I've driven past Temecula a few times on I-15 on the way to San Diego. As a former resident of California, I've seen my fair share of Pechanga Resort commercials and advertisements. I had a general awareness that Temecula had an old town commercial center and several vineyards outside of town. I was never sure whether Temecula was a legitimate destination or a tourist-centric, attraction driven destination. I decided to find out over two days when I needed a quiet place to work away from family during an extended COVID visit to California. I'm still not sure what to make of Temecula.
Temecula's population is 115,000 - it's a small area and it felt like there were a ton of people everywhere. This didn't feel like an exclusive resort town but rather like a raucous small town. Temecula's first draw is it's historical old town area. There's a cool mission style City Hall.
The sidewalks in the Old Town area have a Western, wood plank look (although it's definitely concrete). The Old Town's commercial area has tried to retain the old western feel - I think it's done pretty well in that it feels more charming than tacky. Despite COVID there was a lively and loud outdoor dining and drinking scene along the main street. I grabbed an espresso, walked around the Old Town area then headed off to a warehouse district north of this area that is loaded with microbreweries.
Temecula's second draw is it's wineries. And boy are there a ton of wineries. I picked Palumbo Family Vineyard to drink a glass of red wine. On the drive up Rancho California Road I passed dozens of wineries and was glad when I reached Palumbo. It felt like an oasis of the main drag. I thought watching the mountainside was as calming and relaxing as drinking the glass of wine.