Escondido: San Diego in Focus
Escondido: San Diego in Focus
Nestled in the San Pasqual Valley rimmed by rocky, rolling hills of Southern California’s San Diego County is one of its oldest cities: Escondido, founded in 1888, although it was populated long before then. Named the Spanish word for “hidden,” the city, also known as “Hidden Valley” or “The Hidden City,” once stood among avocado, walnut, olive, lemon and orange groves, and Muscat grape vineyards.
The area maintains a Mediterranean climate, with cool moist winter months followed by warmer summers. Because it is inland, it is warmer than its nearby coastal neighbors like San Diego, Oceanside and Carlsbad.
In the 1970s, the San Diego Zoo developed its “Wild Animal Park”—now known as The San Diego Zoo Safari Park—nearby, bringing new life and interest to the quiet city. During the 1980s and 1990s, suburban housing development increased the population so that by 2010 the city boasted 143,911 inhabitants. Outside of city limits, several unincorporated communities like Jesmond Dene, Felicita Park and Rincon Del Dieblo share Escondido zip codes and addresses.
The old neighborhoods of Escondido mainly have single-family residences, which, with nearby downtown Escondido, comprise the main village area. Other housing areas and suburban tract homes ring the city and work their way up the valley’s hillsides. Downtown boasts the California Center for the Arts, focal point of the thriving arts district composed of Grand Avenue galleries, bistros and cafes. On Friday nights, the area hosts a hot rod and antique car show known as “Cruisin’ Grand” locally. Nearby, Grape Day Park, hosts the Escondido Children’s Museum and the Escondido History Center.
Surrounded by three natural lakes—Lake Hodges, just south of the city, Dixon Lake, on the north side and Lake Wohlford, on the city’s edge to the northeast—Escondido offers nature lovers a chance to enjoy camping, boating and fishing. The hills contain pristine natural spaces for mountain bikers and hikers. The Daley Ranch, a 3,000-plus acre conservation area that the city acquired in 1996 preserves a diverse and distinct habitat. It maintains more than 20 miles of equestrian, hiking or biking trails. Kit Carson Park is home to the last prominent international work by French artist, Niki de Saint Phalle. Washington Park and Frances Ryan Park include sports facilities. Nearby, the Deer Park Monastery retreat for Buddhist monks and nuns is open to the public for brief stays, teaching and meditation.
In 2010, Escondido consisted of more than 48,000 homes, of which more than half were owner-occupied. At that time, according to census data, the median age was just over 32. Served by three school districts: the San Pasqual Union School District, Escondido Union School District and the Escondido Union High School District, the area boasts seven high schools, five middle schools and 19 elementary schools to educate its diverse population.