California : Safety by City
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Escondido, California, proves that San Diego isn’t all about the beach with a dynamic mountain landscape.
Even the name tips a hat to the surrounding hills as it means hidden in Spanish.
This is a city with so much to do it’s hard to sit still.
From the downtown district, an up-and-coming area with shops and cafes, to the beautiful freshwater lakes, to the mysteries hidden in the mountains.
The city is loaded with modern amenities and a lot of history.
It was a key battlefield in the U.S.-Mexican War and you can still walk through those battlegrounds.
While it was once known as “The devil’s lurking-place”, a lot has changed since 1843 on the land of Escondido and even the crime wave at the start of the 21st Century has been tempered.
Warnings & Dangers in Escondido
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk. What was once a crime-ridden city has been on a positive trend of cleaning up the streets. While there are still pockets of problems, there's an overall safer vibe than years gone by. Even a 2021 community report showed the majority of residents feel the city is now safe.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You can take a Breeze bus to get around Escondido or the Springer light rail to Oceanside. In town, you have regulated taxi and rideshare options. All options are low-risk. Always use proper safety steps when waiting at a bus stop or light rail station.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here. The theft rates have been nearly cut in half since the height of crime in 2012, and less than 20 pickpockets were reported in 2020.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Escondido runs the gamut of some bigger risks, like wildfire, earthquakes, and severe flooding. While an average day is dry and warm, there's still a medium risk because of the other potentials. There are plenty of ways to prepare for any of those emergencies so you don't get caught off guard.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
While there's a low risk of getting mugged, it's important to know that half of the robberies that did happen were highway robberies. The robbery trend has been on a steady decline for the past decade.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Since this is part of the San Diego Metro area and close to several military bases, we're going to have to call it a medium risk just to keep people vigilant, especially when on vacation when it's easy to let our guard down.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
A lot of the scams here target locals, but there's one in particular travelers need to know about. This is called "The Lottery Scam" and it's when someone, generally Latino, approaches you and says they won the lottery but since they are not in the country legally, they need help cashing the ticket. They ask you to give them the money in exchange for their "winning" ticket. Turns out the ticket isn't a winner and the scammer makes away with the cash. There's a low risk overall, but that one's trending across Southern California.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
For the past seven years, the rape trends have been stagnant, around 50 reports a year with a very small solve rate. While it's not inherently dangerous for women, there are a lot of places to get into a bad situation here, whether it's having too much fun at night or wandering into a dangerous part of the mountains. The low risk only comes with a lot of self-safety practices.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There's nothing in the tap water to make you worry. It's a low risk and meets or exceeds all requirements.
Safest Places to Visit in Escondido
Taking a look at Kit Carson Park made me want to be a kid again.
This community park is more than just picnic tables and a swingset.
There’s The Iris Sankey Magical Garden, spanning beautiful acres of arboretum.
Queen Califa’s Magical Circle includes a stunning sculpture garden.
Get ready to see some cool animals at Safari Park Zoo, emphasis on the word “Safari”.
There are so many safari options here, including a “Roar and Snore” where you can sleep among the animals (safely and securely).
Thrill-seekers will love the zip line above the zoo.
Go back in time to San Pasqual Battlefield. Pay respects to one of the bloodiest battles during the U.S. Mexican War.
There’s an archeology center on-site, Indian burial grounds, and a nature trail.
We were going to tell you about the Valley View Hotel & Casino, but we got distracted by the Bates Nut Farm.
This 100-acres ranch is more than a century old and comes with a variety of nuts to sample and purchase.
There’s a petting zoo and picnic area, making it a great family-friendly stop on your visit to Escondido.
Just beyond that is the sinister-named Hellhole Canyon Preserve.
Those brave enough to walk through will see amazing, once-in-a-lifetime sights.
For a more tame outdoor experience, check out Cleveland National Forest.
There’s an interactive map where you can search for your favorite outdoor activity in this 460,000-acre park.
Places to Avoid in Escondido
Crime maps show the highest crime rates along the I-15 and Highway 78 corridors, which is normal for most medium or large cities.
There aren’t specific bad parts of the town, which is a relief but can also be misleading.
With any Southern California town, you’re going to have gangs and drug activity.
Escondido is no different.
