12 Fun Things to Do in Temecula California

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Known for its picturesque wine country, historic Old Town, and hot air ballooning, Temecula is a city you don’t want to miss!

Only an hour north of San Diego, the city receives plenty of visitors each year. Most visitors come for the wine (there are nearly 50 wineries in Temecula Valley!), but there are lots of other attractions for you to enjoy, too.

Let’s explore 11 awesome things to do in Temecula, CA!

👉🏼 Don’t have time to read the whole article? No worries! The best value for money is this All-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour. It’s a popular choice, so book ASAP.

1. Go wine tasting

If you drive to Temecula from San Diego or Los Angeles, you might see a few vineyards along the way. Why not enjoy some winery hopping?

Unlike wineries in Napa or Sonoma, where you feel like you have to dress up to go, Temecula wineries are relaxed and friendly. And the best part is that you won’t need a reservation.

Most wineries allow you to bring a picnic lunch, but it’s worth noting that some wineries have excellent restaurants that are worth trying. You can have a bite along with their wines and enjoy a spectacular view of the Temecula Valley and surrounding mountains as a bonus!

Three wineries that serve good meals are:

If you happen to overindulge, stay at one of the wineries that offer lodging. You’ll be able to sleep off all those good wines in luxury and comfort, surrounded by acres of vineyards. These get good reviews:

Since winery visits include tasting a lot of wine, it might be easier to book an all-inclusive tour. No worries about driving, selecting the wineries, or finding a place to eat.

All you’ll have to do is relax and enjoy yourself with a knowledgeable tour guide. They’ll even drive you back to your hotel so you can sleep off all that wine!

Here’s the tour we recommend; it’s an excellent value for the money.

2. Explore Old Town Temecula

Old Town - one of the things to do in Temecula California

Temecula Old Town is a fascinating part of the city where the past lives in harmony with the present!

You’ll get to see old restored buildings standing together with the new ones built to show respect for the town’s turbulent past. On top of that, you’ll enjoy the wooden boardwalks and the lovely antique shops, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes that reside in the rustic Old West buildings.

Strolling around the town will take you back to the 19th century, where you’ll be imagining the buzzing activity that took place there centuries ago!

And to spice things up in the evening, you may want to join The Haunt, an immensely popular Old Town ghost hunting tour. Such an old town ought to have a ghost or two, right? So, why not learn about them?

Bonus: Everyone gets an EMF reader, dowsing rods, and a Spirit Box radio sweeper to use during the tour. How fun is that?!

3. Dig for gems

sign for a gold mine in western USA

You may be familiar with the California Gold Rush, but Temecula’s mining heritage is famous for its gem deposits. One of the most famous deposits is located in Palomar-Julian Reservation near Temecula.

In Oceanview Mine, you’ll be able to dig up gems yourself and keep what you find.

Don’t get too excited, though! Don’t expect to become wealthy overnight because you’ll be sorting through a pile that real miners have already screened. Then again, you never know—they might have missed something!

OceanView Mine is most famous for its tourmaline, but you can also expect to find:

  • Kunzite
  • Morganite
  • Aquamarine
  • Lepidolite
  • Quartz

The price is $75 for adults and $60 for kids. You’ll get all the tools you need, and you’ll be able to keep digging for about four hours after a brief training session.

4. Sugarplum Farm ‒ Zoo & Chocolate

group of zebras

Sugarplum Farm, an eight-acre property on a hilltop just outside Temecula, has no sugar plums contrary to what its name tells you. However, it does have zebras, horses, camels, ducks, and, of all things, homemade chocolate!

The owner, Lani Rogers, collects wild animals that need homes, treats them, cares for them, and loves them. She shares her love with visitors and encourages them to pet the animals and feed them appropriate treats.

When she isn’t busy with animals, Lani indulges in her other passion—making gourmet chocolate. Her chocolates are so good that they are sold in many luxury hotels in the area.

The chocolate shop, located next to the zoo, also sells local wines, honey, fresh eggs, and hand-made soap.

At the farm, you’ll be able to sit and relax, taste the chocolates, sip some wine, and listen to the stories about the zoo animals and the lives they had before they came to Temecula.

Besides camels and zebras, the zoo is also home to mini-horses, goats, alpacas, a sheep, a capybara, and Daisy the pig, who is the official tour guide!

