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North County (San Diego area)


North County (San Diego area)

North County
Region of the San Diego Metro Area
Oceanside Pier in North County
Oceanside Pier in North County
North County Coastal and Inland cities. (Certain neighborhoods in northern San Diego, such as Del Mar Heights, Rancho Bernardo, San Pasqual Valley and Rancho Penasquitos, are also considered part of North County.)
North County Coastal and Inland cities. (Certain neighborhoods in northern San Diego, such as Del Mar Heights, Rancho Bernardo, San Pasqual Valley and Rancho Penasquitos, are also considered part of North County.)
Country  United States of America
State  California
County San Diego
Population 821,496

North County is a region in the northern area of San Diego County, California. It is the second-most populous region in the county (after San Diego), with an estimated population of 826,985. North County is well known for its affluence, especially in Encinitas, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, and Solana Beach, where house prices range, on average, above one million dollars.[1]

Beach culture is very prominent in the area, and many of the region's beaches and lagoons are protected areas to help ensure the environment remains pristine.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Ecology 2.1
    • Flora and fauna 2.2
  • Culture 3
    • Recreation 3.1
    • Fairs and shopping 3.2
    • In the media 3.3
  • Demographics 4
  • Cities 5
    • Incorporated cities 5.1
    • Unincorporated CDPs 5.2
  • Education 6
    • Primary and secondary 6.1
    • Colleges and universities 6.2
  • Media 7
    • Newspaper 7.1
    • Radio 7.2
    • Television 7.3
  • Landmarks 8
  • Politics 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The name dates to at least the 1970s, when many of the communities in the area were yet to become incorporated cities and local community decisions were made 40 miles away at the county seat. The North County section of San Diego County has historically been the most expensive region of San Diego, with such affluent neighborhoods as Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas, Olivenhain, Rancho Santa Fe, and Solana Beach.[2]

In modern times, North County continues to grow as a highly influential region of Greater San Diego. The top twenty-five employers in San Diego County are closer to the North County city of Carlsbad than San Diego proper.[3]


North County is commonly divided into coastal and inland regions, with

Both coastal and inland North County maintain two types of topography. In North County Coastal, the land is generally flat with low rolling hills. The beaches are sandy with occasional tidepools and rocky reefs popping out of the surf. In some cases the coast is dominated by bluff type geography, where the land meeting the ocean sharply drops into the sea with a short beach. In some cases, such as in Encinitas, a whole city can be bisected by a coastal foothill ridge. Mountains soon become imminent as one travels further inland, displaying the rocky peaks of North County Inland. Such peaks include San Marcos Mountain, Palomar Mountain, Twin Peaks in Poway, Mount Woodson in Ramona, and Iron Mountain in unincorporated territory between the two cities. The coastal area also becomes more rugged to the north, where the Santa Margarita Mountains dominate the area within Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Rivers and creeks flowing west from the mountains farther inland predominantly end up draining into the regions four main lagoons. Throughout their course the way they form many lakes and reservoirs supporting and array of native species.

Definitions vary, but almost always include the communities and cities along Interstate 5 north of Carmel Valley Road and Interstate 15 north of Lake Hodges. For both geographic and political reasons, opinions differ as to whether to include the northern communities within the city limits of San Diego (such as La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, or Scripps Ranch), or close in communities and cities such as Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Aviara, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, 4S Ranch etc.

Spanning 125,000 acres (506 km2) in the northwestern corner of the county, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton forms a large buffer separating the coastal populated areas of North County from neighboring Orange County, preventing the creation of a coastal megalopolis stretching from Santa Monica to Imperial Beach


The region has strong ties to its coast. Its notable efforts are popular for preserving many marine environments, including lagoons and tidal wetlands, many being last few on the South Coast.[5] Unlike developments in many Orange County coastal cities, the lagoons and large areas of coast have not been so heavily developed. Major lagoons and inlets lining the coast from north to south include: Oceanside Harbor, Buena Vista Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon.

Flora and fauna

These lagoons provide valuable wetland habitat for many bird, reptile, fish, and plant species. The waters off the coast are also very rich in species diversity, supporting large kelp forests and rocky reefs.

Fish species included the tidewater goby, topsmelt, striped mullet, surfperch and Pacific staghorn sculpin. Leopard sharks forage near the lagoons, and their pups frequent the shallow rocky reefs off the coast.

