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Wine Country Events in May

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Events

It’s that time of the year again when nearby Wine Country comes alive.  One of the great things about living in Canyon Lake is having some of the best wineries in California and the West Coast within a 30 minute drive.  Temecula Wine Country features over 35 wineries with over 35,000 acres of vineyards.  The area is known for several award winning wines and the location creates a growing climate that produces a large variety of wines.  According to the Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association, Temecula growers produce wines varietals ranging from cool-climate grapes such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay, through the moderate-climate Bordeaux varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc, to the warmer-climate Mediterranean varieties, including Viognier, Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo.

There are two events in May that kick off wine season and provide a perfect opportunity to sample some of the local wines:

Temecula Wine and Music Festival | May 4th

temecula wine and music festivalThis 9th annual event features 14 different jazz artists performing all throughout the day.  Grammy nominated artist Brenda Russell will be performing along with several other well known musicians such as Warren Hill, Grammy winner Patrice Rushen, jazz pianist Gregg Karukas, and English guitarist Chris Standring.  This all day event with showcase wines from 10 different wineries including locals Lorimar, Monte De Oro, South Coast, and Wilson Creek.  Lawn seating, reserved seating, and table seating up close to the stage is all available for this one of a kind event.  Tickets can be purchased in advance online at Temecula Wine and Music Festival’s website.  The event takes place at beautiful Vail Lake Resort and runs from 11am to 6pm.

Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival | May 31st-June 2nd

temecula balloon and wine festivalThe 3 day Balloon and Wine Festival truly is a unique event.  For 30 years the community has come together for amazing entertainment, musical artists, and exceptional wines in the Temecula Valley.  Expect to taste amazing wines and beers while you catch artists like Scotty McCreery, All American Rejects, and Berlin.  And of course, the hot air balloons every morning and every night are breathtaking.  In the evening, they tether the balloons but light ’em up and the entire festival grounds glow with dozens of balloons.  If you want to take a morning ride in a balloon and watch the sun come up in the most spectacular fashion, prices start as low as $200 per person.   There is also an amazing selection of food vendors and food trucks every year so you won’t go hungry.   There’s so much to do at the festival and the best place to get all the details is the Balloon and Wine Festival’s website.  The  best advice we have for you is to bring walking shoes and comfortable clothes and probably a sweater or jacket if you plan on staying for the evening festivities.

If you’re planning a trip to wine country soon, here’s a map courtesy of the Temecula Wine Growers Association to help guide you on your tasting tour.  Please remember to taste responsibly.  🙂

* Photos courtesy of Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association, Balloon and Wine Festival, and Wine and Music Festival

Thai Cuisine at it’s Finest – Thai Orchid

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Restaurants

thai orchid restaurant murrietaJust a short drive from Canyon Lake, down the road in Murrieta is a little hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant called Thai Orchid.  I don’t know who is in the kitchen whipping up these amazing Thai dishes, but my guess is that it’s some wise elderly Thai woman with mad cooking skills and an amazing palette, because the food here is some of the best I’ve ever had.  And it figures because the best restaurants are usually the family owned ones with recipes handed down from generation to generation.  Needless to say Thai Orchid does not disappoint when it comes to traditional Thai cuisine.

This is no fancy place with expensive dishes and artwork and fountains, but it is always clean.  In the many times I’ve been there, I’ve always been able to get a table quickly and the servers are always fast to take my order.  What amazes me is that they always remember what I ordered last time.  One time the wife and I went in with another couple and the server remembered what everybody at the table had ordered when we were there a month prior.  That’s customer service.  The food always comes out fast and hot and everybody’s dish comes out within a few seconds of the others, which you may know is no small feet if you’ve eaten at other Thai restaurants.

thai orchis orange chickenThe menu has your usual selection of classic Thai dishes like Tom Yum, Curries, Panang and of course the classic Pad Thai.  Each dish is made to the level of spiciness you request and in my experience, it always comes out consistently perfect.  The Thai Orchid serves beer and wine along with traditional items like Thai Iced Tea, Boba and a delicious ginger tea.  Food prices are very affordable for a sit down dinner and most entree’s clock in at $8-$12.  You Yelp-er’s out there should be pleased with their 4 star rating.  They’re probably the closest and most authentic Thai restaurant near Canyon Lake.

It’s always a quiet experience and occasionally there is sports or something else entertaining on the TV.  They are open for lunch and dinner and they also take reservations which might be a good idea if you have a large party as seating is limited.  Call them at 951-894-2863 if you’re headed down and they’ll save you a table.

Storm Baseball Season in Full Swing

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Featured

lake elsinore stormIt’s baseball season again and The Storm are already 12 games in and playing their hearts out.  If you never seen a Storm game, you owe it to yourself to get out to the stadium this season for some great quality, affordable, family entertainment.

