Escondido (the name means "hidden" in Spanish) is set in a valley that is surrounded by mountains and hills. While this did keep it relatively hidden during the time of the original Native American population and early Spanish settlers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this lovely setting has become very popular with tourists in modern times. Escondido vacations will expose you to some of the California history as it is the oldest town in the state, incorporated in 1888. In 1846, a key battle of the war between Mexico and the young United States was fought here.
Escondido remains surrounded by agricultural farms and ranches, as it has been since it first became a city. There are large citrus orchards as well as numerous olive and walnut orchards and fields of avocados. There is also a long tradition of grape growing in the area and there are several wineries and vineyards, many of which are open to the public for tours and tastings. Several lakes and reservoirs are attractions in Escondido due to dams built to provide water for the farms and ranches. These provide outdoor activities and other things to do in Escondido that include boating and fishing. The 3,000+ acre Daley Ranch with its own large reservoir, located only about a mile out of town is part of this history. The ranch was established in 1869, and now is owned by the city. There is excellent hiking, cycling, and horseback riding here, as well as guided nature walks and tours.
Escondido vacations became increasingly popular as the fame of the San Diego Zoo (located in Balboa Park in San Diego) grew. This internationally recognized wildlife facility has been around since the 1920s, but it was its pioneering efforts in the breeding of endangered species and development of cageless wildlife habitats that put it and Escondido on the map in the 1970s and 1980s. The zoo's revolutionary Wild Animal Park was begun in 1964 and opened in 1972. It is located within two miles of the downtown area and draws millions of visitors per year.
There are many things to do in Escondido right in the downtown area. Those who have booked Escondido vacations just to be near the Wild Animal Park will be pleased to discover some hidden gems here. The revitalized downtown area offers museums, playhouses and theaters, numerous dining spots, and excellent shopping at boutiques, art galleries, and shops. A branch of the prestigious Mingei International Museum is here, with a superb collection of folk art, crafts, and designs from around the world. You can get a sense of the heritage of the area at the Escondido History Center, and the Children's Museum will keep children of all ages fascinated for hours. Special events include the Cruisin' Grand (referring to central Grand Boulevard) classic car show that occurs every Friday evening from April through the first week of September. Here you can see 300 to 400 classic cars and trucks dating from before 1973 all the way back to the beginnings of the motor vehicle.
Other things to do in Escondido include golf. There are many courses and country clubs, some right in the city, and they offer good play for amateurs and experts alike. You can tour the Stone Brewing Company and enjoy beer tasting at this micro-brewery. They will even pick you up and drop you off at your Escondido hotels so that those who may have "tasted" too much don't drive.