Kid-Friendly Getaway at Pechanga Resort
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way. Yes, Pechanga Resort is kid-friendly and we spent a weekend there recently to prove it. And no, we are not bad parents for taking our kids to a casino resort. In fact, of the many casinos we’ve stayed at (many) this is by far the kid-friendliest. Our family had a blast on our recent visit kid-friendly getaway here, and oh-by-the-way there is a casino there too.
Now Triton and I like a good casino as well as any other adults, but they are not good places for kids. In fact, kids are not allowed – no one under the age of 21 is allowed in a gaming establishment in California. Pechanga Casino looks really fun, and we never set foot in there. However, Pechanga Resort has gone out of their way to design a fun place to stay for the entire family.
Pechanga Resort is Kid-Friendly
There are so many things to do with kids at Pechanga Resort Casino. They’ve done a great job creating fun for the whole family without needing any emphasis on gaming at all. Sophia had to work that weekend, so she experienced her first weekend alone at our house. (Fodder for another blog post). So Ava brought a friend along so the two could enjoy kid stuff together.
Resort Tower vs. Casino Tower
One of the smartest things Pechanga did was to build second hotel tower and call it the Resort Tower. Positioned as far away from the casino floor as guests can get, the 14-story Resort Tower is perfect for families. I’m sure the Casino Tower is awesome too, and we did not go there. Our suite in the Resort Tower was spectacular, so no jealousy here on what rooms are like in the other parts of the hotel.
Our room on the 10th floor was huge, with a separate bedroom, living room and kitchen area. With enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, we had outrageous views of the adjacent mountains and valley – all green from the recent rains. The living room was beautifully appointed, complete with sofa, comfortable chairs, big screen and more. In the bedroom, there was a super comfortable king-size bed with cozy down comforter and extra pillows (we love those extra pillows). Decorated in hues of blue and beige, it was soothing and relaxing. The girls had an adjoining room with two queen beds. Both rooms had deluxe tiled bathrooms with enormous showers, complete with rainfall shower heads and separate spray nozzles.
Management has thought of everything to make their guests’ stays really special. The sheets are high thread count, and they did not scrimp on the bedding. One indicator of luxury for me is the bathroom amenities, and Pechanga Resort did not disappoint. Molton Brown soaps and shampoos and Egyptian cotton towels made everything so comfortable. Even the hotel robes are super soft and cozy – way better than those itchy waffle-weave robes in some hotel closets. Yuck.
The Lobby Bar
After arriving and getting settled into our rooms, we changed clothes and went downstairs for dinner at The Lobby Bar. Seated in the main dining area, we listened to live music in the bar and perused our menus. I’m glad to say there were a ton of things we wanted to order, and we had a hard time deciding. Good thing everyone was feeling hungry, so we tried several things to share.
Chef Jose Mendoza is doing good work here, because everything was delicious. First thing out was a fun play on deviled eggs called Green Deviled Eggs and Ham, and boy were they green! Honestly they were gorgeous and highly photographable, but I’m not a fan. Triton and the girls gobbled them up in short order, and judging from their reactions the dish was a big hit. One of my favorite appetizers was the Chicken Wings, with a spicy glaze, pickles and peanuts. The combination sounds weird but it was really delightful.
For dinner I enjoyed a gigantic rib-eye steak, which is my favorite cut. Honestly, I have no memory of what the others ordered for dinner because I was so focused on my perfectly-cooked steak. Served with potatoes and a veggie side, this cut of meat was drizzled in butter and blue cheese. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
For dessert, the girls just had to try the chef’s version of a s’more. It was a giant cookie, still warm in it’s own skillet with a chocolate coating and melted marshmallows on top. Decadent and delicious, it called to the parents too. After all, we had to try a bite or two to help them out.
Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar
The next night, we were hungry for something different and were excited to see the sushi menu at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar. We opted to sit at a table instead of the sushi bar, and ordered a ton of interesting dishes to try. The fried calamari was excellent, and the kids loved their spicy edamame and miso soup.
Triton and I were hungry for sushi rolls, and ordered three different kinds from the varied menu. One roll was our favorite – the crispy white dragon roll. It was spicy tuna, fried shallot, and then yellowtail on top, along with wasabi aioli, micro cilantro and spicy aioli on the side. It was delish.
