Temecula Valley is a popular day-trip destination for Southern California wine enthusiasts, but the area’s gentle rolling hills, lush greenery, and rich wine culture are better appreciated during a long weekend or extended getaway. There’s a lot to enjoy in this hidden Inland Empire gem, so round up your closest pals and discover everything Temucula has to offer.
Award-winning, small-batch vintages from over 50 nearby wineries are waiting for you and your crew to sample them. Given SoCal’s year-round perfect weather, there’s no bad time to sip on Malbec or Petite Sirah Rose while watching hot air balloons drift overhead and dot the horizon.
Of course, you don’t need to drink to enjoy Temecula. Quaint antique shops and offbeat boutiques line the streets, waiting for you and your crew to browse inside or just pose for photos for the ‘gram outside the historic, Western-style buildings. Plus, once you’ve done enough exploring, there’s no shortage of soaking tubs in the area’s numerous spas. After a day of touring vineyards and trekking across hiking tails, a massage table or hot tub is the perfect end-of-day destination.
A SMORGASBORD OF DINING OPTIONS
- Located on more than 45 acres of rolling hills in the Temecula Valley, Bolero at Europa Village is the first of three distinct stops within Europa Village. Complete with a boutique, a Spanish-inspired restaurant, and a beautiful wine cave and tasting room, it’s the perfect place to engulf yourself in local culture. Bolero Restaurante serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with menus to celebrate the centuries-old tradition of tapas. Shareable plates include seafood, steak, roasted vegetables, olives, and European cheeses and charcuterie.
2. On the more casual side, The Cantina at Bolero is a rustic bar offering tapas, house wines, private label beer, and cocktails. Best of all are the options, totaling 13 indoor and outdoor venues within the resort’s 15,315 square feet.
3. The De Portola Estate Winery tasting room offers magnificent, must-see views, courtesy of its hillside site. This legacy winery is in partnership with eight local families who named it after Spanish explorer Gaspar De Portola. Wine isn’t the only thing on the menu, though. Gaspar’s Restaurant is part of the winery, featuring a gourmet menu for dining indoors and outdoors.
4. In Old Town Temecula, Small Barn restaurant serves bistro-style menu selections in The Antique Cottage's former home on Old Town Front Street. The owners hired former Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa as culinary director to create charcuterie, salads, soups,
5. Bottega Italia offers a touch of Italy without the out-of-country travel. The Prestifilippo family prides itself on authentic and quality products and five-star service. Using fresh and sustainable ingredients in classic recipes, perhaps the most valued item on the menu is Chef Gimmy Piperku’s pizza.
6. The menu at Oscars Brewing Company (OBC) is designed for foodies who love sharing. Executive Chef Nick Tall takes pride in creating a balance of healthy and decadent menu options. OBC is a scratch kitchen and bakery that supports local farms, non-GMO produce, humane agriculture, and sustainable food sources while reducing the carbon footprint by using biodegradable and compostable materials. This eatery is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner with indoor and outdoor dining.
7. If you love quality charcuterie and nosh time with a cheese board front and center, Grazing Theory is for you. Owner Gina LaMora elevates the experience in presentations meant to wow. Order to-go delivery to picnic at a winery or wherever you’re staying, such as the AvantStay Palazzo Del Sol, where you can enjoy dinner on the upstairs veranda deck while gazing out at the home’s beautiful mountain views. If you’re seeking to entertain a group, you can schedule a Wine & Cheese Pairing Charcuterie Workshop. Several wineries in this destination offer mini charcuterie boxes and pre-ordered boards for wine tasting, including Doffo Winery, Akash Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Peltzer Winery, Vitagliano Winery, and Batch Mead.
8. Temecula Brewing Company, located in Vail Headquarters, began in a garage. Today, the brand has grown, and its logo pays homage to Temecula Valley’s ranching history with the traditional cattle skull. The arrows represent the Luiseño people of the Temecula Valley region, and the wheat ends to the arrows speak to the craft of brewing, as does the hop head symbol on the skull.
FUN THINGS TO DO
9. Temecula Wine Country E-Bike Rentals allows you to pedal at your own pace to enjoy the trails and explore the region. These state-of-the-art electric bikes are designed for a smooth and easy biking experience along paved and dirt roads. Bring a water bottle and your cell phone to place in the bike’s appointed cage storage. You’ll get your own bike lock, helmet, and maps with your rental, and you have the option to rent a picnic bag.
10. Starlight Bazaar at the Vail Headquarters is held the last Friday of every month from 6-10 p.m. This nighttime festival showcases local music, art, food, and culture.
11. Saddle up and channel your inner equestrian at one of these spots to take a horseback ride tour or attend a spectator’s event:
- Green Acres Ranch Inc. offers riding lessons and therapeutic riding appointments.
- Temecula Carriage Co. is the place to reserve a horse-drawn carriage ride or private dining carriage for dinner.
- Galway Downs, a race-horse training facility, is also where you’ll want to take in a dressage show. Be sure to check out the upcoming events.
