Travel Guide: Temecula

It seems like I find myself in Temecula at least once a month.  My grandparents live in Fallbrook, a community about 20 minutes south of Temecula and we do drop off/pick up for Chris’s son there…so Temecula feels like a second home at this point!  I used to feel like it was just another Southern California suburb complete with shopping centers, chain restaurants, and a mall (yawn) but in the last few years I have been proved totally wrong!

Temecula is home to pretty much the biggest area to wine taste in Southern California (the next biggest region is the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Valley region where I grew up) and with all the wineries you better believe there are plenty of restaurants, chic accommodations, and unique shops popping up to keep the weekend visitors entertained.

Each weekend the 15 (aka the major freeway connecting Temecula to the rest of the world) is backed up for miles with cars exiting at Rancho California (the main artery into wine country and Old Town Temecula).  Bachelorette parties, bridal showers, birthday celebrations, romantic getaways, and girl’s trips top the list of those posting up inside of tasting rooms and lining up for Sunday brunch.

Over the last few months I have been slowly checking out restaurants, wineries, and shopping to share all of my favorites with you…you’re welcome!

Stay:

Whether you prefer Vegas style entertainment, a boutique hotel on a working winery, or a private Airstream AirBNB you are going to need a place to rest your head and enjoy the views.  Check out a few of my favorite Temecula spots:

Temecula Creek Inn

A full service hotel offering golf, dining, and a beautiful pool to relax and unwind after a long day of wine tasting.  There is a definite rustic chic vibe at this property and I think it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine and unwind.

Pechanga Casino Resort

If you prefer full service with the added bonus of gaming and nightlife (like a mini Vegas) then Pechanga is the place for you.  There are multiple restaurants including a steakhouse and an oyster bar, a spa, and entertainment nightly.

South Coast Winery & Spa

If what you plan to do during your trip is visit wineries, eat, and indulge in a massage then South Coast Winery is an ideal spot.  It is located in the heart of Temecula’s wine country and offers a boutique experience for guests.

Ponte Vineyard Inn

Okay, this may be the most beautiful and charming spot to spend a weekend!  Located just next door from South Coast Winery, Ponte offers luxury accommodations on a working winery.  I personally love the Spanish architecture and colorful tiles.

Carter Estate Winery 

You can find me poolside at this lovely winery and boutique hotel…probably with a glass of rosé in hand… You can indulge in a spa treatment and end the night with a dinner al fresco on your private terrace overlooking the vineyards…bliss!

Temecula Wine Country Airstream 74

Am I the only one who is drooling at the possibility of spending a weekend in a totally restored vintage Airstream???  This 31′ Airstream offers an 800 square foot deck, a pool, and is walking distance to a half dozen wineries!

Casita on Working Winery

A private 2 bedroom casita on a working winery?! Sign me up!  Seriously though, this AirBNB offers a pool and is walking distance to some of the top wineries in the area.

Eat:

As much as I enjoy wine tasting and cocktails I equally enjoy a delicious meal with great company:

PUBlic House

This spot is our new go-to when grabbing lunch or brunch in Old Town.  The Kobe Ashi burger is pure heaven on earth and their Sunday Bloody Mary is the stuff dreams are made of.  Added bonus: if you happen to walk in on the right day there is a good chance of getting Pliny the Elder on draft!

1909

Another gastropub favorite is located next door to PUBlic House and offers killer craft cocktails and yummy small plates.  During football season the bar is a great spot to catch all the games. Must Try: the crab & shrimp empanadas

Crush n Brew

The original (at least for me) hip spot in old town!  I stumbled across this amazing restaurant & bar about 4 years ago and have been back dozens of times for their yummy flatbreads, oysters, and of course, the vino.  Don’t miss their cheese plate!

Blackbird Tavern

I am not sure how but I have missed this spot since they opened their doors 4 years ago!  Located just off the main street of Old Town, Blackbird offers gastropub style bites, cool cocktails, and an indoor/outdoor experience complete with firepits, corn hole, and outdoor movies.

