Gambling, Bars, A Nightclub, Live Entertainment & Hotel Are Within A Two-Hour Drive Of Los Angeles
At some point in time, this always happens when people from Southern California hop in the car, SUV or whatever and make the four- to five-hour drive across the 15 freeway to Las Vegas.
About two hours into the trip you say (or someone else says) “wouldn’t it be awesome if Vegas were just a little closer to us. Wouldn’t it be great if we were there now!?”
Well you could be there in about two hours. Sort of anyway.
Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula is closer to Vegas than you may think and in more ways than one. First of all, it’s an hour and a half from downtown Los Angeles and about two hours from Santa Monica and even San Diego.
Secondly, it’s plush, like a nice Vegas resort and casino. Pechanga is a lot nicer than you might imagine it to be for a casino on an Indian reservation (it certainly was for me, I’ll put it that way).
It also has a gambling floor bigger than even the MGM in Vegas. So it’s huge. And, just like in Vegas casinos, it’s easy to get turned around inside so sometimes you find yourself pinwheeling in circles until you find a sign pointing you to what you are looking for to get you headed in that direction.
Third, it has the same “ding, ding, ding” sound of all casinos and it’s full – and I mean full on weekends – of people playing from daytime well into the early morning hours.
Fourth, it has restaurants (a whopping 11 of them in fact), bars, a nightclub, a comedy club that becomes a live music venue, a live music venue with touring bands (Alice Cooper, Earth Wind & Fire) and a hotel with spacious rooms that look nearly identical to Las Vegas hotel rooms. There’s even a few high-end shops adjacent to the casino.
Like Vegas, Pechanga gets people there for a variety of reasons: to gamble, to see a show, attend an event such as its spectacular over-the-top microbrew festival, even groups there for bachlorette parties.
There’s so much to do at Pechanga, you could spend 24 hours there and never set foot off the property. In fact, PubClub.com did just that and still didn’t get to all of it. In addition to all the above, there’s also a spa and an 18-hole golf course.
Of course, there’s one noticeable difference between Pechanga and Vegas and that’s the fact that outside the doors, there is no Strip. Pechanga is a stand-alone property. Also, under California law, casinos on Indian reservations cannot comp drinks with gambling. That being said, the drinks prices are way cheaper than Vegas; generally $5-6 for a mixed drink.
And there is something else that is definitely not in Vegas: wineries. Temecula is home to some 50 wineries and several people go wine tasting during the day and stay at Pechanga for gambling and partying at night.
Pechanga is currently undergoing a massive expansion that will double the size of its room capacity (by the way, book at least a week in advance because the place is nearly always full), turn its auditorium where the touring bands play into a 5,000-capacity concert venue and transform its pool into a dreamy luxury oasis. Most of this will be completed by December.
So the next time you want to go to Vegas but don’t want to make the long drive and wished there was something closer, point your vehicle toward Temecula when you get on the 15 freeway. Pechanga will make you think you’re in Vegas, at least for a day and/or night.
Pechanga Resort & Casino Fast Facts
• Address & Map: 45000 Pechanga Parkway Temecula, CA
• Dining: A total of 11 restaurants with everything from the Great Oak Steakhouse to a great sports bar with a BBQ smoker (Kelsey’s); Paisano’s Italian; Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar (which somewhat surprisingly won Best Chili at the microbrew festival & chili cook-off); a buffet; cafe; food court and a coffee, tea and wine bar.
• Bars & Nightclubs: The Eagle’s Nest is a nightclub on the top floor of Pechanga ($10 cover). The Comedy Club ($18, Friday and Saturday nights) turns into a bar with an 80s band on weekends. There are several other bars in the casino, the best – and most social – of which is the beautiful circle bar.
• Phone: 1-888-PECHANGA
• Website: www.pechanga.com