What you need to know about the 10 San Diego-area casinos
Barona Resort & Casino
1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside. (619) 443-2300. barona.com. Shuttle information: barona.com/about-barona/directions-and-transportation/shuttle-schedule
The deal: A full-scale casino resort with a hotel, golf course, day spa and multiple dining venues. Barona’s recently expanded casino floor offers no-fee ATMs and the roving “Party People” with instant-cash giveaways. Gaming options include 2,640 slot machines — including 540 machines in the new non-smoking area — about 100 tables, a 15-table poker room and a high-limit area. (Alcohol is not permitted on the casino floor.) Highlights among the 11 dining venues are the Barona Oaks Steakhouse, Seasons Fresh — the largest buffet in the San Diego area — and the Italian Cucina restaurant. The hotel has 400 rooms, all with balconies or terraces. The 18-hole, championship golf course is steps from the hotel. Two private casinos, with VIP butler service, underground entrance and a helipad, caters to an exclusive clientele.
Golden Acorn Casino
The deal: A respite for truckers and the road-weary, Golden Acorn is a compact-sized casino with a Travel Center and dining venues. The casino floor features 750 slot machines and eight table games, including $3 blackjack and Ultimate Texas Hold ’Em. The Golden Grill’s signature dish is the $7.77 prime rib, which is eight ounces of beef, served with a dinner roll, mashed potato, baked potato or fries. Also of note is the six-pound “Glory Burger,” a giant round of grilled beef on a specially made roll. Golden Acorn’s 24/7, 3,000-square-foot Travel Center and rest stop offers clean showers and rest rooms, laundry facilities, a TV lounge and WiFi, and other amenities.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
The deal: A full-service casino resort with a hotel, luxury pool complex, a wellness spa and multiple dining venues. Gaming options include 1,750 slots and 65 table games. Harrah’s offers nine dining choices, such as the signature Fiore Steak + Seafood restaurant and ‘Ritas Cantina. Keeping with the rebranding of its location as “Funner,” a newly opened Smashburger serves an exclusive-to-Harrah’s Funner Burger, topped with peanut butter, banana and bacon. The hotel has 1,065 rooms, including 141 suites and the ultra-luxe presidential suite, with two large balconies. The Dive features three pools, a swim-up bar and lazy river. SR76 is a craft brewery, next to the resort. The 11,000-square-foot spa is features a full-service salon and barbershop.
Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego
The deal: San Diego’s newest casino features 1,700 slot machines and 40 tables. The 4-acre site has seven dining venues, including Final Cut Steakhouse, Loft 94 and Tony Gwynn’s Sports Pub. Hollywood has a sizable collection of Tony Gwynn memorabilia, with items that represent beloved No. 19’s amazing 20-year career, including an original uniform, baseball cards and one of his five Gold Glove awards. The elegant dining room at Final Cut offers commanding views of the surrounding mountains. The upper-level Loft 94 serves a lineup of 48 craft beers and gourmet gastropub fare. In May, Hollywood will be re-branded as Jamul Casino as the Jamul tribe takes over the operations.
Pala Casino Spa & Resort
The deal: A full-scale casino resort with a hotel, underground wine cave, top-rated spa and a variety of restaurants. Highlights among the 11 eateries are the Oak Room Steakhouse and the new Bar Meets Grill restaurant and lounge.. The hotel has 507 rooms, including 82 luxury suites. Pala’s spa has 14 treatment rooms, all with outdoor patio massage areas. Pala is in the midst of a $170 million expansion and remodeling, which will add a 349-room hotel tower and other amenities. On May 19, Pala will open its new swimming pool, bar and outdoor restaurant adults-only entertainment complex. The pool area will feature waterfalls, fireplaces and daybeds. On June 29, Pala will open a 15,000-square-foot non-smoking casino area which can be accessed through the smoke-free hotel. The new Marquis Bar will also debut and a remodeled Luis Rey’s will reopen.
The deal: A 35,000-square-foot casino featuring live entertainment and dining venues. Gaming options include over 1,000 slot machines and 19 table games. The three dining choices are the Grove Buffet, a cafe with an all-day menu and the 24/7 Casino Pauma Deli and Pizzeria. Drinks are served at the Triple Seven Bar, as well as the Red Parrot Lounge. An 815-seat outdoor covered pavilion showcases entertainment from Latin Nights to rock concerts.
Pechanga Resort & Casino
The deal: A mega resort with a hotel, spa, golf course, designer boutiques, event center, theater, comedy club and a range of dining venues. Pechanga’s recently completed $300 million expansion has earned it the status as the biggest casino resort on the West Coast. The casino floor clocks in at a massive 200,000 square feet. Pechanga has more than a dozen eateries, two of them open 24 hours and three with late-night service. The Great Oak Steakhouse boasts premium meats, seafood and wine. The hotel has 1,090 hotel rooms and suites, including 568 new ones. The new, two-story spa will have 17 treatment rooms, a salon, fitness center and private pool and spa. The 4½-acre pool complex, called The Cove, has a swim-up bar, waterside day beds and in-pool lounge chairs on a Baja shelf.
The deal: A casino with state-of-the-art bingo, entertainment theater and extensive non-smoking section. Gaming options include 2,000 slot machines, 40-plus table games and 19 poker tables. Sycuan’s enclosed non-smoking section features 850 slots and a separate entrance. There are five restaurants, including the 350-seat Paipa’s Surf & Turf Buffet. A $226 million expansion project will add its first hotel, a 12-story tower with 300 rooms, an expansive pool and garden area, with a dedicated children’s pool, adult pool and lazy river, a new spa and fitness area, multiple new dining venues, with indoor and outdoor seating, a conference and event center, and an enlarged casino floor with more slots and tables.
Valley View Casino & Hotel
The deal: An adults-only boutique resort with a hotel, multiple dining venues and sweeping mountain views. Gaming options include 2,000 state-of-the-art slot machines, including 164 in a recently upgraded high-limit VIP section, 25-plus table games and a large, separate 500-machine smoke-free area. Highlights among the six dining options are the Black&Blue steakhouse and the 560-seat buffet, known for its endless Maine lobster. The 108-room, 12-suite non-smoking hotel features smartly furnished deluxe rooms and one-bedroom luxury suites, with two balconies. The infinity pool is just steps from the hotel. Unique to the area, a hotel stay includes breakfast at BLD. This month, Valley View will launch a year-long, $50 million casino expansion and remodeling.
Viejas Casino & Resort
The deal: A full-scale casino resort with two hotels — the Viejas Hotel and the brand-new, all-suites, adults-only Willows Hotel & Spa — an entertainment complex, outlet shopping and and outdoor skating rink. The recently expanded casino floor includes around 2,300 slot machines, eight different kinds of table games, an off-track betting lounge and a bingo and slot parlor. In addition to the Grove Steakhouse, Viejas recently opened Locale Kitchen & Lounge, a contemporary, farm-centric restaurant, the pan-Asian Ginger Noodle Bar. The Forbes 4-Star and AAA 4-Diamond awarded Viejas hotel has 237 rooms, while Willows has 159 suites ranging from 600 square feet up to the 1,838-square-foot Villa Suite. Willows has its own hotel check-in and swimming pool. The luxury spa has its own saltwater spa pool, garden, salt sauna, a hair and nail salon and 24-hour fitness center.
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