Thing To Do #60: Find The Hidden Valley
Escondido is known as the “hidden valley,” but it’s no secret that Escondido has an endless array of activities to enchant you.
You could spend a week exploring the city! If you have to narrow it down, don’t miss the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, an expansive wildlife sanctuary or the amazing sculpture garden, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, created by the late world-acclaimed artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and the Daley Ranch, a wilderness preserve with extensive hiking, biking and equestrian trails, are also places you’ll want to visit.
From the galleries, restaurants, and wineries to the bike trails and hiking paths that call this enchanting city home, you’ll never run out of things to do!
The location of Escondido was first identified and discovered by Juan Bautista de Anza, a Spanish explorer, in 1776. In the 1850s, a judge acquired the land from Juan Bautista de Anza and his wife after they passed, and he built a mill to grind ore and named it the Rincon del Diablo and Escondido Mining Company. This was the first recorded use of the word Escondido. In Spanish the word “escondido” means “hidden.” Today, as in the past, Escondido is often referred to as the “hidden valley.”
In 1886, the Escondido Land and Town Company acquired the land grant, laid out the town site, and divided the valley into small farms suitable for grapes or citrus. On October 8, 1888, the city was incorporated and its voters elected a council, clerk, treasurer, and marshal. Today, Escondido is a full-service, general-law city with five council members elected at large. Escondido operates under the Council-Manager form of government.
- Escondido lies about 18 miles inland, 100 miles south of Los Angeles, and 30 miles northeast of San Diego.
- The city also boasts the lowest median cost of homes in the North County area, including the county as a whole
- Escondido’s climate is mild enough to allow cultivation of avocados, grapes, and oranges.
- The average annual temperate is 77.3 degrees.
- A nationwide study in 2005 ranked Escondido #11 out of 25 of the most conservative cities in America
- From 1964–1968, the San Diego Chargers held training camp in Escondido
- Notable Natives and Residents of Escondido
o Eric Weddle- #32 of the San Diego Chargers currently resides
o Randy Johnson- former Major League player with Atlanta Braves, current Special Asst. to Oakland A’s GM Billey Beane, Graduate of Escondido High School
o Brittany Hogan-Former Miss California
o Richard Denning- Actor
o Gavvy Cravath- right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies
o Tom Anderson-co-founder of MySpace
Things To Do
TheSan Diego Zoo Safari Parkis a one-of-a-kind park which brings you thrillingly close to over 3,500 exotic animals. The expansive enclosures sheltering and protecting herds of African and Asian animals offer unique and close-up views! The best way to experience this is by boarding the Journey into Africa tour, an open-air vehicle inspired by the legendary safari trains in Africa. Visitors will be brought eye level with animals such as rhinoceroses, buffalo, gazelles, crowned cranes and more. Other, more adventurous, ways to explore the Park include tooling around on a Segway X2 Rolling Safari tour, getting a bird’s-eye view of the park’s 1,800 acres on a Balloon Safari, or soaring like a condor over field enclosures on the new Flightline, a zip line adventure.
Whether you watch one of several elephant calves playing, come face-to-face with lions, feed giraffes from a Photo Caravan Safari truck, or find yourself covered in colorful lorikeets as they perch on your head and arms, an exciting, up-close adventure awaits you. Mass Transit bus route #7. (760) 747-8702, www.sandiegozoo.org/park. Click here for a $3 off admission coupon, or pick up our magazine for a $5 off admission coupon!
San Diego wineries are like hidden jewels across the County. Offering the sweet smells of locally grown grapes across a beautiful landscaped county vineyard, with tasting rooms featuring boutique wines, wonderful gift shops filled with memorable keepsakes, and county-wide events to please wine lovers and aficionados, visitors can enjoy a “taste of San Diego Wine Country”. With Escondido’s great growing conditions for grapes, it makes for a few great wineries to visit. Orfila Vineyards & Winery, located in the San Pasqual Valley agricultural preserve, is an award-winning boutique winery with award-winning wines from Southern California’s Premier Wine-Growing Region. Located in the smallest American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the state, Orfila wines have put San Diego on the international wine map. Since its opening in 1994, Orfila Vineyards has been the recipient of more than 1,300 medals in major national and international competitions – a testament to the complexity, elegance, and opulence of its wines. Tours and tastings are offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Click here for a buy one wine tasting and get one free coupon! Other great wineries to Escondido include Cordiano Winery, Belle Marie Winery, Ferrara Winery, and Deer Park Winery and Auto Museum.
3. California Center for the Arts, Escondido
The centerpiece of the City’s redevelopment efforts is the California Center for the Arts, Escondido which attracts more than 270,000 visitors from San Diego and surrounding regions each year and provides a significant boost to an already healthy economy. The Center is conveniently located in a charming downtown area, adjacent to historic Grape Day Park. It features two theaters, a visual arts museum, an educational complex, and a conference center. It brings world class entertainment to the area along with Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, a sculpture garden in Kit Carson Park donated by late internationally renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle. www.artcenter.org
With great weather, comes outdoor activities, and in Escondido, golfing is a popular choice. With six golf courses to choose from, they will suit any skill level and wallet. Eagle Crest Golf Course is one of the best golf courses in San Diego with an 18-hole championship golf course that provides golfers with a spectacular layout that showcases the terrain’s natural beauty. The Vineyard golf course, designed by renowned golf course architect David Rainville, designed the golf course to echo the time-honored feel and playability of courses from the past eras. This golf course has all the makings of a classic golf course and an unforgettable San Diego golf experience. Other golf courses in Escondido include Castle Creek Country Club, Meadow Lake Golf Club, Reidy Creek Golf Course, and Welk Resorts Golf. Click here for a full listing of San Diego’s golf courses.
