There’s word that the Pala Casino is expanding, which is great news for anyone who wants to make a luxury weekend of it while exploring my Journey to the Stars chapter of Joyrides Around San Diego.

For a lot of folks, getting out into nature is nice during the day, but at night they want the luxury accommodation, spa, the big buffet and gambling. Whether it’s a San Diego day trip or staycation, whatever you’re looking for, it’s out there.

“The project, which is expected to be completed in May 2019, will bring Pala’s total number of hotel rooms to 854, allowing it to better compete with two nearby rival casino resorts,” wrote reporter Michele Parente in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Harrah’s Resort Southern California already boasts more than 1,000 hotel rooms, while Pechanga Resort & Casino will top that with nearly 1,100 when its new hotel tower is completed in December.”

There are nine tribal casinos in San Diego county, which has 18 Indian reservations, the most in the nation. All but two with casinos are along drives in Joyrides.

  • Pala and Pauma are on Highway 76 and Journey to the Stars (no hotel at Pauma). Turn south at Valley Center Road for Harrah’s and Valley View.
  • Viejas is along Towering Old Highway, just east of Alpine. Turn south from Alpine along Harbison Canyon Road to Sycuan. Farther east on Old Highway 80 is Golden Acorn, but it doesn’t have a hotel.
  • The other two are on some really good roads that I’ve written about in my newspaper column. Barona, with a resort hotel, is on Wildcat Canyon Road between Lakeside and Ramona, and Hollywood Casino (no hotel) is along Highway 94 in Jamul.
  • The other casino mentioned in the story, Pechanga, is in Temecula, southern Riverside County.

I’m not into gambling (all I do is lose), but do enjoy hanging out in a full-service resort from time to time. The rates at these places can start in the low- to mid-$100s per night, which is a bargain for what you’re getting.

And for some people, it sure beats a tent.


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