5. Explore Vail Headquarters’ Historic Ranch Buildings

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time at Vail Headquarters, a living historic park that brings the 19th century ranching days of Temecula to life. As you wander through the beautifully restored buildings from the former 87,000-acre Vail Ranch cattle operation, you can grab a coffee at Augie’s inside the oldest standing structure in town – the Wolf Store Adobe from 1866.

Other highlights include the Foreman’s House from 1910 which now houses the delicious Cheflavor restaurant. The old Machine Barn that was the ranch office and blacksmith shop is filled with charming shops and vendors to browse. You can even imagine the ranch hands bunking down in the rustic 1910 Bunkhouse building, now home to eateries like Project Pie. Be sure to see the grand Cookhouse that served as the main residence and dining halls back in the day.

Beyond the historic structures, Vail Headquarters hosts lively community events, specialty restaurants, boutique shopping, beautiful gardens, and the Little Temecula History Center museum to learn more ranch tales.

6. Discover axe throwing

axe in the center of a target

If you find yourselves with some free time between different wineries, you might want to try axe throwing, an ancient sport that’s coming back into fashion.

To understand why such a barbaric ancient sport is becoming popular again, you have to try it! It’s as exhilarating as sports come, and as a bonus, it’s a great stress release!

SoCal Axe Club, located in the Temecula Promenade outer circle, has an axe-throwing location with 16 lanes. Aside from axe-related activities, the club is also a popular place for corporate events, birthday parties, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Thanks to its central location, you’ll be able to hang out after the exercise at one of the nearby restaurants or the Wild Barrel Brewing nearby.

7. Try your luck at Pechanga Resort & Casino

Pechanga Resort & Casino is Temecula’s oasis of luxury and glamor. It is the largest casino in the Western US and has everthing from slots to Blackjack, poker, craps, roulette … name it, and you’ll find it there!

Whether you win, lose, or draw, you should enjoy the resort’s spa and relax with a massage, beauty treatment, pedicure, or manicure.

And don’t forget to try one of the resort’s 13 world-class restaurants!

The resort also has a 100,000-square-foot convention center and the new Journey at Pechanga golf course.

8. Horseback riding

brown-haired girl stroking the nose of a pony

You can explore Temecula Valley in many ways, but there is something so romantic about strolling among the vines and across the hills on horseback!

Horseback riding is so popular in the area that there are plenty of ranches and farms to choose from. They all offer their horses to visitors, along with guides and some side activities like wine tasting.

Most trips last about two hours and provide docile well-trained horses. All are guided by the local experienced guides.

The trails pass through vineyards, across hilltops, and down the valley, offering breathtaking views of the area.

Some places, like Vin HestenTrail Rides, rescue retired racing horses and offer tourists a chance to ride a thoroughbred among the vines.

There’s also Wine Country Trails By Horseback, which operates from the 20-acre ranch in Temecula Valley.

The place houses 50 rescued and rehabilitated horses. The horses are well taken care of, which is why they’re friendly and docile and make even the beginner riders comfortable.

The rides are available regardless of your skills and experience. If you’re riding for the first time, you’ll receive brief training before you get on your horse.

All operators offer different packages, from sunset rides to a special romantic Valentine’s adventure. However, reservations are necessary, and it’s better to make them as soon as you make your travel plans, especially if you plan to go during a holiday.

9. Hot air balloon ride

hot air balloons flowating over water

Hot air balloon rides are popular in Temecula because the city looks spectacular from above!

From your balloon, you’ll get to see the entire Temecula Valley and the patchwork of vineyards.

If you’ve never done it, imagine floating above the treetops silently, slowly enough to spot a deer in the forest glide and watch workers picking grapes for wine.

You’ll get to see all the wine estates, lavish mansions, gleaming swimming pools, and lush vineyards. The whole valley will be spread below you like a live map.

Luckily for visitors, there’s a whole range of options from group trips and sunrise trips to private birthday celebrations and even weddings. During the ride, your guide will point out all the important landmarks and help you get an idea of what you are seeing.

However, due to the prevailing winds, balloon rides in Temecula are done only in the morning. They can only be scheduled at other times when there are no winds.

The flights usually last about an hour or an hour and a half. Bring your camera—you’ll take some memorable photos!

10. Go golfing with a view

All golf courses in Temecula have one thing in common—magnificent views of the ancient oaks, surrounding mountains, rolling green hills, and the patchwork of vineyards.

