Lake Elsinore - Class A Baseball and Outlet Stores

In the midst of our journey around southern California, we stopped for a night in Lake Elsinore to watch some minor league baseball and to check out the infamous outlet stores.

Lake Elsinore - Class A Baseball and Outlet Stores

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on September 8, 2003

Lake Elsinore is one of those places you stop at on the way to someplace else; which is exactly what we did. We left Big Bear Lake on a Friday but couldn't check into our condo in Escondido until Saturday. So we overnighted in Lake Elsinore, watched some minor league baseball, and did a little shopping.

I'd say the highlight of this stop was anyplace with air-conditioning, because it was hot. It was a dry heat. . . like a pizza oven!

The outlet stores and the Lake Elsinore Storm game were great (see separate entries), and we all practiced our Spanish at the local Wal-Mart. If you really want to capture the local flavor of a small town, hang out at the Wal-Mart.

Highlight for the hardcore baseball fan: We saw the batting coach for the Storm's opponent Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, former major leaguer Rich Renteria, coming out of the Carl's JR and climb into his SUV with the license plate "BP Coach".${QuickSuggestions} Stay in the shade, drink lots of water, and take advantage of the A/C. Did I mention that it was hot there?${BestWay} The only way to get around is in your car with the A/C going full blast!

Lakeview Inn

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by thecopes on September 8, 2003

There are no chain hotels in Lake Elsinore. Your choices are the Lakeview Inn, a couple other small motels, or the casino. The Lakeview Inn was the only one mentioned in a guidebook I read about visiting minor league ballparks, so we went with it. It was your typical small town, two-story motel on a somewhat busy street, but it did have a fairly close-up view of the ballpark and a more distant view of Lake Elsinore.

I was a little wary when the clerk handed me the TV remote along with my key. It's interesting that you could walk off with the key and just drop it in a mailbox, but I got the distinct impression that if you didn't bring back the TV remote when you checked out, they'd assemble a posse and hunt you down and/or charge your credit card a zillion dollars. I can't see that the remote would do you much good unless you happen to have Lake Elsinore Cable or needed a couple of AA batteries.

The room itself was clean and comfortable and had a great air conditioner. Usually motel A/C is pretty wimpy. We turned this one on as we headed out to the ball park. When we returned four hours later, the room was like a meat locker! We actually had to open the door to warm the room up a bit.

There's a small swimming pool with a great view of the parking lot. A small breakfast room serves pastries, juice and coffee (although they were out of juice by the time we got in there).

When we asked for extra pillows, in the great tradition of crappy hotel pillows, we were provided with two of the hardest pillows I've ever put my head on--it was as if the foam inside had solidified and then broken into fist-sized chunks. Where do they get stuff like this?

Pillows aside, if you ever find yourself in Lake Elsinore, the Lakeview Inn is OK for the price. But don't forget to return the remote.

Lake View Inn
31808 Casino Dr
Lake Elsinore, California, 92530
(951) 674-9694

Storm Baseball

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by thecopes on September 8, 2003

Minor league baseball is great entertainment and a thrifty alternative, compared to attending a major league game. The Lake Elsinore Storm play in the Class A California League and are a farm team for the San Diego Padres.

The Lake Elsinore Diamond ballpark is another of these new minor league parks that are sprouting up--they seat around 6000, have a pleasing architectual design, and enough diversions to entertain all ages. It's very similar to the ballpark in San Bernardino (home of the Inland Empire 66'ers, also in the California League) that we checked out last year. For $8 we got great seats, three rows behind the home team dugout on the third base side. Other seats range from $5 - $7, and there's not a bad seat anywhere.

On this night, the Storm were playing the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, farm team of the California Angels. The star player of the Storm is Josh Barfield, son of former major leaguer Jesse Barfield. One of the great things about minor league parks is that kids can get close to the players for autographs. My son was hoping to get Barfield's, but had to settle for three of the other players. We just missed seeing Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman who would be pitching the next day on an injury rehab assignment.

Besides the game, there are a number of other attractions for the kids, including a rock climbing wall, a speed pitch booth, and, apparently the most favorite of all, a nice grassy slope to roll down. The night we went, there was also an excellent 15 minute fireworks show after the game.

The food is the usual ball park fare with prices slightly lower than the major league parks. The Diamond Club, a restaurant out towards right field, was closed the night we were there for a private party, and as a result, all the other food concession stands were crowded and slow--bad planning for a near sellout game.

Parking ($5) was a bit of a hassle as well. There are two lots: a nearby paved lot for the season ticket holders and a large gravel lot across the street from the ballpark for the rest of us. There are only two entrances/exits from the gravel lot, and the main one was impossible to exit from until all the season ticket holders had left their lot. If you use the gravel lot, park near the further exit and you'll get out a lot quicker.

Like all teams now, the Storm have a goofy mascot, a furry green dog named Thunder. He had some funny antics, danced a lot like the Phillie Phantic, and got the crowd going when the Storm were rallying in the 8th inning. But my favorite moment came when he nudged a couple of bratty kids off the top of the dugout with his giant feet in the best W.C. Fields "Go away, boys, you bother me" tradition.

Storm Baseball
500 Diamond Drive
Lake Elsinore, California, 92530
(951) 245-HITS

Lake Elsinore Outlet Stores

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by thecopes on September 8, 2003

Literally out in the middle of nowhere are the Lake Elsinore Outlet Stores. They are located off I-15 at the Nichols Rd exit, north of the town of Lake Elsinore. Aside from the AM/PM Mini-Market right at the exit, there ain't nothing else around. And it's hot. Real hot. Desert hot. HOT.

The 100 or so stores are mostly clothing such as Old Navy, Gap, Bass, etc. but also include a few electronics outlets like Sony and Kenwood, toy stores, bookstores, and some junk stores as well. Prices varied from really good in the clothing stores to about the same as retail in the electronics stores.

This is not a mall. While all the stores are air-conditioned, you have to go back outside to go from one to the other, and it's hot. Darn hot. Blazingly hot. Did I mention that it's hot? It was so hot (how hot was it?) that the sodas in the vending machines were warm.

There are only a few restaurants -- Dairy Queen and the Aruba Juice and Java Cafe. We ate at the latter; the sandwiches and salads were quite good, although the service was slow. There were a number of stands and kiosks selling ethnic foods, but the problem there is that you'd have to stand outside in that hot sun to eat it. Sitting down inside with A/C sounded a lot better to me. I pitied the guy at the kettle corn stand laboring over these huge vats of hot popcorn, with nothing but a small fan blowing on him.

So if you go here in the summer, buy a new shirt while you're there because the one you're wearing will be drenched in sweat.

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