Hemet, California is situated at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains in South West Riverside County. As part of the Inland Empire, Riverside County is within minutes to hours away from a wide variety of recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, surfing, sailing, professional sports, arts, music, and exceptional dining. Hemet is conveniently located close to big cities, yet offers a casual lifestyle free of the traffic and congestion of city life.
The area in which Hemet is located was first inhabited by members of the Cahuilla Indian Tribe. In the early 1800’s it became a cattle ranch for Mission San Luis Rey and was called Rancho San Jacinto. When the missions were broken up by the Mexican government in 1842, the land was awarded to Jose Antonio Estudillo. The Estudillo Mansion is currently being restored as a museum in the City of San Jacinto, located north of Hemet.
Beginning in 1939, The Ramona Music Association has promoted a wide variety of musical programs at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater, site of the California Outdoor Play The Ramona Pageant. Written by Helen Hunt Jackson, the play has showcased splendor, pageantry and passion since 1923 at the Ramona Bowl. Annually the Bowl is host to 7,500 to 10,000 concert attendees who enjoy the “Concerts Under the Stars” programs including jazz, country, inspirational instrumental music, Celtic, oldies but goodies, large choral, Dixieland and doo wop performances.
Other Arts and Cultural facilities located in the valley include The Esplanade Arts Center, Hemet Valley Arts Association Gallery and the Hemet Public Library. The internationally recognized Idyllwild Arts Academy is located about 20 miles east of downtown Hemet in the San Jacinto Mountains. The academy specializes in pre-professional training in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, moving pictures and interdisciplinary arts for children in grades 9-12. The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program enrolls approximately 2,000 students, ages 5 – adult, in 8-week summer workshops taught by professionals, artists and instructors.
Hemet is also home to the Western Science Center Paleontology Museum, which houses a large collection of Ice Age fossils and Native American artifacts discovered during the excavation of the 4,500 acres Diamond Valley Lake. Opened in 2006, The Center has been designed to provide world-class facilities for research, curation and presentation of an exceedingly rare collection of specimens, including “Max”, the largest mastodon found in the Western United States; “Little Stevie”, a young mastodon that is the most complete specimen ever recovered in the inland region of Southern California, and “Xena”, a Columbian mammoth. The Center offers interactive exhibits, special events, lecture and workshops for all ages.
Other museums located in the valley include Ramona Bowl Museum, Diamond Valley Lake Visitor Center, Hemet Depot & Museum, Fingerprint Kids Museum, Ryan School of Aeronautics Museum, Chaum-Mix Poki Soboba Cultural Center and the Patterson House Museum.