With Coachella Valley temps nearing consistent triple-digits, desert residents seeking salve from the sun need look no further than nearby Temecula.
Just 80 miles southwest from Palm Springs, the stay, play, stroll and sip options in Temecula combine for an ideal weekend sojourn for a couples getaway, golf journey or gamblers roll.
Plus, an easy escape to temps that are about 20-degrees more forgiving than the valley makes this trip a very cool sell.
The largest resort/casino in the state, Pechanga Resort & Casino offers an full-service spread of amenities that extend from its 200,000 square-foot gaming floor to more than 500 on-site guest rooms. Better than 130 tables define an active gambling space, coupled with nearly 3,500 slots, bingo and high limit salon.
On-site dining includes 11 restaurants ranging from casual fare to worldly flavors to the upscale Great Oak Steakhouse. Spa Pechanga presents a pampering menu while the 1,200-seat Pechanga Theater and the lively weekend dance party of the Eagle’s Nest highlight resort nightlife.
For additional lodging options: check out the intimate, 130-room Temecula Creek Inn, where more secluded surrounds are paired with a popular meeting and wedding space.
More than 30 area wineries (sporting more than 50 different varietals) spread across this rolling terrain and most are open on a daily basis. To locate and research excellent detail of wine, tour and tasting options, visit www.temuclawines.org for regularly updated events.
For a can't-miss tasting, be sure to pencil in a visit Callaway Vineyard & Winery (and, yes, this would be the same surname as the golf manufacturer, whose wine affiliation predates the Big Bertha by more than a decade).
After enjoying a tasting or tour, the on-site Meritage Restaurant proves a worthy visit for either lunch, dinner, or to enjoy a snack amid the reflective vineyard views.
For the ardent taster: Be sure to investigate the earthy 2010 Reserve Profonde (63 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) and the beautifully-balanced dark fruits of the 2011 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.
Travelers Note: Mid-week visitors seeking stay and taste getaways should investigate the affordable "Wine Wednesday" overnight and wine tour package starting at $154.
Adjacent to the casino and resort, The Journey at Pechanga offers one of the Inland Empire's most intriguing plays . . . which is to concurrently offer that the course can prove a bear for newcomers. Ample Native America homages abound across these rolling grounds, though if the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians had a few four-letter words in their historic tongue, said phrasing would be applicable here.
Yes, course designer Arthur Hills should be counted among the leading golf architects in the country. Yes, the terrain across The Journey serves as a near mind-blowing contrast to what desert golfers generally experience in the Coachella Valley. And yes, the elevation changes employed (see: the 300-foot drop at Hole No. 6) are among the most creative and impressive in all of Southern California.
But even mid-handicappers need be warned that this is a course for the skilled. Aptly-recognized by Golfweek as the 25th Best Public Play in the entire state, one's Journey comes with the requirement for studied ball placement throughout. Moreover, all comers will be well-served to investigate the "Course Tour" on The Journey website.
Other area plays include: Temecula Creek Inn, CrossCreek Golf Club and Redhawk Golf Course.
Whether your trip to Temecula takes you to vineyards, golf courses or beyond (see: hot air balloon rides), ensure that a night strolling Old Town is on the agenda. The main drag's Old West vibe will elicit "charming" and "quaint" from your party and with deserved right. An inclusive, inviting mood wafts across Old Town and extends to the hospitality of some impressive options for drink and dine.
Visit www.visittemeculavalley.com for a list of restaurants, plus details on an array of events and seasonal festivals.