Escondido Attractions & Things to Do

Travel & Vacation Guide to Escondido CA

The City of Escondido is just north of San Diego and is a still-growing dynamic north county community. As one of the oldest cities in San Diego County, Escondido has a varied and interesting history; it was first settled by Native Americans along the creek running through the region. Downtown Escondido hosts numerous cafes, art galleries and shops. Take an afternoon to visit the Mingei International Museum and see displays of world-wide handcrafts. Stroll through Grape Day Park complete with a civic center and the California Center for the Arts. Here you will find two theaters and a visual arts museum.

Lake Dixon
Lake Dixon ; image via escondido.org

Downtown Escondido

Also downtown is the History Center featuring the Victorian house, barn and blacksmith shop in addition to Escondido’s original Santa Fe Depot. Although this city is a bustling urban center, residents enjoy the abundant parks highlighted by mature shade trees. Urban situated Washington Park is on the east side of central Escondido and offers two swimming pools. Westside located Frances Ryan Park boasts numerous soccer fields and a concession stand. Grove Park, in the Mission Park area, recognizes the city’s agricultural history. Daley Ranch Park offers visitors 20 miles of biking paths and hiking trails.

California Center For The Arts

340 North Escondido Blvd., Escondido CA 92025

Escondido’s cultural and artistic epicenter, the California Center for the Arts, located on a green, 12-acre campus in downtown Escondido, is a multi-faceted arts foundation attracting over 300,000 people annually to its arts education programs, conference center, museum and world-class performance arts season.

Musicals rivaling those on Broadway draw enthusiastic crowds (give examples). Comedy, dance and concerts are also in the program. Both local and national talent are performed on a regular basis.

Mingei International Museum

155 West Grand Ave., Escondido CA

Keeping with the cultural genre, the Mingei International Museum North County Satellite graces the small downtown area. Mingei translates from Japanese as “art of the people.” Uncharacteristically stylish for the vicinity, the Mingei houses artwork worthy of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Only opened since December 2003, the staff has produced exquisite exhibits, giving visitors a jaw-dropping experience. Currently “Timeless Glass” masterpieces created by the talented Dale Chihuly are on display.

Legoland California

Legoland California is the ultimate family theme park where everyone’s imagination runs free. Over 50 rides, shows and attractions make for a full day of one-of-a-kind adventures and a lifetime of memories.

California LEGOLAND

Old Escondido Historic District

In 1989, the City of Escondido established the Old Escondido Historic District, a neighborhood encompassing 900 homes built in the mid-1880s and comprising many well-preserved and lovingly restored examples of early California architecture. Styles include Craftsman bungalows and Victorian homes. The Old Escondido Historic District is bounded by 4th Avenue on the north, 13th on the south, Escondido Boulevard to the west and Chestnut on the east and is well suited to touring on foot or by car. Home tours of the historic district are scheduled each year on Mother’s Day.

Dixon Lake

1700 North La Honda Drive, Escondido, CA 92027

Operated by the City of Escondido, Dixon Lake was created with the construction of Dixon Dam in 1971. Built to be used as a water reservoir and recreation, the lake was stocked with largemouth bass which sometimes get as big as 20 pounds and Dixon Lake today offers a scenic natural setting for fishing, boating, camping and picnics. Dixon Lake is open year-round and gates open at 6am. The park closes at dusk. Night fishing is available during the summer months. Park rules prohibit pets, outboard motors, firearms, swimming and alcohol, except at the campsites. Day use fees are $3 to $5 last time we checked. Reservations can be made on weekdays from 7am to 4:00pm by calling 760.741.3328.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Road., Escondido CA

Looking for something more active? Take a walk on the wild side a the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Affiliated with the San Diego Zoo, this 1,800 acre wildlife preserve allows visitors to observe 3,500 animal species existing in their natural habitat. Giraffes cohabitate alongside rhinoceroses, with no separating fences. Mountain goats scale cliff-sides, hippos cool off in a lake, and antelopes frolic the grounds. Visitors can ride a monorail along the perimeter of the preserve to get a close up views. A petting kraal, botanical gardens and animal shows keep guests of all ages entertained.

Deer Park Winery and Auto Museum

29013 Champagne Blvd., Escondido CA 92026

Escondido’s award-winning winery bottles its own Cabernet Sauvignon, Fumè Blush, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel on its rustic estate. In addition to wine tastings and tours, Deer Park Winery also houses the world’s largest collection of vintage convertibles.

