Temecula, California is a gorgeous, must-visit spot north of San Diego. This is wine-making country — there are more than 40 local wineries — but there are plenty of things to do here beyond touring the wineries and going to tastings. There are fun things to do in Temecula with kids plus plenty of Temecula attractions designed for adventurers, outdoorsy types, art lovers, shopaholics, and history buffs.
One thing to be aware of as you plan what to do and where to go in Temecula is that the weather here may surprise you. Temecula sits at the midway point between Southern California’s beaches and deserts, but the climate leans more toward the latter. If you’re coming from San Diego or Los Angeles, be prepared for warmer, drier weather.
Below, you’ll find lots of ideas about how to spend a day (or a week) in Temecula Valley. Many are family-friendly, but there are a few that are best saved for adults-only getaways.
Fun Things to Do in Temecula
Try Your Luck
The largest resort-casino on the West Coast — Pechanga Resort & Casino — is right here in Temecula. Go to find everything you love about the top Las Vegas properties but without the crowds, high prices and sensory overload.
The resort has more than 5,000 slot machines plus all the usual games of chance. There are also multiple restaurants, a 4.5-acre multi-pool complex with waterslides (yes, there are kid-friendly activities on the resort), an award-winning golf course, celebrity performances, and a deluxe two-story spa.
Tour Wineries by Carriage
There are lots of ways to see Temecula Valley and to tour the vineyards. One of the most romantic involves taking an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage to the many wineries of Temecula.
The Temecula Carriage Company offers relaxing tours of the valley that include a gourmet picnic, a warm blanket, an expert guide, and stops at some of the best wineries in the area.
Tour the Valley on Horseback
Among the best fun things to do in Temecula is to take a trail ride tour. There are companies such as Wine Country Trails by Horseback offering horseback wine country tours for adults and romantic sunset rides for couples.
You can try others like Green Acres Ranch for family ranch rides around the valley (kids age 7+ are welcome). There’s nothing quite like looking out over the sprawling vineyards from atop the back of a well-trained horse.
Shop the Farmers’ Market
The Old Town Temecula Certified Farmers’ Market is held on 6th Street every Saturday morning, rain or shine, and it’s one of the most popular weekend events in the valley.
More than 40 California-certified growers set up stalls featuring organic and conventionally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a variety of local plants and beautiful flowers.
Artists and craftspeople also set up stalls at the Old Town Temecula Farmers’ Market, and it’s a lot of fun to grab brunch from one of the food vendors to enjoy while you shop the morning away.
Listen to Some Beautiful Music
When you consider what to do in Temecula, “go to the symphony” may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The valley is home to a talented performance group, the Temecula Valley Symphony, now in its 25th season.
The symphony performs regularly, so check the schedule to see what will be on during your visit.
Visit a Speakeasy
In Old Town Temecula, there are two speakeasies: the Apparition Room, and Thompson & Twain Prospecting Co.
Unlike Prohibition-era speakeasies, these are legal, though you’ll still have to sneak in — sort of. The entrance to Thompson & Twain Prospecting Co. is behind a curtain at Crush and Brew. To get into the Apparition Room, look for the wood panel at the Devilicious Eatery hostess station.
Note that reservations are required to sip cocktails at the Apparition Room because it has extremely limited seating.
Go to Temecula Stampede
If country and western is more your speed, head over the Temecula Stampede (the West Coast’s biggest country and western music venue) after dark.
On Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights there’s live music, line dancing, mechanical bull rides, and karaoke until 2 a.m. Tip: There’s no cover to get in on Thursdays.
Hike the Dripping Springs Trail
You’ll get an up-close view of the area’s flora in the 18,000-acre Agua Tibia Wilderness (close to Palomar Mountain) when you hike this trail that winds through untouched terrain.
You’ll see stately oaks, Coulter pines, Douglas Firs, and a lot of desert scrub, along with awe-inspiring canyons and burbling streams.
Be aware that setting off on the Dripping Springs Trail is a commitment — the trail in its entirety is 14 miles long and takes about 8 hours to hike. Plan your route ahead of time if you’d rather only take on a portion.
Sip Wine Poolside
Reserve one of 30 Italian-style cabines (Italian-style private changing rooms with showers) or chaise lounge for the day at BOTTAIA Winery’s Pool Club. Enjoy Temecula sunshine while savoring local wines, craft cocktails and small plates and entrees from the poolside Cafe + Cocktail Bar. All ages are welcome.
Take a Spa Day
Embrace the slower pace of Temecula with a spa day at one of the area’s best relaxation facilities.
Escape to Spa Pechanga with its 25,000 square feet of luxurious treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools, fitness facilities, and outdoor patios. The robust spa menu includes couples and prenatal massages, hydrafacials, hair and nail treatments, waxing, and much more.
