|If you live in Southern California, there are several resort hotels and casinos that are worth considering such as Agua Caliente Casino, Barona Card Club and Casino, Pala Resort Hotel, Casino and Spa and Pechanga.
We try to visit the Pechanga Casino and Resort Hotel at least once a year. Pechanga won't replace your favorite casino in Las Vegas, but it will cut down on your travel time and you can enjoy wine tasting at the nearby Temecula Valley wineries during your visit.
The Hotel isn't much to look at on the outside, but it is impressive and well kept on the inside. Our suite was very nice and the staff was friendly. However, we weren't allowed to check in until 4pm and they didn't allow "late check out" so we had to check out by 11am. We have stayed at a lot of hotels and that was a first for us.
Another first for us was they didn't allow us to take alcohol to our room. I assume it because they want you to buy the over priced alcohol in the mini bar. Whatever the reason, I'm a golfer and I enjoy taking bloody mary's to our early morning tee times. It's also common for me to take a couple of beers with me when I play golf in the afternoon. Pechanga's rule makes it difficult to do either and I wasn't very happy about security searching people at the elevator door entrance.
My wife decided to use the spa during our visit and she did enjoy herself. After her spa treatment, she decided to visit the pool area. At Las Vegas resorts, a lot of attention is given to the pool area. That's not the case at Pechanga. The pool itself is not much larger than some backyard pools and I imagine it gets very crowded during the summer months.
Regular Slots, Video Poker, Blackjack, California Craps (cards instead of dice), Pai Gow Poker, Let It Ride, Bingo and Three Card Poker can be found on the Pechanga casino floor. The table minimums on all games are high. For instance, it's not uncommon to play Pai Gow Poker for $10 in Las Vegas. The table minimum at Pechanga is $25. Blackjack can be played in Vegas for $5 or less at some casinos, but the table minimum at Pechanga is $10. Also, keep in mind there are NO free drinks at Pechanga while you play and that can significantly add to your playing costs.
The 54 table poker room is located on the top level of the casino's expansion area. It is very comfortable because it's non-smoking and away from the normal noise on the casino floor. Pechanga offers the normal assortment of poker games including Texas Hold'em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha Hold'em, High-Low Split, etc. Most if not all of the games have "bad beat" jackpots and tournaments start daily at 10am.
If it wasn't for the other activities in the area such as the golf and wine tasting, I wouldn't visit Pechanga very often, if ever. If you do plan to visit, it's a good idea to make reservations in advance and be sure to ask about their special vacation packages such as the one that includes a tour by Grapeline [wine tour review] through Temecula's wine country.
If you like to golf like I do, you can't go wrong playing at CrossCreek. It's only 15 minutes from Pechanga but it's secluded on the other side of the mountain away from the noise, freeways and homes. It's a beautiful golf course surrounded by nature. I make time to play whenever I visit Temecula. And don't forget that Pechanga will provide transportation to and from CrossCreek so you don't have to worry about driving if you want to have "refreshments" on the 19th hole before you return to civilization.