Wine country and Northern California go hand-in-hand. Yet far downstate, between San Diego and Los Angeles, is a lesser-known wine outpost: Temecula. A long grape-growing season, combined with ideal soil and rain conditions for high quality grapes, has brought more than 30 wineries to Temecula Valley. Tourists have followed the grapes. But championship golf and a few major annual festivals are also major draws, giving this resort town plenty of activity throughout the year.
- Go wine tasting in the Temecula Valley, home to more than 50 grape varieties, from cabernet sauvignon to chardonnay. Most wineries offer tours and tastings.
- Visit Old Town Temecula: 1890s buildings house boutique shops, upscale restaurants, hotels, and museums in this easy-to-stroll downtown area.
- Pechanga Resort and Casino: Throw dice, spin the roulette wheel, and play poker at this 24/7 entertainment hub.
- Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival is held annually on the first weekend of June. Thousands come to this 30-year-old fest to see morning hot air balloon launches, taste wines, and listen to live country, classic rock, and jazz music.
- Lots of green space: There are a staggering 39 public parks in this mid-sized city, and 22 miles of hiking and biking trails.
- Championship golf courses dot the valley; Redhawk Golf Course and CrossCreek Golf Club are two good picks.
Where to Stay
- Ponte Vineyard Inn: An award-winning, AAA Four Diamond–rated hotel set on 300 acres of vineyards, within walking distance of three wineries. A gourmet restaurant, full cellar, and landscaped garden with a pond add to the hotel’s charm.
- South Coast Winery Resort & Spa: A luxurious all-suite hotel with its own winery and full-service spa. Dine al fresco at the onsite restaurant, winner of a 2013 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
- Temecula Creek Inn: An upscale hotel is close to wineries; features an acclaimed 27-hole golf course.