Orfila Vineyards and Winery
Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Escondido offers numerous ways to pass the day


SPANISH FOR “HIDDEN,” the city of Escondido is slowly emerging from its hiding spot. The North County inland community is easily accessible from both the I-15 and Highway 78, and a day there could take you anywhere from Lake Hodges at the southwestern edge of town to Bates Nut Farm in the northeast. Whatever your pleasure—be it shopping, dining, hiking, wine or beer tasting or family entertainment—Escondido delivers unforgettable and interesting experiences for all ages.

Brews and Vino

Escondido is home to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Here, craft connoisseurs can not only go behind-the-scenes to see how favorite brews like Arrogant Bastard or Ruination IPA are made, but they can also experience a guided tasting. Other craft breweries are popping up in town, too; local favorites include Plan 9 Alehouse, Escondido Brewing Company and Jacked Up Brewery.

For those who are more oenophile than beer lover, Escondido offers plentiful opportunities to taste—both in vineyard and urban settings—and discover a new favorite wine at one of 17 wineries in the area. Orfila Winery on the eastern part of town overlooks the beautiful San Pasqual Valley. Urban hotspot SIP Wine & Beer exudes a modern, fresh vibe and artisan snacks to nosh on while you sip and people-watch.

Grand Avenue

Exuding a “Main Street, USA” vibe, historic and eclectic Grand Avenue is a grand place to pass the day. Dotted with antique shops, art galleries and fabulous dining options, the thoroughfare provides countless opportunities to pause while you meander through town. Check out The Grand Tea Room, a full-service tea room and gift shop or stop into Cute Cakes Bakery & Café for a sweet treat. Grand Avenue is also home to several restaurants with international appeal: A Delight of France, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, Swami’s Café and Filippi’s Pizza Grotto are sure to appeal to any palate.

Don’t miss Friday night’s Cruisin’ Grand, an April–September favorite where car enthusiasts can gather to admire the 500+ classic, vintage and muscle cars that line the street. The weekly event draws record crowds, and local eateries and retail shops stay open late to accommodate visitors.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido

Attracting visual and performing arts aficionados from near and far, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido features a 1,500-seat concert hall and a 400-seat performing arts theatre. Also housed here is a contemporary art museum and art and dance studios. Proclaiming to be the “art and soul” of the community, the Center hosts multicultural events throughout the year and brings people together to celebrate art in its many forms.

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

The lauded Children’s Discovery Museum is the go-to place for hands-on learning in North County. Featuring four focused program areas—Experimentation, Exploration, Imagination and Discovery—children are introduced to everything from STEM to world cultures and theatre arts to environmental science. By playing and experimenting, kids can question and explore in a fun and safe environment. The museum closes daily at 4:30, but go on a Saturday in summertime and bring your blanket for a free family-friendly movie in nearby Grape Day Park after the museum closes.

San Pasqual Battlefield Historic Park and Kit Carson Park

History buffs should check out the San Pasqual Battlefield, where Generals Stephen Kearny of the United States Army and Andrés Pico of the Californio fought a battle during the Mexican-American War on December 6, 1846. Open on Saturday and Sunday, the battlefield showcases living history programs and tours of the monument.

Kit Carson Park is just a few miles away from the battlefield and features almost 300 acres—100 developed and 185 preserved as a natural habitat. Be sure to check out Queen Califa’s Magical Circle, a one-of-a-kind American Sculpture garden, housed at the Iris Sankey Arboretum in the park.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

No trip to Escondido is complete without a stop at the iconic San Diego Zoo Safari Park. With over 1,800 acres, the Safari Park (formerly called the Wild Animal Park) is home to more than 3,000 animals. The wildlife sanctuary provides seemingly endless opportunities to get up close and personal with these awe-inspiring animals, including cart safaris through the habitats or a 2/3-mile zip line tour over the exhibits.

[ To plan your day trip, go to visitescondido.com. ]

Bates Nut Farm

While it is locally famous for its Pumpkin Festival in fall, many don’t realize that Bates Nut Farm is open year-round and features fun activities for the whole family, like the Farm Zoo, which showcases goats, sheep, llamas, peacocks and more! The old-fashioned candy counter is the delight of children and adults alike, and there are picnic areas for sampling some of the many famous nuts—like walnuts, pistachios, pecans and cashews—that lend the farm its name.

Located just 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego, Escondido offers something for everyone, whether it’s a girl’s day out or a family affair.

Kids Fountain, Downtown Escondido
Kids Fountain, Downtown Escondido
Queen Califa’s Magical Circle
Queen Califa’s Magical Circle

Wine & Craft Beer Experience

Indulge in the best of both worlds! Area wineries offer diverse tastings from urban tasting rooms to hilltop terraces with spectacular views. For more wine and beer info, as well as dining options, a full events calendar and things to do, go to VisitEscondido.com.