The Baked Bear

In case you didn’t know this about me, I adore dessert.  Especially when said dessert consists of donuts + ice cream + colorful, sugary toppings.  The Baked Bear is a similar concept to Afters Ice Cream (if you aren’t familiar please see my Coachella Instagrams).  Order a donut or cookie, pick your ice cream, don’t forget the toppings, snap an Insta and enjoy!

Creamistry 

Nitrogen ice cream, you guys.  Enough said.

The Gambling Cowboy

Sometimes you just have to embrace the destination and enjoy a meal that matches the vibe.  Old Town Temecula is a charming downtown area that is reminiscent of the wild west…complete with wooden sidewalks and buildings that resemble dancing halls.  So, when in Rome!

Caffeinate:  

Bean Coffee Roasters

By now I am sure you all know how much I NEED my daily coffee and how much I WANT it to come from a local spot with lots of charm.  Bean delivers exactly what I want and need in a coffee spot: micro brewed daily (yummmm) and a chic location.

The Press Espresso

Located in Old Town (are you sensing a theme yet?) this spot offers a purist environment for delightful coffee…including my newest obsession: Nitro Cold Brew.

Drink:

This is WINE COUNTRY so naturally, you’re going to want a drink…or many.

Wien’s Family Cellars

For those of you who know me personally or follow me regularly on Instagram you know this is my ride or die spot in Temecula.  We are actually wine club members so we get free tastings when we go, making it a no brainer to stop in even for 3 tastes before heading home.  Must Try: 2016 Summerfest and the Amour de L’Orange sparkling.

Lorimar Winery or Tasting Room

Their quaint tasting loft in Old Town is a favorite.  Be sure to try the Cab Franc…AMAZING!

Wien’s Brewery

I am not a huge beer person but for those of you who prefer the ale to the vino Wien’s is a must try!

Briar Rose Winery

This spot might win the “Most Unique” award.  In the 1970s an artisan for Disney bought the land and built replicas of Snow White’s cottages for his wife.  The land was sold and eventually the family that purchased created a winery with award winning wine.  Today, if you want to enjoy reservations are required and tastings will last close to an hour.

Europa Village

Pulling up to Europa is like (what I imagine) arriving to a Tuscan village.  There is charm.  There is a beautiful vineyard.  There is a quaint shop with gifts, wine, and cheese.  There is also a small B&B if you don’t want to end your Tuscan dream.

Longshadow Ranch Winery

Six generations later, this family run winery is still doing things the old fashioned way…complete with draft horses!  Take a carriage ride through the vineyard and enjoy a sampling of their best wines.

Garage Brewing Company

Another option for the beer connoisseur is Garage Brewing.  Visit their tap room for a few pints and a homemade pizza.

The Bridge on Third

You really just cannot go wrong with an English Pub, can you?  Beers included Smithwicks, Boddingtons (both on tap) and Old Speckled Hen.

Shop & Play:

If shopping is what you crave there is no shortage of shabby chic inspired antique stores including Barn Yard Chicks, Serendipity Antiques, and 4th Street Antiques.  Don’t forget to make a stop at The Gardener’s Cottage for charming home items and unique gifts.

If you are more about the one of a kind experiences and can leave the shopping for home then check out a few favorites:

Temecula Olive Oil Company

A cute little shop to pop into for olive oil tastings, gifts, or my personal favorite: bleu cheese stuffed olives.  Temecula Olive Oil Company has hands down the best bleu cheese olives I have ever found in a jar.  They also offer romano/parmesean, garlic stuffed, jalepeño stuffed, and feta/oregano stuffed.

Temecula Valley Cheese Company

I love cheese.  There, now that we got that out of the way we can continue.  This hidden gem offers cheese plates, cheese & wine pairings, and yummy sandwiches.

Galway Downs

The perfect spot to enjoy horse competitions during the cooler Fall months.  Check their website for schedule and tickets.

Hot Air Balloon Tour

Fact: I am DYING to do a hot air balloon tour of Temecula.  A girlfriend of mine was actually proposed to on one of these balloons over Temecula and I have asked Chris if he would ever do it with me…NOPE.  So, if any of you will be visiting Temecula and want to check this out I am available as a plus one.

You can read some other posts from Temecula HERE, HERE, and HERE.

XO, Niki

 

 

 

 

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