Journey at Pechanga Golf Club
We’re not big golfers – I haven’t played in years, and Triton has never even held a club. When they asked if the girls wanted a golf lesson, we thought that sounded fun – for them. Little did we know the entire family would get into the act, and everyone truly loved it. Our lesson was conducted on the Journey at Pechanga driving range by legendary golf instructor Randy Chang, who has taught hundreds of people how to play better. Randy has a true gift, because he had the girls hitting the ball well in about 15 minutes. No joke.
Even Triton got into the act, and after Randy worked with him on his swing for just a few minutes, he was hitting balls straight and far. I stood back while they learned the basics and took pictures, but when Randy handed me a 5-iron and invited me to hit a few, I was off and running.
Funny thing though. The way I was taught to hit the ball (and come to find out I am joined by about 80% of all golfers in this) I would keep my head down, with eyes on the ball at all times. Randy pointed out the errors in that old-school approach, and when he loosened my swing and got me to keep my head and eyes up instead, I hit even better.
I think we were all surprised at the fun we had on the golf course, and it made me want to play a full 18 holes. On this Par 72 public course, I could come back and play these links any time. That is, as long as Randy comes along to remind me about my new swing…
The new pool area at Pechanga, called The Cove, is one of the nicest – and largest – casino resort pools we have ever seen. The entire space takes up more than 4 acres! San Diego really has cornered the market on casino pools, with Harrah’s Southern California Resort and their lazy river, and Valley View Casino with their disappearing edge pool. Here at Pechanga, there are multiple pools depending on your mood and interests.
With the kids in tow, we settled into a cabana at the Family Pool. As the parents settled into our cushy chaise lounges to grab some sun, the kids were immediately off to the water slides at the far end. Nearer to us, the shallow waters were a great play area for the younger kids to splash around in. The larger pool is meant for adults 21+, and on another kind of trip we would have been floating over there with umbrella drinks in our hands. Or maybe sitting at the swim-up bar chatting it up with some new friends. Still, we had a great time with the kids and even got a dunk in at one of the five spas dotting the pool area.
Speaking of spas, Spa Pechanga is also brand new and breathtakingly beautiful. While the girls went over the get pedicures, the dads tried out a couple of signature treatments that relaxed us even further. Once inside the 25,000 square-foot center of relaxation, guests are invited to stay awhile. You can partake in the steam room, sauna and indoor dunking pools available in both men’s and women’s separate areas. Relaxed and ready for more, we wandered back to the tranquil waiting area for our treatments. Triton had the Balancing Stone Massage (starting at $140), and I tried the Acorn and Walnut Renewal Treatment (starting at $190).
For the Acorn and Walnut Renewal, my therapist scrubbed my skin with a nutty mixture that felt rough and good at the same time. The sensation was oddly relaxing, as a thick paste was used to rub off all the dead skin cells to reveal the fresh new skin beneath. After showering off in the treatment room, I laid back down on the now-clean massage table for a body treatment. Whatever massage oil my therapist used smelled so good, I actually feel asleep. I know this, because I woke myself up by snoring so loudly. Embarrassing, but an indicator of how relaxed I was feeling!
Another spot I loved was the fitness center, which we had visited earlier that same morning. We left the kids asleep, and slipped on our running shoes to check out the onsite gym. Attached to the Spa, the fitness center is large and very well appointed. No expense has been spared in these facilities, let me tell you – the weight equipment was top-notch and the machines were all sparkly new and well maintained. Both Triton and I like to work out, and are often disappointed with hotel fitness rooms that are really more like a dark closet. This is something far from that, and we loved it.
PS – I am now addicted to the Peloton Bike workout programs thanks to this great place.
Although we could easily have stayed at Pechanga without leaving all weekend, there are a bunch of other cool things to do in Temecula with kids. Although the kids might not enjoy a winery tour, there are a ton of fantastic vineyards all through this valley. Within a very short driving distance there must be at least three dozen tasting rooms. Some allow kids to hang out while the parents sample the wares.
There are also a number of interesting spots in Old Town Temecula to discover. Old Western storefronts with real wooden walkways harken back to days gone by, and local artisans and other businesses are set up to welcome visitors.
We ended up heading out to the movie theater after dinner one night. The kids (ok, and the parents) were dying to see The Avengers: End Game. With a ton of movie houses in the area, the theater we chose was located in a nearby mall. It was super nice, clean and plenty of free parking.
Really, whether you choose to leave the Pechanga Resort or not, it’s a great family getaway. We can see why this destination is growing in popularity!