Old Town Temecula: History and Things To Do
Old Town Temecula is a popular tourist destination for its history and many things to do in this part of Temecula. This part of the city is full of history. It reflects the various changes that affected Temecula throughout the years, from its time as a Native American village to its history as part of a Spanish mission. So if you’re looking for a fascinating piece of Temecula to explore and enjoy, you’re in the right place.
Let’s look at a brief history of Old Town Temecula, some incredible restaurants, places to stay, and seasonal activities. So, without further ado, let’s jump into an exploration of Old Town Temecula.
A Brief History of Old Town Temecula
Temecula has a long history, from being one of the only towns in California that retain its indigenous name to its history as a Spanish mission, Mexican rancho, railroad hub, and of course, the city it is today. Old Town Temecula seeks to maintain part of Temecula’s history, leaning into the Western aesthetic and storefronts reminiscent of the 1800s Wild West.
Temecula has been inhabited as far back as 900 C.E., and the area was inhabited by Native Americans when the first European settlers arrived in the 1700s. As a result, this city has transformed countless times, depending on who lived in the area, starting as a small mission hub and growing into a Mexican ranching operation and stagecoach stop in the 1800s.
With the rail line’s completion in 1882, the stagecoach became a thing of the past, opening Temecula up to visitors from as far away as San Diego and San Bernardino. So while Temecula is now known as a wine country, the first commercial vineyard didn’t open until 1968. However, this first vineyard inspired others, growing Temecula into the wine haven we know today.
Temecula, translated to mean “where the sun breaks through the mist,” cuts through the mist of time, transporting visitors to a city that remembers its past and strives toward the future. Old Town Temecula holds part of this history close to home while hosting businesses that reflect Temecula’s future as a tourist destination.
Old Town Temecula is a commercial hub, supporting countless restaurants, lodging options, and seasonal events worth checking out. While we can’t cover everything there is to do in the bustling city of Temecula, we’ve rounded up some of the top attractions in each category to help you better plan your next Temecula adventure.
Places to Eat
Set in a gorgeous restored 1950s home, PUBlic House offers innovative, delicious recipes that reflect the history of Old Town Temecula. Enjoy pub fare alongside incredible sandwiches, local beverages, and a seasonal, rotating menu of foods that keep you coming back for more each time you visit.
If you’re stuck on what to order, check out their breakfast menu for a mix of Mexican-American favorites and intriguing international classics that will have you aching for seconds.
The Goat & Vine
If you’re craving high-quality ingredients and a rustic menu that reflects the history of Temecula, you’ve come to the right place. The Goat & Vine prides itself on its “rustic whimsy,” offering a menu that combines high-quality foods and recipes with a touch of local charm. They open slightly before lunch and continue to serve food late into the evening, making this a perfect mid-day meal stop for anyone looking for excellent food in an even better atmosphere.
Another example of history getting new life in Old Town Temecula, Small Barn is a renovated historic building given new life as a restaurant. Small Barn embraces wine country as an aesthetic and a lifestyle, offering incredible food with a comfortable atmosphere integral to Temecula and California.
Small Barn serves both brunch and dinner with classic wine country meals as well as fresh ingredients and, of course, plenty of local wine. Enjoy everything from innovative salads to traditional burgers and everything in between.
No exploration of Old Town Temecula is complete without a stop at 1909. This bar, live music venue, and incredible food venue are at the heart of this part of town. Enjoy innovative cocktails, live music, and food that will have you returning every night of your stay.
With a history as an old-time saloon transformed into a modern Temecula restaurant venue, this bar holds its history in the name, celebrating 1909 when the building was rebuilt after a catastrophic fire. So if you’re looking for a pub experience married with a touch of Temecula class, you’ll feel right at home at 1909.
Where to Stay
Palomar Inn Hotel
Who doesn’t want to stay in a part of Old Town Temecula’s history when they visit? Palomar Inn Hotel was built in 1927 and has had its fair share of ghost sightings, Holywood film features, and more. This slice of Temecula’s history is within walking distance of countless restaurants and attractions throughout the city. Plus, wine-tasting tours pick up right down the road, making this a must-stay location for anyone exploring Temecula Valley wineries.
Guests rent out the entire hotel during their stay, with spaces for up to twelve guests across six rooms. If you’re looking for an incredible group lodging option that feels straight out of history, the Palomar Inn Hotel is perfect for you. However, remember that this hotel is for small groups, so it may not be available in advance.
Best Western Plus Temecula Wine Country Hotel & Suites
If you need a classic, almost always available lodging option in Temecula, you can’t go wrong with Best Western. This classy establishment offers classic comfort near all the action, allowing you all the comforts of home in a standard hotel. So while it may not inspire you like some historic lodging options available throughout Old Town Temecula, if you’re looking for a fast, convenient, available lodging option close to downtown, Best Western is always a safe bet.
The Hotel Temecula
Who wouldn’t want to stay at one of the first hotels in Temecula? The aptly-named Hotel Temecula was built in 1883 to lodge riders on the Southern California Railroad and is still in operation today. However, the base building was rebuilt after a fire in 1891.
This hotel has only had three owners since its creation, making it an iconic portion of Old Town Temecula. Have you ever wanted to sit under wisteria planted in 1891? How about taking a picture in front of a historic emigration office? At Hotel Temecula, you can do just that. If you truly want to experience Old Town Temecula’s history, there’s no better place to stay than this quaint historic hotel.
Seasonal Things to Do
Temecula has so much going on it takes a lot of work to pick just a few events. Here are some of the seasonal events put on by the town, as well as some year-round activities that are sure to please. Remember that some of these events fill up quickly, so reserve a spot before making the trip to Temecula Valley.
4th of July Celebration
Planning is in the works for the Temecula 4th of July Celebration for 2023. In years past, the town hosted a parade and held several events worth visiting. While we’re a little early on for concrete events, rest assured that this July 4th extravaganza is well worth attending. You can find out more about past events and check in for updates on future events on the town website.
Temecula Art Nights
The first Friday of each month is Art Night in Temecula. This event includes an outdoor art tour featuring local artists across all genres. There are also refreshments, live music, and more. This event occurs at The Merc and The Lot on Main Street and runs from 5 to 8 PM. Art Nights are free to attend and prioritize showing the talents of local artists in the community. What better way to spend an evening appreciating local artists and enjoying great company and food?
Celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity on May 20, 2023, at the Temecula Civic Center with the Temecula CultureFest. This free community event showcases live music, special performances, family activities, and dancing. Explore vendors from all cultural backgrounds and walks of life, and enjoy truly international foods and actions by local crafters, artisans, and more. Temecula is a diverse city, and what better way to experience that melding of cultural backgrounds and heritages than with this truly worldwide cultural diversity celebration?
Temecula Rod Run
May 5 marks the start of the Temecula Rod Run. If you love gorgeous old cars, you’re in the right place. This celebration of tricked-out hot rods is an absolute blast and features a parade to showcase these incredible vehicles in motion. However, remember that while you can bring your hot rod to the event, you must register in advance to park and show off your ride.
Temecula Wine Tasting Tour
If you want even more to do in Temecula, why not join a wine-tasting tour? Best Coast Tours offers wine-tasting tours with start locations in Old Town Temecula. They can even head out from your hotel if you need a custom pickup spot. Explore local vineyards and learn about Temecula Valley’s most famous agricultural profession, all on a guided tour. With comfortable, climate-controlled vans and professional tour guides, you will surely enjoy this combination of wine-tasting flight and guided tour. To schedule a tour, or reserve a private van for events, make a reservation today.