The Inland Empire, an area often overlooked by visitors because of its tangled freeways and suburban sprawl, has more than its share of charms. Just a couple of hours' drive from metropolitan Los Angeles or San Diego, you can ski a 7,000-foot mountain overlooking a crystal blue lake, savor SoCal’s excellent wines in a vineyard cooled by ocean breezes, or hide out in a cozy cottage deep in
the forest. As well as the rolling wine country of the Temecula Valley, you’ll find apple country in Oak Glen, and orange country—and the tree that started California’s multimillion-dollar navel-orange industry—in Riverside.
The San Bernardino Mountains offer Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and plentiful recreational opportunities, while Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains is a year-round getaway with romantic cottages, impressive art galleries, and cozy restaurants.