Vista, California
Vista Gateway Arch at S Santa Fe Ave and Main St near downtown
Vista Gateway Arch at S Santa Fe Ave and Main St near downtown
Flag of Vista, California
Official seal of Vista, California
America's Climatic Wonderland
Location of Vista within San Diego County, California
Location of Vista within San Diego County, California
Vista city street map, California
Vista city street map, California
Vista, California is located in the United States
Vista, California
Vista, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°11′37″N 117°14′28″W / 33.19361°N 117.24111°W / 33.19361; -117.24111
Country United States
State California
County San Diego
IncorporatedJanuary 28, 1963[1]
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorJohn Franklin[2]
 • City council[2]Corinna Contreras, Deputy Mayor
Joe Green
Katie Melendez
Daniel O'Donnell
 • City ManagerJohn Conley[3]
 • Total18.75 sq mi (48.56 km2)
 • Land18.75 sq mi (48.56 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
Elevation325 ft (99 m)
 • Total98,381
 • Rank74th in California
307th in the United States
 • Density5,200/sq mi (2,000/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
92081, 92083–92085
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-82996
GNIS feature IDs1661645, 2412161
FlowerCalifornia Lilac[7]
BirdAnna's hummingbird[7]
TreeKentia Palm[7]

Vista (/ˈvɪstə/; Spanish for "view") is a city in San Diego County, California. Vista is a medium-sized city within the San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Area. As of the 2020 Census, Vista had a population of 98,381. Current data estimates a 2023 population of 99,835.[8] Vista's sphere of influence also includes portions of unincorporated San Diego County to the north and east, with a county island in the central west.[9] Located just 7 mi (11 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean, it has a Mediterranean climate.

A flag is displayed at the Vista Civic Center. The flag design is the seal of Vista on a blue background.

Originally the lands of Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Guajome, Vista was founded on October 9, 1882, with the establishment of a post office.[10] It was incorporated on January 28, 1963, and became a charter city on June 13, 2007.


The Rancho Guajome Adobe is the second oldest building in Vista.

The Vista area was originally inhabited by the Luiseño Indians, who established a village in today's Vista called Tovalum.[11]

The prosperity of the mission-era declined by the 1830s with the independence of Mexico from Spain. The Mexican government began to grant land ownerships to a variety of people, thus beginning the Rancho era of California. Three ranchos were granted in the Vista area: Rancho Guajome, Rancho Buena Vista, and Agua Hedionda Y los Manos.[12]

In the 1850s the ranchos began to fade due to changing political conditions and the scarcity of water. A growing number of settlers came to the area after California became a state in 1850 and began to create smaller agricultural holdings. One settler in the Vista area, John A. Frazier, applied to open the first post office and after several attempts to name the city (Frazier and Buena Vista were already taken), Frazier finally chose the name "Vista". With the opening of the first post office in 1882, Vista had officially arrived.[13]

In 1870, Bernard Delpy arrived from France to build what eventually became known as "Delpy Corners" at the intersection of today's East Vista Way and Foothill Drive. His nephew, Jules Jacques Delpy, joined him in 1879 and together they planted several hundred acres of grapes. In 1886, they built the first successful winery in the country. The winery was shut down by the Prohibition era.[14]

Inhibited by the lack of water, Vista grew slowly through the early 1910s to less than 1,000 people. In 1913, two events marked the beginning of downtown’s growth and fixed its location for good. They were the division of the central area into smaller lots and the opening of two important buildings: the Vista Inn, which stood at the intersection of today’s Santa Fe Ave. and Main Street, and the train station that replaced the old cargo platform across the street.[15] With the vote of the people in 1923, the Vista Irrigation District had the necessary funding to construct a new water supply from Lake Henshaw.[16] New buildings in downtown sprang up almost immediately. Agriculture began to flourish with crops such as tomatoes, celery, and citrus fruits. Some hillsides were also planted for avocados and by 1948, Vista became the "avocado capital of the world", a moniker since taken by nearby Fallbrook, CA.[17]

Following World War II, agriculture declined with an influx of population and housing, much of it “white flight” from San Diego. The City of Vista was incorporated on January 23, 1963. The frequent housing booms of the 1970s through early 2000s greatly increased the population of Vista. Many light manufacturing businesses moved into the Business Park area on the south side, starting in the 1980s. The Moonlight theatres, Rancho Guajome, Shadowridge, Vista Village, and other retail and cultural centers have since been developed.

