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Escondido Neighborhood Guide: Central Escondido

Escondido City Hall

As the name implies, the Central Escondido neighborhood is the downtown core of this popular North County city. There is always something to do, somewhere to go or something to see in this diverse neighborhood, and it just might be home to some of the best Mexican food in all of North County.

Arts and culture are alive and well in this vibrant neighborhood, which is home to the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, and if you ever get to feeling a bit nostalgic, you can spend a summer Friday night watching classic cars cruise down Grand Avenue or a Saturday afternoon taking a walking tour to view the historic homes in the Old Escondido Historic District.

The downtown area is also a great place to take in some boutique shopping or people watch from a sidewalk café, and if you ever tire of searching for treasures in one of the many antique stores, you can always head to the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for an educational outing or explore the historic Heritage Walk at Grape Day Park.


Established in 1886 and incorporated in 1888, Escondido had only a few hundred residents in its infancy. Fortunately, many of the original homes are still standing in the Old Escondido Historic District, which was Escondido’s first neighborhood. Here you can wander through the streets and see homes dating back to the mid 1880s, when the city first came to be.

Both the city and its residents are proud of their rich history, which can be seen in their ongoing preservation efforts. The city’s first public library is now home to the Escondido History Center, where you can view exhibits and learn about the history of the area. Located on the grounds of Grape Day Park – which is a registered historic landmark – the center is just steps away from the historic Heritage Walk where you can see several historically important buildings.

If you are interested in Escondido’s history and its many historic buildings, visiting Central Escondido is an absolute must. This is where you will find some of the oldest homes in the city and plenty of opportunities to learn all there is to know about the area.

Historic Home in Old Escondido Historic District


If you enjoy the charm of older homes, you are sure to love Downtown Escondido. While there is a mix of housing options available in this area, and both older and newer homes can be found, you will not find many options built after 2000. Many of the homes in this area, particularly in the southern half of the neighborhood, were built before 1970, with some dating back to the late 1800s.

The average listing price for homes for sale in Central Escondido at the time of this writing was $324,520. The median sales price for the first quarter of 2014 was $285,000. While this may seem quite low for North County, keep in mind that this downtown area offers a variety of condominiums and townhouses, many of which sell for less than $200,000. At the time of this writing, there were several single-family, detached homes on the market for $250,000 to about $500,000. There was also a handful of homes for sale for more than $600,000, including a couple of higher-end properties on the market for $1,000,000 or more.

California Avocado Grill in Downtown Escondido

Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment

Central Escondido is home to a wide variety of shops and eateries, so you will find just about anything you are looking for within a short walk from the downtown core. Antique stores, locally owned restaurants and cafés, unique boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, clothing stores, sewing supply shops, salons and eclectic homes goods retailers can all be found here.

The big names are all nearby as well, including Starbucks, Dollar Tree, PetSmart, Smart & Final, Walgreens and Coldstone Creamery. Aside from the downtown shopping district, there are also smaller shopping centers, such as the Felicita Village Shopping Center and Country Corner Shopping Center.

For those in search of organic produce or the handiwork of local artisans, there is also the farmers market on Tuesdays and the Saturday Market on Saturdays, both located at Kalmia and Grand Avenue in Downtown Escondido.

When it comes to entertainment, you will never be at a loss for something fun to do right in downtown or just a short drive away. Cruisin’ Grand takes place every Friday night from April to September on Grand Avenue between Orange Street and Ivy Street. This weekly parade of vintage cars draws lots of folks to Downtown Escondido throughout the summer.

There is also the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, the attractions at Grape Day Park, the popular Second Saturday ArtWalks, theaters offering stage productions, and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, which offers museum exhibits, education programs and events occurring throughout the year.

Grape Day Park in Escondido

Parks & Recreation

Historic Grape Day Park is the primary community park space in Downtown Escondido and is the oldest park in the city. The park is a registered historic landmark and brings Escondido’s history to life with the onsite Escondido History Center, Heritage Walk and the annual Grape Day Celebration, which first took place in 1908. The History Center provides walking tours of historic Escondido free to visitors, and you can see several historic buildings, such as an 1888 Santa Fe railroad depot, a blacksmith shop, a Victorian home and a barn dating back to 1901.

You will also find picnic tables, horseshoe pits, a swimming pool, a rose garden, a children’s tile art wall, Vinehenge (an ADA-compliant, interactive play sculpture), the Grape Day Military Tribute and public art throughout the park. The park is also home to many community events throughout the year.

Daley Ranch, Lake Hodges, Felicita Park and Kit Carson Park are all just a short drive from Downtown Escondido and offer even more opportunities for outdoor recreation or attending community events.

You can read more about Kit Carson Park here, and you can read more about Felicita Park here.


Public high school students living in Central Escondido are served by the Escondido Union High School District. Depending on where they live in the neighborhood, most high school students attend Escondido High School, Orange Glen High School or San Pasqual High School. The Classical Academy High School (a charter school) is also located in the Central Escondido community.

Public elementary and middle school students attend schools in the Escondido Union School District. Most middle school students attend either Mission Middle School or Del Dios Middle School. Public elementary schools serving the neighborhood include Central Elementary School, Felicita Elementary School, Juniper Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Rock Springs Elementary School, Farr Avenue Elementary School, Pioneer Elementary School and Conway Elementary School.

The California Pacific University business school is also located in the community.

Cruisin' Grand in Downtown Escondido


Most of the Central Escondido neighborhood is located east of Interstate 15, west of North Ash Street and the Midway neighborhood, north of the Kit Carson neighborhood and south of El Norte Parkway.

Additional Information

If you are in search of a vibrant, diverse community to call home, Central Escondido is a great place to look. With plenty of community events and attractions, this Escondido neighborhood is sure to remain popular well into the future.


Real estate data gathered from

Photo Credits:

The photos of Escondido City Hall and Grape Day Park are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Chris Doig.

The photo of the historic home in the Old Escondido Historic District is courtesy of the Escondido Downtown Business Association website.

The photo of the Downtown Escondido California Avocado Grill is courtesy of Escondido Downtown Business Association website.

The photo of Cruisin’ Grand in Downtown Escondido is courtesy of the The Rustic Sparrow blog.



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+