I have.  They are very easy to work with and hook onto the baskets with ease.

With the pastel basket, I used 6 different 3/8” ribbon and threaded them alternately.  I tied yarn to the ends of the ribbon and then tied it to the basket to keep it in place.  When finished with a row, use a small dab of glue to fix the ribbon to itself to keep it in place.

With my hot pink basket, I used a 7/8” ribbon on the top (with which you can make the cutest ruching effect) and a 5/8” for the bottom which lays perfectly in that opening.  I decided not to use a handle on this basket.  It is being used to keep my little girl’s various notebooks organized.




Things to Do In Inland Empire – Moreno Valley with Kids

Before we moved here I probably dismissed Moreno Valley much like I feel most Inland residents do, but after living here for six years, sending my kids to school here, engaging in activities here, living my life here,  I LOVE Moreno Valley and here’s why:  my husband still works close to his job but doesn’t have to deal with Riverside traffic to get there, we adore our school, enjoy local activities, and revel in the sense of community we’ve felt here from day one.

Lately we tend to go into Riverside or other cities less and less to do things with our kids and we try to get more friends and family members to come here and try our things with us.  There are some things worth coming here for, some things we may even do better.


Photo Credit: Howie’s Game Shack

First off, we have a Howie’s Game Shack.  There are only four locations and we have one!  Located in the Moreno Valley Mall, where three different Things to Do are, it makes a perfect place to spend awhile or have a party with the food court (where you can still get an Orange Julius!) right next door for refueling if your kids are into games like mine.  It is certainly a great place to occupy a teen not keen on shopping with their mother.

While a bowling alley isn’t exactly a novel idea, Round One is so much more than that.  There are different kinds of games galore, karaoke, pool, and darts for all different kinds of fun.  Also located in the mall, it is a must stop when looking to waste time before a movie starts at Harkins, a fun night out with friends, or simply a nice break from shopping.  It is 18 and over after 10pm and 21 and over after midnight, and although it is located in the mall, it is still open till 2am.  If you prefer your bowling away from the mall, there is always Universal Strike and Brunswick Zone both with really great deals.

I’d say movies is certainly something we do better out here, which is awesome for a cinephile like me.  At Harkins, use your loyalty popcorn shirt and refillable cups anytime you take your kids to the movies and you’ll save a bundle!  Also the ticket prices there are generally lower when compared with other cinemas, for kids (3-13) they definitely are at only $6 a ticket.  However, if you still find that the regular first run movie theater is a bit too pricey with your kids in tow, the Towngate 8 Regency Theatres is the best solution!  Tickets are only $2 for matinee and $3 for evening tickets ($2 extra for 3D) and last year they upgraded their soda fountains to make them self-serve and refillable.  Completely worth waiting a few extra weeks to save some money on a movie that your kids just HAVE to see on the big screen.

Photo Credit: Lake Perris

Photo Credit: Lake Perris

Honestly, our FAVORITE thing to do here with our kids is to just go to the park.  Celebration Park is always a big favorite once they “turn the water on,” with birthday parties and team parties and lots of families crowding there from spring to late summer.  Parking can be tough there but it is always worth it.  Two other parks, Gateway Park and TownGate Memorial Park, recently upgraded their playground equipment and it has made them our two most frequented parks in the city.  Each of these parks and others has plenty of grass to fly kites, commandeer remote control vehicles, or play a bit of soccer.  The Lasselle Sports Park is scheduled to open here in late Spring 2014 and will include three turf football/soccer fields, an exercise track, picnic facilities, and play equipment.  Last but not least, let us not forget that Moreno Valley is also home to the 8,000-acre Lake Perris State Park.

All the things to do here would be peanuts if not for our Parks and Community Services department.  I LOVE using the activities and services they offer.  Besides the fact that two of my kids have utilized their Time For Tots program complete with special Halloween, Christmas, Mother’s Day & Graduation activities, there are free movie nights on the lawn of the Community Center in summer, special activities for kids during school breaks, and there are more activities going on for kids all the time (like Stop Motion Animation class, Comic Book Creation class, various dance, sport, and music classes), just check the Parks and Community Services Soaring magazine.  Spring activities are coming up soon along with a Wine and Art show at the TownGate Community Center at the end of April for the grown ups!

Last but not least, kids gotta eat right?  Within the last year we have gotten bunches of “new to us” restaurants like Chipotle, Polly’s Pies, Miguel’s Jr, and most recently Jersey Mike’s.  C’mon, give Moreno Valley a chance, it really is a very family friendly place or at the very least a place where you’ll get more for your family entertainment dollar.  Maybe I’ll see you at the park!

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