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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

April 2008 - Temecula, California

In this issue:

A place to experience Napa and Las Vegas

When most people hear California "wine country" they quickly think of Northern California's Napa Valley or Sonoma County and when the thought of gambling arises, Las Vegas usually comes to mind first. But located 50 miles (80 km) north of San Diego and 90 miles (144 km) southeast of Los Angeles you will find Southern California's wine country, three large casinos and eight golf courses. The town is called Temecula Valley.

Wine tasting at over twenty award-winning wineries

South Coast Winery Tasting Room

South Coast Winery Tasting Room

Temecula's twenty acclaimed wineries sit on 3,000 acres of beautiful vineyards. Part of the fun of touring and tasting the different wineries is seeing the uniqueness and different style of each. For example, the Ponte Family Estates tasting room and gift shop is in a "barn" with spacious open-beamed ceilings while the elegant South Coast Winery Resort and Spa has a more intimate tasting room.

Since it's best to surrender your car keys while wine-tasting, there a couple of wonderful choices to visit the wineries without having to worry about who the designated driver will be. The Temecula Wine Tour by Trolley picks up and drops off at local hotels: the tour includes tasting fees and facility tours of the four wineries visited, snacks and bottled water are available on the trolley, and there is a lunch stop.

See the valley from the sky

Temecula has numerous hot air balloon companies, and in many cases you get more than just a high-flying ride over the rolling hills. When you ride with the A Grape Escape you toast your flight with champagne and orange juice upon landing, and are served a picnic-style continental breakfast in the gardens at Wilson Creek Winery; to remember your experience, you also receive a souvenir photo in a picture card.

Inside the Pechanga Casino

Inside the Pechanga Casino

Gaming Galore

History says the Temecula Valley has been home to the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians for more than 10,000 years. Today the Pechanga are a huge part of the thriving Temecula community. The Pechanga's gaming started in 1995; today the Pechanga Resort and Casino has a 188,000 square-foot casino floor, 2,000 state-of-the art slot machines, 158 table games, and a (non-smoking) poker room with 54 tables. (Don't forget to sign up for the Pechanga Rewards Club.) The resort has 522 guest rooms and suites and a beautiful swimming pool area with private cabanas. The San Diego GO Card includes a complimentary voucher (valid for $5 in gaming) at the Pechanga Casino.

Pechanga isn't the only casino in the area. The Harrah's Rincon Casino and Resort recently added a 21-story hotel tower with 652 guest rooms. Tuesdays and Thursdays there is free shuttle from Temecula's Sam Hicks Monument Park to Harrah's. The Pala Casino Resort and Spa is the third casino-hotel choice with 507 deluxe rooms.

Golfer's paradise - seven championship golf courses

Golfers can't argue Temecula is a lovely place to spend a few days teeing off under beautiful southern California skies. The town has eight golf courses and seven of them are championship courses.

Temecula Creek Inn features 27 holes of championship golf on over 300 stunning acres. The rooms were recently remodeled and are extremely comfortable. Some of the rooms have patios overlooking the lush golf course, which I recommend requesting. The Temet Grill and Lounge also overlooks the golf course and it open for all three meals. Sunday mornings the delicious Champagne Brunch is offered.

Quaint Shopping

Roaming Old Town Temecula is like going back to the Old West. The historic, rustic-style buildings line Front Street, the main boulevard, and are filled with charming shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more antique shops than you can count. One of my favorite shops is the Temecula Olive Oil Company where shoppers can sample a wide variety of olive oils and vinegars and buy some fresh bread to go. You can also order items to be delivered to your home so you won't have to worry about packing the purchased items in your luggage.

Golf Course at Temecula Creek Inn

Golf Course at Temecula Creek Inn

Every Saturday from 8 am - 12:30 the Old Town Certified Farmers Market is held in Old Town. Granny's Attic is a large antique mall filled with over 120 shops. It is located across the river from Old Town's Front Street.

What else does the San Diego GO Card offer?

Before I travel with my family I always check to see if the city I'm headed to has a Go Card. If you plan to visit any of the city's main tourist attractions you really can save a bundle.

Some of the attractions you can save money on with the San Diego Go Card, in addition to what I've mentioned in Temecula, are Legoland California, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, Knott's Soak City Water Park, and Wild Rivers Water Park (Irvine, California). Plus there are savings on excursions, tours, parks, day trips and more.

Other Travel Deals

Not going to California? If you're planning a trip to Disney World in Florida check out Billy Boy's Travel. Billy Boy's Travel has great deals on Discount Disney Cruises, Disney Tickets, and Disney Hotels.

News Magazine Poll

Have you ever traveled by rail (Amtrak) in the United States?

Mail List Contest Winner

Congratulations to Marie Thérèse Trouboul of France! She has won the new Postcards from North America board game. This game is great for the whole family and includes real postcards from top travel destinations. You can purchase your own copy online at Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Watch out for another contest with a new fantastic prize soon!

Thanks for reading this month's issue of USATourist News Magazine. Next month we're going to New Orleans.

Happy and Safe Travels!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

All photos by Elizabeth Blair ©

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