Since the 1990s, the downtown area has received about $12 million in investments from Vista for improvements.[18]

Paseo Santa Fe in Downtown Vista

The City of Vista unveiled a new vision for downtown’s future in 2015, creating a specific plan intended to make downtown the main commercial, social, and cultural hub in Vista. The specific plan map aimed to make downtown more lively, appealing, and livable for current and future residents, businesses, and visitors.[18] In 2020, Vista finished the Paseo Santa Fe corridor project, which transformed almost a mile of S. Santa Fe Avenue between Vista Village Drive and Civic Center Drive into a pedestrian-friendly street that goes through the heart of downtown. The project created a sense of identity for downtown and made it more attractive and vibrant. The City of Vista hopes that it will stimulate other downtown activities and benefit the local businesses and community.[19]


Landscape view showing Vista's hilly terrain

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48 km2) of land. Vista is a hilly city. Most of the businesses are located in the flatter areas, and residences climb the hills. In undeveloped areas, the natural vegetation types includes chaparral brushland, oak-sycamore woodland, riparian (stream) woodland and oak-grass savanna. The natural vegetation is best seen in Buena Vista Park on the south side, in the San Marcos Hills, east of the city, and in undeveloped pockets on the north side (e.g. along Gopher Canyon Road and Guajome Regional Park).


Vista has a semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) bordering on a Mediterranean climate (Csa). The climate is temperate, with extremes of temperature uncommon. Coastal breezes and foggy overcast (especially in May and June) keep the late spring/early summer high temperatures below 80 °F (27 °C). on most days. In general, the western side of the city (closer to the Pacific) is cooler and more overcast with ocean fog than the eastern side. It is common in May–June for the western side of Vista to be overcast and cool, while the eastern side basks in clear skies and sunshine. July, August and September are usually warmer, as the coastal breezes lessen. High temperatures in excess of 90 °F (32 °C), rarely above 100 °F (38 °C) sometimes occur in late summer. High temperatures also accompany dry Santa Ana wind events, which can strike any month, but are most common during fall. On 90% of days, though, the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific keeps the weather pleasant and temperatures moderate. Frost is quite rare in winter, and snowfall almost unknown. Most of the annual rainfall of 13.24 inches (336 mm) falls between November and April (Mediterranean climate type). Rainfall is higher in the San Marcos Hills on the eastern edge of the city, up to 20 inches (510 mm) per year. The moderate climate has made Vista and surrounding areas a center of the plant nursery industry. Avocados and other subtropical plants thrive in the area.

Climate data for Vista, California (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1957–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 94
Mean maximum °F (°C) 82.4
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 65.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 55.7
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 45.7
Mean minimum °F (°C) 35.6
Record low °F (°C) 21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.85
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 7.0 7.9 6.0 4.1 3.1 1.0 0.8 0.4 0.7 2.1 4.3 6.2 43.6
Source: NOAA[20][21]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[22]


The 2022 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates reported that within Vista city, Whites and Hispanics were again the most numerous race/ethnic groups. The top ancestries were German, English, and Irish. Whites made up 75.5% of the population, while the remainder was largely Hispanic or Latino at 14.9%. All other specified races individually made up less than 10% of the population. Within the population under 18, Whites made up a larger fraction at 83.8%. Among households having children, the average number of children was two. The overall median age was 34.4 years.[23]

Households with at least one individual employed full-time earned a median household income of $144,464. For households with both spouses employed full-time, median household income was $191,468. Approximately 9.1% of the population was below the poverty line, an improvement over both the national and California state averages.[23] The poverty rate was highest among single parent households with young children (greater than 20%), and lowest among married couple households with young children (less than 5%). The majority of households were married couple families, and the majority of homes were single-family detached houses. More residents owned their homes than rented.[24]


The 2020 Decennial U.S. Census reported Vista's population numbered 98,381 with a median age of 35.0 years. Males comprised 50.1% and females 49.9%. Whites and Hispanics were the most numerous race/ethnic groups. The White non-Hispanic population made up 36.1% of the city, while the remainder was predominantly Hispanic or Latino at 50.6%. Individuals selecting both Hispanic and White alone made up 7.8% of Vista's population. All other specified races individually made up less than 15% of the population.[25]

Vista city, California – Racial and ethnic composition
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2000[26] Pop 2010[27] Pop 2020[28] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 44,844 38,287 35,518 49.91% 40.80% 36.10%
Black or African American alone (NH) 3,535 2,753 2,410 3.93% 2.93% 2.45%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 440 336 273 0.49% 0.36% 0.28%
Asian alone (NH) 3,206 3,806 4,984 3.57% 4.06% 5.07%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 526 615 612 0.59% 0.66% 0.62%
Other race alone (NH) 161 175 523 0.18% 0.19% 0.53%
Mixed race or Multiracial (NH) 2,155 2,482 4,317 2.40% 2.65% 4.39%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 34,990 45,380 49,744 38.94% 48.36% 50.56%
Total 89,857 93,834 98,381 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%


