52 Reasons to Visit the San Jacinto Valley

Golf at the San Jacinto ValleyThe San Jacinto Valley has a wealth of things to see and do ~ so much so that we put together a list of 52 Reasons to Visit the San Jacinto Valley.  Feel free to send us your favorites to add to the list!

  1. The San Jacinto Valley is a tourism destination in Southern California.
  2. Perfect for family exploration, so much California history is found here.
  3. Extensive outdoor recreation possibilities, from easy to extreme, from mountain to desert terrain.
  4. Excellent location for Snowbirds in the heart of Southern California.
  5. Six, count them, six lakes in the area.
  6. A variety of seasonal and multicultural events.
  7. Mastodons were our first visitors, you can see them at the acclaimed Western Science Center.Western Science Center San Jacinto Valley
  8. Home to “California’s Official Outdoor Play” – The Ramona Pageant.
  9. We celebrate the Native American influence of our Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians which dates back 1,000 years.
  10. The natural beauty in the San Jacinto Valley takes your breath away.
  11. Idyllwild is our mountain neighbor, just a scenic drive away.
  12. San Jacinto Valley weather features over 340 days of sunshine, it never gets too hot or too cold.
  13. Enjoy the fall Harvest Festival in Hemet.
  14. Estudillo Mansion is all that remains of a 35,000 acre Mexican land grant given to Jose Antonio Estudillo in 1842.
  15. Diamond Valley Lake Visitor Center hosts hands-on exhibits regarding the building of the lake along with a small sample of ice age fossils and more.
  16. Estudillo Heritage Park Water Conservation Education Garden educates visitors about the beauty and water saving benefits of planting drought tolerant and native California plants.
  17. Play with exhibits and learn about the world at Fingerprints Youth Museum for children.
  18. Hemet Museum presents a panorama of local history in the freight house of Hemet’s Historic Santa Fe Depot.Ramona Bowl Museum in the San Jacinto Valley
  19. Since 1923 “Ramona” has delighted audiences of all ages. The Ramona Bowl Museum celebrates the history of California’s “Official Outdoor Play.”
  20. San Jacinto Valley Museum is located on the grounds of the Estudillo Mansion and filled with Southern California history and artifacts relating to the San Jacinto Valley.
  21. Enjoy a permanent collection of antique bridal gowns and accessories from the Victorian era at the Victorian Bridal Museum.
  22. Wonderful antiquing is found throughout the Valley.
  23. Visit Hemet’s Historical Maze Stone, a prehistoric petroglyph.
  24. Stop by the Soviet Transpolar Record Flight Site where in 1937 three Russian aviators completed a transpolar flight from Moscow establishing a new world’s nonstop distance record.
  25. The Soboba Casino features 2,000 slot machines and more than 20 Table Games.
  26. Valley Wide Recreation & Parks District maintains 60 miles of streetscapes, 76 parks, 9 community centers, and two aquatic centers in the San Jacinto Valley.
  27. Valley-Wide Recreation’s Aquatic Center is a heated 25-yard outdoor pool with zero depth entry, fountain sprayers and activity toys for small children, yet great for all ages.
  28. Culture thrives in the San Jacinto Valley thanks to the Diamond Valley Arts Council and their programs.
  29. Explore Simpson Park, a 483-acre wilderness park located in the Santa Rosa Hills south of the Valley and features hiking and biking trails along with a spectacular view of the entire San Jacinto Valley.
  30. Hiking in the San Jacinto and adjacent San Jacinto mountains offers beautiful wildflowers, towering pines, distant views, spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
  31. Come bike, hike, ride your horse, or simply stroll the Diamond Valley Lake Trails.
  32. Including Idyllwild, Pine Cove, Garner Valley and San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains you’ll find plenty to do in the San Jacinto – Santa Rosa Mountains Recreation Area.
  33. You’ll find 20+ wonderful hikes in the San Jacinto Ranger District in the San Bernardino National Forest.Hiking in the San Jacinto Valley Mountains
  34. The summit of Mount San Jacinto, in Mount San Jacinto State Park, stands 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California.
  35. If you love paragliding, Soboba Soaring offers one of the most consistent sites in Southern California and can be flown year-round.
  36. For golf enthusiasts, the San Jacinto Valley offers public courses that feature both 9 and 18 holes and are suitable for beginners and those who enjoy championship play.
  37. Camping, in this day and age, can be in a tent or a luxury RV. From wilderness to civilization ~ your experience can be whatever you want it to be!
  38. For fishing, boating, hiking, wildflowers and more – Diamond Valley Lake has it all.
  39. Lake Hemet is surrounded by the majestic beauty of the San Jacinto Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking no matter which direction your gaze travels.
  40. Little Lake & Reflection Lake are two more wonderful lakes in the San Jacinto Valley.
  41. Love Off Roading? The San Bernardino National Forest has had a system of designated Off-Highway Vehicle routes in place for more than 30 years.
  42. Road Cycling & Mountain Biking is extremely popular and trails are found throughout the Valley.San Jacinto Valley Mountain Biking
  43. Whether you are an experienced trail runner or a ‘couch to 5k’ in training, the San Jacinto Valley offers a multitude of running
  44. Hurkey Creek is a popular destination for camping, hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts
  45. Experience Golden Village Palms, California’s largest luxury RV Resort.
  46. San Jacinto Valley is home to a wide variety of RV Parks.
  47. 1,000’s of bats that migrate each summer – watch via Fairview Street bridge.
  48. The San Jacinto Agricultural Festival happens each September and celebrates the agricultural influences in the Valley.
  49. Birding Tours are hosted by the Eastern Municipal Water district fall through spring.
  50. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians hosts their Annual Soboba Inter-Tribal Pow Wow each September drawing thousands of visitors.
  51. Two outstanding Farmers’ Markets are found in the Valley year-round with an abundance of locally grown items.
  52. With strong Native American, Hispanic and Agricultural influences come unleash your spirit in the San Jacinto Valley.



