Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Hemet, CA

  • Published 2022/12/29

Hemet is a city west of San Jacinto Valley in California’s Riverside County.

Those who want to explore Southern California’s desert Oasis should visit this city.

Despite its sleepy appeal, Hemet boasts many gorgeous attractions worth checking out.

It may not be as popular as other California tourist attractions, but this small city offers plenty of outdoor recreation and exciting activities.

One of Hemet’s best features is its natural beauty, making it a fascinating place to discover in Southern California.

Amazingly, many of Hemet’s attractions have free admission, making it an idyllic destination for budget travelers.

Here are some of the free things to do in Hemet, California:

Explore the Picturesque Diamond Valley Lake

Trail leading to Diamond Valley Lake

Steve Minkler /

Diamond Valley Lake is an artificial off-stream water reservoir that is one of Riverside County’s top outdoor destinations.

You can visit this massive 800,000-acre lake just southwest of Hemet.

This huge lake has multiple access throughout Riverside County, but the most convenient one is Hemet.

Although it’s a famous fishing destination for many local anglers, it’s also an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts.

The waters of Diamond Valley Lake

Arjay Agustin /

Diamond Valley Lake offers lush greenery and abundant wildlife, perfect for nature hiking and birdwatching.

At the same time, it has a 22.7-mile trail that meanders through the lake, perfect for off-road mountain biking and hiking.

Of course, plenty more exciting activities await at this famous lake in Hemet, making it a recommended attraction to start your travel adventure.

Marker of Diamond Valley Lake

Lvi56, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bring Your Kids to Mary Henley Park

Mary Henley Park is a charming community park along Kirby Street that offers a unique experience.

This park is unique among others in Hemet because it features two children’s playgrounds.

Bring your kids to this park and let them enjoy its spacious and well-designed playgrounds.

Both playgrounds have slides, climbs, and ladders for kids to enjoy.

At the same time, grownups can relax under the canopy of trees or enjoy a picnic in its well-manicured green open space.

Besides its playground, Mary Henley Park has other exciting features throughout its 16-acre area.

This park has an outdoor basketball court, gazeboes, a turf area, and restrooms, making it an excellent place to visit.

Test Your Horseshoe Pit Skills at Gibbel Park

Gibbel Park is along W. Latham Avenue.

This park stands out because of its sports facilities, including a basketball court, a baseball field, a tennis court, and a horseshoe pit.

Enjoy a game of horseshoes with your friends, family, or locals who love to play this game.

Besides playing at the horseshoe pit, Gibbel Park, which spans over 12 acres, is also an ideal picnic spot.

Hike Simpson Park’s Trails

Aerial view of Simpson Park

Unwind /

Simpson Park is a huge 483.48-acre along Rawlings Road in Santa Rosa Hills within Hemet.

This outdoor attraction, considered a wilderness park, is one of Hemet’s best hiking locations.

It boasts an 8.4-kilometer looped trail that takes you to some of Hemet’s unspoiled flora and fauna.

In addition, parts of its trails take you to an elevated area that provides a picturesque view of the San Jacinto Valley.

Hiking trail at Simpson Park

Unwind /

The hike takes about two and a half hours, and along the way, you’ll come across fellow hikers and parkgoers.

Besides its excellent hiking trail, Simpson Park also features a wonderful picnic area with shelters, barbeque pits, and other amenities.

Pack your hiking gear when visiting Hemet for a worthwhile hike through this park’s trails.

Soak up the Peaceful Ambiance of McSweeny Park

McSweeny Park is a small park along McSweeny Parkway.

Like most of Hemet’s community parks, this one has all you need for a worthwhile picnic and outdoor activities with your friends or loved ones.

This park is renowned for its tranquil atmosphere, perfect for those who want a quiet time outdoors.

It’s your go-to park if you’re looking for a place in Hemet that offers a silent, less-crowded outdoor attraction.

Besides its signature peaceful ambiance, McSweeney Park has plenty of trees to give you shade from the sun, a barbeque pit, a playground, and a basketball court.