Top employers

According to the city's 2022 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[29] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Vista Unified School District 2,952
2 Watkins Manufacturing Company 885
3 Costco 348
4 Fresh Creative Foods 337
5 Cue Health Inc 335
6 Walmart 323
7 Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps 322
8 Lowe's 292
9 Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors 291
10 Frazier Farms 290


Vista high schools have fielded several CIF Champion teams in recent years: the Mission Vista Timberwolves in both basketball and soccer,[30] and the Vista Panthers in football.[31]

Parks and recreation

The stage at Moonlight Amphitheatre

Vista is home to two city-owned theaters: the recently updated Moonlight Amphitheatre and the Avo Playhouse. The Moonlight is an open-air theater that specializes in musical productions, performing several Broadway-caliber, musical productions during the course of the summer. A winter season concert venue called ClubM hosts shows where the performance and audience areas are on the Moonlight stage, sheltered from the elements. The Avo Playhouse located in Historic Downtown Vista is rented year round for private performances.

Several popular downtown events include the North County St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival, the Vista Strawberry Festival, the Vista Rod Run (over 25 years running) and the annual Winterfest & Christmas Parade.

Vista houses one movie theater, currently a Cinepolis theater (as of 2015), but which opened as a Krikorian Cinema in fall 2003.

Two of the best-known parks in the city are Brengle Terrace Park and Guajome County Park. Brengle Terrace Park houses the Moonlight Amphitheatre, Alta Vista Gardens (a city-owned botanical garden), two softball fields, a senior center, a playground, and the city community center, where the main offices of the city's day camps are held. Guajome County Park has 557 acres (2.25 km2) of land, which is shared between Vista and nearby Oceanside. It features a small lake, willow and oak woodlands, campsites, horse trails, and the Rancho Guajome Adobe, a National Historic Landmark. Buena Vista Park on the south side of Vista is a natural park where users can hike on trails through native chaparral and oak woodland.

The Wave Waterpark facilities

The Rancho Guajome Adobe and Rancho Buena Vista Adobe are two historic rancho buildings in Vista, built in the mid-nineteenth century, both available for tours and special occasions.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department runs the Wave Waterpark in the downtown area, open from mid-spring to early fall, and the brand new Vista Community Sports Park. Another attraction is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum, an open-air museum demonstrating agricultural equipment from the 19th and early 20th centuries. A Boomers family fun park is also located in Vista.


Vista's Civic Center is the seat of government for the City of Vista
Vista Civic Center

City government

Vista, a charter city, is governed by a mayor, John B. Franklin, and a city council, consisting of Corrina Contreras (Deputy Mayor), Joe Green, Katie Melendez and Daniel O'Donnell.[2] In 2017, Vista decided to divide the city into four council districts. The residents of each district elect a council member, with the mayor being elected at large.[32]

State and federal representation

In the California State Legislature, Vista is in the 38th Senate District, represented by Democrat Catherine Blakespear, and in the 74th Assembly District, represented by Republican Laurie Davies.[33]

In the United States House of Representatives, Vista is in California's 49th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D+4[34][circular reference] and is represented by Democrat Mike Levin.[35]

According to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, in December 2023 the City of Vista had more registered Democrats than Republicans. Out of a total of 51,922 registered voters, 20,539 were Democrats, and 14,306 were Republicans. Another 2,488 registered as Independents, and 12,424 declined any party affiliation.[36]


The Vista Unified School District serves Vista and parts of Oceanside and several Unincorporated communities, with seventeen elementary schools, six middle schools, and six high schools, including Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista High School and Mission Vista High School.[37] Guajome Park Academy is a charter school with joint elementary, middle, and high schools that receives part of its funding from the Vista Unified School District. Alta Vista Continuation High School is another option for teens who cannot attend regular school. There are 12 private schools serving over 2,500 students, including Tri-City Christian School, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School and Calvary Christian School.

Vista Adult School was established in 1977 by the Vista Unified School District. Vista Adult School is a provider of adult education services in the City of Vista and its surrounding communities. Vista Adult School offers adult education courses in the areas of: high school diploma, GED, HISET, adult basic education, ESL, parenting classes, community education courses, and career technical education courses (CTE). Vista Adult School also offers a robust selection of short-term medical training courses. Vista Adult School is a member of the Education to Career Network of North San Diego County (ETCN).



