Welcome to Bonsall, California. Arguably, one of the Happiest Places on Earth. While Mr. Disney may not have visited this remarkable community during his lifetime, we’re relatively certain he would have agreed with our description. Discovered by John Bonsall in 1879, and originally named Mount Fairview, this pastoral paradise is currently home to 10,000 extremely happy people. Although small in terms of number of residents, the community covers 32 square miles, which means, unlike city dwellers, most folks who reside here can’t…” reach out and touch their neighbors.” If memory serves, there are 640 acres in a square mile. Multiplied by 32, we find that Bonsall covers 20,480 acres. That’s a lot of land to be shared by so few, but it’s also one of the main reasons people are drawn to this rural Shangri-La. Nearly everyone you pass on the road is smiling and is quick to wave… not the single digit salute Urbanites are accustomed to receiving, but a genuine “hello.” As an added point of interest, there hasn’t been a single recorded incident of road rage in 129 years, Understandable, since it’s impossible to become unhinged in the absence of stress., and stress evaporates the moment you cross the Bonsall city limits.
Bonsall is located west of Interstate 15, in North San Diego County. the majority of the community lies to the south of Highway 76, and is nestled along the San Luis Rey River. Mature tress and foliage obstruct one’s view of the water, but rest assured, the river still winds it’s way to the Pacific Ocean, just as it did when John Bonsall first happened upon it in 1879. A quick twenty-minute jaunt will get you to the Temecula Valley Wine Country and a glass of premium Cabernet Sauvignon. If you drive twenty minutes to the east, you’ll find yourself in the city of Oceanside, Interstate 5, and a few thousand U. S. Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. Thank you Marines. It’s a mere twelve miles to the Pacific Ocean if you’re a crow, or fifteen miles if you’re driving a motor vehicle. If you’re traveling by commuter plane, Palomar Airport is twenty miles south, and the larger aircraft touch down at Lindbergh Field (San Diego International Airport), a forty minute car ride to Bonsall if you plan your arrival for mid-day.
Bonsall, or “Paradise Found” (…a descriptive phrase uttered by a visitor from Pennsylvania as she sat on our rear deck and watched the sun slowly slide into the Pacific Ocean), is home to nearly as many horses as it is to humans. A true equestrian Utopia, with the famed San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred training Center located at 5772 Camino Del Rey on 202 pristine acres. SLRD is the only auxiliary training track that has been continuously approved by the California Horse Racing Board since 1984. This means that horses boarded at this facility can be shipped to local racetracks, and raced the same day, thus avoiding the 24-hour pre-race arrival requirement. Boasting 500 stalls, there are foo felicitous steeds luxuriating in the clean air, and enjoying the tranquil Bonsall lifestyle…just like the two-legged residents.
Location, Location, Locations. In the world of real estate, these are the three most important factors when computing the value of dirt, or sand. Sand can have a higher value if it’s adjacent to water, but if you’re able to stand on a mountain top and see the ocean, then your dirt is way up the value scale, and you basically have the world by the tail. A number of Bonsall residents are among the fortunate few who reside in the country, with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Awesome is a proper descriptor. Imagine driving up to your little piece of paradise (…actually, a large piece of paradise, as most Bonsallians own at least two acres of land together with a home ranging in size from 3,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet), pulling your Mercedes E63 into your four-car garage, walking to the kitchen where you’re greeted by your lovely bride who presents you with a slightly chilled glass of 2003 Michel-Schlumberger Cabernet & a lingering kiss, then strolling together through the garden past the putting green, and finally coming to rest next to the pool where you plop down in your favorite patio chair…positioned for the best views of the valley and sea. You have the world by the tail.
Are you bored watching the sunrise, and set? Are you hungry? Does your Mercedes need fuel? It’s OK, as there is a bit of commercial development in Bonsall. Enough to satisfy your everyday needs, but no shopping malls, and no buildings over two stories, Here’s what we have to offer in River Village: Don’t expect a view of the San Luis Rey River, but if you want a view of the mountains, your choice is the patio at Z Cafe, the centers only two story restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and cold beverages to where the thirty traveler can enjoy a glass of wine or a cold cerveza. If your desire is Italian food, the Fresco Grill and Wine Bar is the newest culinary addition to River Village, where patrons are greeted by Owner Leone D’arcangelo, spends the majority of his time in Carlsbad tending to the original Freso Grill, but don’t be surprised if you see him behind the Bar during the week. Great food, wonderful atmosphere and unparalleled serve make a trip to Fresco Grill a truly delightful dining experience. If hunger pangs erupt between 9:00 and 3:00, then go directly to the Sunrize Cafe. No booze, but great sandwiches, salads, and omelets. Lovely servers add a bit of spice to your meal. Here are the rest of the tenants: Apple Market, Video Nite (…shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what they offer), Bonsall Postal & Imaging, Village Pizza, Ice Cream Shoppe, Peking Wok Chinese restaurant, Jack in the Box, Performance Horse Supply, Bio-Cranial Systems(…apparently having something to do with one’s head), Bonsall Chamber of Commerce, Sheriff’s Substation (…to keep everyone in line), a multiplex movie theater, a few gift shops, construction offices, banks, an insurance office, hair & nail salon, a florist, a cleaners, a barber shop, a few attorneys and CPA’s, and, my favorite, a dentist…ouch!
Come to Bonsall for the day, and stay for a lifetime!
Written by my good friend Tom Maple.