Sitting like a crown jewel of California’s Inland Empire, Temecula is a popular SoCal day trip destination from Los Angeles or San Diego for tourists looking to trade in the modern metropolises for an old western lifestyle. Life moves much slower in Temecula, whose rolling hills are home to award-winning wineries and an Old Town that immerses visitors into the Western heritage.
From wandering the antique buildings lining Old Town Front Street, contemporary farm-to-table dining, and wine tasting in the famed wine region, these are some of the best things to do in Temecula California.
VISIT OLD TOWN
Reminiscent of California’s Gold Rush era, Old Town Temecula is a walk through the past. See antique buildings and old streets still buzzing with activity, just as it was back when the town was founded in 1859.
Walk beneath the iconic Old Town entrance to Old Town Front Street, where 12 blocks of history stand before you. What once housed saloons and overnight inns are now home to shops, hotels, bars, restaurants, and more.
Explore the shelves of the Chaparral Center for souvenirs, apparel and home décor, or visit Fourth Street Antiques to discover gifts of the past. Hang around the historic town square whose horseshoe days remind you of the cowboys who once rode through the town. In the evening, go for a bite to eat at Luke’s on Front for a delicious American-style cuisine accompanied by music from undiscovered local talent serenading your rooftop views of Old Town. Later, catch a show at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.
Old Town Temecula is an excellent place to spend the entire day with family with things to do and see for everyone.
For those looking for more modern shops and restaurants, take a 5 minute drive to Promenade Temecula, an outdoor shopping mall with shops, restaurants, movies, events, and more.
ENJOY E.A.T. MARKETPLACE
Chats with your waiter at E.A.T. Marketplace are a bit unconventional. Instead of small talk about the weather and why you’re visiting Temecula, these farm-to-table experts can give you the entire timeline of your meal, starting with where it originated.
Large windows illuminate the open floorplan of the restaurant with long community tables. Exposed pipes and wood furniture give the space a contemporary rustic atmosphere to enjoy breakfast or lunch.
Appropriately named the Extraordinary Artisans Table Marketplace, each dish arrives at your table in a hand-crafted presentation with fresh aromas and a savory taste in every bite. Stuff your face with a tower of Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, or try the vegan-friendly West Coast Scramble.
If you’re starving, premium steaks sourced from grass-fed cows are available to fill you up. Pair your meal with a healthy wellness shot added to a delicious fruit smoothie, and if there’s space for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the gluten-free lemon poppy-seed donuts.
TEMECULA VALLEY MUSEUM
Temecula’s rich cultural and historical heritage is well-preserved inside the Temecula Valley Museum. It invites tourists to learn about the town’s legacy through exhibitions, before taking you on an immersive experience of Temecula’s history.
Permanent and temporary exhibitions always keep the museum galleries fresh with something new to see. Wander the galleries on the first floor to learn about the town’s origins with artifacts on display dating to ancient times. Cattle bones and endemic flora showcase a few of the wonders in nature in Temecula, while vintage photos of cowboys and city maps present the town’s early days.
Temecula Valley Museum recreates scenes from its past to see what a general store during the Gold Rush era looked like or learn about author Erie Stanley Gardner.
During the week, this family-friendly museum is filled with busloads of kids on a school field trip gravitating towards the second-floor hands-on activities. On Saturdays, the museum offers its weekly walking tours of Old Town.
GO UP IN A HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
Witness the sun’s golden glow as it creeps over the lush vineyards during your sunrise hot air balloon ride in Temecula. Find one of the many local tour providers offering this bucket list activity, or join the crowds during the annual festival.
Skilled crew members assist you into the basket at dawn before the roaring fire gives you your first sensation of floating in the air. You’ll rise simultaneously with the sun as you witness the first daybreak in Temecula from over a thousand feet in the air. A Grape Escape Balloon Adventure makes the balloon ride special with a complimentary banner and a small cake for special events like anniversaries and birthdays.
Visit Temecula in June to see a beautiful display of the massive balloons boasting bright colors and geometric shapes as they take flight for the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival.
ENJOY A TASTING IN TEMECULA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY
Temecula Valley’s fertile land has made it a premier wine country in California. With more than 50 wineries dotting the valley’s 33,000 acres, there is always a place to visit to indulge in the region’s finest spirits.
Get a taste of Europe as popular grapes like Sangiovese and Montepulciano grow abundantly in the valley. Join guided or self-guided tasting tours to explore what makes these wines award-winning.
The family-owned Wilson Creek Winery serves delicious white wine options, while nothing can beat savory spirits at sunset at Calloway Vineyard and Winery.
For a luxury experience, visit the tasting rooms at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. This winery hotel not only has amazing wine, but awesome events and a full-service spa too.
While anticipating sipping the next winery’s best spirits, enjoy winery tours with the Temecula Cable Car Wine Tours or Temecula Valley Jeep & Wine Tours for a private tour experience in a trolly or open-air jeep, respectively.
GO BIG AT PECHANGA RESORT CASINO
Forget about Las Vegas because Temecula is home to the largest casino resort on the West Coast. Enter into the Pechanga Indian Reservation just outside the city center, where this massive resort complex welcomes gamers seeking fun or hoping to hit it big.
Plan a stay at the upscale Pechanga Resort Casino, where your accommodation is only steps away from the world-class gaming experience on the ground floor. Flashing lights, coins falling inside machines, and excited cheers from across the room mean that the casino floor is in full swing, and there’s a chance for everyone to win!
Find your luck at one of over 4,500 slot machines or test your poker face against the house at more than 150 table games.
In addition to gaming, Pechanga Resort Casino provides plenty of guest amenities to enjoy a stay at the hotel. Delight yourself with a view of the golf course when you dine outdoors at Journey’s End. Then, catch a show at the state-of-the-art theater.