Kit Carson Park

3333 Bear Valley Pkwy., Escondido CA

Named after an American army scout, Kit Carson Park is Escondido’s Central Park, with over 200 acres of beautiful trails, ponds and picnic areas, in addition to a 3,000-capacity outdoor amphitheater. With sporting greens for baseball and soccer, the Sports Center also offers a massive skate park and roller hockey arena.

Lawrence Welk Museum

8860 Lawrence Welk Dr., Escondido CA 92026

Lawrence Welk, the champagne-loving host of the Lawrence Welk show (on air for 27 years) is an American celebrity most Generation X-ers won’t recall. But at this offbeat Escondido attraction, located on an RV Park, Welk reigns supreme. The world’s largest Champagne glass and a life-size Lawrence Welk bandstand complete the nostalgia.

Welk Resort Theatre

8860 Lawrence Welk Dr., Escondido CA 92026

This 300-seat Escondido theatre hosts Broadway musicals and variety shows, preceded by a buffet in the Welk Resort’s restaurant.

Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Rd., Palomar Mountain CA 92060

Away from bright city lights, the relatively dark skies over Caltech’s Palomar Observatory offer optimal stellar views. Palomar Observatory is home to the world-consulted Hale 200-inch telescope, housed in a large white dome and open to special day and night tours.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

3333 Bear Valley Pkwy., Escondido CA

A bright, shiny sculpture garden in Kit Carson Park donated to Escondido by the late internationally-renowned artist, Niki de Saint Phalle.

San Pasqual Battlefield State Park

15808 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido CA 92027

On the site of the historical pre-dawn battle between American and Californio forces vying for what is now Escondido during the Mexican-American War, San Pasqual Battlefield State Park is a 50-acre park immortalizing the American victory. An actual reenactment of the San Pasqual battle takes place every December.

Escondido Restaurants

Restaurants are as diverse in Escondido as its activities. French, Italian, Mexican and Irish are just a few of the countries represented. Quaint, one-of-a-kind bistros such as A Delight Of France serve scrumptious fare. Lentil barley soup and sandwiches served on homemade French baguettes are just the pre-curser to a mouthwatering homemade fruit tart or chocolate éclair.

Enjoy this selective guide to Escondido restaurant. Escondido has a large selection of American and Mexican restaurants, and international cuisines, from Chinese to Italian, are well represented.

150 Grand Cafe

150 W. Grand Ave., Escondido CA; Tel. 760.738.6868
One of Escondido’s top restaurants, this sophisticated and casual Escondido dining spot has attracted attention in the culinary press. Eclectic menu emphasizes California-Mediterranean dishes with a dash of Asian-fusion.

Acapulco Mexican Restaurant

1541 E. Valley Parkway, Escondido CA; Tel. 760.741.9922
This Pasadena-based Mexican restaurant chain describes its establishments as “casual” and “festive” Signature items include fajitas, halibut fish tacos, smoothies and Cuervo margaritas. Inexpensive. Full bar.

Bistro 221

221 E. Grand Ave., Escondido CA; Tel. 760.737.7398
Chef Kent Daigle’s Bistro 221 is an intimate 60-seat white tablecloth bistro with a sidewalk patio in downtown Escondido’s arts district. Surrounded by art galleries and antique shops, Bistro 221 serves continental and California cuisine with Southern flair. Near California Center for the Arts and Patio Playhouse. Live Jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Brigantine Escondido

421 W. Felicita Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025; Tel.+1 760.743.4718
Located near the California Center for the Arts, this nearly four decade old restaurant serves steaks and seafood and is known for its swordfish. Outdoor patio, water features, a rock room and fireplace. Open for dinner 7 nights a week, and for lunch Mon-Sat. (Click here for a PDF of Brigantine’s menu.)

La Tapatia

340 West Grand Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025; Tel. +1 760.747.8282
An Escondido landmark serving traditional Mexican cuisine, La Tapatia was family owned from 1937 until a 2004 sale to local investors. House specialties include sirloin or pork chile con carne and Enchiladas Rancheras (corn tortillas with cheese, sauce and sour cream served with rice and beans).

Sandcrab Cafe

222 Micro Place (at Opper, off Barham), Escondido CA; Tel. +1 760.480.2722
This East coast-style crab house serves up crabs by the bucket, with corn, potatoes and spicy Louisiana sausage. In business since 1988, Sandcrab Cafe entrees include lobster, prime rib, crab cakes and New Zealand green lip mussels. Kids menu and healthy options. Beer and wine. Open 7 days. Discover, Mastercard and Visa accepted.