Grapeseed Spa at South Coast Winery offers yoga classes and a heated saltwater pool for guests to enjoy in addition to healing spa services that incorporate organic ingredients and sustainable products.
Things to Do in Temecula with Kids
See the Valley from a Hot Air Balloon
You don’t have to be visiting Temecula with kids to enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon, but this is an activity that children love.
Hot air balloon rides are one of the most popular things to do in Temecula — there’s actually a hot air balloon festival every May.
From the basket of a hot air balloon, you and your family will get an amazing bird’s eye view of the valley’s vineyards, citrus groves, and the rolling mountains that surround them.
Some hot air balloon rides include a gourmet meal, champagne for the grownups, and photos of your group.
Visit an Alpaca Farm
The Alpaca Hacienda in Temecula offers family-friendly meet and greets by appointment, Monday through Saturday, where kids and their parents can get up close and personal with these interesting animals — and even hand feed them.
There is also an Alpaca 101 tour that teaches kids lots of quirky facts about alpacas and how their yarn is used. Kids can even do a craft with alpaca fibers from the resident alpacas.
Fish and Camp at Vail Lake
Vail Lake, which was created by damming in the 1940s, was once an important stopover on the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Line.
Today, it’s a popular place to fish for bass, mountain bike on lakeside trails, or hike through the woods.
If you’re a fan of camping, there are plenty of family-friendly spots to do that here, too, if you plan to stay in Temecula for more than a day.
Visit Pennypickle’s Workshop
For just $10 per kid and $5 per grownup, you can explore the home of Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle and his sidekick Beaker the field mouse (otherwise known as the Temecula Children’s Museum).
There’s 7,500 square feet of nooks and crannies filled with inventions, gadgets, and experiments designed to teach kids about science, engineering, and music through play.
On Friday nights, the professor hosts guided tours. Be aware that Pennypickle’s Workshop is closed on Mondays.
Go Strawberry Picking (Seasonal)
Visiting Kenny’s Strawberry Farm (originally called Temecula Valley Strawberry Farms) during strawberry season — roughly February through July — is a real treat for kids.
There’s no charge to visit the farm, even when there are special events. You’ll only pay for the strawberries you pick.
Pick a Pumpkin (Seasonal)
If you’re visiting in the fall, one of the most fun things to do in Temecula is visiting Peltzer Pumpkin Farm.
This family-run farm has a lot to do for little kids beyond just picking out the perfect pumpkin. Children can pan for gems and gold; take a pony ride; pet pygmy goats, sheep, bunnies, and baby chicks; watch pig races; play carnival games; and drive mini John Deere tractors.
Old Town Temecula
This is the shopping district of the valley, but it’s also so much more. Old Town Temecula is home to fabulous Italian, American, and Mexican eateries, craft breweries, and shops where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with candy and ice cream. There are boutiques and hotels, and entertainment venues, too.
What makes Old Town Temecula so special, however, is the ambiance. When you walk under the arch, you feel like you’re walking into history. There are wooden sidewalks, rustic western-era buildings, and the old-fashioned horseshoe-shaped town square — all of which will make you feel like you’ve just strolled into the 1880s.
The Wineries of Temecula
Today, there are more than 40 vineyards in Temecula Valley, but since about 2,300 acres of the valley’s 33,000 acres have been planted, that number is expected to grow to 70 over the next decade. The climate and granite soil in Temecula makes it a perfect location for growing nearly any varietal.
The wineries of Temecula are one of the area’s main attractions. You can still visit the very first, Callaway Vineyard & Winery, and there are plenty of up and coming wineries to check out, too. Try South Coast Winery and other well-regarded stops including Hart, Ponte, and Leoness.
Temecula Valley Museum
For a $2 suggested donation, you can go back in time and learn a lot about the history of Temecula Valley.
Knowledgeable docents serve as tour guides and can answer your questions about old farming equipment, historical photographs of the area, handcrafted artifacts, the Luiseno Indian era, the Mission San Luis Rey period, the establishment of the ranches, and the coming of the railroads.
There’s even an interactive discovery area for younger children with a pretend general store.
Santa Rosa Plateau
This reserve is one of the most popular natural Temecula attractions, with 9,000 acres of land dedicated to the preservation of local plants and animals.
You can see more than 49 different species of rare and endangered flora and fauna here, and you are welcome to hike the well-maintained trails to adobes and vernal pools. In some areas of the reserve, you can bike the trail or explore it on horseback.
What are your favorite things to do in Temecula?
Don’t miss any of my posts! Sign up for my newsletter for travel tips, insider information about my favorite destinations near San Diego and beyond, discounts on attractions, and hotel discounts and tips.