To truly enjoy the Temecula Valley Golf Trail, you need at least three days, so plan accordingly.

If you’re a passionate golfer, carve some time during your visit to Temecula to visit one of the six courses, or at least one of the three best ones: Temecula Creek Inn, CrossCreek Golf Club, and Journey at Pechanga.

Temecula Creek Inn

Temecula Creek Inn is a 27-hole championship golf course, offering players what is locally called ‘golf with the view.’

The course rolls through 300 acres of majestic nature with constant elevation change. It enjoys a direct view of the mountains, large mature trees, and attractive water features.

The 27 holes are only one reason Golf Digest awarded Temecula Creek Inn golf course the Four-Star rating. The course also has a full-service excellent driving range, PGA Golf instructors, and a golf pro shop.

CrossCreek Golf Club

CrossCreek Golf Club was designed by the legendary Arthur Hills, and it shows!

The club is dotted with ancient oaks and sycamores, running streams, and tranquility and seclusion from the world. It’s a pure pleasure to test your skills surrounded by so much beauty.

The par 71 layout makes this course enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Journey at Pechanga

Journey at Pechanga is part of the Pechanga Resort & Casino. It’s an 18-hole award-winning golf course.

Considered one of the best in the country, the course was designed by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest. It rolls through the beautiful Temecula Valley, offering challenging play, magnificent views, and elevation changes.

The Journey’s End Bar & Restaurant, which looks out over the course, is a great place for players to celebrate after a good game.

11. Discover Temecula’s Past at the Valley Museum

As you wander the exhibits at Temecula Valley Museum, you’ll be transported through the region’s Native American roots, with displays of intricate basketry and pottery from the indigenous Luiseño tribe.

Then step into a recreated “Old Town” street scene, complete with historic buildings like a one-room schoolhouse and blacksmith shop that let you experience a slice of pioneer life. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the early Spanish ranchos, the famed Butterfield Stagecoach route, and how agriculture like winemaking took root in fertile Temecula Valley.

The museum keeps things fun for all ages too, with hands-on activities like an outdoor pony ride area and mining sluice for little prospectors. By the time you leave, you’ll have a deep appreciation for all the cultures and pioneers who shaped this special corner of Southern California.

12. Enjoy the surrounding areas

Temecula city hall

The areas surrounding Temecula Valley offer a lot of potential activities to enjoy.

Once you’re done with the activities on this list, you can check out the other things you can do, most of which are only a short drive out of Temecula.

If you feel like hiking, Irvine (a 55-minute drive) offers some excellent hiking options.

And if you feel like seeing the beach, kayaking or surfing, San Diego has some great spots for surfing and other water-based activities.

ALSO READ:
10 Best San Diego Tourist Attractions

Bonus Section: Things to Do in Temecula With Kids

I have good news for you if you’re traveling with family! Contrary to common belief, Temecula has some great activities you can do with your kids.

It’s not all about wine tasting, after all!

Here’s a bonus roundup of things to do in Temecula with kids:

  • Visit the Alpaca Hacienda. I already mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. Your kids will love it if they’re animal enthusiasts! They’ll get to interact with the alpacas firsthand and learn about their unique nature.
  • Visit the Temecula Valley Museum. It offers a deep look into the city’s past through photographs, documents, and cultural artifacts. On top of that, it has an interactive discovery area for kids, where they get to have fun in a photographer’s studio, dress shop, pony riding station, and similar areas.
  • Go to Pennypickle’s Workshop at the Temecula Children’s Museum. It’s designed as an imitation of Professor Pennypickle’s workshop, and it encourages kids to learn about science hands-on. The workshop has a lot of different rooms, including the Dining Room, Music Room, and Library. Each room has something different to teach the kids!
  • If your kids aren’t fans of museums, you can always visit a community park. The Margarita Community Park has baseball fields, tennis courts, a dog park, and a roller hockey rink. It also has a play area for kids of all abilities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Temecula Valley is a great place to visit for its wine country, beautiful scenery, and friendly people. There are plenty of things to do and see in the area, so be sure to add it to your travel list!

Top left: Balloons flying over Temecula Valley. Top right: Temecula courthouse. Bottom left: Buildings along a street in Old Town Temecula. Bottom right: A vineyard in Temecula Valley California. Text overlay says "Temecula California best things to do"

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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