Snowbird banner in the San Jacinto Valley


Living in Michigan my entire  life I wasn’t sure what to expect about life in the San Jacinto Valley in the heart of southern California. It’s one thing to visit an area for a week, it’s a completely different story when you live there and you have to find grocery stores, favorite coffee shops, the library, and so many more of the the everyday mundane parts of life.

My teen daughter and I made the drive from Michigan to San Jacinto Valley to explore the area and discover for ourselves if San Jacinto Valley is a good snowbird destination.

San Jacinto Valley Welcomes Snowbirds

The San Jacinto Valley welcomed Deb with a special reception

We only had a few requirements for a snowbird destination. There had to be warm weather and sunshine, good food, a lively arts & culture scene and decent shopping. San Jacinto Valley not only met our requirements, but exceeded them.

After being there for six weeks I created a list of things a first time snowbird needs to know about living in the San Jacinto Valley. These are my insights into the area and how things are different in the land of the sun.


1. Cactus and gravel instead of grass: I think this is one of the most noticeable things about coming from the midwest. In Michigan every lawn is green grass, or, if it’s winter, lots of snow. In the San Jacinto Valley the majority of yards are created from a combination of gravel and cactuses.  I like it because it seems pretty low maintenance to me and I love low maintenance.

2. Lots of stop lights: There are quite a few stop lights on the main roads. Be sure to plan extra travel time to go from point A to point B. A 10 mile trip took us about 30 minutes due, in part, to all the lights. Plan accordingly and you’ll be fine.

3. Taco shops: We tried to count the number of taco shops in the area, but it proved to be a bit challenging. There is almost one on every city block. If you love Mexican food this is a great place to live.

