Like most California towns, Valley Center and its surrounding hamlets of Pauma Valley, Pala and Palomar Mountain are steeped in Native American history. The Luiseño cultivated these lands before the arrival of the Franciscan padres who came to the area in search of sites upon which to establish missions. The simple but beautiful Mission San Antonio de Pala, located in the village of Pala, is an example of one such mission. Settlers arrived first in the Valley Center area to participate in the Rancho Guejito Spanish land grant and, after the Mexican-American War, came in even greater numbers as a result of the Homestead Act of 1862’s promise of free land. Valley Center has also been known as Lilac Valley because of the brilliant lilac fields that emblazon the countryside every spring and fall. It has also been known as Bear Valley in honor of the now-famous giant grizzly that was shot there in the late 1800’s. Weighing in at slightly more than 2200 pounds, this bear is said to be the largest grizzly ever shot in California. Don’t believe us? Well, you can see all 8 feet of that grizzly (or one just like him!) for yourself at the Valley Center History Museum. The town’s current name of Valley Center was approved by the U.S. Post Master in 1887 and Valley Center it has been ever since. Valley Center is everyone’s idea of a small town with farms, horse ranches, pumpkin fields, hometown parades, rodeos, quaint shops, family-owned restaurants, historical sites, and good people who love their town and love to share it with visitors. But don’t take our word for it, come see for Yourselves!
Valley Center is a great place to reconnect with the joys of being in the country. With its wide range of hiking, biking, walking, and sightseeing opportunities, Valley Center and the communities of Pauma Valley, Pala and Palomar Mountain allow you to get out and be a part of some truly beautiful surroundings. And if your translation of being outdoors includes something a little more on the wild side, the San Diego Wild Animal Park is just down the road... but a continent away!
Of course, being a part of the great outdoors is only some of what Valley Center offers. If shopping is your sport of choice, there are a number of great places to practice your expertise. If star gazing is your sport, a trip to the world-renowned Palomar Observatory or a search for the homes of some of Valley Center’s most famous previous residents (like Dick Powell and June Allyson, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Bill Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.) could make for the perfect getaway weekend. If you are interested in living a little California history, come to Valley Center’s Western Days Parade and Rodeo in May, or visit Mission San Antonio de Pala, the Cupa Cultural Center, and/or the Valley Center History Museum. And if sports of chance are your fancy, there are four casinos in Valley Center and the immediate surround ready and willing to assist you in your challenge! There’s a lot to do in Valley Center, so you better get started.