San Jacinto Valley is a low-key gem in SoCal, with its wealth of opportunities to get back to nature and skip the hassle of the hustle. The valley is home to the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, and the hubs of Hemet and San Jacinto. San Jac Valley's Spanish history and cultural influences run deep and wide.
When you find your way back from the golf links or the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness, you can cool down at Diamond Lake or try your luck at Soboba Casino. There are plenty of museums for the curious mind, too, and there's always shopping at the outlet stores.
The road to San Jacinto Valley form San Francisco runs down the heart of California, on the 5. At a little less than 500 miles, you will want a strong playlist and the occasional pit stop to keep you revved.
When you reach exit 199, take CA-138 east toward Palmdale. When you see the chance to jump off CA-138 onto I-15, take it. You'll catch I-10 coming out on the south side of San Bernardino, and that's your home stretch to the valley.
The Quality Inn in Hemet offers prime location and earns among the highest ratings in the valley. From this spot in downtown Hemet you're in position to get into the wild at Diamond Lake or onto Panorama Golf Course within five minutes. Soboba Casino is only six miles away. Enjoy the outdoor pool and hot tub. Breakfast is included.
Best Western Plus Diamond Valley Inn is adjacent to Hemet Valley Shopping Center and only a few miles from Seven Hills Golf Course. The hotel is 100 percent non-smoking motel, features an outdoor pool and hot tub and you can run wild on the Wi-Fi, it's free. Soboba Casino is 8.2 miles from the hotel. Diamond Valley Lake is a only a 10-minute drive away.
Americas Best Value Inn is located just off Interstate 10 in downtown Beaumont. The motel is 10 minutes from Morongo Casino and is close to two golf courses. It serves a continental breakfast every morning, and when the heat of the day feels a bit heavy, there's a small outdoor pool to cool off in.
The Maze Stone is especially fantastic for sunset views, but the beautiful setting will taste great no matter your timing. The staff is friendly and attentive, and nobody beats the warm tortilla chips and authentic salsa. The menu serves up American classics, like steak and frites, but the gluten-free and vegetarian options are solid, too.
Emilio's Restaurant is a legit Mexican joint, from top to bottom. The green enchiladas, massive burritos, rice and beans, tortilla chips ... and the margaritas? Just for a few examples. This place gets the top raves in the valley -- well, and far beyond -- for Mexican cuisine.
The Samurai Sushi and Grill is the spot in San Jac Valley for sushi. Don't know what sashimi or a nigiri are? The staff is friendly and will helpfully walk you through what's what. But if you're used to all-you-can-eat sushi, this isn't the place. But that doesn't mean you can't still take on all the rolls and miso you can handle. Just be sure to leave room for the fried ice cream.
The history of the Estudillo Mansion is an amazing story of the area's founding and rise in the Old West. The mansion was built in 1884 by Francisco Estudillo, Jr., San Jacinto's first postmaster, who also was appointed Mission Indian Agent for the Federal Government, responsible for 32 reservations in southern and central California. The property initially was part of a 35,000-acre Mexican land grant given to Estudillo's father, Jose Antonio Estudillo, in 1842.
Diamond Valley Lake is the prime outdoor draw in the area, with all the water sports you'd expect and the outdoor wandering and wilderness you could hope for. Views of the surrounding mountains and hillsides filled with wildflowers make hiking and boating here a postcard you won't want to leave.
The Desert Hills Premium Outlets are a great way to spend an afternoon racking up deals, popping in and out of the air-conditioning, seeing what's hot in fashion. The top rundown of brand names are here. Just wear comfortable shoes. It's a long stroll winding up and down through all Desert Hills has on tap.
The Western Science Center is by Diamond Valley Lake, and is home to an amazing range of archaeological artifacts and ice age fossils that were discovered in the area. You can meet “Max,” the largest mastodon found in the Western U.S. at the time of discovery, as well as “Xena,” a teenage Colombian mammoth.
Soboba Casino is a charming casino nestled at the base of the Soboba Mountain range. It offers large non-smoking gambling areas, and expansions and construction of a new complex are highly anticipated in the coming year, bringing all the latest in gaming innovations and entertainment.