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A dramatic view greets the visitor who has hiked (or driven) to the summit of Double Peak Park; the highest point of land in San Diego County, located just outside the urban core of San Marcos, California (population: 90,000)). To the west lies the blue Pacific and the coastal towns Encinitas and Del Mar and to the east, the snow capped San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.

Indeed, ocean breezes moderate temperatures throughout most of the year. The town owes its economic origins to the California aqueduct and the many irrigation pumps, pipes and motors needed to service this burgeoning agricultural sector. San Marcos has grown with the addition of the University of California at San Marcos and other public educational institutions. Many commuters to downtown San Diego like the good schools and great home value that San Marco provides; enough to triple  San Marcos’s population to almost 90,000 over the past three decades.

San Marcos has capitalized on its location to become a bit of a recreational hub with over 65 miles of hiking trails and 31 community parks. Trail running or hiking can work up an appetite; luckily San Marcos has one of the state’s most unique restaurant malls; the Olde California Restaurant Row. Fifteen different restaurants—including two craft breweries—suit a wide variety of tastes and budgets.

And while the city may seem like it’s a creature of the modern freeway and a developer’s vision, a trip to the San Marcos Heritage Park is a step into the past, with several reconstructed farm buildings dating back to the nineteenth century. You can even take genealogical courses to trace your family tree!