15 Best Things to Do in Escondido (CA)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Escondido is blessed with sitting in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, and also has some gorgeous California weather to go with it. The city of Escondido is actually part of the wider San Diego County, and if you choose to travel here you will find a huge range of attractions to explore. For those who like art, you can enjoy the California Center for the Arts, or you can enjoy the fine dining and craft brewing scene here at one of the breweries in town.

One of the main reasons to come here however is for the scenery, and whatever you enjoy doing, you will doubtless find it here. There are an array of parks in Escondido that let you enjoy nature while still being in the heart of the city, or you can head to the suburbs and explore one of the many working ranches in the area, or take to the water at one of the numerous lakes that are dotted around. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also historical and archeological sites all over this part of California, so anyone wanting to learn more about history should make sure not to miss this amazing city.

Lets explore the best things to do in Escondido:

1. Dixon Lake

Dixon LakeSource: flickr
Dixon Lake

If you want to take in some of the gorgeous scenery in the Escondido area then you need to head to Dixon Lake where you will find that time slows down.

You can go boating on the picturesque lake, or you can also camp in the area if you feel like you want to stay on longer.

For anglers, you can also fish on the lake, with a plentiful source of trout provided all year round.

For a slice of rural life in the Escondido area, this is hard to beat.

2. San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park

San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic ParkSource: flickr
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park

The San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park sits in the San Pasqual Valley and marks the spot of the American-Mexican battle of 1846. The parks spans 50 acres of land and has a Visitor Center where you can learn all about the history of this significant location, including a video presentation and an observation room over the site.

There is also a nature trail that will let you explore half a mile of picturesque land with several pretty picnic spots dotted along the way.

3. Trapeze High

Trapeze HighSource: groupon
Trapeze High

For anyone who has ever dreamt of flying, Trapeze High in Escondido is not to be missed.

Here you will find a flying trapeze school where you can learn how to swing on the trapeze and fulfill all your flying fantasies.

There are a range of classes that you can take here that run from first time beginners up to advanced visitors, so whatever your ability, you will find something to suit all guests.

4. Washington Park Swimming Pool

Washington Park Swimming PoolSource: escondido
Washington Park Swimming Pool

Washington Park Swimming Pool is the perfect place to come if you want to cool off in the California heat in Escondido.

Dating back to 1964, the pool now has a full range of modern amenities that make it a great spot for those travelling with a family.

At the pool you will find a children’s wading pool as well as an adult pool which also features a slide.

5. Daley Ranch

Daley RanchSource: flickr
Daley Ranch

The gorgeous Daley Ranch sprawls over 3,000 acres of prime land in Escondido and is set up as a conservation area where visitors can share in the beauty of this part of the United States.

There are a huge number of activities on offer here, and you have over 20 miles of trails to choose from that are perfect for hiking or exploring by mountain bike.

You can either go it alone and explore at your leisure, or you can also take a tour with a ranger on the second Sunday of every month here.

Aside from the actual countryside and glorious flora and fauna, you can also spend time at the onsite Ranch House and wander around the other period buildings that are dotted all over the area.

6. California Center for the Arts

California Center for the ArtsSource: flickr
California Center for the Arts

The California Center for the Arts is a powerhouse in the North San Diego County area and is looked at as the cultural hub of this region.

The center has a huge range of different cultural and arts related facilities such as a concert hall that can seat 1,500 spectators as well as a theater with a capacity of 400. If you like music, then you can see an array of shows here in different styles such as jazz, classical, and contemporary.

There is also a museum on site that has exhibitions that rotate throughout the year, so this is a really a one-stop venue for anyone who loves the arts.

7. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari ParkSource: flickr
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo is actually located in Escondido and spans a stunning 100 acres of safari land.

On a visit, you will be able to see more than 3,500 animals, many of which are endangered or protected species.

There are more than 650 different species that are resident in the park, and the flora is just as impressive as the fauna, as there are over 700,000 plants here that mimic the natural environments of the animals.

The zoo sits in the stunning San Pasqual Valley in Escondido, and you can expect attractions such as safari style train tours as well as hands on areas such as zip lines that let you fly through the trees.

Animals in the zoo include species such as Sumatran tigers from Indonesia, and you can also visit at night to see nocturnal animals in action.

8. Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead

Sikes Adobe Historic FarmsteadSource: goldenfolio.blogspot
Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead

The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse dates from 1870, which actually makes it the oldest home in this part of the United States.

