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Escondido train station

Downtown Escondido is the cultural heart of San Diego's north county.

Here you will find history, arts, & entertainment, boutiques, antique shops and sidewalk cafés.

Park your car and let your feet take you around.

Spend a night or two at one of Escondido's fine hotels, resorts and casinos.

Photo Tours:


bench sculpture in front of Filippi's Pizza Grotto
© GoThere GoThere Corporation

Escondido is a city located in northern San Diego County, California just north of San Diego, California, USA. The name means "hidden" in Spanish-- it occupies a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County. The city has a mild climate, a diverse economy and a growing population of 140,766, making it the fourth largest city in San Diego County in terms of population.

Escondido was originally settled by Native American tribes. Spain controlled the land from the late 1700s to the early 1800s, and established many missions in California to convert the indigenous people. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the local land was divided into large "ranchos". The land that would become Escondido was Rancho Rincon del Diablo, a land grant that was given to Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1843 by the Mexican governor.

In 1846 war broke out between the United States and Mexico, and a key battle was fought in the area just south of Escondido. Known as the Battle of San Pasqual, it pitted Mexican Andrés Pico (the brother of then California governor Pío Pico) against Americans Kearny, Gillespie, and Kit Carson. A large park in Escondido is named for Carson. The city was already home to a large Spanish-speaking population in the first census back in 1850.

The Americans won the war and began settling in Southern California in increasing numbers. The decade of the 1880s is known as the Southern California Land Boom because so many people were moving to the state. In 1886 a group of investors called the Escondido Land & Town Company purchased the 12,814 acre area. Two years later in 1888 Escondido was incorporated as a city - the vote was 64 in favor of cityhood with 12 votes against. Railroads like the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific were laid in the 1880s, and US highway 395's opening in 1930 boosted economic growth in Escondido.

It was primarily an agricultural community, growing muscat grapes initially, then after a dam was built in 1894-5 to form what is known today as Lake Wohlford, oranges and lemons were planted in large quantity, as well as a number of olives and walnuts, and then by the 1960s avocados became the largest local crop. Escondido has lost most of its agricultural landscape since the 1970s to new housing developments, however. The constant pressure of suburban sprawl changed Escondido and exposed North San Diego County to urban living pressures, but you'll find that old-time residents manage to keep a "small town" character and pass it on to the newcomers.

Through the 20th century the community grew and the economy diversified. Today the community has approximately 140,000 residents, and an economy comprised of agriculture, tourism, retail, services, light industry, and high tech. Escondido no longer has a large lower-middle-class population like it used to have: most of this socioeconomic group had to move elsewhere when housing prices soared and older neighborhoods were bulldozed or renovated. Escondido has a high real estate appraisal rating, a phenomenon in North San Diego County since the population began to rise steadily in the 1970s.

Racially diverse, Escondido displays its multiculturalism in several sections of "old town Escondido". The bulk of Escondido's large Hispanic population is in the south-central section, along Escondido Boulevard and between 10th and 16th streets. The influx of Latin American residents is due to the city's proximity to the border with Mexico, middle-class Hispanic families moving north from San Diego, and economic booms of the late 1990s/early 2000s. The city is also home to more African Americans and Asian Americans today than it was two or three decades ago. Members of other ethnic groups, including Arab Americans and Pacific Islanders, have also moved to Escondido in recent years.

Points of interest

Grand Avenue & Downtown
Downtown Escondido (centered on Grand Avenue) has experienced a renaissance. Numerous fine restaurants, cafes, and galleries have opened over the past few years. Every Friday night from April through September, the Downtown Business Association hosts the popular "Cruisin' Grand," where the public can show and view hot rods and historic cars. A different car club and/or featured attraction (i.e. antique fire trucks, nitro night, midget and sprint cars) is highlighted each week. Cruisin' Grand also features a DJ, hula hoop contests for the kids, and 7 trophies each night. In addition to the many art galleries on Grand, a branch of the Mingei Museum has recently opened there. This museum displays handcrafts from around the world and is a treat to visit. Just one block off Grand Ave. is Grape Day Park with the civic center and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido that features two theaters, a visual arts museum, an educational complex, and a conference center. The Escondido Children's Museum is located in Studio One at the Center for the Arts, and the Escondido History Center is located right in Grape Day Park. The History Center features the city's original Santa Fe Depot, first library, Victorian house, barn, and blacksmith shop. The Pioneer Room of Escondido Public Library (located in the Mathes Center building next to the Main Library) has photographs, maps, oral histories, genealogical collections, directories and yearbooks documenting Escondido's history.

