I recently had a chance to visit San Jacinto Valley. Before being invited, I’d never heard of the area, nor did I know anything about the region. Now that I’ve had a taste of what it has to offer, I’ll be adding it to my list of travel destinations I want to visit again soon.
While my trip was marred by an illness that made me miss several activities and events (read: 6 Emergency Medical Tips for Travelers), I did get to visit some incredible places that I’ll share in more detail with you in later posts.
Visit San Jacinto Valley – Getting There
My accommodations were located in Hemet, California, which was the perfect spot to explore the surrounding areas. There are several nearby airports including Ontario International Airport (ONT), Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), and John Wayne Airport (SNA). For us, the best airport was Ontario. It has inexpensive direct flights from Seattle and is a quick and easy one hour drive to Hemet. Rental cars are expensive at this airport so shop around and look for discount coupons. We found the best car rental deal through Costco (you’ll need to be a member).
There are taxi and shuttle services from the Ontario Airport to Hemet, but renting a car will give you more options once you arrive. A 4-day car rental was about $250 with taxes and fees, but we traveled on our time and made stops along the way, including a GPS-fueled goose chase to an In and Out Burger in Riverside, California. Silly us, Hemet has their own. Gas and services are easy to find along the way and within Hemet as well. Prices were standard for the area.
We drove in after dark so we had no idea what the terrain looked like on our drive so the next morning we couldn’t wait to explore. The San Jacinto Valley is located at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and Santa Rosa Hills. It’s an area where you can experience the heat of the valley and in minutes drive to cooler climates at higher elevations. Driving back to the airport during daylight hours rewarded us with views of the surrounding area making for a pleasant trip.
You should know that the Ontario Airport has very limited services available on weekends. We arrived the day after the Paris bombings, and we were unnerved to find all of the businesses inside the airport closed and just one other person in site.
Weekends at the Ontario Airport, California
This is the video I took at the airport and posted to Instagram – I had no idea they closed all of their services on the weekend. Click on it to start the video player and tell me if you would have been as surprised as I was!
It turns out we were nervous without cause; that’s a typical Saturday afternoon at this airport. Know before you go that there are no services available after 11 am, and that includes food. The one gift shop that did eventually open has restricted hours and a limited offering of food including chips, yogurt, candy, and protein bars to hungry tourists.
You can also reach Hemet via an Amtrack (HMT) via Thruway Bus Service from Bakersfield, CA.
So now you know that getting to and from the San Jacinto Valley is easy, but what is there to do there? Oh, so many beautiful things! I’ll be sharing the wineries I visited, museums, restaurants, and more in posts to come. Please subscribe to our feed, so you don’t miss them.