In the 2021 community survey, the top three safety concerns of citizens were:
- Addressing the homeless problem
- Making police more present in the community
- Cleaning up graffiti
There are things to avoid in the natural wonders of Escondido.
Never go off a trail or you might run into an angry rattlesnake or other wild animals.
Avoid any area closed off due to wildfire damage as you could get hurt by dead trees and you could also impact the recovery of the burned land.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Escondido
- In what might be the coolest safety tip I’ve ever given, the police department allows you to sign up to get texts from the police helicopter. This stops you from ever having to wonder “Why is there a police helicopter flying overhead?” To sign up, call or text “Hello” to (858) 866-HELO(4356)
- Sign up for other safety alerts from Escondido law enforcement on nixle.com. This will give you a heads up on everything from weather events to missing people to civil emergencies.
- CalTrans is the website that tracks the traffic throughout the state. It comes with live mapping and closures and alerts for your preferred routes. You can also get specific information about San Diego County at 511sd.com.
- If you can’t call 911, there’s an option to text. This is great if you’re in a dangerous situation you cannot talk openly about, but can still text. It also works if you are lost in the wilderness and don’t have a good cell phone signal.
- Don’t be shocked if you see a monk or two in town. There are several monasteries around the beautiful landscape of this hidden valley.
- Let’s talk a little about the dangers of Hellhole Canyon. The name comes from the thick, thorny underbrush here. There are safe, paved trails, so you don’t need to worry about being able to get through them. There have been rattlesnakes reported on the trails, so always wear good hiking boots when out in this kind of wilderness.
- Dixon Lake is a great place for anglers to catch some fish. You’ll hear people say you don’t need a license here from California Wildfire, which is true, but you will need to get a daily permit at the park itself. Otherwise, fishing requires a license in this region.
- California wildfires have dominated headlines in past years for their size and destructive power. Escondido is vulnerable to fires and the impact of smoke on air quality. If you follow California’s Inciweb, you’ll get real-time updates on wildfires.
- Crime trends can change quickly in Escondido and the city has a crime map with live updates to help you make a safer choice about where to stay during your visit.
- The biggest complaint from residents in Escondido is the number of homeless people and panhandlers. It’s wise to never engage in conversation with a panhandler to avoid aggressive interaction. Simply say “No” firmly and walk away. Don’t wander near large groups of homeless people just out of an abundance of caution.
So... How Safe Is Escondido Really?
Let’s have the citizens answer that question first.
The 2021 annual report showed:
- Very Safe: 8.2%
- Somewhat Safe: 54.8%
- Somewhat Unsafe: 29.4%
- Very Unsafe: 6.9%
From crime statistics, the city is safer than the California average in violent crimes and property crimes.
On top of that, near the turn of the century, this city was listed as one of the most dangerous in California.
It has turned a corner and it has now been trending downward for two decades.
There is a 1 in 163 chance of being a violent crime victim.
The chance of being a robbery victim is 1 in 377.
Escondido is one of the more affordable places to live (if there is an “affordable” place in California) and that’s going to come with a little less glistening on it than some of the more upscale communities.
You’ve got some grit here, but even the majority of people who choose to live here feel it’s pretty safe, and that should speak volumes.
How Does Escondido Compare?
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When you cross the border or arrive at the airport, you'll take care of your Visa information. If you do plan on crossing the border while you're here (it's just 40 miles away), you'll need to bring a passport or other acceptable proof of internationally-accepted ID.
It's all the U.S. Dollar here. One credit card for all purchases should cover everything you need, and there's little reason to carry around cash. If you do choose to carry cash, don't bring it in plain view in one stack to avoid being a crime of opportunity.
You'll have two seasons in Escondido — Warm and Hot. From June through October, it's going to be in the 80s for highs each day with most months nearing 90°(F). December through May brings a variety of 70s to the region. Lows in this area get down to the 40s during the winter and 60s during the warmer months. It's always good to pack layers and if you have UV-resistant clothing, it's a bonus here.
The San Diego Airport is the best option here and it's about 40 minutes away. Plus, landing or taking off in San Diego is a beautiful experience itself as the airport is right on the water.
There are too many "what if" factors with wildfires in California to book a trip here without travel insurance.
Escondido Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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