4. Beware of the Dips: The main roads in San JacintoValley don’t have speed bumps, but travel down any side street and where there is an intersection there is, most likely, a dip in the road, or, as we started referring to them, inverted speed bumps. Caution is advised because, at times, these sneak up on you quickly and if you don’t slow down for them you will be traveling Dukes of Hazard style across the intersection. We have been informed that these are actually flood control measures, but they will forever remain in our minds as inverted speed bumps.

5. Arts & Culture Scene: There is always something happening in the valley. Concerts, theater, plays, art shows, art classes, film festivals, galleries, and so much more. I love the variety of opportunities available. Since we’ve been here we’ve gone to a 70’s cover band concert, jazz concert, listened to dueling pianists and explored art galleries.

6. High(er) gas prices: If you are coming from the midwest be prepared to pay a bit more for gas, California is consistently one of the highest states for gas prices.  During my visit it was running about 30-40 cents more per gallon than in my hometown. By the way, it’s completely worth it to pay more to enjoy living without snow. The prices of groceries and eating out, however, is about the same as home. This has to be one of the most budget-friendly cities in southern California.

Farmer's Markets in the San Jacinto Valley7. Year round farmers markets: My favorite thing about the area is that there are two farmers markets that run year round. Hemet has more flea market type vendors in addition to fruits, veggies, and prepared foods and is open on Saturday mornings behind the Hemet Public Library. San Jacinto farmer’s market, at the corner of Menlo and San Jacinto Roads,  is certified organic and is open on Thursday morning and offers a great selection of fruits, veggies, fresh flowers, olive oil, fresh squeezed juice, mediterranean food, and more. It is a bit surreal shopping at farmer’s markets in January.

8. Easy drive to beach or mountains: If you are missing the snow San Jacinto Valley is a short drive to the mountains where you can go skiing and then drive back to the land of the sun. If you prefer spending the day at the ocean then you are in luck as that is also an easy drive. Each of them are within 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

9. Great location for day trips: The San Jacinto Valley provides a great, affordable, home base for unlimited day trip opportunities. Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Temecula, San Diego, Los Angelas, and Disneyland to name a few. Additionally, there are great destinations to visit within a 4 to 5 hour drive including Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Death Valley.

10 Friendly people. Everywhere we have visited during our stay we have been greeted by incredibly nice people. They are always welcoming and have a smile to share. In my opinion, the locals can make or break a destination and the locals definitely make this a place I want to stay.San Jacinto Valley's Diamond Valley Lake

Of course, there are cons to every destination and the San Jacinto Valley does have room for improvement. The commercial areas look tired and rough around the edges. Fresh coats of paint, some landscaping, and litter control would go a long ways to making the area look more welcoming.

However, as with most things in life, you get exactly what you pay for. Living in the San Jacinto Valley is very budget friendly and there are many great reasons to stay here (see list above and read my posts on JustShortofCrazy.com). However, if you are looking for a shiny, gorgeous destination like Palm Springs or Temecula you won’t find it here. My advice, stay here for the cost and visit the more expensive destinations as day trips.

Overall, I have found San Jacinto Valley a great location to snowbird. It is small town enough to make getting around easy, yet it is within easy driving distance to wonderful attractions and destination. I love that San Jacinto Valley is budget friendly and doesn’t come with the high costs that seem to infect many parts of southern California.

If you haven’t looked at the San Jacinto Valley as a snowbird destination come on out for a visit and see for yourself why this is the perfect winter location!

Deb ThompsonDeb Thompson is a lifestyle, travel, snowbird and food blogger at JustShortOfCrazy.com. She traded corporate America for living life on her terms. She is proof that you can live your dreams if you let go of the fear. She is a traveler, foodie, sun chaser, lover of fluffy dogs and sometimes cats, photo taker, baker, pr friendly influencer, brand ambassador, Michigan resident and much more. Follow her adventures at www.JustShortOfCrazy.com, www.facebook.com/JustShortOfCrazy,www.twitter.com/debthompson, or www.instagram.com/debthmpsn

What does Tourism mean to San Jacinto Valley?

