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Discover Temecula's Quirky Charms: From the Historic Old Town Jail to the Rod Run Classic Car Show

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 8:00 AM by Norma Marlowe

Temecula Valley is renowned for its laid-back vibe, rich history, hot air balloons, equestrian culture and, of course, nearly 50 wineries scattered over beautiful Tuscan-like hills. As Spring blooms and gives way to Summer, Visit Temecula Valley invites travelers to explore the region’s eccentric side. There are many offbeat experiences and interesting attractions to discover.

“Exploring off-the-beaten-path attractions is like discovering hidden treasures,” said Scott A. Wilson, CEO of Visit Temecula Valley. “It’s where the soul of our destination truly shines.”

Unique Attractions in Old Town Temecula

Originally established in the mid-1800s, Old Town Temecula combines the region’s storied past and up-and-coming future with a unique blend of shops, restaurants, event venues and hotels in one walkable, easy-to-navigate hub for visitors to explore. A stroll through its streets feels like going back in time to the days of the Old West.

Step Back in Time at the Old Town Jail

One of the most popular - yet hidden - attractions is the Historic Jail. This iconic site was built with rubble from the surrounding hills of granite nearly 200 years ago. Funny thing, though everyone knows it as “the jail,” it was used to keep perishables cold pre-electricity, then later as a wine cellar. Rumors of outlaws being held in this abandoned building until transferred have created a legend. This quirky one-room “cell” can still be found in a courtyard behind the Emporium shops on Main Street. In fact, the jail still has a few Old West "fellas" inside, waiting for their release. Every year, thousands of visitors pay them a visit. But nobody has the key…

Rev Up for the Spectacular Rod Run

Prepare for a spectacle of chrome and horsepower at the Temecula Rod Run, an annual event that celebrates classic cars and vintage automobiles. Whether you’re a seasoned car enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of finely crafted machines, this event is considered by many to be Southern California’s premiere car show. Visitors can marvel at gleaming hot rods, admire meticulously restored classics, and soak in the nostalgia of a simpler time, all against the scenic backdrop of Old Town Temecula.

Discover Your Future with Zoltar

Everyone loves Zoltar, the all-knowing animatronic fortune-telling machine made popular in the movie, Big. Located outside of the Old Town Sweet Shop, Zoltar inspires nostalgia with his elaborate clothing, glowing eyes, and mysterious demeanor. Passersby are both surprised and delighted as Zoltar invites them to experience his wisdom – for only a dollar!

The Palomar Inn Hotel

Built in 1927 with historic rooms that are updated with modern comforts, the Palomar Inn Hotel is a historical landmark in Old Town. It once housed Temecula’s only post office and telephone switchboard - but today, it operates as a boutique hotel and is available as an entire rental that sleeps up to 12 in six guestrooms. A charming outdoor yard alongside the building is available to hotel guests for special celebrations.

Follow in the Footsteps of Literary Legends

Temecula was the home of famed author Erle Stanley Gardner, best known for creating the iconic character, Perry Mason. From his historic residence to local landmarks immortalized in his novels, visitors to the Temecula Valley Museum can view a large exhibit dedicated to Gardener and learn about the influences that shaped his renowned detective series.

Other Unique Experiences in the Temecula Valley

Book a Unique Stay in Wine Country

Temecula Valley Wine Country is dotted with fun and unique vacation rentals reflecting the region’s pioneer heritage. At the Old Town Ranch, guests can glamp in beautifully refurbished Conestoga wagons, pet rescue animals, play horseshoes, or ride horses. The Rusty Fork Ranch offers a laid-back atmosphere with a mini ranch, gardens, and a large modernized farmhouse offering a “Bed & Coffee” experience. Fun themed rooms include the Johnny Cash Room, Chevy Palace, and the Surf & Skate Room. For those who are really looking for an Old West experience, Old West Temecula is a one-of-a-kind, 5-acre Western-themed ranch featuring a film set-quality wild west town complete with a saloon, sheriff’s office with jail, gold mine, and a three-bedroom house.

About Visit Temecula Valley

Visit Temecula Valley (VTV) is a nonprofit 501 (c)(6) destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting tourism-related businesses including wineries, restaurants, breweries, retail and specialty boutiques, hotels, and more. It is a popular destination that includes Southern California Wine Country, Old Town Temecula, and Pechanga Resort Casino. In 2019, Wine Enthusiast named Temecula Valley one of the world’s 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations. For more information go to

Author: Norma Marlowe