Escondido, California - Beautiful outdoor setting, check. Affordable location, check. Plenty of room for guests, an all-weather reception pavilion, a changing suite and shaded ceremony area. Check, check, check and check! 

The icing on the wedding cake? A balcony and a grand staircase perfect for wedding photos. All these were improvements to the wedding and special events venue, celebrated Friday during a grand opening celebration at Felicita County Park in southwest Escondido.

“Felicita County Park is a hidden gem in San Diego County,” said County Supervisor Dave Roberts. “The setting features some of Southern California’s largest and most beautiful oaks, providing the perfect showcase for couples celebrating their special wedding day.”

“County Parks offers wedding sites at 20 different parks throughout the County,” said County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Albright. “The improvements to the newly re-designed wedding area at Felicita will now allow for larger wedding parties. The ceremony area can accommodate 150 people and the reception area has room for 300 guests.”

Parking was expanded with an additional 20 parking spaces and four ADA accessible spaces. As part of the overall construction project, the park now boasts three new play areas: a tot lot play structure, a junior lot for kids ages 5 – 12 and a third area with swings for all ages.

A QR Fit Trail program was installed, the sixth for County Parks, which allows visitors to use their smart phone to gain access to a series of guided exercise videos. Exercise equipment was added along with a shade structure to beat the heat. The lawns were newly sodded and the hillsides feature more than 500 freshly-planted trees, shrubs and native plants. 

The overall project cost $1.5 million and was funded by Park Land Dedication Ordinance Funds and the County’s general fund. The design and construction were completed in nine and a half months.

Felicita County Park was once home to the Kumeyaay Indians and the site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The land features a natural creek that flows during the wetter months and 2.5 miles of trails. Picnic tables dot the area and ranger-led school and interpretive hikes are available by reservation. The park is open from 9:30 a.m. until a half hour before sunset. For more information, visit www.sdparks.org.