14 Fun Things to do in Temecula With (and Without) Kids

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things to do in temecula
Wine tasting and hot air balloon rides are top things to do in Temecula Valley. Photo provided by Visit Temecula Valley

Located about 60 miles north of San Diego, Temecula Valley is a hidden gem in the Inland Empire in Riverside County. However, in recent years the historic town has gained recognition for its numerous wineries, rolling hills, hot air balloon flights and Mediterranean-style weather.

14 Fun Things to do in Temecula With (and Without) Kids

Although I lived in Los Angeles for seven years, I had never been to Temecula Valley. I don’t know why. It’s an easy day trip from San Diego and L.A. My friend, a true wine lover and the founder of Peachhead, met me there. We turned the weekend into a quick girlfriend’s getaway.

This Southern California wine region is home to about 50 diverse Temecula wineries. I appreciate a delicious wine and how it can enhance a dining experience. In Temecula, wine tasting was fun. I learned about the ingredients in the wines that I preferred, and I wasn’t shamed into liking the “best” wine. Instead, the best wine was always the one I liked best.

things to do in Temecula
Nestled in the heart of the Temecula Valley, Thornton Winery features award-winning champagne & varietal wines. Photo credit: Christina Mendelson

For SoCal residents and visitors, Temecula is the new Napa. Top things to do are wine tasting tours and hot air balloon flights. In fact, the Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is becoming a top destination on the West Coast.

Traveling with kids? From horseback riding to museums, Temecula Valley has many family-friendly attractions too. In addition, Temecula Valley has year-round theater, public art, live music and art festivals. Here’s a list of 14 fun things to do in Temecula with (and without) kids.

Take a Southern California Winery Tour

things to do in temecula
Renzoni Winery in Temecula, Southern California. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

We spent very little time in our room because we were there for the wine tours. It’s the most fun way to learn abut wine varietals.  Wilson Creek Winery, Peltzer Farms and Robert Renzoni Winery are among those we sampled. Each visit was as different as the wines it offered. Most of the wineries are prepared to host large groups and weddings. And a few offer lodging and a wine club to join. But each has its own theme and beauty.

Situated on a hill overlooking the valley, Renzoni Winery and the restaurant have an elegant-casual ambiance. There’s an outdoor patio with authentic Italian pizza, gigantic sandwiches, and of course, delicious wines.  In fact, I took home Big Fred’s Red, a tasty everyday table wine that beat out their more aged and expensive wines. The general manager shared his passion for wine with us and took us on a tasting tour from light to bold flavors.

Wilson Creek has a decadent patio restaurant where we sat outside contemplating the best wine to have with our fig and cheese plate and fresh garden salad. The grounds are spectacular for weddings, corporate gatherings and dates. In addition, there are tables along a babbling brook.

Here are some others to consider. Ponte Winery, South Coast Winery, Miramonte Winery and Vindemia Vineyard and Winery. Enjoy bubbly tastings at Thornton Winery, which uses the traditional Methodé Champenoise.

Experience Temecula Wineries with Kids

things to do in temecula
Pelzer Winery in Temecula, Southern California. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

I think Peltzer Farms is one of the best wineries for kids. It has a petting zoo, kid’s activities, hayrides and beautiful grounds. Check ahead for family friendly activities.

The tasting room, aka the Crush House, is also a gorgeous store decorated by one of the owners. Think Cracker Barrel meets California.  Tractor seats adorn an entire wall.  The wines here are white and varied. Denis, one of the winery designers, changed it up a bit for us and served our wine in 2 differently shaped glasses. The glass that won out has a smaller opening at the top. It encircles your nose and mouth for a heightened sensory experience.

Visit Sugar Plum Zoo & Chocolates

Sitting atop an eight-acre hill, Sugarplum Zoo & Chocolates is a delightful attraction for families. Kids can enjoy petting animals while parents sip wine in the cafe (coming soon). The chocolate shop features truffles, fudge and chocolate bars.

Onsite animals include a tortoise, goats, sheep, alpaca and llama. Plus, families can pet and brush water buffalo and steer.

Soar on a Hot Air Balloon Flight

It’s worth getting up at the crack of dawn for a hot air balloon flight. From 1,500 feet high you’ll have amazing views of Temecula’s vineyards, citrus groves and distant mountains. After touching back down to earth, those ages 21 and older can celebrate with a sparkling-wine toast.

