Going all-in at the Pechanga Casino RV Resort is a big play. But it takes an RV to make the most of Temecula.
The LURE OF GOLD has a rich history in California. Since 1849, when the first prospector pans glimmered yellow in the sun, the West has glowed with the promise of sudden fortune. Indeed, John Steinbeck, the great American author of East of Eden and Of Mice and Men fame, tells stories of how the valleys swiftly began to swell with people. Now, although the sprint to San Francisco may have slowed long ago, in Temecula, California, the journeys have not ceased. Even today, fortunes can be made in a day and dreams fulfilled in a moment. There is gold here, but you don’t dig for it. Or sift for it. Here, you play. Small wonder that RVers from Chicago to Canada rush to the Pechanga Casino RV Resort in Temecula. You see, campers know a thing or two about getting the odds in their favor—about being in the right place at the right time. Today’s RVer is an increasingly savvy customer. Always a connoisseur of place, they know exactly how to extract the most out of a golden opportunity. And in the best places, opportunity goes well beyond the campsite—even one as enchanting as Pechanga.
California’s King of Casinos
Among casinos, Pechanga is a name that needs little introduction. In the United States, it’s among the largest casinos west of the Mississippi. (If your geography is a little rusty, you might note that that includes all of Las Vegas.) The grandeur of its gaming experience rivals the best in the world—be that Macau, Singapore, or Sin City. The scale of Pechanga’s splendor is mind-boggling. A pool complex the length of five football fields, complete with a swim-up bar. Two deluxe but intimate entertainment venues offer two events a week for guests, hosting live music and world-class comedians. (Jerry Seinfeld appeared just last August.) There is a luxury two-story spa with treatments using native botanicals, 20 bars and restaurants, 18 holes of championship golf, and—of course, games. Lots of them. Visitors can enjoy a completely smoke-free 200,000-square-foot playground with over 5,500 state-of-the-art slot machines and 152 table games.
But the best part is that the resort not only loves to host its RV guests, but it also carefully caters to their specific needs. Just a few hundred feet away. Taking Exit 58 off Interstate 15 onto Temecula Parkway, you’re just an eight-minute drive south to the RV resort. In less than a mile, you’ll merge right onto Pechanga Park Way and proceed through an open roadway lined with trees. Under a wide-open sky, some are in color; others are a vibrant green; a few, with their signature palm fronds, announce your westward advance. Just ten miles from the ocean as the crow flies, with the windows down you can feel the mild, comfortable touch of a Pacific breeze. The Pechanga Casino Resort appears on the right, and down the road, an overhead sign indicates the entrance to the RV resort. Turning right onto Oak Road Drive, you will see the registration desk.
Michael Feeley, the Executive Director of Pechanga Development Corporation at the resort, notes, “Our location is so perfect. When you drive in, you’re away from the street so that you don’t feel like you’re a part of a parking lot. When you pull in, you see beautiful landscaping with a mountain backdrop. In between the RV resort park and the mountain is a Pechanga’s championship Journey golf course.” Although you can sign in electronically (a service that Michael says is increasingly utilized by guests), you can also walk in and be greeted by guest service agents at the desk who will happily go over resort specifics, including your campsite. Exiting your RV, you’ll feel the California Autumn air. Michael notes, “It’s very mild, very comfortable.” That too is a good way to describe the campsites. Spacious sites are all around. All with picnic tables and lawns. Premium sites have added pergolas and barbeques. You get an immediate sense that your needs are anticipated here. And that includes things you can even sense if not see. Michael laughs, “Wi-Fi is one of those things that you can’t hear it; you can’t see it; you can’t smell it; you can’t taste it; but you know when it’s not there.” He proudly points out the upgrade the resort underwent last year, “That was a big priority for us. We’d put this RV resort up against any RV resort for Wi-Fi reception.”
Michael says that (outside the magnetic pull of the Pechanga Casino) there are two big reasons RVers choose to stay at the resort: amenities and access. The amenities truly are robust, and attract guests looking for both short and seasonal stays. While most stay for six days (or nights), more and more are staying 28 days. And they come from all walks of life. Traveling nurses, subcontractors, and RVers working from home all find what they’re looking for at Pechanga: great Wi-Fi, full hookups, three sets of showers and restrooms, dog parks, clubhouses, convenience stores, pools, propane, onsite dump stations, on and on and on. There’s even a nail salon and affordable pizza place nearby. All of which RVers are hunting for. But what makes Temecula a truly sweet spot is its geographic access, which, Michael says, RVers are quick to notice. “I also believe that they are savvy as well. They might want to do the Southwest, whether it includes the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, or Southern California. We are perched right between Los Angeles and San Diego. We have great access to both cities, to the ocean, and to wine country. We’re about an hour and 20 minutes from Palm Springs.” Coupled with the proximity, Michael notes, is the price. “Our access just lends itself to RVers. They don’t want to pay the rates to be on the coast, and they don’t want to pay the rates to be in Palm Springs, LA, or San Diego. Not to mention, our reputation continues to grow and grow.” Clearly, Michael is onto something. For, as alluring as the glow of Pechanga is, being perfectly and affordably parked to stage a series of great road trips … well, that’s exactly what RVers look for.
