The History: A horseshoe-shaped town square anchors Old Town Temecula, where you’ll find plenty of historic action. Not surprisingly, many of the buildings went up around 1883, the year the Southern California Railroad brought travelers and commerce to the Temecula Valley. One of those structures, the Hotel Temecula, had to be rebuilt in 1891—but that structure still stands (and you can stay there). You can also still see the town’s first church building, St. Catherine’s—though the 1917-era structure was moved to Sam Hicks Monument Park, at the northern end of Old Town. Other original buildings have been refurbished and given new missions: The 1890 Mercantile building is now the entryway to the Temecula Community Theater; and the 1st National Bank, built in 1914, is now a Mexican restaurant.
Where to Play: The Hotel Temecula hasn’t always been open to guests, but it is now. Start your day with sustainable coffee at EAT Marketplace, or duck in anytime for locally sourced dishes. Pop in for a pizza with innovative combinations of fresh toppings at The Goat and Vine. Head to Old Town’s original bank, which is now a Mexican restaurant called, fittingly, The Bank. Or try the namesake burger at 1909, in an original building that has also been home to a trading post, a livery, and an auto shop. Browse for antiques at the Old Town Antique Faire, or the 30,000-square-foot Granny’s Attic Antique Mall, which has more than 200 shops. If the kids need a break from all this history, bring ’em to Pennypickle’s Workshop, Temecula’s children’s museum. And if you want a break from the kids, experience the country-music scene—complete with line dancing and mechanical bull–riding—at the Temecula Stampede. Or check out what’s on at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.