Harvest Festival - Hemet

National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), now in its 31st year, is the annual salute to travel in America and is celebrated during the first full week of May.  This is the perfect time to explore what exactly tourism means to San Jacinto Valley.

First, on a national level:

  • Travel generates $2.1 trillion for the U.S. economy.
  • Travel supports 14.9 million American jobs – one in every 9 jobs depends on travel.
  • Travel is a top 10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
  •  Travel contributes more than $134 billion to the federal, state and local tax base. Each American household would pay $1,093 more in taxes without travel revenues.
  • Travel provides a “Day Off Dividend”: If workers used all of their available paid time off, the U.S. economy would gain $160 billion in additional annual business sales, which would support 1.2 million new jobs and generate $21 billion in new annual tax revenues.
  • Travel is America’s No. 1 services export.

Impacts of travel in California – A summary from Dean Runyan Associates

  • Total direct travel spending in California was $109.6 billion in 2013(preliminary).  During the past year, travel spending increased by 3.2 percent in current dollars
  • Total travel-generated employment increased by 4.4 percent during the past year. Employment growth has accelerated in each of the past four years. The level of travel-generated employment (965,800) now exceeds the pre-recession period.
  • California travel industry GDP of $51.6 billion in 2013 represents approximately 2.5 percent of total California GDP.

Inland Empire Regional Stats – Dean Runyan Associates

  • Transient Occupancy Tax generated $37.2 million in 2013, up 7.7% over 2012.
  • Taxable room sales were up 6.8% in 2013 generating $366 million region-wide.
  • Direct tourism employment in the Inland Empire was up 5.1% in 2013 equating to 61,700 jobs region-wide.

And what exactly that translates to in the San Jacinto Valley – Dean Runyan Associates

  • $6.6 million generated in valley room sales (lodging) in 2013.
  • Transient occupancy tax generated approx. $640,000.00 for the valley.
  • Taxable room sales were up approx. 9.5% in 2013 throughout the valley.

If you are interested in this data, you can see more here.

The Visit San Jacinto Valley tourism program was launched just 10 months ago and has aggressively been working to showcase all that the valley has to offer tourists.  Bringing tourism to the valley substantially impacts jobs and promotes economic growth.   Tourists look for unique experiences and that is exactly what they find in the San Jacinto Valley.  The Visit San Jacinto Valley tourism program will continue to work hard at highlighting all the wonderful things that can be found in our special area.

Ramona Bowl presents 91st season of Ramona Pageant

Ramona PageantThe Ramona Bowl is presenting the 91st season of Helen Hunt Jackson’s story “Ramona,” April 12 & 13, April 26 & 27, and May 3 & 4 (www.RamonaBowl.com). Written to bring awareness of the plight of the Native American in southern California, the play has been presented in Hemet, CA. every spring since 1923.   Ramona brings thousands to the San Jacinto Valley each year from across the United States.

In 1993, Ramona was designated the official outdoor play for the State of California.

Native American and Spanish roots of the valley showcased

Set in a natural amphitheatre the pageant’s story includes cowboys racing their horses over the hills, a fiesta full of Spanish dancing and the Elder blessing of Ramona and Alessandro’s child that features a breathtaking hillside full of Rock Indians.  It tells the touching love story of Ramona and Alessandro and is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet.

This year the role of Ramona is played by Jehnean Washington who is herself Native American. She has played Ramona twice before and brings an extensive acting background to the character as well as a classical singing voice.

Newcomer Sean Rey plays Alessandro. He is an Equity actor from the Bay Area who has worked with both the Stella Adler group and the Steppenwolf theatre. He has a wide background in both stage and film acting.

Ramona Pageant dancers

For each performance the gates open at 1:30pm so that visitors may enjoy a preshow in the courtyard. There are also extensive food selections, including waitress service, a gift shop and a museum that features one of the only murals ever created by Milford Zorne.  The show begins at 3:30 and last until 6pm.  For more information please visit www.RamonaBowl.com.