- Wine Country Trails by Horseback offers riding experiences through the beautiful vineyards of the Temecula Wine Country. Take a 90-minute guided tour along with breathtaking views of the Maurice Car’rie Winery vineyards on docile and gentle horses led by seasoned tour guides.
- Book your Fine Wine and Horses adventure at Vin Hesten Trail Rides to take a professional horseback riding lesson before an hour-long trail ride with a stop for wine tasting at a partner winery.
12. Feeling lucky? The Pechanga Resort and Casino has the largest casino floor in California and features over 5,000 slot machines, 158 table games, a non-smoking poker room with 38 tables, and an ultra-modern, 700-seat bingo facility. You can also purchase tickets to concerts such as “The Go Go’s,” or grab a seat inside the Comedy Club. Treat your friends to dinner with your big win and enjoy Italian-inspired culinary plates at Paisano’s or slurp a dozen oysters at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar. Meat eaters will want to book a reservation at The Great Oak Steakhouse before heading back to the roulette table.
13. Step back in time at the Temecula Valley Museum and experience the rich history of Temecula Valley’s old town from its discovery to today.
14. Temecula Creek Golf Club is the place to strut your put. Awarded a Four-Star rating from Golf Digest, these three Temecula golf courses offer challenging play in a one-of-a-kind, scenic setting.
15. Be sure to rise up, up, and away in a hot air balloon ride for a mix of peace and adventure. A gentle sunrise float above the picturesque rolling hills and vineyards is available year-round.
- California Dreamin’ offers a post-landing light European breakfast served in a private rose garden, complete with mimosas and local fare.
- Magical Adventure balloon rides include a flute of premium champagne, juice, or mimosa to make a toast to the start of a glorious day. Continental breakfast is also part of the package. Nobody leaves without their commemorative flight certificate, complimentary souvenir photo taken by a professional photographer, and two-for-one wine tasting tickets, and more discounts to six local wineries.
- A Grape Escape adventure begins at sunrise. You’ll be invited to help inflate your beautiful hot air balloon or simply observe others. Once in-basket and in-air, your pilot, a.k.a. “tour guide,” will point out areas of interest and take questions about the region. Once grounded, toast to a successful flight with a mimosa and light breakfast served picnic style in the gardens at Europa Village Winery and leave with a souvenir certificate of flight.
16. Hit the Calle Contento Wine Trail for vino tastings “off the beaten road,” or at least located along a less busy trail off Rancho California Road. Wineries worth the turn off the road include:
- The Patel family’s Akash Winery, if only for a taste of Dreamville Brosé.
- Briar Rose Winery, a land of enchantment said to be the first cult winery of Temecula,
- Turn into Falkner Winery for a taste sure to please your palate, especially considering 80 percent of the wines on their tasting menu are award winning.
- Lumiere Winery is where you can taste a 2017 white merlot, a rare offering in the wine world.
- Peltzer Family Cellars offers more than a winery, but its wine options are worthy of a stop alone. From Prosecco to Malvasia Bianca, Barbera, and more, the wines aren’t all you’ll find here. This property is land to a pumpkin farm, and there are train rides and live music events to enjoy. Oh, and they also have an ice skating rink open during the winter months, featuring 8,400 square feet of skating space, complimentary gliders, picnic benches, hot cocoa, snacks, local food truck eats, and a bar serving Peltzer wines, of course.
- Vindemia Vineyard & Estate Winery offers varieties, including a popular “More Cowbell” label with a blend of zinfandel, cabernet, viognier, and syrah. The backdrop to this winery is its 100 olive trees, which they harvest and press for fresh, delicious olive oil, available at certain times of the year.
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
17. In the Vail Headquarters historic district, its Downtown Apothecary is the place to purchase small-batch handmade bath and body products. Essential oil blends and sea sponges are among its popular products.
18. Big Horse Feed & Mercantile began with a few horse-related items and feed for sale, but today, it offers much more than feed. You can find unique items for pets, humans, and your home, and come October, there’s a festival that’s complete with a corn maze.
19. At Vail Headquarters, Bucket of Nails is the go-to place for custom-built furniture and home décor. Want to design your dream table? This is a good place to start!
20. Temecula Valley Alpacas is the perfect place to purchase hats, wraps, and more, all handmade from fabric shed by the animals you’ll greet upon entrance.
21. Old Town specialty shops worthy of a visit include:
- Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants for loose teas and those hard-to-find pantry items.
- Temecula Lavender Company for all things lavender and TLC.
- Temecula Olive Oil Company for olives, balsamic vinegar, olive soaps.
22. Farmers Markets are held on Saturdays in Old Town, Tuesdays in Vail Headquarters, and Wednesdays in Promenade. Shop here for local produce, artisan, and handcrafted goods.
A visit to Temecula guarantees an authentic, memorable experience, especially if you hit a few items on our list. From locally sourced cuisine and Alpaca-oriented boutiques to vineyard tours and hot air balloon rides overlooking the city, Temecula has it all. Explore Temecula firsthand at one of AvantStays Temecula properties.