RELAX AT SPA PECHANGA
Rejuvenate your mind and body in the relaxing Spa Pechanga. These state-of-the-art facilities provide the ultimate environment to escape and relish in the luxury spa experience.
Located inside the Pechanga Casino Resort, this spa is open to everyone to experience a blend of modern spa techniques and remedies from ancient Native American traditions.
The golden aura created by soft lights illuminates the halls as a friendly spa attendant directs you to one of the therapy rooms. Treat yourself to a full body massage or go for a specialty treatment for a personalized session. Sessions can also be enjoyed as couples.
At the peak of your relaxation, walk across the soft carpeted floors to reach the quiet room where you can nap undisturbed. End your day at the spa with a dip in the whirlpool, where therapeutic jets gently massage your body.
Let your child explore their inner scientist at Pennypickle’s Workshop. Blurring the line between fun and education, the workshop offers many hands-on exhibitions that keep kids entertained for hours.
Located inside the Temecula Children’s Museum, the workshop is a unique experience where kids are encouraged to touch, explore, and discover. Large LED screens light up to your touch or test your architectural genius by playing with the building blocks. Non-Californians can see what it feels like during an earthquake or see the effects of gravity.
Kids explore the mind of Professor Phineas Pennypickle, who left many of his inventions and experiments unfinished. Children can dress up in their white lab coats and interact with each station. There is also a secret passage waiting to be discovered by curious visitors.
RIDE THE VALLEY
Saddle up and live out your equestrian dreams with horseback riding in Temecula Valley. Gallop through these rolling hills on a sightseeing excursion or a unique wine tasting experience.
Plan a group outing to trot along the dusty trails winding around the valley’s rolling hills. Hilltop viewpoints overlooking the vineyard rows and vast lush landscape make horse riding one of the favorite things to do in Temecula.
Saddle Up Wine Tours provides several horseback riding tours for all ages. Alternatively, go for a Wine Country Ride through the valley, where you’ll feel like a cowgirl in search of the best wines in the region. Finally, for those seeking a romantic couple’s activity in Temecula, it’s a popular place for horse-drawn carriage rides.
Many of the horse trails are accompanied by cyclists. Biking is another exciting way to explore the Temecula Valley. Rent bikes and pedal along the Temecula Creek Trail or Great Oak Trail. There are two companies that offer rental e-bikes — Borrow Our Bikes and Temecula Valley Wine Country E-Bikes.
BOOT-SCOOT AT TEMECULA STAMPEDE
Strap on your Jackboots and tie up those plaid shirts because it’s time to experience the ‘West Coast’s biggest country music venue.’ File in line and get ready to party as they did in the Wild West days inside the Temecula Stampede.
The Temecula Stampede is a stand-out venue on Old Town Front Street that’s rocking with music any time of the day. This club and live music venue is a popular place to learn how to line dance or show off your moves!
During the day, the Temecula Stampede hosts line dancing lessons where you’ll learn the art of booting n’scootin. By night, boogie-down on the dance floor as heeled boots clack in unison on the wooden floor to rhythmic country jams. There are plenty of drink options to liven up the night and with enough courage, see how long you can last on the mechanical bull ride.
PET THE ALPACAS
Melodic humming resounding throughout the Temecula Valley is likely coming from the local residents at the Alpaca Hacienda. These delightful creatures will charm you with their good looks and fluffy coats, which are nearly impossible to resist touching.
Alpaca Hacienda is one of the best Alpaca farms in Temecula that offers farm tours. Tourists get a 90-minute guided trip around the sprawling farm where more than 30 alpacas are bred and nursed.
Learn all about alpacas from an expert guide while touring the farm. Alpaca Hacienda has alpacas of all types-short hair revealing their beady eyes or alpacas barely able to see because of their bad hair day. These gentle animals stand attentively at the white gates, presenting their heads to be petted. Run one hand through their soft, woolly coats as they feed from the palm of the other.
Stop by the onsite gift shop for souvenirs. However, if you can’t get enough of the Alpacas, the right price will have one joining you on the ride home!
HIKE SANTA ROSA PLATEAU
Enjoy a sunny California day outdoors at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve. These preserved landscapes cover over 7,500-acres and are the perfect destination for hiking, horseback riding, and other outdoor recreation.
Santa Rosa Plateau extends from the Santa Ana Mountains, offering unique views of Southern California. While most of the region is characterized by deserts, this verdant plateau is full of large trees, grassy plains, and even colorful flower fields that blossom during the spring.
Drive approximately a dozen miles northwest from Temecula, where you’re greeted by rolling hills upon approaching the Santa Rosa Plateau. Well-marked trails direct to popular routes like the scenic loop trail, trails to the Vernal Pools, or carve out your own adventurous hike around the beautiful landscapes.
Santa Rosa Plateau has trails suitable for all ages and hiking levels. Several short trails lead to historical buildings still standing in the plateau from past eras, while long trails fully immerse you in the natural scenery. Be sure to step aside for horseback riders trotting the trails.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
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WHERE TO STAY IN TEMECULA
Best Budget Hotel. Signature Temecula features an outdoor pool and hot tub, a great rate, and is just a 15 minute walk from Old Town. Along with affordability, this hotel is rated well for families.
Best Luxury Option. Temecula Creek Inn is 1.9 miles from city-center and offers an on-site 27-hole golf course and an onsite restaurant with fresh cuisine with ingredients from local farms.
Best For Families. Get that extra room or sofa bed at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel Temecula and still be close to local attractions. The hotel offers a pool and hot breakfast which is great for the family in tow.
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