Vivacious Vista, California
Vista is located in North County of San Diego, just seven miles inland of the Pacific Ocean where it experiences a Mediterranean climate. Vista is listed as the seventh-best place in the United States to raise your family, based on factors such as jobs and business opportunities, education, climate (with an average of 340 days of sunshine a year), and cost-of-living as of 2008. The Vista Unified School district serves the Vista community, being the #1 employer with 1,500 employees. This city has eighteen elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools. That’s a lot of education for one city, wow! Vista is also home to 15 community parks (six times the national average)-includes theatres, museums, picnic grounds, recreation centers, athletic sports fields and specialty sports parks. They are all operated by the Vista Parks and Community Services Department. Vista’s centralized location makes for easy accessibility to the ocean, the mountains, Mexico, and some of the most popular attractions such as the San Diego Zoo (41mi) and Safari Park (20mi), SeaWorld (40mi), and Disneyland (66-70mi).
The Vista area was originally inhabited by the Luiseño Indians, who upheld the land until the founding of the San Luis Rey Mission in 1798. As the mission-era declined in the 1830’s with the independence of Mexico from Spain, the Mexican government started granting land ownerships to a variety of people, thus starting the Rancho era of California. Three ranchos were granted in the Vista area: Rancho Guajome, Rancho Buena Vista, and Agua Hedionda Y los Manos. The Rancho Buena Vista Adobe was acquired for the citizens of Vista in 1989, and is a historic treasure for the residents that protect a piece of their history for future generations to see. Rancho Guajome is a rare surviving example of 19th century Spanish-Mexican hacienda that is currently owned and operated by the San Diego Parks Department.
The name for the city, Vista, came about in an unusual way. A settler, by the name of John Frazier, applied for a permit with the U.S. Postal Department to call the town Frazier’s Crossing on September 1, 1882. The application came back saying that “Frazier’s Crossing” was already taken and that he had to submit another name. He did just that and came up with the name “Vista”. The Post Office Department accepted the name and permission was granted to open Vista’s first post office on October 9, 1882. Vista was incorporated into a city on January 28, 1963, and in January 2003, the City of Vista celebrated its 40th anniversary of incorporation. Today, Vista is a thriving community that continues to grow and develop with many new activities and attractions. The Moonlight Amphitheatre, AVO Playhouse, and the Wave Waterpark are just some of the many cultural activities the city offers residents.
- Vista houses both the courthouse and the jail for northern San Diego County
- The #1 employer of the city is the Vista Unified School district with 1,500 employees
- Vista is home of a Japanese-American Cultural Center and Buddhist Temple, one of only two in California, and over 75 other churches and temples of various denominations
- Clint Eastwood filmed parts for the film Heartbreak Ridge in Vista.
- Vista is listed as the seventh-best place in the United States to raise your family
- Has an average of 340 days of sunshine a year
Things To Do
1. Wave Waterpark– This water park is a smaller theme park consisting of 4 slides (3 tube slides, 1 body slide), a constant simulated wave, single-tube rip tide slide into the lazy river, the lazy river itself, a lap pool, and Rippity’s Rainforest (a 4-story structure of fun!). The park also includes concessions, a snack cart, restrooms and showers, picnic area, and small or large cabanas for personal shade. The Wave is open from May to September, hours being 12pm to 6pm on the weekends and 10am to 4pm on weekdays. Tips: Wear flip flops on a hot day, and chairs and shade are on a first come, first serve basis. www.thewavewaterpark.com. (760) 940-WAVE.
2. Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum– This non-profit corporation collects, preserves, and displays examples of mechanical ingenuity and crafts associated with the early days of the American farm and rural community. The museum offers exhibits, demonstrations, activities, and programs. Over the past 35 years, it has become one of the premier educational and recreational facilities in North San Diego County. The museums’ collections focus on the 1849 through the early 1960’s era, featuring farm equipment and tools from horse drawn through modern row crop. Some exhibits include Steam Engine Row, Blacksmith Shop, Short Track Railroad, and a Farmhouse. They offer demonstrations throughout the week: Thursday is weaving, Saturday is blacksmithing and N’ Scale Model Railroad building. With collections of well over 20,000 items, there is something for everyone to see! The Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum is a celebrity with their equipment in movies such as Pearl Harbor, Tremors 4, and The Time Machine. It is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm. Daily admission: Adults $5, Seniors 65+ $4, Kids 6-12 $3, under 12 are free. www.agsem.com. (760) 941-1791.