5. Grape Day Park
Grape Day Park is Escondido’s oldest park, and has been the center for community events and activities. Every year from 1908 to 1950, people from as far away as Los Angeles came to celebrate the annual Grape Day Harvest, a major industry in the Escondido valley. It is a registered landmark and home to a turn-of-the-century working barn, Santa Fe Railroad depot, blacksmith shop, and other historic buildings, museums, and monuments. Some of the park’s features include a heritage walk displaying buildings preserved from Escondido’s early days, picnic tables, 5 horseshoe pits, children’s tile art wall, a 25-yard swimming pool and children’s pool, and restrooms. http://grapedaypark.org
6. North County Westfield Shopping Center
Escondido offers many conveniently located shopping centers with a wide variety of retail shops and uses. Westfield North County regional shopping center is a shopping destination. The Center is an enclosed super-regional shopping center with 1,258,000 square feet. The mall has over 100 specialty stores, more than 5,000 parking spaces and over 25 restaurants and eateries, including Panera Bread, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Red Robin, On the Border, and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. The Center is planning a significant expansion to its already one million plus square foot space, providing even more retail options in the not-too-distant future. The North County Westfield Shopping Center is located at 272 East Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido, CA 92025. http://westfield.com/northcounty.
7. Escondido Children’s Museum
The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum fills a community need by offering a wholesome, educational, and appealing gathering place for families, schools, and other groups that serve children. SDCDM programs and exhibits cultivate school readiness and lifelong learning. The Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits and programs for children up to 10 years of age, with an authentically regional perspective on natural and social science. Admission is $5 per person who is older than 12 months. Exhibits include Imagination Playground, “World Religions in our San Diego Community”, Wildlife Tree House, KEVA Plank Table, Water Exhibit and watershed, and the Kiwanis Children’s Garden and Farmer’s Market. The Children’s Museum is located at 380 N. Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025. (760) 233-7755. www.escondidochildrensmuseum.org
8. Stone Brewing Company
Stone Brewing Co. is a craft brewery headquartered in Escondido, and was founded in 1996 in San Marcos, California. Stone Brewing is known for the aggressive Arrogant Bastard Ale, although the brewery considers Stone Pale Ale and Stone IPA to be its prized beers. Stone Brewing is consistently rated as one of the best brewers in the US and world by the two largest beer enthusiast websites, RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com. In 2006 was when Stone Brewery relocated from its original brewery in San Marcos to a new, custom-designed facility in Escondido, which now has a capacity of 90,000 U.S. barrels per year. The site is also home to a restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and a Stone Company Store. www.stonebrew.com.
Three lakes are located in or near Escondido, all of which allow boating and fishing. Dixon Lake is located in the north and is open year-round for fishing, camping, picnicking, and has an entry fee of $5 for cars, vans and motorcycles, and $10 for buses and vehicles over 20 feet. Lake Wohlford is located on the north eastern border of the city limits and is open 7 days a week for fishing from mid-December through the weekend after Labor Day in September. Lake Hodges, located just south of the city, features six barbeques, 12 picnic tables, great fishing, hiking and riding trails, and boating.
- “For the Love of Chocolate and SweetArt Fest.” Bring your sweetheart or just your sweet tooth to the Downtown Business Association’s 4th Annual “For the Love of Chocolate and SweetArt Festival!” Enjoy the best of our downtown shops and spas while sampling locally brewed beer and wines, paired with San Diego’s finest chocolates. The festival will be held on Saturday, February 9. Admission is free to Sweet Street. The cost for the chocolate pairings is $35 per person for 10 Beer/Wine & Chocolate Pairings & multiple Restaurant Samples from great restaurants like:California Avocado Grill. Vinz, Esco Gelato, La Farfalla.
- The Escondido Street Fair is held during the months of May and October on Grand Avenue between Centre City and Ivy. This year it will be on May 19th and October 16th from 9:30am to 5:30pm. The fair will have live entertainment, over 700 booths, arts and crafts, farmers market, international foods, and fun for the whole family!
- Downtown Escondido’s Certified Farmers Market showcases fresh-picked California-grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers every Tuesday year-round from 2:30pm to 6pm. Friendly vendors also offer local honey, eggs, fresh-roasted nuts, pesto, fresh pasta, gourmet European breads, Julian pies, salsa, tamales, tortillas, pita and humus, cookies, dessert breads, and more.
- Cruisin Grand, happening every Friday night from 5pm to 9pm, April through September, a parade of pre-1970s vintage cars slowly cruise up and down Grand Avenue- from American Hot Rods, Classics, Antiques, and Customs.
- The Grape Day Parade and Festival, organized by the Escondido Historical Society, is a free community celebration dating back to 1908. This annual event is held on the first Saturday after Labor Day, this year happening on September 12th from 9:30am to 4pm. For early birds, the Grape Day 5k fun run at 7:30 is the way to start your day. The Grape Day Parade on Grand Avenue starts at Escondido Boulevard and travels east on Grand to Juniper. The whimsical parade features bands, floats, equestrian units, and vintage vehicles. The Festival, held in Grape Day Park, includes free entertainment, arts and crafts booths, an international food court, community booths, a petting zoo, a kids corner, numerous demonstrations such as blacksmithing and printing, farm equipment displays, an art exhibit, an opportunity drawing, tours of Heritage Walk Museum, and free Grapes!
- Escondido’s annual July 4th fireworks display in Grape Day Park has become a central part of the shared community heritage. From 4:30pm to 9:30pm you can enjoy a variety of free entertainment, including musical performances, magicians, baton twirlers, children’s arts projects, old-fashioned contests and, of course, fireworks. A variety of refreshments will be available for purchase.
For more information please also visit: visitescondido.com