Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Did you know that Southern California has its own wine country full of award-winning wineries and that it is only a short drive away from its main cities, Los Angeles and San Diego? Welcome to the beautiful rolling hills of Temecula Valley, a hidden gem that you simply cannot miss! Here is everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable weekend in town:
Temecula is centrally located in Riverside County, Southern California in an area known as Inland Empire. It is an easy breezy drive whether you are driving north from San Diego (about 1 hour away), and less than 2 hours if you are driving south from LA and parts of OC.
I've visited Temecula a few times before, in summer and winter, and I can tell you that August is not my favorite time of the year to be there, as it can get extremely hot. Overall, the climate in the Temecula Valley is considered "warm Mediterranean", so comfortable temps year-round are one of the bonuses of the area. Spring and fall are the busiest, and, probably the prettiest times to visit.
Where To Stay
AirBnbs, resorts, inns, and hotels are here to satisfy your lodging needs while spending a fun weekend wine tasting and exploring the valley.
I prefer to stay close to Old Town, as we can walk around in the morning for brunch, and do some bar-hopping at night. Recently we stayed at the Best Western Plus in Old Town and it was overall a great experience. The location was perfect, as we were able to explore Old Town on foot during the day, and went out for late-night drinks. The hotel seems to be brand new, which was another thumbs up on our part. And as far as price, it was affordable and similar to other brands at around $100/night.
Where To Eat
Temecula's culinary scene has been consistently evolving to match the great quality wines produced in the region. You can find top-notch restaurants and eateries for pretty much all tastes, that go from American cuisine to Spanish, to Japanese, and much more. Here are some recommendations of places to savor when in town:
Toast - Killer brunch (order the Creme Brûlée French toast)
31093 Temecula Parkway, Suite D6, Temecula, CA 92590
Bolero at Europa Village - Tapas style (make reservations in advance)
41150 Via Europa, Temecula, CA 92591
Bistro at Miramonte Winery (Sinful Truffles = best truffles I've had in my entire life)
33410 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA 92591
Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery (perfect for a date!)
32575 Rancho California Rd., Temecula, CA 92591
Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery - great views, upscale
40620 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92591
Mad Madelines Grill - Old town staple
28495 Old Town Front St A, Temecula, CA 92590
1909 - Famous burger + pub vibes
28656 Old Town Front Street
Temecula, CA 92590
E.A.T. Marketplace - Healthy, locally grown food
28410 Old Town Front St., Ste. 112
Temecula, CA 92590
The Goat and Vine - Gourmet pizza and beyond
41923 2nd Street#103, Temecula, CA 92590
Things To Do
Temecula is one of SoCal's best-kept secrets, though there is no shortage of things to do in the region. The grape-rich valley where the ocean breeze meets old-town charms is certain to have something for everyone. Take a look at some of the attractions and get ready to go from "first-timer" to "regular":
The historic Old Town is a wild west enthusiast dream come true. The district features 12 blocks full of antique shops, galleries, brewpubs, and restaurants.
While you are strolling around the stagecoach-era storefronts, here are a couple of places worth parking your cowboy hat for a bit:
- Temecula Olive Oil Company (family-owned company, artisan olive oil tastings + pairings, and more)
- Temecula Lavender Company (everything lavender!)
Originally a trading post, and later California's largest cattle operations HQ, Vail Headquarters reopened in 2016 thanks to a group of citizens to worked to restore and preserve many of its original buildings. Visit for the charming shops and cafes, the Tuesday AM farmers market, and, of course, the frontier-style architecture.
Hot Air Ballooning
Hot air ballooning was one experience that I will never ever forget, and very hard to translate down to words as I feel that anything I say won't do it justice. I truly hope I get do it again soon! Here in Temecula, nearly every sunrise, a flock of hot-air balloons rise over 1,500 feet above Temecula’s vineyards. It's definitely a sight to behold. You can book a flight with California Dreamin’ Balloon Adventures, Magical Adventure Balloon Rides, or A Grape Escape.
Pechanga Resort Casino
Feeling lucky? The Pechanga Resort Casino offers about 5,000 slot machines, 150 table game options, and a new 14,000 sq ft high-limit salon. It also features 13 dining options, an 18-hole championship golf course, and many more entertainment experiences.
Most people visit Temecula for the wineries. And when it comes to this, SoCal's wine country counts on about 50 different wineries, and most of them offer tastings and vineyard tours (some require reservations).
Visit Temecula Valley has put together a comprehensive map of wineries available in the region, click here to download it.
Discount Alert: The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association offers promotions and coupons for lots of wineries. Click here to view and download them!
Here are some of my favorite wineries:
Thornton Winery: One of the most beautiful properties. They use the Methode Champenoise process to create their sparkling wine varietals.
Address: 32575 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa: awarded Best Winery of the Year in California several times. It seems to be always busy but worth your while.
Address: 34843 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
Wilson Creek: You never knew you needed almond sparkling wine in your life. Now you do.
Address: 35960 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
Europa Village Wineries & Resort: Take a quick trip to France, Spain, and Italy.
Address: 41150 Via Europa, Temecula, CA 92591
Miramonte Winery: I love the wine, the food, and the hilltop views of the vineyards.
Address: 33410 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
Akash Winery: 100% estate-grown wines and the newest kid on the block.
Address: 39730 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92591
Briar Rose Winery: a fairy-tale inspired boutique winery.
Address: 41720 Calle Cabrillo, Temecula, CA 92592
Monte de Oro Winery: friendly staff, great times, amazing views
Address: 35820 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
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