The Storm play several days each week and there are always promotions like “2 for 1 Tuesdays” or “Fireworks Fridays” that make it fun and affordable for Canyon Lakers to make a game.

Originlly affiliated with The Angels, The Storm are now a Padres farm team since 2000.  Every season the Boys of Summer entertain the crowds at Pete Lehr Stadium with great baseball.  Storm Stadium seats approximately 8000 people and game attendance is always strong.  The stadium is only 4 miles away from Canyon Lake and the facilities are world class.  It’s a great ball field for watching a game and The Storm organization really excels at entertainment with lots of crowd interaction, great music, fun contests and things to do in the stadium that make it more than just a baseball game.

One of the entertainment highlights is always the team mascot, Thunder.  Thunder and his friends have been entertaining both adults and kids for years and they keep the games light and enjoyable.

The Storm are scheduled to play 140 games this season in the California league against teams like San Jose Giants, Bakersfield Blaze, and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.  For game stats, recaps and the latest news the team website is loaded with a ton of information about the team and the league.

Ticket prices range from $7.00 up to $14.00 depending on seat location with discounts for military and seniors.  Season tickets are very affordable and they have a great Family Fun Pack promotion for 4 box seats, hot dogs, soda, and several other perks for only $60.  For a full listing of promo nights and special events, check The Storm promotions page.

Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of spring games:

  • It’s still spring and nights get a little cool so bring a jacket, sweatshirt, or blanket.
  • If you are bringing the kids, Sunday is the day that kids rule the diamond with all kinds of fun events for kids.
  • Come a little early for best parking and fun pre-game entertainment.

So whether you’re a baseball fan or not, make the short drive from Canyon Lake to give a Storm game a try this spring and expect a great night of entertaining ball and activities.


*Player photo of Robert Perry courtesy of Tom Clifton via Flickr

Canyon Lake Featured on Real Estate Podcast

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Real Estate

Canyon Lake was recently the featured topic on the Southern California Real Estate Podcast.  Hosts David Fitzpatrick and Justin Bevins (Canyon Lake resident) spent time discussing our unique community with local real estate agent and resident Carolyn Bushey.  Lots of great information regarding the amenities and activities about Canyon Lake and some interesting history on our lake.  Listen in to learn more:

Get Rid of Your Junk on Citywide Clean-up Day 4/27

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Events

It’s often been said that America is the only country where people keep their $40,000 cars outside and keep all their junk in the garage.  If that’s you, then maybe it’s time to do a cleanout on Canyon Lake’s Citywide Clean-up Day April 27th.  Drop off your items at the Canyon Lake Community Church parking lot from 8am to 2pm.  CR&R Disposal is sponsoring the event and here’s a list of acceptable items:

  • Furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Concrete / Asphalt
  • Lumber / Tree Trimmings (cut and bundled in 4′ lengths)
  • Normal trash
  • E-waste (electronics)

e-waste photoAlthough e-waste is not considered a hazardous material, it does become toxic to the environment as it degrades in our landfills.  Here are a few interesting facts about e-waste:

  • Approximately 80% of electronics are discarded in landfills where they leach off toxic materials like lead.
  • Electronics represent only 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but equals over 70% of overall toxic waste.
  • E-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America and only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.
  • Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.
  • 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.*

CR&R is not accepting any hazardous materials such as motor oil, batteries, anti-freeze, paints, solvents, light bulbs, cleaning products, chemicals, or pesticides.  These items can be disposed of on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-2pm at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Lake Elsinore (800) 755-8112


*E-waste facts and photo courtesy of

Junk Tower photo attributed to Sigma via Flickr

Walking, Running, and Cycling for Fitness in Canyon Lake

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Recreation

canyon lake runningStep outside on a spring morning in Canyon Lake and you’ll see that the streets belong to walkers, runners, and cyclists getting their early morning exercise on.  Canyon Lake’s rolling hills make for a challenging and varied course and local residents attack it with vigor.  You’ll see Mommies doing the uphill double stroller push across the causeway and cyclists racing against golf carts.  Some residents make fitness a high priority and often you’ll see the same faces out there every day pounding the pavement around the community.

It’s no surprise that Canyon Lake is a fit community given that most of our amenities center around recreation.  The streets make a great place for training and fortunately we have a nice wide bike lane that is easily shared by cyclists, runners, and walkers.  And even when they’re out there huffin’ and puffin’ most athletes still have enough breath to say hello or give a friendly nod to other pedestrians making the exertion a little more enjoyable.

If you’re thinking of putting in some miles this spring, here’s some approximate distances to help you set your course:

  • Main Gate to Vacation Drive Stop Sign 1.4 miles
  • East Gate to Vacation Drive Stop Sign 1.7 miles
  • North Gate to Vacation Drive Stop Sign 1.9 miles
  • Continental Drive 1 mile
  • Longhorn Drive 1.7 miles
  • Evans Park West also features a walking/running trail

If you’re looking for a few events to test your fitness level, the Canyon Lake Triathlon Club sponsors the annual “Fit Community” 5k & 10k walk/run and the annual “Tour de Canyon Lake” bike ride.  The club also sponsors and participates in several other events annually including triathlons and duathlons.  You can get more information about the club, group training and events through their website.

