In this ‘Destination California’, KTLA’s Wendy Burch gives Temecula a try. Centrally located near all of Southern California’s major cities, the Temecula Valley is teaming with all sorts of activities.
For first-timers, Wendy suggests you get the lay of the land by taking to the sky in the most majestic mode of transportation possible. Hot air balloons launch every morning, providing a panoramic view of the rolling hills and lush vineyards. Wendy and her son Brady decided to launch with the folks of California Dreamin’. The company has been offering premium hot air ballooning experiences for 35 years.
For those who would like to drink it all in while still keeping their feet on the ground, Wendy discovered the perfect designated driver. Van n’ Boozy offers more than just a ride through Temecula’s wine county, they offer an experience. The company has a whole fleet of classic VW buses, each of them fully restored and come complete with a giant back-seat sunroof. Van n’ Boozy offers door-to-door transportation to any one of the independent wineries located throughout the Temecula Valley.
Van N’ Boozy offers real peace of mind during a time of social distancing, owner Rich Kearns said.
“Because we are small and intimate, you can ride with your own household or group of friends, you are not mixed in with strangers throughout the day. You have the VW bus to yourself all day,” he said.
With more than 40 wineries dotting the landscape, you could easily spend a whole week wandering around town, but Wendy recommends stopping at Somerset Vineyards, a quaint winery with wonderful outdoor seating (and a sensational sangria).
If you are looking for overnight accommodations, we are betting you will love Pechanga Resort Casino. Rest assured, they are taking no chances during COVID-19. Electronic temperature checks are taken before you check-in. Rooms are constantly being cleaned at the highest standards. If you want to try your luck at the casino, you will be protected by plenty of plexiglass and slot machines are continually being sanitized.
Wondering what to do with all of your winnings? How about collecting some art? Ricardo Breceda has created an outdoor gallery just outside of town full of magnificent metal masterpieces. A giant T-Rex, a transformer, sea serpents and even a stagecoach adorn acres of land. Visitors are free to walk around and marvel at the metal menagerie.
Ricardo offers water to guests on hot days and will take the time to tell you why he considers himself an accidental artist. He actually didn’t know he had this talent until 20 years ago, when his daughter asked him to make her a dinosaur for her birthday.
With hundreds of sculptures on display, Wendy asked him if he had a personal favorite. Ricardo replied, “The one I make tomorrow.”
Of course, no trip to Temecula is complete without getting a taste of the local flavor. There are dozens of amazing restaurants—all with expanded outdoor seating.
For our money, we suggest you head to The Bank. The Mexican restaurant is located in the heart of Old Town, in what’s considered to be the oldest building in Temecula. Built back in 1914, the place was originally—you guessed it—a bank. The original safe is still inside, and so are the bullet holes from a bank robbery.
So, when considering where to invest time and energy on your next destination, take a trip to Temecula. As Wendy found out, it’s a town where you can raise the stakes and rise your glass.