Wild Animal Park
Many tourists come to Escondido to visit the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which shares some of its fame with its sister park, the San Diego Zoo. The Wild Animal Park shows world animals in open habitat, where they can roam, graze, and even fly.

Valley Center
With a history in agriculture, there are many farms and wineries around Escondido. Many of the wineries offer tours. Just to the north of Escondido in the community of Valley Center there is a lavender farm offering seasonal tours.

Valley Center and nearby Daley Ranch maintains a rural pre-colonial setting to remind tourists of a time when California was a frontier of New Spain and Mexico, especially the high number of residents of Spanish/Hispanic descent and from local Native American tribes.

Also in Valley Center is the burgeoning Native American casino industry. What once was a small collection of small casinos is now a rapidly maturing business. Even big time Vegas acts are coming to the new large hotel-casinos, and many offer golf and spa services.

Today, Valley Center is portrayed with an image of exo-suburban prosperity, when multi-million dollar homes and properties appeared in the 1990s and now residential and commercial development covers the landscape in the formerly farm-based community.

Escondido is also known for having three large lakes. Dixon Lake is the located in the north and is well known for fishing and has a number of boating opportunities. Lake Wohlford is southeast of Dixon and also has boating and fishing. Lake Hodges is south of town. A part of Lake Hodges is crossed by Interstate 15, Escondido's main freeway, via the Lake Hodges Bridge.

Escondido is the home to three public high schools, Escondido, Orange Glen, and San Pasqual along with several charter and continuing education schools. An extension of Palomar College serves Escondido.

Stone Brewing Company
In 2006, Stone Brewing Company moved its headquarters and brewery from San Marcos, California to a new, much larger facility in the Quail Hills area of Escondido.

Magical Circle
In Kit Carson park is Queen Califia's Magical Circle, the last major international work by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, colleague of Salvador Dalí and Jasper Johns. De Saint Phalle is best known for her Stravinsky Fountain, located in Paris, France.


Dixon Lake at Daly Ranch.Escondido is located at 33°7'29" North, 117°4'51" West (33.124794, -117.080850)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 94.5 km² (36.5 mi²). 94.0 km² (36.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.5 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.52% water.

Escondido is governed by a mayor-council system. The city council consists of a mayor and four City Council Members. Along with the City Treasurer, they are elected at large to four-year terms. The current mayor is Lori Holt Pfeiler. Current City Council Members are Sam Abed, Ed Gallo, Dick Daniels, and Marie Waldron. The current City Manager is Clay Phillips. The current City Treasurer is Ken Hugins. The most recent General Municipal Election was held on November 7, 2006. Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler won 59% of the vote, defeating challenger Tim Dagosta. Councilmember Marie Waldron led the seven-way race for city council, after basing her re-election platform on a controversial housing ordinance that seeks to ban the city's illegal immigrant population from renting apartments. The ordinance is being challenged by the ACLU in court and might be ruled unconstitutional under California law. Retiring councilmember Ron Newman was replaced by newcomer Dick Daniels. Issues in the municipal election included managing growth and improving opportunities for business and recreation.

As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 133,559, which was much larger than its 1990 population. Recently, Escondido has had much new housing built on formerly undeveloped land.

As of 2000 there are 43,817 households, and 31,153 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,421.4/km² (3,680.9/mi²). There are 45,050 housing units at an average density of 479.4/km² (1,241.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 67.82% White, 2.25% African American, 1.23% Native American, 4.46% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 19.19% from other races, and 4.81% from two or more races. 38.70% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 43,817 households out of which 39.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% are married couples living together, 11.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% are non-families. 22.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.01 and the average family size is 3.50.

In the city the population is spread out with 29.7% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $42,567, and the median income for a family is $48,456. Males have a median income of $32,627 versus $27,526 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,241. 13.4% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 17.9% of those under the age of 18 and 5.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Current estimates
According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of Escondido in 2005 was $58,217 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $47,274.


Photo Tours:


GoThere before you go there San Diego Area guides & photo tours: 
Mission Bay Old Town Sea World
Gaslamp Quarter District Seaport Village La Jolla
Pacific Beach Mission Beach Coronado
Balboa Park Hillcrest Ocean Beach
City Heights North Park College Area
Normal Heights Kensington University Heights
Downtown El Cajon Village of La Mesa Carlsbad
Downtown Escondido Adams Avenue Alpine
Horton Plaza Fashion Valley South Park
The Boulevard Casinos San Diego Airport