Temecula is located in the southwestern corner of Riverside County, California. It is bordered by Murrieta on the northwest and the Pechanga Indian Reservation on the south. It is almost equidistant to San Diego and Los Angeles, so many residents consider themselves living in a suburb of one or the other. For more than 10,000 years the area was home to the Temecula Indians. Their main village was named Temeekunga, meaning place of the sun or the sun that shines through the mist. The city of Temecula is the only city in California to retain its Indian name.
The city has a rich history, some of which was lost during a fire that followed the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906. However some stories have been told over the years that remain and have been documented by the city's historical society. The first known Spanish influence was in 1797, when the Franciscan Father Juan Norberto de Santiago and Captain Pedro Lisalde were searching for a place to build a mission. Father Santiago's journal recounts their meeting Indian people in a village called Temecula. From this first meeting there were conflicts between the Spanish, Mexican Army and then with the first European settlers, which were finally settled with the Treaty with the San Louis Rey, Etc., in 1852. Today the descendants of the early Temecula live in and around the 4,000-acre Pechanga Indian Reservation. It was formed by executive order and formally created some eight miles from downtown Temecula in 1882.
With the arrival of the stages also came the beginning of change in the Valley: stagecoaches were synonymous with holdups, stages brought new settlers to the area, and mail became an important link with the rest of the country. At the turn of the century Temecula gained a place of importance as a shipping point for grain and cattle. During this period the cowboys ruled the roost and the great cattle drives from the back country took place. Temecula had become a cow town. On April 22, 1859, the first inland Southern California post office was established in Temecula in the Magee Store. Temecula remained a lively Wild West frontier town with desperadoes, cattlemen, road bandits, and outlaws for most of the 19th century and on into the 20th.
The 1990s brought rapid growth to the Temecula Valley. Many families began to move to the area from San Diego and Orange County, drawn by the affordable housing prices. However, as the years have progressed, housing has become more expensive and the area is primarily middle to upper-middle class. In 1999, The Promenade Mall opened in Temecula on land that had once been used for farming and grazing. The mall made Temecula a regional center for shopping and dining.
Temecula is well known for its hot air balloon rides and tours, floating over wineries and desert terrain. The image of colorful hot air balloons is used throughout the Temecula Valley as a quickly recognizable symbol of the city. Other events and festivals in the city include the Temecula Bluegrass Festival, Temecula Street Painting Festival, Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival, Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, and the Children's Matsuri.
Old town Temecula is made up of a collection of historic 1890s buildings, antique stores, shopping and restaurants; it is also home to such events as car shows, western days and summer entertainment. Over 600 antique dealers do business in the district. Several diverse destinations on the main street in Old Town Temecula include the Imagination Workshop, Temecula's Children's Museum and the Temecula Olive Oil Company. Old Town is also home to the Temecula Museum which features exhibits about the local band of American Indians, the local natural history and city development.