3. Rancho Buena Vista Adobe & Rancho Guajome Adobe Hacienda– The Rancho Buena Vista Adobe is a 163-year old rancho building that is an historic treasure for the residents of Vista to share and protect for future generations. Tours are available on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 2:15pm and on Saturday at 10 am only. The 45-minute tour includes a short video presentation. Cost is $3 for Vista residents or seniors, $4 for non-residents, $1 for students, and 50¢ for children. www.cityofvista.com/departments/parks/adobe.cfm. (760) 941-7639. The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an historic landmark that depicts a unique example of the Anglo-Hispanic architecture built on an original Mexican land grant. It was built in 1850 and is a contribution to our nation’s history. http://historyandculture.com/guajome. (760) 724-4082.
4. Entertainment– If you want to have some fun, go to Vista Entertainment Center or Boomers! Vista Entertainment Center offers 40 lanes of bowling, karaoke, billiards, arcade area, full-service sports bar, food and drinks, and private rooms for birthday parties and conferences. www.vistaentertainment.com. (760) 941-1032. Boomers, formally known as Family Fun Center, offers so many things to do for all ages. Boomers has go karts, bumper boats to ride, miniature golf and laser tag to play, batting cages, a game room with plenty of classic arcade games, and a kidopolis where kids can play for hours! www.boomersparks.com/site/vista. (760) 945-9474.
5. Theatres– The Avo Playhouse is a fully equipped performance venue, but is also ideal for any type of event from corporate meetings or lectures, to full production Broadway musicals. It was built in 1948 and is now owned by the City of Vista as of 1995. Several dance companies and children’s theatre organizations grace the stage regularly, such as Moonlight Stage Productions, where they are currently having a winter season of plays and musicals. Foxfire will be playing March 24th through April 10th. Free parking is available in nearby parking lots and on the street. www.moonlightstage.com. (760) 724-2110. Moonlight Stage Productions also has another venue, Moonlight Amphitheatre. It is an open air venue that offers Broadway musicals under the stars during the summer months, and is an ideal setting for concerts, weddings, community and corporate gatherings, and receptions. Parking is free and available throughout Brengle Terrace Park. Shuttle service is available for patrons parking in the upper grass lot and drops off directly in front of the north entrance. www.moonlightstage.com. (760) 724-2110.
6. Vista Farmers Market– The Vista Farmers Market is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8am to 12pm. It is the longest running market in the county and is also “one of the best in Southern California”-Sunset Magazine. It was one of the first markets in San Diego County, being a part of the Vista community for over 20 years. The market is located at the County Courthouse off Melrose Avenue. The Farmers’ Market generally has 50-60 vendors, of which more than 40 are certified organic farmers who sell a wide variety of locally-grown produce. Market shoppers can stroll among booths specializing in flowers, arts and crafts, seafood, cheese from one of the few Southern California cheese makers, fresh tortilla chips and salsa, and more. www.vistafarmersmarket.com. (760) 945-7425.
7. City Parks– The City of Vista consists of 13 parks, Brengle Terrace Park and Guajome County Park are amongst the community’s favorites. Here is a list of all the parks in Vista:
- Brengle Terrace Park | 1200 Vale Terrace Drive
- Breeze Hill Park | 645 S Melrose
- Bub Williamson Park | 530 Grapevine Road
- Buena Vista Ballfields | 1851 S Melrose
- Buena Vista Park Pond & Open Space | 1601 Shadowridge Drive
- Civic Center Park/City Hall | 200 Civic Center Drive
- Luz Duran Park (formerly Townsite Park) | 340 E Townsite Drive
- Raintree Park | 545 E Townsite Drive
- Shadowridge Park | 2101 Lupine Hills Drive
- South Buena Vista Park (Off-leash dog park) | 1602 Mountain Pass Circle
- Thibodo Park | 1150 Lupine Hills Drive
- Vista Sports Park l 1600 Sports Park Way
- Wildwood Park | 651 E Vista Way
8. Golfing– Vista is a golfer’s paradise, because of its close proximity to some of the most scenic courses in the world, where the city is home to the Shadowridge Country Club and the Vista Valley Country Club. The Shadowridge Country Club is located in the rural hills of San Diego’s floral growing region, and has a perfect climate year-round for golfing. Golfing at Shadowridge means the opportunity to golf on one of the most critically acclaimed championship courses in all of San Diego. www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Shadowridge-Country-Club/Amenities/Golf. (760)659-2344. Vista Valley Country Club is a privately owned, non-equity, non-assessment based facility located in rural Vista. Here, there is an 18-hole championship golf course that offers a fresh challenge that allows all players of all levels to enjoy this sport. www.vistavalley.com. (760) 758-2800.
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