Vincent’s

113 W Grand Ave., Escondido, CA 92025; Tel. 760.745.3835
With a Wine Spectator 2007 Award of Excellence under its sommelier cup, Vincent’s (aka Sirino’s) serves traditional dishes like Cobb salad, steaks, duck confit and a pasta and fish du jour. Contemporary choices include the blackened ahi with fresh tropical salsa and wasabi aïoli. Among the signature dishes are the Niçoise stack salad and oversized Kobe burgers. Lunch served Tue-Fri: 11:30am – 2pm; Dinner Tue-Sun: 5pm – 9:30pm. Closed Mondays.

Escondido Golf

The Vineyard at Escondido

925 San Pasqual Rd., Escondido CA 92025; Tel. 760.735.9545
This four-star municipal Escondido golf course is built in and around actual vineyards just 15 minutes from San Diego. The Vineyards has played host to several PGA and Senior PGA qualifying events. The course measures 6,531 yards from the tips, and features some wide-open fairways leaving a little room for error of the tee. Green fees are modest, in the $30 to $60 range.

Castle Creek Country Club

8797 Circle R Dr., Escondido CA 92026; Tel. 760.749.2422
Built around Castle Creek in a picturesque valley, this Jack Daray Sr. design opened in 1956. The front 9 and the back are quite different, offering a nice change of scenery at the turn. The course measures 6,396 yards, and the green fees are in the $30-$50 range.

Eagle Crest Golf Club

2492 Old Ranch Rd., Escondido, CA 92027; Tel. 760.737.9762
This course re-opened in 1997 after a total face-lift. David Rainville is the responsible architect. The fairways are narrow, and water comes into play on exactly half of the 18 holes. Wildlife is abundant, and golfers looking for lost balls are advised to watch out for rattlesnakes. Green fees are in the $45-65 range.

Meadow Lake Golf Course

10333 Meadow Glen Way, Escondido CA 92026; Tel. 760.749.1620
This Escondido golf course is one of the more popular tracks in the San Diego area. Course reviews all hold the same thing in common; apparently it’s fun. Local knowledge is also the key here, as tee shots are crucial and it’s easy to put yourself out of position from the start on most holes. Green fees are a modest $35.

Welk Resort Center

8860 Lawrence Welk Dr., Escondido CA 92026; Tel. 760.749.3225
This is one the top rated executive facilities in the country, featuring a par-62, 4,041 yard course and an 18-hole par-3 course. Both golf courses are in top condition and are well visited year after year. Green fees range between $11 and $45, respectively.

Escondido, California Hotels

Comfort Inn Escondido
1290 W. Valley Pkwy., Escondido CA 92029

Best Western Escondido Hotel
1700 Seven Oaks Rd., Escondido CA 92026

Castle Creek Inn & Spa
Circle R Way, Escondido CA 92026

Rodeway Inn Escondido
250 W. El Norte Pkwy., Escondido CA 92026

Super 8 Motel Escondido
528 W. Washington Ave., Escondido CA 92025

Welk Resort San Diego
8860 Lawrence Welk Dr., Escondido CA 92026

Real Estate Property in Escondido, CA

Those searching for a home in Escondido will have a wide range of living options. The Lake Hodges neighborhood offers reasonably priced gated listings along with a community pool. Enjoy a golf course view from Hidden Meadows subdivision offering spacious properties. Walk to Reidy Creek Golf Course from your one-story residence in the East Escondido area. Invite your friends over to swim when you choose a private pool home in Old Escondido or Rancho Del Diablo residential neighborhoods. The Citrus Gardens community offers active adult living for those seeking one-story homes and a community pool.

One-plus-acre properties and luxury estates with picturesque hilltop viewpoints are also available. For a weekend of camping or boating, try Dixon Lake located close to Daley Ranch. Lake Wohlford, in the northeast part of the city, offers walking trails and fishing. With transportation services, plenty of educational opportunities, shopping and parklands, Escondido has a great balance.

Escondido, Neighborhoods

  • Alta Vista Acres
  • Brookside
  • Canyon View Estates
  • Castle Creek
  • Champagne Village
  • Citrus Gardens
  • Elfin Forest
  • Escondido Country Club
  • Escondido Hills
  • Eureka Springs
  • Hidden Meadows
  • Lake Hodges
  • Lomas Serenas
  • Oak Hill
  • Old Escondido
  • Rancho Escondido
  • Rancho Rincon Del Diablo
  • Rancho San Pasqual
  • Rancho Vistamonte
  • Rimrock
  • Valley Center

Escondido Market Facts

Homes Currently For Sale 290
Average Home Price $648,580
Homes Built Between 1925 – 2016
Ocean View Homes 3.8%
Homes With A Pool 12.8%
Golf Course Properties 0%

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