If you plan to exercise on the streets of Canyon Lake, here’s a few things to remember:

  1. Wear bright or reflective clothing and be aware of your surroundings; you’re sharing the roads with motorists and you never know if they’re paying attention, so protect yourself by being alert and visible.
  2. If your exercising with Fido, keep him on a leash so for his safety as well as yours and others sharing the path.
  3. As temperatures warm up into summer carry water and stay hydrated to avoid heat stroke and other heat related illnesses.
  4. If your cycling, be sure to wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road to protect yourself and make drivers aware of your presence.
  5. Carry your cell phone with you in case of an emergency.

Go at your own pace and most of all have fun.  We’ll see you in the lane!


* runner’s leg image courtesy of eHow


Bites Offers Worldly Menu in the Canyon Hills Center

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Restaurants

bites menu canyon hillsAs Canyon Lakers looking for good food choices, sometimes we have to venture out to find a variety of dining experiences.  One of the newest options nearby in Canyon Hills is a restaurant called Bites.  Bites officially opened April 5th 2013 with rather unique menu featuring recipes from around the world.  One look at the menu and you’ll quickly realize you’re in for a special treat.  The first thing you’ll notice is a strong selection of wild game including venison, boar and quail all prepared and served with an international flair.

Another surprise is a separate menu with a variety of salads and other appetizer specialties.

You also won’t get your run of the mill beer and wine selection.  On tap is a variety of less common brews including a Hef and an IPA.  The wine list includes some unique selections from places like Chile, Spain, France, and Argentina.

bites halibutOn a recent Friday visit to Bites, the restaurant was full, with a good mix of young and old.  The staff were friendly and accommodating and even though the food took a little longer than expected, it was cooked perfectly and worth the little extra wait.  On day two of opening week, one expects any business to still be working out the kinks and it’s likely to get better with time.  It was obvious when the food arrived that the chefs had taken extra care and attention to be sure it was cooked perfectly and presented well.

I had the pork chop which was served on the bone and was savory and juicy with a delicious red wine reduction.  The chop was served over real mashed potatoes (the slightly chunky kind that you just can’t stop eating).  The chop was lean and filling.  Ellen had the almond crusted halibut with a deliciously prepared cream wine sauce and asparagus.  I’m told it was perfectly prepared and also delicious.

At all the nearby tables, praise for the food could be heard and it seemed as though all the diners that night were beyond satisfied.

Bites is located in the Canyon Hills Shopping Center and is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday and open for breakfast on the weekends.  Check out their website at or call ahead to 951-244-3121 and let them know you’re coming.


Get a Better Slice of Pie at Troy’s Pizza Oven

By CanyonLakeSoCal | Canyon Lake Restaurants

If your looking for a good slice of pizza in Canyon Lake, you don’t need to go any further than Troy’s Pizza Oven in the Canyon Lake Towne Center.  Troy’s has been open for about a year in the southwest corner of the shopping center and has been delighting locals with delicious pizza, calzones, and oven baked sandwiches.

It’s a simple little restaurant with a dozen or so tables featuring both dine-in andtroys emeralds extra special pizza canyon lake take-out options.  The menu choices are varied and even includes some alternate options like lamb Gyro’s, Burgers, and some delicious seasoned French Fries.

The Pizza menu includes all the usual suspects and few specialty pizzas such as the Smoked Salmon Pizza with Alfredo sauce, ricotta, capers, and green onions… or the Chicken Pesto with pesto sauce, sun dried tomato, Kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts… or the Greek Spinach Pie with olive oil, spinach, feta chees, and garlic. And you can design your own pie from all the typical ingredients you would expect. The pizzas are sized generously and come out pipen’ hot!

The cool thing is the pizzas and Calzones are cooked in a tradional pizza oven instead of the assemply line style ovens you see in most big chain pizza shops so the crust has just the right amount of crispiness and great flavor.

troys portobello mushroom pizza canyon lakeIn addition to all the great hot food choices, Troy’s offers some tasty salads like Classic Greek and Antipasto Salad. And these aint no small snackin’ salads… the portions are generous enough to fill anyone up.

Troy’s phone number is easy to remember 951-244-1234 (in case you get that emergency pizza craving on the way home from work and want to call it in for pick-up). They also have a facebook page at if you want to go show them some love.  They are also a member of SpotOn rewards.

They’re open for lunch and dinner, so the next time you’re looking for a great quality pizza experience, jump in the golf cart and head out the main gate to Troy’s Pizza Oven.  It’s pizza pie heaven.

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