I got to check off another item on my bucket list this year…visiting Temecula!! It’s about a two hour drive south east of Los Angeles. Perfect for a weekend getaway. I’ve always heard so many great things about this city and everything turned out to be true. We managed to pack winetasting, a hot air balloon ride, horse back riding and a ton of photo shoots into the span of one night and two days. Honestly, one night was definitely not enough time there and I’d happily go back next week to see more!! So here it is for all of you.. my Temecula Travel Guide! Keep scrolling to see photos from all our adventures!
We stayed at the Carter Estate Winery and Resort. Each of the rooms has a patio that walks out straight into the vineyard. It was the most picture perfect view you could ask for in wine country. We originally had the Vineyard Bungalow for the four of us. The hotel staff was nice enough to upgrade us to the Vineyard Estate Suite.* This was much more comfortable as we had twice as much room, two bathrooms and no one had to sleep on a pull-out couch. One of the rooms has a murphy bed, but it was still very comfortable. I think it was even a tempurpedic mattress.
(*Keep in mind that if you book through a third party site like Expedia.com the hotel isn’t able to upgrade you because they do not know what you paid for the room – among other reasons I’m sure.) Also, keep in mind that this a smaller resort so rooms fill up fast! The time of year you go will depend on if you get the lush green vineyards. Since we went in May, everything was in full bloom.
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As soon as we arrived, they had the most amazing chocolate chip cookies at the front desk. The restaurant’s chef was making fresh batches all day. (I went back three times for another cookie they were soooo good!) We stayed out by the pool for lunch and all ordered salads that were HUGE! I took mine for later. Afterward, we ordered a bottle of wine and enjoying our patio view. We could have gone to the tasting room, but the view from our patio was all we needed.
That night we went into town for dinner. Being that we’re all from LA, we are used to everything being open late. Not the case in Temecula. We were lucky to find a restaurant open at 9PM! We ate at Public House. The food was delicious and I would have taken a picture to show you, but we were so hungry we literally devoured it the moment it arrived at the table.
The next morning we woke up bright and early. And I mean EARLY. Hot air balloons have to go up before any wind comes in. So take off time was around 6am and we had to be there at 5 AM. You would think there wouldn’t be anyone else out at that hour, but there was. Lots of people were on the road for a hot air balloon ride. We booked last minute tickets with Skyline Balloons.
While they were preparing the hot air balloon we got to take a step inside. It was a surreal experience from start to finish.
Admiring the balloon with feet planted firmly on the ground… but not for long…
The view from above. I am not exactly sure how high up we were at this point. Before we took off, Tony had heard the pilot say we would be going up to 7000 feet. Apparently, hot air balloons only go up to 1000 feet. But because we were taking sky divers up with us, they have to reach a certain elevation before they can jump safely. The look on Tony’s face was very discomforting and for a split second, I considered jumping out of the basket. But I faced my fears and hung on tightly to Danny and Liz
for dear life. I remember watching us slowly drift higher and higher. It was so peaceful you didn’t really notice how high we were until we looked over the ledge. To think there was just a woven basket below are feet and one pilot to man the balloon was so scary.
The view at 7000 feet. It took all my bravery to stand at the edge of that basket like this for this photo and look calm. But once I looked out and saw the beautiful view I calmed down a bit. Just don’t look down.
We made it! It was interesting to watch the pilot land. For a few seconds there I thought we were going to land on someone’s house and then some horses. But you see the pilot really navigate the balloon with just a few ropes and some luck before his crew grabs hold of the ropes he’s dropped down and literally anchor the balloon with their body weight.
After we arrived home from the hot air balloon ride we enjoyed breakfast on the patio. It does get quite hot out in the sun around noon so keep that in mind for any of your activities. Luckily our horse back ride was at 11am so we weren’t out in the middle of the day.
Compliments to this hotel on amazing room service. Everything we ordered was delicious and the service was spot on. Just thinking about this breakfast food makes my mouth water all over again.
Next up we took about a 10-minute ride from our hotel to Vin Hesten Trail Rides. The manager Dusty was very accommodating and able to book us a last minute ride for four people. Not only that, but he treated us to a private ride with just us and our awesome trail guide! The whole ride lasted about 45 minutes through a winding trail in Temecula’s back country. We learned that almost all of the horses there have been rescued or saved from auction or slaughter. And by riding with Vin Hesten you’re giving them a second chance. I always love a good cause, especially when it has to do with my favorite animal.
I promise I was much more enthusiastic on this trail ride than this photo appears to show.
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Before heading back home, we had one more visit to the Vitagliano Vineyards at Lake Oak Meadows. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular wedding venue.This vineyard has the prettiest landscaping I’ve ever seen. They were setting up for movie night while we were there. If we didn’t have to drive back to LA that night I would have happily stayed and laid out on the lawn with a glass of rosé taking in the sunset sparkling off the pond.
Here are a few more notes to consider about a trip to Temecula:
- Weather in May: 75 degrees, hot during the day in direct sun, cools down in the evening (ladies bring a sweater/ light jacket!) Especially if you are goin on a hot air balloon ride. That cool morning air can get a bit chilly!
- What I packed: lots of dresses and sun hats, jeans + boots for horseback riding, light jacket for the evenings and layers for the hot air balloon ride.
- Be prepared for: A lot of tasting rooms close around 5-6pm and a lot of restaurants close around 9pm. “Downtown” Temecula is like an old western town with lots of little shops and restaurants
Make sure to check our Temecula Travel Video to see more clips from our trip! I am also putting together a compilation of our Instagram stories because they were just too funny to not share with all of you. Coming soon!
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