Film buffs, wine lovers and visitors with the luck of the cards all find their passions coming to life in the Wildomar area. Festivals, blackjack tables, vineyards and the golf links connect in this hot spot that is no stranger to travelers' bucket lists. Horseback riding and polo matches are on tap, as are tastings at wineries, games at the casino, and hot air balloon rides above it all.
The to-do list gets lengthy in the Wildomar area. Tackle all you can, but don't feel bad if you need -- and want -- to return again and again to bite off a bit more of the possibilities.
Along with Temecula, Wildomar pins down the southwest corner of the Inland Empire in Southern California. It's located along Interstate 15, about 75 miles south of Los Angeles and 75 miles north of San Diego.
From San Francisco, run Interstate 5 south to I-210 to bend around the Los Angeles area to the east. If you are looking for a side stop, Pasadena will have you smelling the roses. Stop by the famous Rose Bowl or get out of the sun and heat with a visit to the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
From 210, turn south at exit 45 to take highway 57 a few miles til you exit (22) onto highway 71. That leads you to highway 91 and Corona. There, if you feel like picking around, pop into the Fender Guitar Visitor Center before you jump onto I-15 and cruise on down to your destination.
This Best Western Plus in nearby Lake Elsinore gives you great access to run and gun for as long as you're in town, sitting just off I-15. It features an outdoor pool and is within easy walking distance of the Lake Elsinore Casino. Wi-Fi flows freely and there's a 24-hour fitness room with a hot tub.
The Pechanga Resort & Casino place you in the middle of the action if cards, slots and dice are your passion and your pastime. The resort is loaded, and it might give you all you want for your getaway. And the prices are on the heftier side starting at $500 a night. Restaurants onsite boast a range of fare, including steak, sushi, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines.
Spring Hill Suites - Temecula Valley Wine Country provides a hot buffet breakfast, a fitness center and heated outdoor pool. Get to know your fellow visitors at weekly happy hours, where the beer and wine are free of charge. All rooms are spacious suites.
Annie's Cafe in next door Lake Elsinore plates diner fare to please a wide range of eaters in your crew. From pasta and grill to veg and gluten-free, Annie, who some have called a British spitfire runs a down home American joint with a few touches of the U.K. mixed in. Sandwiches and burgers, salads and pastas, waffles and eggs ... all served in large enough portions to quell the growl in anyone's belly. Good for breakfast and lunch, but Annie's closes at 3 p.m., so don't dawdle.
Tresino's is a fresh Italian eatery that serves up classic pasta dishes with fantastic bang for your buck. It's great to catch a bowl of risotto for dinner but if you're feeling the vibe at noon, Tresino's offers $11.95 lunch specials. You can't go wrong with the menu, and the family atmosphere and friendly staff round out the good times here.
Burgers, brews and steaks get all the raves at The Gambling Cowboy. It's advised to call ahead, as this spot is popular. But show up hungry and ready to enjoy the atmosphere as much as the food. The friendly service gets high marks here, too.
Stroll through Old Town Temecula and its farmers market to soak up the Old West with modern pastimes: shopping and dining. History stands tall and plain, even in the buildings that have been repurposed for contemporary uses, like the old General Merchandise store that now serves as the community center. Or the Old Temecula Jail that ... well, let's hope you don't need to experience what's behind those old bars.
Get a view of Temecula and the surrounding countryside from among the clouds on a hot air balloon rid. There are several ballooning adventure companies to choose from, all with the know-how to get you up, show you the wonders of a bird's-eye view and, maybe most importantly, get you back down again safely.
Not only do wine lovers put Leoness Cellars on their must-visit list when in town, but foodies, too. Leoness offers a fantastic range of reds and whites. The general public and members-only wine tasting venues are sizable, airy and comfortable. The restaurant offers high-end dining experiences with excellent service.
Test your swing on a championship golf course. The SoCal sunshine and beauty along several area golf courses are unparalleled and more than worth your time racking up tales on the links.
Temecula is loaded with culture and cool, but if you are looking for a step into something different, you can try your dice game at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. The resort is growing and, it seems like, there's always something happening here. Get a bite to eat and cocktail. Grab a comedy show. Or stare down a blackjack dealer for all your hand's worth. There's tons to do at Pechanga.