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North County Neighborhood Guide: Carmel Mountain Ranch

Carmel Mountain Ranch Map

Carmel Mountain Ranch, which is also known simply as Carmel Mountain or CMR, is a mostly upscale North County community that is part of the City of San Diego and is served by the prestigious Poway Unified School District.

This planned community had a median household income of $97,262 in 2011, which was significantly higher than the median household income of $60,797 across San Diego in the same year. It is considered a safe, family-friendly neighborhood that is home to several gated communities, ample shopping and dining options, parks, a country club and annual community events.


Like the communities with which it shares its borders, Carmel Mountain Ranch was once home to indigenous groups and was part of a Mexican land grant. The land that is now Carmel Mountain is located between two historical ranchos: Rancho de los Penasquitos and Rancho San Bernardo.

The community was largely developed by Presley of San Diego, which later became part of the Williams Lyons Company.


Housing options in Carmel Mountain Ranch primarily consist of apartments, condominiums, and detached, single-family houses. Detached homes make up more than half of the housing units in this community. There are several gated communities within Carmel Mountain, and housing prices range from about $365,000 to $730,000 at the time of this writing.

Condos can be found for less than $400,000, but detached houses begin in the mid-$600,000s — although you may be able to find a handful of foreclosures on the market in the $500,000 range.

According to, the median rent in Carmel Mountain Ranch in 2011 was $1,625, which was significantly higher than the median rent across the city of San Diego ($1,201).

Carmel Mountain Plaza Sign

Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment

This neighborhood is a great choice for folks who want to live within minutes of their favorite stores and restaurants. Carmel Mountain’s shopping hub is home to Carmel Mountain Plaza, Carmel Mountain Home Center, Carmel Mountain Town Center, The Courtyard at Carmel Mountain Ranch and Price Plaza. Each of these shopping centers offers shops, services and restaurants to meet the needs of locals, and this shopping area is so extensive that residents should rarely need to leave their neighborhood to find a retailer selling whatever they might need.

At the Carmel Mountain Home Center, locals can shop for supplies for their latest home improvement project at The Home Depot or grab a bite to eat at Duff’s Dogz, O’s American Kitchen, Wings N Things or Yesenia’s Mexican Food. At the neighboring Carmel Mountain Ranch Town Center just across Highland Ranch Road, residents can handle their banking, pick up a prescription at Rite Aid Pharmacy, fill up their car, shop for eclectic groceries at Trader Joe’s, or grab dinner for the family at Dairy Queen, El Pollo Loco, McDonald’s, Delhi Kitchen, Greek Corner Cafe or Rob’s Jalapenos.

Before heading home, they can stop by nearby Price Plaza to stock up on goods at Costco or enjoy a sit-down dining experience at Islands or Claim Jumper. For pet or office supplies, there are also Staples and Petco at The Courtyard at Carmel Mountain Ranch. Just across Carmel Mountain Road there are other popular retailers and restaurants, including Best Buy, Party City, Golf Galaxy, Olive Garden and Cafe Luna.

And then there is Carmel Mountain Plaza, which is home to the Reading Cinemas Carmel Mountain 12 movie theater, Sprouts Farmers Market, Nordstrom Rack, Ross Dress for Less, Barnes & Noble, Sears Outlet, Michael’s, Banana Republic Factory Store, Marshalls, Pier 1 Imports and many more. Eateries in this shopping center include Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, The Habit Burger Grill, Panera Bread, Jamba Juice, Boston Market, Which Wich, Athens Market Cafe, Lai Thai, Taco Bell, Broken Yolk and California Pizza Kitchen.

Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club Golf Course

Parks & Recreation

Golfers can enjoy two popular golf courses and clubs, including the Carmel Highland Golf Resort & Spa at the Double Tree by Hilton Golf Resort and the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club. The Carmel Highland Golf Resort & Spa features a 6,428-yard, 18-hole, championship golf course, as well as a putting green and short-game practice facility. At the semi-private Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club, you will find a golf shop, banquet facilities, a restaurant and bar, golf lessons and clinics, and a beautiful golf course that has been used for U.S. Open qualifying.

The Carmel Mountain Ranch/Sabre Springs Recreation Center and Park serves both the Carmel Mountain and Sabre Springs communities, but is located in the Carmel Mountain Ranch neighborhood at 10152 Rancho Carmel Drive. At the recreation center, you will find a gymnasium, meeting rooms, a kitchen, softball fields, outdoor basketball courts, a multipurpose field, a playground and picnic areas. The recreation center offers a variety of programs, classes and activities, including youth and adult basketball leagues.

There is also Highland Ranch Park, which is located at 12140 Eastbourne Road and offers a picnic area, playground and softball fields.

Other nearby parks and outdoor recreation areas include Black Mountain Open Space Park, Rolling Hills Park, Sabre Springs Park, South Creek Neighborhood Park and Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Annual community events include a fall festival and a Christmas celebration in Fairway Village.

Carmel Mountain Ranch Town Center Sign


The high-ranking Poway Unified School District serves public school students living in Carmel Mountain Ranch. Most students will attend either Highland Ranch Elementary, Shoal Creek Elementary or Creekside Elementary. Public middle school students will attend either Black Mountain Middle School, Meadowbrook Middle School or Bernardo Heights Middle School. Public high school students usually attend Mount Carmel High School.


Carmel Mountain Ranch is south of Rancho Bernardo, west of Poway, east of Rancho Penasquitos and north of Sabre Springs.

Interstate 15 separates Carmel Mountain Ranch from Rancho Penasquitos, and most of the neighborhood is south of Camino Del Norte.

Additional Information

Carmel Mountain Ranch has something to offer almost any type of home buyer, including young professionals, retirees and families. It offers suburban living with plenty of shopping, dining, entertainment and recreational options within minutes, and is just a short drive from the beach and downtown San Diego.

Before buying a home in Carmel Mountain Ranch, you may want to visit the Carmel Mountain Ranch Residential Community Association to learn more about the community, the community’s CC&Rs, different neighborhoods and sub-associations within the community.


The map of Carmel Mountain Ranch is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. The photograph of the Carmel Mountain Ranch Town Center sign is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Vercillo. The photograph of the Carmel Mountain Plaza sign is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Vercillo. The photograph of the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club golf course is courtesy of the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club website. Real estate data gathered from and

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+