Ramona At a Glance

April 12 & 13, April 26 & 27, and May 3 & 4 at 3:30PM

Gates open at 1:30PM

Ticket Prices – Lower level: $32 for all ages

Upper level: $32 for adults

$29 for seniors 62 and up

$19 for children 12 and under

Local residents: $20

Shaded Box Seats: $47 for all ages

Contact: (951)658-3111 ext. 100



20 free and inexpensive Snowbird activities in San Jacinto Valley

Welcome San Jacinto Valley Snowbirds


Boredom is never a problem when you’re a Snowbird in the San Jacinto Valley. There are so many activities for a Snowbird and most are free or have a very minimal fee.

The problem won’t be wondering what you’ll do during your stay, but how you’ll get everything done while visiting San Jacinto Valley.

1. Bird watching guided tours: Held on the property of the Eastern Municipal Water District on the fourth Saturday of each month. Arrive between 7:45-8:00 a.m. These free tours are approximately 2 hours long and have a very easy, flat walk of less than a mile. Pastries, coffee & water are available prior to the tour. If you need binoculars they provide them for use during the tour. The guides are very knowledge about birds in the area and helpfully point out a variety of birds in the wetlands.

2. Continuing education classes at Mt. San Jacinto College. There are select classes that are offered free through the Continuing Education program at the college and perfect for a Snowbird. Ceramics, watercolor, writing and music to name a few. To learn more and register go to www.msjc.edu. Dates and time vary.

3. Golden Village Palms RV Resort hosts a variety of events throughout the winter all geared to the Snowbird. Concerts, car shows, farmers market, art show, Taste of the Valley, and more. Check their monthly calendar. Some fees may apply.

4. Hike: So many great hiking trails, so littleSan Jacinto Valley hiking time. The lakes, mountains, and parks all provide extensive hiking trails that are free to use.  Learn more here.

5. Valley Wide Recreation: Valley Wide offers a variety of classes to the public that are perfect for the Snowbird. Dance, exercise, and sports classes are offered throughout the week for minimal fees. They also offer a few guided day trips throughout the winter. Click on the link to learn more.

6. Art Galleries: Stroll through local art galleries and admire works by local artists. Exhibits change regularly.  Hemet Valley Art Association 144 N. Harvard St. Hemet, Esplanade Arts Center 2181 W. Esplanade Ave., San Jacinto , CA 92583. Check the Esplanade Arts Center website for special events in addition to their gallery, Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery  1499 N. State Street, San Jacinto. The Art Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 10 – 4pm. Bronze Sculpture artist Max DeMoss resides in the area and has a gallery on his property that you are welcome to visit. Gallery is open by appointment or by chance. Weekends are your best bet if you just want to drop in.

7. Villagefest in Palm Springs: Every Thursday night Palm Springs hosts a Villagefest downtown. Music, entertainment, food, and fun await you. Villagefest is pet friendly so feel free to take your four legged Snowbird friend with you. 6p-10p

8. Diamond Valley Lake Visitors Center: Learn about water and the building of Diamond Valley Lake through hands-on exhibits, a map of California’s aqueduct systems, a small sample of ice age fossils, a solar panel exhibit and more. 2325 Searl Parkway, Hemet, Ca., 92543 Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No charge.

9. Wine Tasting in Temecula: A short 30 minute drive and you can be in the wine country of Southern California. Temecula is home to 35 wineries that welcome guests to come over and spend time tasting their wine, taking tours, or just enjoying the ambiance of their vineyard. Tasting fees vary by vineyard. Most of the wineries are open daily for visitors from 10a to 5p.

10. Western Science Center: A hidden gem in Hemet the Western Science Center displays relics that were discovered during the construction of Diamond Valley Lake including the largest Mastadoon ever found in the Western United States. After visiting the museum walk around the outdoor gardens. $8 per person.

