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About Escondido

A jewel in Escondido’s tiara is the California Center For The Arts, Escondido (340 North Escondido Blvd. Phone: (800) 988-4253. www.artcenter.org.) Situated on 12 acres in the heart of downtown, the complex houses a 1,538 seat concert hall and a 408-seat theater. Musicals rivaling those on Broadway draw enthusiastic crowds (give examples). Comedy, dance and concerts are also in the program. Both local and national talent are performed on a regular basis.

Keeping with the cultural genre, the Mingei International Museum North County Satellite graces the small downtown area (155 West Grand Ave. Phone: (760) 735-3355. www.minginiInternationalmuseum.com.) Mingei translates from Japanese as "art of the people." Uncharacteristically stylish for the vicinity, the Mingei houses artwork worthy of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Only opened since December 2003, the staff has produced exquisite exhibits, giving visitors a jaw-dropping experience. Currently "Timeless Glass" masterpieces created by the talented Dale Chihuly are on display.

Looking for something more active? Take a walk on the wild side a the San Diego Wild Animal Park (15500 San Pasqual Valley Road. Phone: (760) 747-8702. www.sandiegozoo.org.) Affiliated with the San Diego Zoo, this 1,800 acre wildlife preserve allows visitors to observe 3,500 animal species existing in their natural habitat. Giraffes cohabitate alongside rhinoceroses, with no separating fences. Mountain goats scale cliff-sides, hippos cool off in a lake, and antelopes frolic the grounds. Visitors can ride a monorail along the perimeter of the preserve to get a close up views. A petting kraal, botanical gardens and animal shows keep guests of all ages entertained.

Restaurants are as diverse in Escondido as its activities. French, Italian, Mexican and Irish are just a few of the countries represented. Quaint, one-of-a-kind bistros such as A Delight Of France (126 W. Grand Ave. Phone: (760) 746-2644) serve scrumptious fare. Lentil barley soup and sandwiches served on homemade French baguettes are just the pre-curser to a mouthwatering homemade fruit tart or chocolate éclair.

Written by: Maggie Espinosa

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