It’s a great place in Hemet to take a short break before continuing your journey throughout the city.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Bill Gray Park, Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District

Bill Gray Park, Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District is a small but gorgeous park along N. Lake Street.

This park spans five acres with lush green grass, a nice hiking trail, a picnic area, a playground, and plenty of trees for shade.

However, parkgoers spend their time at this park not to relax but to plunge into sports action.

This park has two half-basketball courts, a baseball field, a soccer field, a volleyball court, a softball diamond, and several exercise machines.

It’s your go-to place if you’re searching for the best spot in Hemet to sweat out.

Besides the sports facilities, it also has a horseshoe pit, a picnic area, and a playground, perfect for a worthwhile family outing.

Bill Gray Park, Valley-Wide Recreation, and Park District has you covered whenever you want to play sports.

Uncover the Mystery of the Hemet Maze Stone

Exterior of the Hemet Maze Stone

Devin Sean Cooper, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hemet Maze Stone is a fascinating prehistoric petroglyph dating hundreds of years ago.

You can see this amazing archeological artifact along California Avenue.

Originally, a rancher in Hemet discovered an odd maze-like image carved into a stone in 1914.

Archeologists determined that the artifact dates five hundred years ago or even older.

Today, it’s one of Hemet’s most famous tourist attractions that draw thousands of tourists annually.

Plaque marker of the Hemet Maze Stone

Brianmichaelsmith33, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Numerous speculations suggest that the petroglyphs carved into the stone came from shipwrecked Chinese sailors in 500 CE.

Meanwhile, others suggest it came from Native Americans, while others suggest it came from Buddhists.

Today, it remains a huge mystery who carved the petroglyphs back in the day.

Visiting the Hemet Maze Stone offers a fascinating historical experience that will leave you curious about its origins.

Remember to include this historical attraction in your Hemet travel adventure itinerary.

Explore Valley-Wide’s Diamond Valley Lake Community Park

The Valley-Wide’s Diamond Valley Lake Community Park is a vast park known for its top-notch sports facilities.

You can visit this park along Angler Avenue.

Unlike other parks in Hemet, this one is renowned for its top-notch softball fields that are home to local teams and tournaments.

If you’re an avid softball player, it’s the best place you can head to in Hemet.

This park spans 85 acres and has eight softball fields, a fitness trail, and a picnic area.

Besides playing softball, you can also catch the Pony Softball World Series.

This local league in Hemet features some of the best softball teams from around California and other parts of the nation.

Head to Valley-Wide’s Diamond Valley Lake Community Park for an awesome softball experience.

Relax at the Diamond Valley Lake Marina

Due to the enormity of Diamond Valley Lake, visitors can enjoy various outdoor recreational activities at different parts of the lake.

Among the activities you can enjoy here are hiking and spotting wildlife.

Anglers can also enjoy fishing at the Diamond Valley Lake Marina, but fishing permits are required.

This part of the lake is situated along Angler Avenue.

Since Diamond Valley Lake covers over 800,000 acres, it’s a no-brainer that various fish thrives in its waters, making it a haven for anglers.

Travel Back in Time to the Downtown Hemet Historic District

Sunset over Downtown Hemet Historic District

Thomas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Downtown Hemet Historic District is an excellent place in the city to explore its past.

This place in Hemet is where you’ll see its well-preserved 1800s historic buildings, streets, and architecture up close.

It’s a vibrant place to learn more about Hemet’s unique identity and culture.

You’re guaranteed to enjoy strolling through its classic street grid pattern lined with trees and charming shops while rubbing elbows with locals.

Besides the historic buildings and charming streets, you might catch local events such as the Ramona Pageants or art-related ones featuring the city’s local artists.

You’ll find plenty of exciting things across the 360-acre Downtown Hemet Historic District, so remember to include this place in your itinerary.

