Temecula Creek Inn
44501 Rainbow Canyon Road
Temecula, CA 92592
Rates: Sun.-Thurs., $129 - $149; Fri.-Sat., $189 - $209
Commission: 10 percent
As girlfriend getaways become increasingly popular, groups of female friends who gather — sometimes every year — for some R&R, can actually run out of ideas. Las Vegas is fun, but feeling like you’re at a bachelorette convention can get old. And while Palm Springs, Calif., is always fabulous, this year, my friends and I wanted to try something different. Relaxing yet active, sophisticated and without the party-vibe were our requirements.
We found Temecula, a somewhat lesser-known vineyard town in the southeast corner of Riverside County, Calif., about 70 miles from Los Angeles and 60 miles from downtown San Diego.
We arrived Thursday night at the Temecula Creek Inn, delighted by the resort’s rustic elegance. Our room was right on the golf course and we could smell the jasmine and lavender from our patio as we unpacked.
Temecula Creek Inn is perhaps most known for golf. There are three, nine-hole courses offering plenty of variety and challenge for golfers of all levels. The property has been awarded a four-star rating by Golf Digest. The Stone House course features dramatic elevation changes and rock outcroppings, and it meanders by a beautiful old structure often rented out for weddings and special events. The more traditional adjoining fairways of the Creek course offer increased length, while the well-bunkered Oaks course is known for its tree-lined beauty and playability.
The Inn’s 130 rooms and suites are spread out among the property’s one and two-story buildings lining the golf courses. Plush bedding, comfortable lounge chairs (think: good book plus glass of wine) and inviting entryways are subtly touched with Native American influences. There is a lot of wood as well as framed artifacts and furnishings in natural hues. The property also has tennis courts, a pool, a fitness room, meeting and banquet facilities and the Temet Grill — a destination of its own for locals and visitors.
It was the perfect setting for that relaxing-yet-active weekend we were after. We started with an early morning hike — Temecula butts up against the Cleveland National Forrest. We found the Dripping Springs trailhead just 15 minutes out of town and did a couple of peaceful, lizard-filled miles before brunch.
The next stop was Old Town Temecula. First established in the late 1800s, the town’s Old West charm is unmistakable. Antique shops, local eateries and historic buildings line the main thoroughfare, making for an easy and enjoyable walk for an hour or two. We stopped for lunch at Cafe Daniel, feasting on smoked salmon crepes on the outdoor porch. As we walked through town afterward, olive oil, jerky from various animals, candy and cheese were all there for the tasting.
We also stopped in front of the First National Bank of Temecula, built in 1914, just as a school field trip was learning about its history. The guide told the kids it was the first poured cement building constructed in inland California, and that it was robbed once in 1930. The upstairs used to feature a community center and dance hall. Now, it’s a lively Mexican restaurant.
No visit to Temecula would be complete without wine tasting, of course, and the Temecula Creek Inn’s Wine Country Getaway package made it easy for us to taste at several of the local wineries for one price. We stopped at some of the area’s more popular spots, such as Wilson Creek Winery, Mount Palomar Winery and Stuart Cellars. Shuttle services are also available for those without a designated driver.
After a nice, long nap, we headed to the pool area. Every Friday night, the Temecula Creek Inn hosts a manager’s reception with wine being poured by a different local vineyard. There are also complimentary soft drinks as well as hot and cold appetizers.
For dinner, we stayed in. So close to some of the country’s premier wineries, as well as local food purveyors (this is farm country, after all), the Inn’s Temet Grill takes full advantage of the region’s bounty with cuisine inspired and enhanced by the local offerings. The restaurant overlooks the golf course as well as the picturesque area mountains. Highlights of the menu included delicious garlic crab cakes, a buttery halibut and olive-oil-seared ahi.
My favorite Temet Grill offering, however, was the Acai Plate for breakfast the next morning — a healthy mixture of acai berry puree, granola and fresh fruit.
Had we been there longer we would have explored the region with more hikes — there are several trailheads and parks including Palomar Mountain State Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. And definitely more wine.
Temecula Creek Inn hosted more than 40 weddings last year and we could see why with its beautiful, yet relaxed, surroundings and a peaceful, celebratory ambiance. We saw a happy couple taking pictures at a particularly scenic spot on Saturday evening and that, to us, was proof we had chosen the perfect girls’ getaway location: A single beautiful bride instead of a flurry of bachelorettes.