We know you’ve heard of California’s most notorious wine regions, such as Napa and Sonoma Valley, but Temecula Valley is SoCal’s newest up and coming wine destination. While Temecula wineries have been dominating California’s most prestigious wine competitions for years, recently tourists have started flocking to the valley's rolling hills for weekend getaways to hike the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve or to visit the Green Acres horse ranch, as well as a picturesque balloon ride over the pristine valley and vineyards—just to name a few.
Have a Wine Tasting
Temecula Valley is home to more than 40 vineyards so you have a lot of options when it comes to wine tastings. For a slightly more elevated experience, try a tasting at the Carter Estate, an upscale resort and winery surrounded by 112 acres of vines owned by vintner Jim Carter and family. The winery is certified sustainable and each wine is aged in oak barrels before being bottled.Tasting options include flights of five white, red, or mixed wines. Or you can opt for a sample of one Carter Estate's library wines. Round off the experience with a charcuterie board of meats, cheeses, nuts, dried fruits.
See the Valley From a Hot Air Balloon
A sunrise hot air balloon ride is the perfect way to start your day of wine tasting in Temecula Valley. Family run business, California Dreamin', offers one-of-a-kind views over citrus groves, mountains, and vineyards on an hour-long hot air balloon ride. The best time to visit is April or May when the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom painting a complimentary purple hue to the already picturesque desert scape. Not to mention, the valley's Hot Air Balloon Festival that takes place every year in May as hundreds of balloons paint the sky in flight for an unforgettable experience. After landing at Vindemia Winery, enjoy a light and local breakfast picked fresh from the farm and served in a private rose garden, complete with mimosas or the vineyard's very own vino.
Tour the Vineyards in a Horse-Drawn Carriage
When it comes to Temecula, there's certainly no shortage of wine tours, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more unique experience than a horse-drawn trolley ride through the vineyards with the Temecula Carriage Company. The Trolley shuttles between South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, Lorimar Winery, Ponte Winery, and Weins Family Cellars, with an hour stop at each location. On your trip, you can enjoy everything from fine dining to relaxing strolls through beautiful vineyards, immaculate gardens, an expert guide, and of course, wine tasting at some of the best wineries Temecula has to offer.
Go Fishing in Vail Lake
For the families that have the pioneer spirit, camping is a great way to explore Temecula. Just 15 short minutes away from Temecula, Vail Lake boasts over 460 campsites, 385 acres of recreation space, and more than 200 acres of world-class hiking and mountain biking trails. With one of the most well-stocked bass fishing lakes in California, plus plenty of outdoor activities for kids of all ages, it's no wonder families are choosing to get outdoors just outside of wine country for their long weekend getaways.
Relax at the Spa
Grapeseed oil, a by-product of winemaking, is one of the most moisturizing oils for the skin in the all-natural beauty world. At the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, grapeseed oil derived straight from the vineyard's own grapes is the perfect way to unwind after a long weekend of wine tastings. At the GrapeSeed Spa, you'll receive a complimentary glass of South Coast's wines with your treatment, which vary from a customized facial or a full body scrub, at their newly renovated high-end facility. The GrapeSeed Spa also offers activities like yoga classes and a heated saltwater pool with private cabanas for rent, as well as an option to indulge in poolside drinks and snacks, for an ultimate day of rest and relaxation.
Explore Old Town
Upon entering Old Town you'll be greeted by the cowboy-themed archway where you'll instantly feel transported back in time as you wander on wooden boardwalks surrounded by saloon-style buildings and the City of Temecula Civic Center whose symbolic water feature pays homage to a traditional Native American woven basket. Established in 1859, Temecula's historic past echoes throughout this charming, rustic town that offers a wide variety of local artisan-made goods, antique shops, restaurants, entertainment, and museums. Stop by the Temecula Olive Oil Company for a tasting before you meander through Vintage Begonia for rustic farmhouse finds and then head across the street to the Temecula Wine & Beer Garden to listen to live tunes out on the patio.
Bike and Hike Temecula Valley
The rolling hills of Temecula Valley make for a picture-perfect escape for bike enthusiasts everywhere. With Pedal to the Medal Cycling, daily bike rentals are available for delivery for scenic strolls through neighboring vineyards and—you guessed it—wine tours! Or for the more adventurous cyclist, mountain biking expeditions at Palomar Mountain, and other customizable options, are available through the company as you get to know the area on two wheels. You can find more suggested biking trails from the Visit Temecula website. The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is also not to be missed, as it's one of the most popular natural attractions. The reserve protects unique ecosystems, more than 200 species of native birds, and 49 endangered, threatened, or rare animal and plant species. It also has plenty of hiking and biking trails for an entire day of family fun.
Sip on Local Brews
When you’ve had your fair share of wine in the morning, the evening offers plenty of alternatives as new microbreweries and speakeasies are opening up all over Old Town. For those in the know, the town’s two speakeasies—Thompson & Twain and the Apparition Room—will have you delighted by the unique, well-crafted cocktails, though seating is limited so book in advance. As you head to the west side of town, you’ll find the Temecula Valley ale trail. There's a collection of brewery-based tasting rooms serving up curated IPA's, hard ciders, peanut butter stouts, and blood orange Belgian style fruit beers at locations like Batch Mead, Garage Brewing Co, and Refuge Brewery.
Go Horseback Riding Through Vineyards
A trail ride with Wine Country Trails by Horseback is one of the best ways to explore Temecula. For a more whimsical approach to a wine tasting tour, Wine Country Trails will take you galloping from vineyard to vineyard, or tasting room to tasting room, while couples can opt for a more romantic trot through the valley for a sunset adventure. Green Acres Ranch also offers horseback ranch rides through desert landscapes and exotic foliage that’s guaranteed to be fun for the whole family while celebrating the cities cowboy roots.
Visit the California Coast's Largest Casino
As the largest resort casino to reign over the California Coast, Pechanga has everything you love about Vegas—minus the crowds. With more than 5,000 slot machines, multiple restaurants, a 4.5-acre multi-pool with waterslides, a two-story spa, and an award-winning golf course, this resort is the perfect playground you didn't know you needed in your life. When you play the Journey par-72 course, designed by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest, you'll undoubtedly enjoy a great round of link-style golf amidst the breathtaking rolling hills that's only complete with a final visit to one of the largest golf pro shops in California for an unforgettable journey.