Take in Breathtaking Views of Diamond Valley Lake at Clayton A. Record Jr. Viewpoint

Diamond Valley Lake has many sections that feature unique attractions, such as the Clayton A. Record Jr. Viewpoint.

You can visit this scenic location along Viewpoint Road.

It’s a must-visit attraction if you’re yearning to see the entirety of Diamond Valley Lake.

Above the viewpoint is the breathtaking 360-degree view of the lake and its surrounding valley.

It has a convenient and highly accessible concrete path and a viewing deck at the top of the viewpoint.

Check out the Clayton A. Record Jr. Viewpoint to enjoy panoramic views of Diamond Valley Lake.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Your travel adventure shouldn’t stop after you’ve explored Hemet’s attractions.

Many nearby places in Hemet are worth checking out, such as the ones listed below.

Enjoy the Beauty of Nature at Mount San Jacinto State Park

Welcome sign of Mount San Jacinto State Park

Scalia Media /

Mount San Jacinto State Park is a half-an-hour travel east of Hemet in San Jacinto Valley.

This famous state park is renowned for its amazing granite peaks, fern-bordered mountainous meadows, subalpine forests, and plenty of outdoor recreation.

It’s one of the best places near Hemet for a top-notch outdoor adventure.

Nature trail at Mount San Jacinto State Park

Steph Couvrette /

The state park has a designated wilderness area for backpackers and hikers to explore its vast natural beauty.

Mount San Jacinto State Park features Southern California’s unique flora and fauna, making it an excellent place for hiking, wildlife viewing, and nature exploration.

Head to San Jacinto Valley for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.

The view from Mount San Jacinto State Park's summit

Sundry Photography /

Explore the Gorgeous Mystic Lake

Mystic Lake is a seasonal lake 22 minutes north of Hemet.

This lake is mainly famous for its water activities, such as swimming, boating, and more.

Fascinatingly, this lake is considered an “Ephemeral Lake,” which appears during the rainy and winter seasons and significantly dries up during summer.

It has a designated swimming area at Shannon Beach, perfect for those who want to soak up the sun or cool off in the waters.

Besides swimming, most of Mystic Lake’s visitors love to paddle through its calm waters on their kayak, canoe, or sailboat.

Perris Valley Historical Museum

Exterior of Perris Valley Historical Museum

Ymblanter, 11 March 2012, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Perris Valley Historical Museum is the main museum of the city of Perris, 22 minutes west of Hemet.

Like most local museums, it features Perris and its surrounding areas’ rich history, culture, arts, and heritage.

It’s well-known for its curated exhibits that display photographs, old news clippings, antique memorabilia, and heirlooms donated by Perris locals.

It has rotating and permanent exhibits and guided tours and history walks on Perris’ famous landmarks.

Perris Valley Historical Museum is ideal for history enthusiasts because of its incredible collection that details the city’s past.

Above all, this museum in Perris has free entrance, making it a worthwhile place to check out.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Lake Skinner Recreational Area

The waters of Lake Skinner Recreational Area

Steven Guo /

Lake Skinner Recreational Area in Winchester, 12 miles southwest of Hemet, is a popular destination for its vast natural vistas and outdoor recreational activities.

Lake Skinner spreads across 1,400 acres of pristine surface water, surrounded by rolling hills and forested areas filled with local flora and fauna.

It’s an excellent destination for one more outdoor adventure before returning home.

Visiting this recreational area allows you to enjoy hiking, boating, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and camping.

Besides the usual outdoor activities, Lake Skinner Recreational Area is also famous for stargazing, outdoor movies, and concerts, adding more excitement to this place.

Final Thoughts

Those were the best free things to do in Hemet, California.

As you’ve read through this post, Hemet is a charming Southern California city with plenty of exciting activities that are mostly free to enjoy.

It’s a perfect destination for those yearning for quality relaxation, especially those coming from Los Angeles and San Diego, since it’s roughly an hour away from these two major cities.

If you’re seeking a laidback destination, don’t hesitate to choose Hemet.

Lastly, remember to pin this travel post as your handy itinerary.

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