Family Friendly Things to do in Temecula

things to do in temecula
Explore Old Town’s shops, restaurants, historic buildings and outdoor art. Photo provided by Visit Temecula Valley

Explore Old Town

Downtown Temecula, aka Old Town, looks like a set of an old western except for the shops and restaurants. It’s fun to explore Old Town’s 12 blocks of antique shops, galleries, brewpubs and restaurants. Along the way you’ll see water towers, wooden sidewalks and frontier-style storefronts.

I did not expect to find an authentic Italian restaurant like Palumbo’s Ristorante in town. The pasta was fresh and served al dente and the kid’s menu included $5 options.

Temecula Olive Oil has a tasting room downtown, but I recommend you take a drive to the olive grove, about 15 minutes outside of town. The property is fantastic and their unique way of pressing the olive oil, with a machine they helped invent, is worth seeing.  I took home the basil olive oil and the vanilla fig vinegar.

Golf at Pechanga Resort Casino

The 18-hole golf course at Pechanga is inviting for both adults and kids. In fact, kids as young as three can take a golf lesson at Journey at Pechanga. The junior program is especially helpful for junior golfers serious about improving their swing.

Play at Pennypickle’s Workshop

things to do in temecula
Pennypickle’s Workshop is cluttered (in a good way!) with fun hands-on activities for kids and adults. Photo provided by Visit Temecula Valley.

Located inside the Temecula Children’s Museum, Pennypickle’s Workshop is filled with hands-on inventions, gadgets and experiments.

It is small and sweet, with exhibits for kids and adults.  I took the advice of signs encouraging us to “please touch” and climbed on the grown-up replica of a horse for photos. Kids can dress up in pioneer outfits and play in their crafts room.

Explore the Temecula Valley Museum

Located in the Sam Hicks Monument Park, Temecula Valley Museum  features city artifacts & a permanent exhibit on author Erle Stanley Gardner. In addition, guided tours of Old Town depart from the museum. Tour guides share stories and events that bring Temecula’s past to life.

Shop at a Farmers Market

things to do in temecula
Fresh and organic vegetables at a farmers market. Photo provided by Visit Temecula Valley

While in Temecula, shop local for fresh farm produce. Temecula Valley has three outdoor Farmers Markets. Each is located within three separate shopping and dining areas: Old Town Temecula, Promenade Temecula and Vail Headquarters. The farmers markets are an opportunity to shop for local farm produce, artisan goods and handcrafted items.

Tour The Alpaca Hacienda

Take a tour to learn about alpacas (they don’t have upper teeth) and llamas. Tours – about 90 minutes – begin with a fun and entertaining presentation. Afterward, you can move on to feeding and interacting with alpacas. Be sure to visit the store stocked with many products made from alpaca fleece as well as alpaca/llama-themed items.

Horseback Riding at Wine Country Trails

The 20-acre Wine Country Trails Ranch offers guided horseback rides through picturesque vineyards on rehabilitated horses. Guided tours take riders through the Maurice Car’rie vineyards.

Relax at Margarita Community Park

For some downtime, pack a picnic and head to the Eagle Soar Playground and Splash Pad. The park features a dog park, sports fields and a playground and splash pad for kids of all abilities.

Extraordinary Artisan Table for Foodies

things to do in temecula
E.A.T. (Extraordinary Artisan Table) Marketplace in Temecula, Southern California. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

The restaurant highlight for me was E.A.T. (Extraordinary Artisan Table) Marketplace, owned by Leah DiBernardo. Chef Leah left her Italian roots on the east coast to serve only local, sustainable foods. EAT is family friendly. The casual menu  has lots of vegan and gluten free options and the company requires employees to do eight hours of community service every month at a local farm.

Take a look at EAT’s menu here to see what I mean: plant based chorizo scramble, pear toast with maple drizzle, Italian polenta grits with pecorino. Mouth watering, right? This place is a must-stop, if just for the vegan donuts and health boosting smoothies.

There’s a way to bring a taste of E.A.T. home with you – the recipe for one of its signature dishes, Pasta a La Checca.

Pasta a La Checca 


  • 1 lb GF pasta fresh *we like fusilli or penne pasta’s
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (such as orange, red, and yellow teardrop varieties)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh organic basil
  • 1 cup chopped up fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup  pecorino romano  *you can also use Parmigano- but it has less flavor, so you’ll need a bit more salt
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Bring water to a boil with a healthy pinch of salt
  • While waiting on water to come to a boil- in a large bowl, chop your tomatoes and then mozzarella.  Put in one bowl together.
  • Dice garlic small *we love to give ours a quick fry to take the bitterness out.
  • Chiffonade basil (stack, roll, slice. Stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll them into a cigar, and then use a sharp knife to slice them into thin ribbons- that is chiffonade)
  • Mix basil (reserve a pinch for garnish) and garlic in with chopped tomato and mozzarella.
  • Add fresh pasta to boiling water (fresh pasta only takes 3-4 minutes) *If not fresh, complete this step first!
  • Drain the pasta (reserving 1/3 cup of the water) and toss it with the tomatoes. If the pasta is still a little dry, add some of the cooking water.
  • Toss together, platter then add grated pecorino romano cheese on top and more basil for garnish!

