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North County Neighborhood Guide: Rainbow

Rainbow Oaks Restaurant

The community of Rainbow is an unincorporated, census-designated place in North County San Diego with a 2010 population of 1,832. Just south of Temecula and adjacent to Fallbrook, residents of this quiet community are just minutes away from city amenities, arts and culture, wineries and miles of hiking trails. And with Interstate 15 running through the valley, accessing these amenities is even easier.

Housing options range from affordable mobile homes in a park setting to luxury country estates, farms and ranches. Folks who choose to make this family-friendly, rural community their home enjoy the benefits of a tranquil, country lifestyle within driving distance of the beach, shopping, dining, entertainment and some of the most popular attractions in North County.


The area we now know as Rainbow was first known as Vallecitos. In the 1880s, the area was renamed to Rainbow Valley in honor of an area homesteader, James Peebles Marshall Rainbow.


At the time of the 2010 United States Census, there were 719 housing units in Rainbow. Approximately 74% of these properties were owner occupied, and approximately 26% were rental properties. Median gross rent in Rainbow in 2012 was $1,029. As of 2011, the mean price for detached houses was $741,622, and the mean price for all types of housing was $639,400.

At the time of this writing, the highest-priced home I found on the market is a seven bedroom, 10 bathroom, 8,900-square-foot home on 9.59 acres listed at $5,750,000. The lowest-priced property that is not in foreclosure is a two bedroom, two bathroom, 1,152-square-foot mobile home in Oak Crest Estates listed at $109,000.

The Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks

Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment

The rural village of Rainbow is known more for its country living and tranquil setting than its shopping, but you might be surprised at what this tiny community has to offer. While most of the commercial enterprises in this area are nurseries or growers, Rainbow is also home to a few unique establishments, such as the Silverado Trading Post and the quarterly Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks.

The Silverado Trading Post, founded in 1995 by Jeff and Candy Mack, is a bit like an antique store, a gift shop, a garden art store and a furniture store all in one. Locals stop by regularly to see what’s new and search for treasures to add to their homes, and visitors make it a point to stop by this popular shop when in the area. In fact, while it technically fits into the shopping category, it could also be listed under things to do, particularly since their store and 1.5-acre outdoor showroom are filled with one-of-a-kind finds and architectural salvage pieces that are so cool that some of them have been used in television shows and movies, including the popular HBO series Deadwood.

A stop at Silverado Trading Post is not complete without heading next door to the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant, which was originally opened in 1946 and still boasts the original neon sign. The restaurant reopened in 2009 and now features a sports bar and a main dining room serving traditional American fare. Popular with bikers on group rides and the classic car crowd, locals and visitors stop in for hearty dishes, like biscuits and gravy, bacon cheeseburgers and fries, prime rib, corned beef and cabbage, New York strip steak and homemade meat loaf.

At this same corner, which is where 5th Street crosses Old Highway 395, you can also fill your gas tank at the Rainbow Mini Mart, pick up a gift basket at Rainbow Oaks Florist and stock up on organic fruits and veggies at Jimmy’s Produce. If you happen to stop by during one of the quarterly Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks events, you will also have a fantastic opportunity to meander through the market to browse more than 60 vendor booths with offerings that include vintage finds, upcycled jewelry, handmade items and clothing. The Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks was even named one of the three best holiday markets in the country by Romantic Country magazine.

Rainbow is just a few minutes from Fallbrook and just a bit farther from Temecula, which means expanded shopping, dining and entertainment options are never far away. Nearby dining options in Fallbrook include Fallbrook Cafe, Fallbrook Coffee Company, Fallbrook Rib Shack, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza, Trupiano’s Italian Bistro and Cafe des Artistes.

Fallbrook also has a thriving art scene that is so well known it was listed in John Villani’s book, 100 Best Art Towns in America.

Rainbow Days Picnic

Parks & Recreation

Rainbow is located in the foothills and valley between to mountain ranges, which means there is plenty of open land and hiking trails for locals and visitors to enjoy. There are also nearby golf courses at the Fallbrook Golf Club, Pala Mesa Resort, Vista Valley Country Club and Temecula Creek Inn Golf Resort.
Rainbow County Park is the community park in Rainbow and is located at 5157 5th Street. This 4.5-acre park has a playground, tennis courts, picnic areas, a basketball court, multi-purpose sports fields and a pavilion.

There is also the Wilderness Gardens Preserve in the neighboring community of Pala, which is a 737-acre space with a pond, four miles of hiking trails and the historic Sickler’s Grist Mill site. You can still see the mill’s foundation, and the park ranger station has a display of photos and information about the mill.

The Fallbrook Land Conservancy manages 11 preserves in the Fallbrook-Bonsall area, including several that are at least partially open to the public and have hiking trails. The conservancy also maintains 14 miles of hiking trails in the Santa Margarita River Trails system. Aside from the preserves, Fallbrook is also home to an airpark for folks with private planes, a community center offering classes and activities, the Fallbrook Farmers Market at the Vince Ross Village Square, Alturas Park, Ball Park, Fallbrook Park, Live Oak Park and the Ingold Community Sports Park.

Folks who live in Rainbow also enjoy community events hosted by groups like the Rainbow Property Owners Association, such as the Rainbow Days Picnic.


Public elementary school students living in Rainbow are primarily served by the Vallecitos Union Elementary School District. Most students attend the K-8 Vallecitos Elementary School, Rai Online Charter School or Taylion San Diego Charter School. Public high school students are served by the Fallbrook Union High School District.

Canyon Ridge Christian Prep School is also located in Rainbow for families who prefer a private school education. Other private schools nearby include A Step in Time Preschool, Fallbrook United Methodist School, Zion Lutheran School, St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School, St. Stephen Lutheran School, Rock Rose School for Creative Learning, Peppertree Montessori and Montessori Adolescent Academy in Fallbrook.

The Fallbrook campus of Palomar College, Palomar College’s main campus in San Marcos and California State University San Marcos are local options for adult learners.


The unincorporated area of Rainbow is bordered by Fallbrook to the south and west, Riverside County to the north and Pala to the East.

Rainbow Valley is located in the foothills and valley between the Aqua Tibia Mountains and Santa Margarita Mountains.

Additional Information

If you are in search of a rural community for your primary residence or a country home to visit on weekends, Rainbow offers a great opportunity to enjoy country living just a short drive from the city. From here, you can enjoy the artists’ community of Fallbrook, Temecula’s wine country, or shopping and dining in Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad and beyond.


The photo of Rainbow Oaks Restaurant is courtesy of the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant website. The photograph of The Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks is courtesy of The Vintage Marketplace at the Oaks blog. The photograph of the Rainbow Days Picnic sign is courtesy of the Rainbow Community blogReal estate data was 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+