“Our access just lends itself to RVers. They don’t want to pay the rates to be on the coast, and they don’t want to pay the rates to be in Palm Springs, LA, or San Diego. Not to mention, our reputation continues to grow and grow.”
Access to Every RV Desire
For all the attractions of the casino, and its enticing luxury, Temecula is different from Las Vegas. Very different. Temecula is not a desert; it’s a valley—a long linear-shaped lowland that lies in the gentle shadows of the Sierra Temescal. The air is filled with ocean breeze. In contrast with the frenetic fervor that pulses through Vegas, Temecula seems to recline. While Vegas flashes neon lights, Temecula is a land illuminated by sunsets; while Vegas vaunts gaudy caricatures of the world, Temecula’s Mission Revival style is more local and softer on the eye, with its rounded arches and adobe tones; and while Vegas swarms with tourists shoulder to shoulder, Temecula gives you space to breathe. Its name, given by the Payomkawichim (Western People) is derived from Teméeku (TehMEH-koo), meaning “where there is sun.
” Temecula is confident in who it is, which is impressive enough. Especially in the Fall and especially for campers savvy enough to park there in season. Michael, a local himself, confesses, “Fall is probably my favorite time of year.” The climate is especially mild. A range of trees burst into color while others resolutely remain green. The gold autumn sun shines down on the valley. It is a satisfying time to be outdoors, and your RV gives you the range to explore every gilded corner. Situated almost squarely between Los Angeles and San Diego, Temecula’s a town with a little bit for everyone. It is ringed with things to do and places to explore. Championship golf covers these hills, from the Temecula Creek Golf Club’s 27 holes only five minutes away or Journey onsite at your home base at Pechanga. Over 50 wineries wind through and around the hill immediately due east of the town like one long, luxuriant vine. Many even have live music. Lifting your eyes to the expansive sky, expect to see hot air balloons by the dozen in the early hours, moving as blissfully and leisurely as everything else in Temecula.
In Temecula’s Old Town, you’ll find privately owned restaurants. Gastro pubs and bars. Streets lined with trees and foliage. “It’s a beautiful little city,” says Michael in a voice that sounds like a smile. When asked where he recommends eating, he waits for a moment with the weight of deciding which restaurant deserves the first mention. Finally, he says, “Great Oak Steakhouse.” But when asked what he orders there, he doesn’t hesitate a second: “Ribeye!” Michael laughs and then rattles off a list of the other incredible dining experiences that made his first response so hard: Old Town Goat and Vine (modern Italian) and Devilicious Eatery & Taproom (a speakeasy with the best pub food in town). There’s also Cork Fire Kitchen, a restaurant at the premier Temecula Creek Inn that has won multiple awards.
Michael notes that it’s a chef-driven menu, so, “I usually lean toward the fish.” Temecula’s myriad dining options are mirrored in the winery and pub scene. Enchanting locations like Leoness Cellars present a paradise of options for day dates and date nights. Stroll hand-in-hand through the vineyards. Gaze eye-to-eye over a wine tasting. You could even take a bottle of their 2018 Vineyard Series Cabernet Sauvignon and head to a “sip-and-paint” class. But, perhaps best of all, would be to head out into the autumn sun and open it there. Whether that is floating in a hot air balloon, riding horses over the hills, or stopping at the perfect scenic spot on your hike up the Vail Lake Loop—that’s up to you and the person you love. “There’s so much you can do here,” Michael says, “It offers everything you could possibly want.” Circle through the perfect excursion combos that envelope the town. Or you can stretch your RV’s road legs out to Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs, and the Grand Canyon. But when all else fails—and possibly your energy after so many worthy excursions—you can always return to the resort, where there’s a place to play just a short walk from home.
5 Detours in Driving Distance
- ›› 61 Miles SAN DIEGO Take I-15 S and explore Balboa Park in “America’s Finest City.”
- ›› 76 Miles PALM SPRINGS Strike east to survey the Sonoran Desert from the Aerial Tramway.
- ›› 89 Miles LOS ANGELES Head up I-15 N to hike Hollyridge Trail—and take a selfie—at Hollywood.
- ›› 110 Miles JOSHUA TREE Trek to a weird—and awesome—oasis at Fortynine Palms.
- ›› 460 Miles GRAND CANYON Seize this bucket-list opportunity. It’s long but absolutely unforgettable
Where You Feel Lucky
No matter your prospects at the casino on any given night, as a guest at the Pechanga Casino RV Resort, you are always striking gold. Some nights that might be after a golden afternoon eating and drinking among the sunlit hills of Temecula. Other nights it might be making a starlit stroll back to your RV still tingling with the thrill of winning a game of chance. It’s only a few hundred feet, but even in that short span, you’ll smile at the temptations that surround you here. The Cove’s illuminated pools warble with blue water and golden light. You pass the spa. You pass the golf course clubhouse and the fulsome silence that lies over every green. The night air is cool with the faintest hint of salt. And approaching your spacious campsite, you may feel a reluctance to withdraw into the cabin of your RV just yet. But when you do, you’ll lie down, close your eyes, and feel lucky. While Las Vegas may be a place to go, Pechanga feels more like a place to be. Here, there is gold without the rush. A thousand opportunities to make a golden moment. To pause for a season and harvest the pleasures of the earth. To enjoy your place in the sun.