The CheckOut: Harrah’s Resort Southern California


By ManAboutWorld correspondent Aaron Drake

Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Top/Bottom line

Harrah’s SoCal is great as a weekend destination for a group of friends or getaway for couples. The resort offers wedding packages, having played host to many ceremonies on property, and happily welcomes California (same-sex) honeymooners or his-and-his bachelor parties.


From $150 a night depending on the room size, occupancy and season. Find the best deals by booking online.


Harrah’s Resort Southern California, formerly Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort, is a year-round gaming resort, including smoking and non-smoking gaming areas, a variety of delicious dining options on-property, a trifecta of fabulous pools, award-winning spa and a brand-new state-of-the-art events center, featuring well-known acts. Harrah’s recently welcomed the grand-opening of the new 21-story, 403-room Resort Tower North after a $160 million renovation, and expansion of the resort to a stunning 1.2 million square feet.


Located 50 minutes from Downtown San Diego, two hours from L.A. and about 30 minutes from Southern California’s beer and wine country, Harrah’s Resort is tucked into the majestic mountains of Valley Center, Calif., on the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians reservation just northeast of San Diego. Harrah’s is most accessible by air through San Diego International Airport or Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route with service to Oceanside station. However, the resort is still about a 45-minute drive from both the airport or train station, so it is necessary to either rent a car or schedule a shuttle. Though it’s a trek getting here, once you’re here, there will be no need to leave the grounds — everything you’ll need to have a fun, relaxing weekend is right at your feet.

The 48 suites in the new tower are very spacious, with a separate living/dining room, bedroom and bathroom. The modern décor is just enough to feel like you’re staying in a luxury hotel, but not over-the-top. There are plenty of outlets, strategically placed for all the necessary electronic accessories. There is plenty of light during the day with floor-to-ceiling windows in each room and an expansive patio with table, chairs and a lounging chair to sit in while taking in the sweeping views of the mountains and central valley. Lighting is motion-activated, controlled by switches at your discretion, but the suites are still a bit dim — which is perfect for romantic mood lighting. Subtle neon purple lights surrounding the balcony ceiling come on at night, adding a classy (without the trashy) Vegas feel.


The suites have one and a half baths. The full bath is very spacious, including a Jacuzzi tub in front of a floor-to-ceiling window so you can enjoy the view while you soak. A clear glass shower and full vanity give you lots of space to spread out your things and take your time pampering yourself.Amenities

There’s no shortage of options for amenities at this resort. Besides 59,000 square feet of gambler’s oasis, there is a fitness center and luxurious full-service spa where you can’t go wrong with a classic Swedish massage, facial treatment or mani/pedi, complemented with a sauna and eucalyptus-scented steam room. Nine hot tubs and three pools on the property make up the resort’s Dive Day Club. Relax with a cocktail at any of the 21 poolside cabanas, or in the pool at SoCal’s only swim-up bar. Don’t miss the thrilling 400-foot Lazy River that winds through waterfalls and jets — fun, and not just for children!

The resort’s newly opened Events Center, a 23,000-square-foot entertainment and convention hub, with seating for up to 2,200 guests and an eclectic bill of household names, from musicians to comedians. But the toughest decision here may be choosing where to eat. Surrounding the gaming floor are an array of dining options with a little something for every tastebud, from fine dining to late-night binging: Asian cuisine at Fortunes, a mix of global cuisine at The Buffet, Oyster Bar, American comfort food at The Café, fine dining on steak and seafood at Fiore, Baja-inspired Mexican dishes at ‘ritas Cantina, and a convenient Starbucks, along with two new additions, the Hollywood legend Pink’s hot dogs and scrumptious Earl of Sandwich. Imbibe on pre- or post-meal cocktails at Corked, a craft beer and wine bar featuring some of the region’s best options, and the newly opened Spiked, a ‘20s, prohibition-era throwback cocktail lounge complete with dapper-attired service staff.

Room service

Available 24/7. The in-room menu is available on the TV.

Gay factor

You’ll encounter all types of folks here, from international travelers and chain-smoking gamblers to Midwest families. With the closest guy on Grindr about 20 miles away, it’s as close as you can get to being in the “stix” (so lovingly put by said guy). There’s not much in the way of a gay scene here, which is why it’s best to bring your own gay posse if that’s what you need to have fun. That’s not to say you won’t get lucky and meet some fellow gays staying at the resort; the casino floor seemed very cruisy during all hours of the day and night, but we say act with caution because you never know who may have a wife and kids in tow! Other reasons the gays may want to make the journey out? The headliners coming through, like comedians Joan Rivers and Amy Schumer, and the resort’s pool parties. Adult Swim Saturdays, a 21+ day club at the pool with upwards of 2,000 people ready to get wet, kicks off the summer season in May, as well as Neon Nights Fridays, both with popular DJs spinning poolside. We’ll see you there!

Published by edsalvato

Educator, marketing, communications and travel safety expert; LGBTQ Pavilion at the New York Times Travel Show; public speaker; expert panel organizer and moderator

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