11. Estudillo Mansion: A preserved historic home in San Jacinto. The Estudillo Mansion is a beautifully restored home with friendly docents that share stories of life in San Jacinto during its early days. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and there are picnic tables for the Snowbird to relax and enjoy an afternoon lunch. Suggested donation: $2/per person. The Estudillo Mansion is open to the public every Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. Located at 150 S. Dillon Ave, San Jacinto, CA

12. San Jacinto Museum: Located on the grounds of the Estudillo Mansion the San Jacinto Museum offers visitors a look into the past through a large collection of photographs and memorabilia. Open Friday through Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm. Located at 150 S. Dillon Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

13. Concerts at Mt. San Jacinto College: A collection of jazz, big band and community orchestra concerts take place at the campus theater. Ticket prices are $6 general admission, $5 seniors, and $4 students, under 12 are admitted for free. Check the college calendar of events for up-to-date information.

14. Browse Farmers markets: A Snowbird favorite – every Thursday the San Jacinto Certified Farmers Market, located on San Jacinto and Menlo streets in the Farmer’s Corner plaza, provides a Hemet Farmer's Marketnice selection of organic certified fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, flowers, olive oils and more. The market is open from 8 am to 1 pm. Every Saturday the Hemet Farmers Market, located at 217 N Harvard St, is more of a flea market than farmers market. Vendors offer everything from used books, purses, hand crafted goods and fruits and vegetables. The market is open from 9 am to 2 pm.

15. Library: Apply for a library card and enjoy an unlimited supply of books and dvds for free. San Jacinto Public Library 500 Idylwild Dr, San Jacinto Monday-Saturday hours vary. Hemet Public Library 300 E. Latham Ave., Hemet. Wednesday – Saturday hours vary. Valle Vista Library 25757 Fairview Ave, Hemet. Monday – Saturday hours vary.

16. Hemet Train Depot/Museum: One of the oldest structures in Hemet. The museum showcases local history through photographs and artifacts and includes displays for the Ramona Pageant, Native American heritage and agricultural history. Open 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

17. Spend the day at Lake Hemet or Lake Perris State Recreational Area: These lakes are multi-use recreational lakes for boating, fishing, camping and swimming. Lake Hemet has a $12 day use fee and is located at 56570 California 74, Mountain Center, CA 92561. Lake Perris State Recreational Area is open 7 days a week from 6 AM – 8 PM and is located at 17801 Lake Perris Drive Perris, California 92571.

18. Visit the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge: Approximately 20,000 acres comprise the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge. To access the refuge take I-215 to Ramona Expressway and then east to Davis Road. Open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.

19. Shore fishing at Diamond Valley Lake : The water stored in Diamond Valley Lake serves as drinking water for some of Southern California making this is a no skin contact lake. However, boating and fishing are allowed. If you don’t have a boat shore fishing is allowed; a fishing license is required. A one-day license is $14.96. Learn more here.

20. Visit a museum. Discover everything from petroglyphs to Victorian bridal gowns at over 16 different museums in the region.


21. Join a community organization: There are many active community organizations in the San Jacinto Valley. Organizations include History, Art, Model Master, Computer Club, Harmony, Woodcarvers, Women’s Club and more.

Deb Thompson is a lifestyle, travel, snowbird and food blogger at JustShortOfCrazy.com. She traded corporate America for living life on her terms. She is proof that you can live your dreams if you let go of the fear. She is a traveler, foodie, sun chaser, lover of fluffy dogs and sometimes cats, photo taker, baker, pr friendly influencer, brand ambassador, Michigan resident and much more. Follow her adventures at www.JustShortOfCrazy.com, www.facebook.com/JustShortOfCrazy, www.twitter.com/debthompson, or www.instagram.com/debthmpsn



For more information:
San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce (951) 654-1645
Hemet/San Jacinto (951) 658-3211
Email: info@visitsanjacintovalley.com