Escondido means “hidden” in Spanish, a fitting name for this gem of a city nestled in a valley some 30 miles north of San Diego. While it could in some respects be classified as a bedroom community, this unique oasis has everything a metropolis needs and more. Like most West Coast cities of size, Escondido (population: roughly 145,000 and growing) was first established as a Spanish settlement during that empire’s expansion up the Pacific during the 18th and 19th centuries. The area passed into American hands in the 1850s, which led to its gradual growth as a center for citrus, olive, walnut, and avocado farming.
Today, the city features dozens of green parks and golf courses, many of which are linked by high-quality bicycle paths, as well as shimmering inland water bodies. Lake Wohlford and Dixon Lake invite fishing enthusiasts for their famous bounties of catfish, as well as fishing under the stars for those who’d like to venture out at night. For the culturally inclined, Escondido hosts several active theaters, while those seeking more exotic natural wonders can head to the world-class San Diego Safari Zoo Park, located just outside of town. The culinary scene boasts representation from every imaginable culture: French bakeries, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai, Mexican, Italian, other Mediterranean, and just about anything else one could imagine.
Well-known citrus grower Sunkist’s name may even have been inspired first by Escondido’s 1890s government’s effort to rebrand the city from the “Hidden Valley” to the “Sun Kissed Vale.” Though the city has recently experienced rapid residential growth, vestiges of this agricultural past remain evident in Escondido today. One example is a Grape Day Celebration dating back to 1908 and still celebrated annually to mark the area’s grape harvest.
Grape Day is also emblematic of another Escondido trait: its penchant for festivals, parades, and overall jubilation. Street fairs take place at least twice a year in Escondido’s lively, culturally active downtown. Families and lovers of vintage cars flock to main thoroughfare Grand Avenue every single Friday night of the late spring and summer for the Cruisin’ Grand show, which sees hundreds of hot rods, antique cars, and other classic automobiles out on the town. Wine and beer tastings also occur during the summer, bringing out some of Escondido’s 20+ wineries and craft breweries.
Escondido’s growth makes sense given the wide range of entertainment and cultural options, its sunny disposition and reputation for economic stability, proximity to San Diego and the ocean, strategic location along major West Coast roads and railways, and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities. It’s been recognized as an excellent retirement location, given its warm, consistent climate and multitude of high-quality healthcare options.
Escondido’s broad, diverse shopping scene tops off this remarkably desirable urban profile. The city’s historic downtown features an impressive range of local business options, art galleries, and entertainment venues. Luxury shopping options abound in Escondido’s three major malls: Escondido Gateway, Escondido Promenade, and the largest, Westfield North County, with over 100 stores including the Vine Vera Escondido location with a full offering of resveratrol natural skin care products.