This dish is great cold – but E.A.T.  suggests short pasta noodle if making a cold dish – something odd about a long noodle in a cold pasta salad like this one. 

Where to Stay in Temecula

things to do in temecula
Enjoy an Old World ambiance at Europa Village Inn. Photo provided by Visit Temecula Valley

We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel Temecula, in a two-room suite with breakfast and evening wine and cheese included. There are other lodging options in the area but this hotel is well located and clean with spacious rooms.

Europa Village Inn has an Old World charm reflected in its tapas-sharing menu and cozy wine tasting room.

Temecula Creek Inn. A charming weekend getaway and wedding venue, the 300-acre inn features spacious suites and a 27-hole championship golf course.

Pechanga Resort Casino. Operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Pechanga is the largest resort/casino on the West Coast. In addition, the four-star resort has one of the finest golf courses in California.

There are lots of options for hotel stays near Temecula, including vacation rentals. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.


Kim Orlando, founder of SheBuysTravel, is a lifelong traveler, an entrepreneur and a sought-after social media and marketing consultant. She has made hundreds of appearances on TV and in digital and print media, sharing advice and tips built on decades of travel experiences. Hailing from the hills of Kentucky and taking her story to New York, Los Angeles, and beyond, Kim built an online platform, the original TravelingMom, that has reached millions of moms and empowered them to explore the world with their families. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel. Kim has been featured on “News Nation,” “Today,” “Good Morning America” and on numerous satellite media tours. She has contributed travel guidance to outlets including The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and more. (Read more about Kim’s media appearances here) Her travel mantra is simple: All travel counts. “You don’t have to go far. Leaving your home is travel,” Kim says. “Wherever you go, even just to the next town over, you can learn something new, see someone and something you haven’t seen before. “It’s good for the brain and good for the soul.” An epiphany in early parenthood started Kim on the journey that led to SheBuysTravel. She’d been a fan of a newsletter for women travelers, and she saw an opportunity. “I thought something like that for moms could be extraordinarily helpful,” she said. “I was traveling for work, traveling for fun, and I was looking for support.” That seed grew into the award-winning website TravelingMom, created as a resource for traveling families of all stripes. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel, with an expanded mission to serve women travelers at any stage of life. Millions of readers have visited the site for trip planning help, travel secrets, destination information and gear recommendations. What sets SheBuysTravel’s content apart, Kim says, is its foundation in real-world experience. “Our writers and editors have actually gone out there and done this stuff,” she says. “They’ve booked the flights, tried the tour, tested travel clothing, visited that new hot spot to see if it’s worth the hype. It’s all real.” Memorable Adventures A 2022 tour Kim guided to Bhutan was a particularly standout experience. “Bhutan sounds so exotic, of course,” she said. “But the part where my heart just glows and warms is thinking of the people we met – amazing women doing amazing things in Bhutan.” Their ranks included a former police officer whose ventures into food science helped mitigate food insecurity for residents of Bhutan’s highlands. Top Tips Planning for travel can be daunting, Kim acknowledges. “I always say: Go anyway. No trip is going to be perfect. There’s always going to be something you didn’t expect, something that doesn’t go the way you pictured or planned it. And that something is what’s going to make it a great trip.” And on a practical note: “Go early! Getting to the airport or hitting the road just an hour earlier relieves so much stress.” Kim’s Background Kim, a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, holds degrees in finance and entrepreneurship and has deep experience in developing and running businesses. Her previous work includes developing and running communications workshops and overseeing document management for corporations. SheBuysTravel hits a sweet spot where Kim’s two loves of travel and entrepreneurship meet. “The longer I work in this field, I only want to do more,” she says. “I find the travel world so exciting – not just the trips, but the whole online world of travel. There are still so many opportunities.” The World Awaits “The ‘best trip ever’ probably won’t be the same for an empty-nester or mom of three versus a single woman celebrating a bachelorette party with her friends,” Kim says. “We want to keep it real for traveling women, no matter what their age, life stage, where they came from or where they’re going. “We want to inspire women to travel in any shape or form.” In her free time, Kim enjoys visiting her adult kids, creating trips and traveling with her BFFs to explore the world. Her most recent adventures can be found on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.
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