The Vista Press is an online newspaper for Vista and North County San Diego news.[38]

Radio stations

AM 1000 KCEO

TV stations


The automobile is the primary means of transportation within the city of Vista, however bus service is provided by the North County Transit District (NCTD) BREEZE. NCTD has an east–west lightweight commuter train called the Sprinter with a stop in downtown Vista and another further east on Civic Center Drive near Highway 78.

Major roads and highways

Mass transit

The North County Transit District operates a bus system and a hybrid rail service, Sprinter, with stations at Vista Transit Center and Civic Center Drive within city limits and also the Buena Creek Road in eastern Vista sphere of influence. Sprinter provides service west to Oceanside and east to San Marcos and Escondido.[40] From the Sprinter station in Oceanside, commuters can connect to Amtrak trains, or to the Coaster commuter trains to downtown San Diego, or to the Metrolink commuter trains to the Los Angeles area.


In the city of Vista, gas and electric service is provided by San Diego Gas & Electric, while water is provided by the Vista Irrigation District. Sewerage is provided by the City of Vista.[41]


The city of Vista is located within the Tri-City Hospital District, which provides emergency care and hospitalization, while ambulance service is provided by the Vista Fire Department.[42] The Vista Community Clinic provides general health care to those who face economic, social or cultural barriers.[43]

Government facilities

North County Regional Center

Located in Vista is the North County Regional Center, a San Diego County facility shared by the Superior Court, Sheriff, Vista Detention Facility jail, Probation, District Attorney, Revenue and Recovery, and the County Board of Supervisors. The North County Superior Court is a full service branch court.[44]

Public safety

Law enforcement is provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department through a contract with the City of Vista, approved by the City Council. Fire suppression, fire prevention and EMS is provided by the Vista Fire Department.

Notable people


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on October 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Elected Officials". City of Vista. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  3. ^ "City Manager". City of Vista, California. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Vista". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  6. ^ "Bios". Vista Historical Society. Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c "About Vista". City of Vista, California. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  8. ^ "Estimates-E1 | Department of Finance". Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  9. ^ San Diego GIS. "City of Vista" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 22, 2014.
  10. ^ Cavalier, Lois. Images of America: Vista. Arcadia Publishing, 2008, p. 20.
  11. ^ Eligio, Miranda; Jonatan (July 16, 2020). "The American Indian Studies Department of Palomar College". Office of Student Success & Equity. Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  12. ^ Doyle, Harrison and Ruth. A History of Vista, Hillside Press, 1983. pgs. 4–5.
  13. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 36
  14. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 28
  15. ^ "Vista Enterprise - Page 3". Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  16. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 38
  17. ^ Doyle, A History of Vista, p. 39
  18. ^ a b "Renaissance: A Look at Downtown Vista's History & Rebirth | Downtown Vista, CA". Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  19. ^ "Paseo Santa Fe Street Improvements Phase III | City of Vista". Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  20. ^ "Vista – NWS San Diego NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  21. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Vista, CA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on August 10, 2023. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ a b "MDAT". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  24. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  25. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  26. ^ "P004: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2000: DEC Summary File 1 – Vista city, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  27. ^ "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Vista city, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  28. ^ "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Vista city, California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  29. ^ "ANNUAL COMPREHENSIVE FINANCIAL REPORTS | City of Vista". Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  30. ^ "Home of the Timberwolves - Mission Vista High School". Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  31. ^ "WE ARE VPW". Vista Pop Warner Football & Cheer. February 10, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  32. ^ "City Council Districts | City of Vista". Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  33. ^ "California Redistricting Commission". State of California. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  34. ^ "Cook Partisan Voting Index". The Cook Political Report. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  35. ^ "California's 49th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  36. ^ "Voter Registration Reports". Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  37. ^ "Our Schools - Vista Unified". Retrieved December 3, 2023.
  38. ^ "The Vista Press - Local news for San Diego North County". The Vista Press. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  39. ^ City of Vista. General Plan 2030. Figure CE-2
  40. ^ "NCTD Sprinter light rail schedule". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  41. ^ "City and Residential Services". Retrieved January 19, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Paramedic EMS". Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  43. ^ "Vista Community Clinic". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  44. ^ "Superior Court of San Diego, information". Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  45. ^ "Red Killefer, Ex-Vistan, Succumbs". The Vista Press. September 8, 1958. p. 3.
  46. ^ Doyle,A History of Vista,p.222
  47. ^ Dwight Daniels (June 22, 2000). "Belated recognition Asian-Americans get top honor -- Vista man waited 56 years". San Diego Union Tribune.
  48. ^ Anon., "In Memory of Allan Holdsworth",, Apr 16, 2017.