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The counties of Riverside and San Bernardino are located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles in Southern California. Together, they make up the region known as the Inland Empire. In the heyday of the citrus industry, this area was once called the Orange Empire, and it's still possible to find orange groves thriving in Inland Empire cities such as Redlands. There's much to see here, and a rental house can make a comfortable home base from which to explore the area. Many of them feature air conditioning and fireplaces, plus other amenities such as cable television service, washing machines, and BBQ grills, pools or hot tubs in the backyards. In health-conscious California, it's no surprise that the majority of rental properties do not allow smoking.
The San Bernardino Mountains are one of the biggest attractions in the area and provide a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Wintertime sees plenty of skiers, snowboarders and sledders flock to area slopes. Hiking, biking and boating are popular during the summer months. Mountain communities worth visiting include:
A museum visit here can provide a nice change of pace because the focus will probably be on topics that are historically important to the region rather than on the usual artwork or ancient artifacts. The railroad was instrumental to the growth of the Inland Empire, and visitors to the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris can learn all about it while enjoying train and streetcar rides. Many of the more successful citrus producers during the Victorian Era constructed stately homes in that particular architectural style. One of them is Kimberly Crest House in Redlands, which offers guided estate tours. The historic 140-year-old Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, where movie stars, celebrities and U.S. presidents have slept, also has guided tours available.
The Mission Inn Hotel has a luxury Spanish colonial-style spa offering body wraps and facials. A red clay mud bath is the featured treatment at Glen Ivy Hot Springs spa in Corona.
The Temecula Valley's micro-climate makes it an ideal place to grow wine grapes. Winery tours and tastings can be combined with a hot-air balloon ride which lets visitors view the vineyards and estates from above.
In general, this region shares Southern California's mild Mediterranean climate. However, summers tend to be hotter here than they are nearer the California coast. Also, there are big temperature differences between different parts of the Inland Empire; valley cities such as Riverside and Redlands often see summer temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, while the Temecula area and the mountain communities are much cooler. These same mountain areas see winter lows in the high teens or low 20s with plenty of snow, while most of the rest of the region may experience rain but almost no sub-freezing temperatures. Thus, winter is obviously the best time to visit for winter snow sports; the very hot mid-summer months can be undesirable for activities that require walking outdoors but are great for trips to Inland Empire water parks in Jurupa and Redlands.
To get to the Inland Empire, most people choose to fly to either local Ontario Airport or to Los Angeles International Airport which is further away but is served by more major carriers. Both airports offer rental cars from many different agencies. There is also chartered van and private limousine service at both Ontario and L.A. airports, as well as shared vans that are available on a walk-up basis. Taxicabs are another option for traveling to the various cities in the metropolitan zone. While using public transportation isn't impossible, it's not particularly convenient; it would likely require a combination of bus and light rail travel with two or more transfers.