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Events, Exhibits and Education at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

California Center for the Arts, Escondido Lyric Court

The California Center for the Arts, Escondido (CCAE) officially opened in 1984, and since that time, the 12-acre campus has become a thriving center for arts and culture in North County and an integral part of the Escondido community. More than 300,000 people visit the Center each year, and the Center serves more than 800,000 through exhibits, performances, outreach programs and festivals.

Situated next to Escondido’s City Hall and historic Grape Day Park in Downtown Escondido, the CCAE is truly a cultural center where locals and visitors come together to celebrate the arts, enjoy stage performances and attend community events.

Events at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

The Center has two primary event venues where you can enjoy concerts, comedians and stage productions. One is the 1,523-seat Concert Hall, and the other is the 404-seat Center Theater. The variety of performances and other offerings ensures that there is something for everyone and has ranged from world-renowned speakers, like Tony Robbins, to touring companies offering rare opportunities to enjoy must-see professional productions like Les Miserablés.

Other venues on the Center’s campus include Lyric Court, which is in front of the Concert Hall, and the Great Green, which is a large, centrally located outdoor venue. There is also the Museum Sculpture Courtyard, art and dance studios, and the just-opened community theater space, Studio One.

Free community events at the CCAE include WOW First Wednesdays performances, family arts activities and Jazz Jam Sessions, as well as annual Independence Day Celebrations, Day of the Dead Festivals and Holiday Tree Lighting events.

A 17,000-square-foot conference center, meeting rooms and the various venues across the campus are available to rent for corporate events, weddings and other occasions. The Center also offers onsite catering and banquet services for events.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido Concert Hall

The Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

The Center’s museum is a 9,000-square-foot space with a sculpture court, three galleries offering different exhibits and collections, and a museum store. At the time of this writing, admission to the museum is $8.00 per person, and children 12 and under get in for free. Discounted admission rates are available for students, military and seniors over 60 years old.

Along with the changing exhibits, the Center offers tours for school groups, as well as lectures and workshops for adults, to enhance visitors’ experiences and provide opportunities for further exploration into the arts.

Education Programs at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

The CCAE offers much more than art exhibits and stage productions. Through its education department, it offers a variety of classes, activities and programs for students and community members of all ages.

One of the most popular educational programs for families living in Escondido is the free family arts activities that take place from 10:00am to noon the second Saturday of each month. The Center provides the materials for that day’s art or craft project, and drop-in participants are welcome, so parents should keep this free activity in mind when looking for fun, educational activities that are appropriate for the entire family.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum

Field trip opportunities for students, scout troops, seniors and other groups are available, including studio art lessons, theater and museum tours, drama workshops and photography classes. There are also special workshops for teachers to help them explore different ways to incorporate art into their teaching, and there are two school outreach programs providing exciting opportunities for young students. One is the My Story: Literacy Through Arts program, which is a 16-week program for students in the fourth or fifth grade. The other is the Jean Will Strings Program, which is a free afterschool program for second- and third-grade students. In this program, each student is provided with a violin, receives one private lesson and one group lesson per week and has opportunities to perform with the group.

The Center also offers low-cost matinee performances during the week to help schools and home school groups introduce students to the theater arts, a variety of summer camp opportunities, master classes taught by artists, lectures and workshops for adults, and a Choral Arts Program that includes the Center Children’s Chorus and the Center Chorale (for adults).

California Center for the Arts, Escondido Center Theater

What to Know Before You Go

The museum is located at 340 North Escondido Boulevard in Escondido.

Free parking is available for visitors in the Center’s parking lot, which is located at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Escondido Boulevard.

There are multiple buildings on the Center’s campus, so you may want to download a campus map and print it out before you go.

To stay in the know about current exhibits, classes and events, you can check the Center’s events page, connect with the Center on Facebook or sign up for their email newsletter.

The ticket office is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6:00pm and Sundays from noon to 5:00pm. It is closed on Mondays.

Helpful Phone Numbers:

  • Education Department: (760) 839-4176
  • Theater Rentals: (760) 839-4129
  • Venue Rentals: (760) 839-4140
  • Event Tickets: (800) 988-4253


Photos courtesy of the California Center for the Arts, Escondido website.


AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+