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San Diego Casino Resort Guide

  • 5 San Diego Casino Resorts Video
  • Sycuan Resort & Casino
  • Barona Resort & Casino
  • Valley View Casino & Hotel
  • Harrah’s Rincon Hotel & Casino
  • Pala Casino & Resort
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Sin City. Lost Wages. Entertainment Capital of The World. No matter what nickname is bestowed upon Las Vegas, the impetuous metropolis conjures a hint of nasty with a whole lot of fun. Used to be the antics found in Vegas were elusive elsewhere. Until Indian casinos. Thanks to San Diego’s Native American tribes, unadulterated revelry is as close as your own back yard. Casinos and their high rise hotels are sprouting up in the back country with greater elan than the Nevada desert counterparts. One need venture only a few miles to gaming, entertainment, sprawling guestrooms, spas and gorge-worthy buffets. Here’s just a few:

Sycuan Resort & Casino
3007 Dehesa Road El Cajon, CA 92019 (800) 457-5568
Four hundred and twenty-five acres in Dehesa Valley are claimed by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians. Their casino plays a secondary roll to the golf and tennis resort poised in the quiet hills of east county. It’s known as “a place to stay and play” with the 100 room hotel sprawled alongside verdant fairways. Willow Glen is a demanding par 72 course, Oak Glen boasts tricky greens and Pine Glen’s 18 par-three holes challenge seasoned golfers. Professional golf instruction is provided through its PGA certified Golf Academy. Eleven, impeccably maintained, lighted tennis courts are tucked among olive trees. Warm summer temps mandate the courts open at 7:30 a.m., as well as cooler evening hours till 10 p.m. Two swimming pools indulge hot, tired athletes. Take a minute to scope out Sycuan’s beautiful grounds and myriad amenities in the above video. (Room rates start at $149 per night.)

Barona Resort & Casino
1932 Wildcat Canyon Road San Diego, CA 92040 (888) 7- BARONA
Barona Band of Mission Indians started their gaming venture as a card room and later a circus-themed tent with slot machines before the resort and casino came to fruition in 2002. A circuitous, two-lane road leads passed horse farms and rocky mountains to reveal an eight story hotel attached to the reservations golden egg - the casino. “What will your Barona Moment Be?” printed on posters throughout the space intimates perhaps their self proclaimed “loosest slots in California” will propel players to the top of Forbes 500 list. Which gives me pause…no wonder the house always wins with that much control of the outcome. “More winners, more often” is their slogan, but the Four Diamond, 400 guestroom resort complete with turrets and rooftop dormers says differently. But hey, fun isn’t free. The casino is a boon to the Indians, but every person who crosses the threshold has the option to quit while they’re ahead. Eighty table games and 2,000 slots tests ones willpower. Barona’s Sneak Preview area gives the opportunity to try games not played anywhere else in California, and in some cases, the entire United States. Chipless wagering using “virtual chips” in Baccarat, Blackjack, Roulette, and Three-Card Poker is the latest innovation. More tactile players may miss twirling the tokens with their fingers. Six restaurants provide brain fuel. The 18-hole golf course grants a respite from machines incessant ding-ding-ding. As does the AmBience Spa, a dip in the hotel pool or a nap in a deluxe suite overlooking Barona Valley. (Room rates start at $139 per night.)

Valley View Casino & Hotel
16300 Nyemii Pass Road Valley Center, CA 92082 (760) 291-5500
Adults only at this swanky property. It’s a proverbial 21 and over playground. The recent addition of a 108 room luxury boutique hotel has the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians forecasting an influx of couples seeking weekend getaways. Each rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows display the Palomar Mountains rising cinematically from the valley floor. Luxury suite’s 1,050 square feet are as large as many San Diegans homes. The 52” HD TV plus marble and granite from top to bottom make it nearly nirvana. There are no taxes, resort fees, or parking charges, so the price quoted is the price paid. All stays include complimentary poolside breakfast. Or, join the in-crowd at one of the seven restaurants or three smoke-free bars with nightly live entertainment. The casino? That’s cool, too. (Room rates start at $119 per night.)

Harrah’s Rincon Hotel & Casino
777 Harrah’s Rincon Way Valley Center, CA 92082 (760) 751-3100
The North County casino is part of Caesars Entertainment conglomerate, which explains it’s Vegas panache. Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians own the reservation, Harrah’s manages the employees with a total payroll of nearly $56 million a year. That’s a lot of jackpots. A big name casino attracts big name entertainment, with Diana Krall and Don Henley taking the stage at the 4,200 seat Open Sky Theater. Two hotel towers comprise 662 guestrooms, both access the tiered waterfall pool and private cabanas. Try Harrah’s personalized Volcanic Roulette Bingo. The spinning wheel is replaced with 38. Bingo balls tossed in a hopper. Odds are an exact mathematical duplication of the original game. If you win, splurge at one of the eight restaurants. If not, you’ve just contributed to Rincon’s huge payroll.(Room rates start at $99.99 per night.)

Pala Casino & Resort
11154 Highway 76 Pala, CA 92059 (877) WIN-PALA
Celebrating their tenth anniversary, Pala is still going strong with record visitations this year. The 2,000 staff members honed customer service achieving Four Diamond status in the hotel and restaurants. Mama’s Cucina Italiana, Sushi Sake, and Amigo’s Mexican are contenders in Pala’s ten culinary picks. Their largest buffet in SoCal muscles out the competition with seating for 660. Almost as many guestrooms fill the 10-story hotel. Top floors overlook the Starlight Theater, which hosts outdoor entertainment in the Spring and Fall. With the resurgence of pokers popularity, Pala Poker Room recently opened with 15 tables. Feeling lucky? The High Limit Room allows bets up to $5,000. A recent acquisition of Warner Springs Ranch brought the Pala Band of Mission Indians full-circle by reclaiming ancestral land with original adobe homes of the tribe and a small church built in 1830 by tribal missionaries. (Room rates start at $119 per night.)