Bird species included the great blue heron, snowy plover, Ridgway's rail and least tern. The lagoons support various species of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, raptors and diving birds.[5] The number of bird species in the San Dieguito wetlands have tripled due to restoration projects by Del Mar.[6]


North County Coastal city of Del Mar


North County contains forty golf courses, including Torrey Pines, which hosted the 2008 U.S. Open.[7] North County is also known for its beaches, which stretch about thirty miles from Del Mar to San Onofre.[8] These beaches experience a large tourist influx from June to November. Symbolic of North County's surf culture are the various statues proliferating the region including the Cardiff Kook in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. As surf culture is an integral part of North County, so is equestrian culture. Numerous equestrian centers, including the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Rancho Camino Equestrian Center, and San Diego Country Estates International Equestrian Center, are found in the region from Del Mar to San Diego Country Estates.

North County is home to Southern California’s only five-star and five-diamond restaurants: Addison at The Grand Del Mar, and El Bizcocho at Rancho Bernardo Inn.[7]

Fairs and shopping

The Del Mar Fair is home to one of the most famous racetracks in the world and is the site of the annual San Diego County Fair. Shopping malls include the North County Fair in Escondido and Plaza Camino Real in Carlsbad. Famous beaches include Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and the Oceanside Pier.

In the media

Locations in North County appear in popular television and films. Camp Pendleton is often featured in military-themed shows such as NCIS, and is the setting of the first season of Major Dad. The Del Mar Fair is also portrayed in shows such as Entourage. Veronica Mars is set in a fictional city north of San Diego; much of the show was filmed in Oceanside. For two seasons the Showtime comedy Weeds was set in the fictional San Diego suburb of Ren Mar, which is implied to be in North County.

A notable fictional character from North County is shock jock Dave Rickards' "Aunt Edna", frequently featured on the popular Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw radio program, which airs in the San Diego area.


North County is considered wealthier and more socially conservative than other parts of the metropolitan area such as South Bay. It is the second-largest region of the San Diego metropolitan area. There are 325,995 people residing in the San Diego city region of North County alone.

In North County, 49.1% of the populace is male and 51.9% of the populace is female. White-collar jobs outnumber blue-collar jobs at a ratio of 3:1. In North County, more people have Bachelor of Arts degrees than associate's degrees at a ratio of 2:1. More people are married than single by 2:1.[9]


North County Coastal city of Oceanside
North County Inland city of Escondido

Incorporated cities

Populations listed are from the 2010 U.S. Census

Unincorporated CDPs

Populations listed are from the 2010 U.S. Census


Primary and secondary

School districts in the region include the:

School districts overlap city boundaries. Depending on the zip codes of the cities and their proximity to respective schools and school districts, school districts will serve parts of different cities.

Colleges and universities

North County is home to several colleges:



The North County Times is the main newspaper in the region. In September 2012, the North County Times was purchased by the owners of the U-T San Diego.[11] It is now known as U-T North County.


In addition to being served by radio stations from San Diego and Tijuana, North County is served by FM stations KSOQ-FM, KSSD, KLVJ, and KSDW and AM stations KFSD, KPRZ, and KKSM.


North County is served by the ABC affiliate KGTV, CBS affiliate KFMB, NBC affiliate KNSD, FOX affiliate KSWB, and CW affiliate XETV—all San Diego stations. Other local stations include KUSI and 4SD in San Diego and KTLA in Los Angeles.


Important landmarks in North County include Del Mar Racetrack, Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Lake San Marcos, Oceanside Pier, Stone Steps, Twin Peaks, and Palomar Mountain, home of the Palomar Observatory.


Most of North County is located within County Supervisorial District 5, and is represented on the county's Board of Supervisors by Bill Horn. The remainder of North County is in Districts 2 and 3, represented by Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, respectively.

See also


  1. ^ "San Diego Real Estate Market Reports". Highland Realty. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ NPR
  3. ^ California Pacific Airlines. "San Diego North Means Business". Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  4. ^ : Coastal and Inland citiesNorth County Times
  5. ^ a b "Batiquitos Lagoon". Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  6. ^ "DEL MAR:Restoring the wetlands". North County Times. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b San Diego's North County
  8. ^ "North County Beaches". Schneck Enterprises. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ "North County Demographics". Point2. 
  10. ^ "CSUSM: CSU San Marcos Academics". California State University San Marcos. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ U-T San Diego owner agrees to buy North County Times for $12 million. The Washington Post.

External links

  • San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • City of Oceanside
  • City of Escondido
  • City of Carlsbad
  • City of Vista
  • City of San Marcos
  • City of Encinitas
  • City of Poway
  • City of Solana Beach
  • City of Del Mar

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