History buffs will love learning all about the American era at this historically and culturally significant location, and you will get to see how people would have lived in old California.

The home has been restored and you can take a tour to check it out for yourself.

This attraction is only open on Sundays.

9. Grape Day Park

Grape Day ParkSource: flickr
Grape Day Park

Grape Day Park has been open in Escondido since the 1930s which makes it the oldest park in the city.

The park is registered as a historic landmark in Escondido due to its cultural heritage and you will find a Heritage Walk here that is dedicated to showcasing period buildings from days gone by in the city.

There is also the signature piece called Vinehenge which is an art project that includes a climbing frame for children in the shape of a grapevine as well as large leaves and other fun playground attractions like grape shaped mosaics which are sure to be a hit with younger visitors.

There is also a Military Tribute in the park as well as an art wall, swimming pool, and picnic areas.

10. San Diego Archaeological Center

San Diego Archaeological CenterSource: times-advocate
San Diego Archaeological Center

The San Diego Archaeological Center is a museum in Escondido that will take you back in time.

If you are interested in how people first came and lived in the San Diego County area in the days of old, then this is the place to visit.

The museum will transport you 10,000 years into the past, and you can see exhibits that tell the story of how Escondido grew to become the city that it is today.

If you love archeology and archeological artifacts then make sure not to miss out on a trip here when you are in town.

11. Felicita Park

Felicita ParkSource: pinterest
Felicita Park

Felicita Park is not just a park but is also one of the oldest Native American settlements in San Diego County.

The original settlers here were Northern Diegueno Indians and you can still see evidence of a village here in the form of grinding holes.

Felicita Park is also well loved in the neighborhood thanks to its gorgeous oak groves and you can enjoy hiking trails here, picnic spots, and a volleyball court.

12. Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens

Stone Brewing World Bistro and GardensSource: pinterest
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens

If you fancy a pint when you are in town then you had better head to the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Garden where you can enjoy an organic beer garden that stretches for over an acre and features a gorgeous al-fresco patio area.

There are 36 craft beers available and you can tour the facility to learn firsthand how these are made.

There are also wines available at the brewery and you can grab a bite to eat at the bistro which features seasonal produce from around the region.

13. Lake Wohlford

Lake WohlfordSource: smorgcycle.blogspot
Lake Wohlford

Lake Wohlford is one of the best loved nature venues in Escondido and is not to be missed if you love fishing.

The lake is open seven days a week for keen anglers and you can expect to find a huge range of local species in these waters.

Some of these include catfish, trout, bass, crappie, and bluegill, and you will also be able to enjoy the scenic landscape and limpid waters of the lake as you fish here.

14. Kit Carson Park

Kit Carson ParkSource: flickr
Kit Carson Park

The Kit Carson Park used to be a settlement of Indians of the acorn culture, although now it gets its name from Kit Carson who was a famous scout in the area.

Carson is famed with having led Captain John C. Fremont over the fearsome Sierra Nevada Mountains and the park is also close to another famous site associated with Carson, the Battle of San Pasqual battlefield.

Nowadays the park is a great spot to visit with friends and family if you are in Escondido and there are walking and hiking trails dotted around as well as an arboretum named the Iris Sankey Magical Garden.

You can also expect not just one but three ponds called Eagle Scout, Tree, and Duck Lake, and there are a wealth of pretty picnic areas if you fancy a snack.

15. The Ranch at Bandy Canyon

The Ranch at Bandy CanyonSource: groupon
The Ranch at Bandy Canyon

For a true ranch experience, look no further than The Ranch at Bandy Canyon where you will find a real life working ranch with a whole host of interesting attractions.

The ranch is spread over 144 lush acres of land and sits in the stunning San Pasqual Valley.

The ranch also has roots that go back to 1870 and you will truly feel as if you have stepped back in time here, particularly if you visit the authentic adobe lodge.

One of the best things to do here is to sign up for an equestrian trail, where you will get to ride a horse in the surrounding area and take in nature from a completely different vantage point.

15 Best Things to Do in Escondido (CA):

  • Dixon Lake
  • San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
  • Trapeze High
  • Washington Park Swimming Pool
  • Daley Ranch
  • California Center for the Arts
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead
  • Grape Day Park
  • San Diego Archaeological Center
  • Felicita Park
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens
  • Lake Wohlford
  • Kit Carson Park
  • The Ranch at Bandy Canyon