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Spotlight: Temecula Valley

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 10:00 AM

A historic town square surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills, with mountains rising in the distance: The Temecula Valley showcases some of California’s most spectacular features.

The location of this Inland Empire gem, about an hour from San Diego and 90 minutes from Los Angeles, makes for an easy visit. Indeed, people come here for hyper-local cuisine (made, for instance, with Temecula Olive Oil), as well as for hiking, biking, and hot-air ballooning. They also come for the Mediterranean-like climate—temperatures range from the 80s–90s in summer to the 60s–70s in winter.

Perhaps most of all, however, they come to visit the 30-plus wineries that dot the Temecula Valley. Italian, Spanish, and French grapes sprout from the area’s soil and mature in this unique atmosphere, resulting in small-batch vintages. And with many distributed only locally, these award-winning wines are ripe for discovery.

That exploration will likely begin in the heart of the city, a charming area called Old Town. Here, modern California staples like farm-to-table restaurants and craft breweries are set among wooden boardwalks and rustic buildings that bring to mind Temecula’s 19th-century roots. You can even stay in the city’s first inn, the Hotel Temecula, which dates to the late 1800s.

Today, of course, accommodations of all kinds abound. Stay in a familiar chain close to Old Town, or choose a luxury hotel with a room looking out over rows of vines. Read on for tips on how to build your trip to this gem that’s hidden in plain sight.

Hotels in Temecula

Stay in a historic inn, a wine country resort, or a boutique hotel

From large resorts to intimate inns, Temecula offers a wide range of hotels—and price ranges—for everyone. History buffs can soak up the atmosphere at The Hotel Temecula in Old Town—the city’s first hotel, built in the late 1800s. The lobby and second-floor rooms (with bathrooms down the hallway) still maintain their Old West feel, complete with period furniture and portraits.

To immerse yourself in the local wine country, stay among the vines at the Ponte Vineyard Inn, a 90-room boutique hotel built in the style of a Spanish mission, but with a luxuriously modern interior. Oversized rooms—many with balconies—offer views over the inn’s own 310-acre vineyard. Wine is also the focus at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, a 63-acre property set among the peaceful vineyards east of town. Take in the view from one of the three-story tower’s 50 rooms, or get up close to the vines in one of the 76 villas. Nearby, at Carter Estate Winery and Resort, you can watch hot-air balloons float over the vines from outside your bungalow suite—perhaps after a wine and food pairing in the tasting room. 

For a value option in a great location, the Hampton Inn & Suites Temecula offers solid accommodations with free hot breakfast and a pool, less than a mile from Old Town.

Feeling lucky? The AAA Four Diamond Pechanga Resort Casino features 1,090 accommodation choices: rooms and suites with custom-made Italian furniture, plus floor-to-ceiling windows serving up mountain, valley, or golf-course views. And there’s plenty to do beyond gaming—including 13 restaurants, a concert venue, and Journey at Pechanga, the par-72, links-style golf course.