Things to Do in El Cajon CA
El Cajon is known for its friendly people who enjoy rewarding cultural and artistic experiences. The calendar is filled with cultural events and celebrations throughout the year.
Concerts on the Green
Downtown El Cajon is the home to the Concerts on the Green Concert Series, on Prescott Promenade. Held on Friday evenings through the spring and summer these concerts feature every imaginable style of music from Big Band to Zydeco, from Rock and Roll to Bluegrass.
Musicals on Mt. Helix
Summer musicals on Mt. Helix have been a local tradition for twenty years. Christian Community Theater presents three musical productions at the Mt. Helix Amphitheater each summer during July and August.
Culture in El Cajon
Olaf Wieghorst Museum
El Cajon was the home to world-renowned western artist Olaf Wieghorst. His unique hacienda-style home and hand-constructed cantina have been relocated to Downtown El Cajon. The Wieghorst Museum Foundation operates a gallery and gift store adjacent to the home at 131 Rea Avenue.
For more information, call(619) 590-3431 or visit their website at www.wieghorstmuseum.org.
If eating hot-off-the-grill German-style bratwurst, browsing among hundreds of arts and crafts booths, and oscillating on a dance floor in front of a live oom-pah-pah band sounds like a good time, then La Mesa’s Annual Oktoberfest is for you!
Patterned after the world-famous Munich Oktoberfest, La Mesa’s version is a giant block party in the downtown village area. The streets are closed off to vehicles, and more than 400 booths are set up, selling an assortment of arts and crafts, commercial items and food. Admission to the general festival is free. Nearby, a large parking lot is transformed into a German Beer Garden, with oom-pah-pah bands, dance floors and costumed folk dancers. There’s plenty of grilled bratwurst, pretzels, soda and beer on tap.
Oktoberfest organizers encourage the public to ride the San Diego Trolley’s East Line to the event, and disembark at the corner of Spring Street and La Mesa Boulevard, right in the middle of the Oktoberfest activities.
Annual Christmas in the Village
Hayrides, strolling minstrels, carolers, and a large number of choral and orchestral groups are all part of the Annual Christmas in the Village held during two weekends each December. During these four evenings, La Mesa Boulevard from Fourth Street to Acacia Avenue are transformed into a pedestrian promenade where families are invited to sample a variety of holiday goodies as they stroll among the quaint shops and craft booths that adorn the Village. Reminiscent of European Christmas markets, where people in numerous cities and villages throughout Europe gather for the holidays, The Christmas in the Village in La Mesa features holiday music and entertainment from a bygone era. The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the La Mesa Village Merchant’s Association are co-coordinators of the event. A convenient way to attend the event is to ride the Trolley to the La Mesa Boulevard Station, located in the center of the Christmas Village Festival.
Starting in April and running through September, East County is home to classic car shows in La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove. The Back to the 50’s Car Show in La Mesa rolls out on Thursdays with food, music, and lots of classic cars. Wednesday nights are for Cruz’n Cajon in downtown El Cajon and the Marketplace. https://www.cityofelcajon.us
Both La Mesa and El Cajon feature certified, outdoor farmers markets with fresh-from-the-field produce, flowers, and quality baked goods. The Village of La Mesa Farmer’s Market is held every Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the municipal parking lot on Allison Avenue. The Marketplace in El Cajon takes place on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. with produce, gourmet food, crafts and live music in conjunction with El Cajon’s weekly Car Show.
Mother Goose Parade
For more than 50 years, the Sunday before Thanksgiving has been devoted to the children of East County with the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon. Thousands of children and adults alike line Main Street to watch characters, floats, and marching bands. http://www.mothergooseparade.org
Heritage of the Americas Museum
The Heritage of the Americas Museum is located on the campus of Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego. With separate wings on natural history, archeology, anthropology and art, the museum is both a cultural and educational center and resource for school age children throughout the region. https://www.heritageoftheamericasmuseum.com
Water Conservation Garden
Water Conservation Garden is located adjacent to the Heritage of the Americas Museum. Interpretive tours, seminars, weddings and other tours are available. The Water Conservation Garden was built through a partnership with Cuyamaca College, Helix Water District and the Otay Water District.
The city of La Mesa was incorporated February 16, 1912; since that time, the City has acquired a total of 14 parks located throughout the City’s nine square miles. Harry Griffen Park is not only the City’s largest park, but also the latest addition. Collier Park, donated in 1912, is the oldest and one of the most beautiful with palm trees and a large picnic area.
MacArthur Park hosts a 9-hole golf course, Khulken baseball field, Porter Hall, Nan Cout’s Cottage, Recreation Center, the City Municipal pool, and the Department of Community Services, located in the Community Center Building.
The city of El Cajon boasts 17 parks with amenities that include recreation centers, playing fields, playing courts, tot lots, picnic tables, barbeques, tennis courts, horseshoe pits and shuffleboard, fitness courts, gymnasium, lighted ball fields, and outdoor basketball courts.
When you enter a Santee park, you enter an exhilarating world of adventure and leisure wrapped in one – a place for the family, friends and you to relax, play, exercise, meditate, learn and socialize. Each park flaunts its own distinctive character and environment, and is fitted with exceptional recreational amenities for your pleasure.
East County’s Back Country
East County is blessed with many, well maintained city and county urban parks. Visitors, however, will miss one of the great secrets of East County if they don’t venture east into San Diego’s backcountry.
In San Diego’s backcountry you can hike, camp, fish, hunt and just enjoy nature. Trails abound, most having restrooms and staging areas. These natural treasures are less than a 45-minute drive from the center of San Diego. Some special areas you might want to consider are:
Laguna Mountain Recreation Area
Free camping permits from the Forest Service are needed for dispersed camping. In the dispersed areas, no fires of any sort are allowed.
Campgrounds are available, some with hookups for RV’s, and are handy to the boat ramp, grocery store, restaurant and tackle shop. Stocked with trout year round along with native blue gill, bass, catfish, crappie, sturgeon and small mouth bass. No fishing in December and January on Wednesdays and a half-day on Sundays when duck hunters get their turn. The area has wonderful hiking and nature trails as well.
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Paso Pacacho and Green Valley are favorite family campgrounds within the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, located off State Highway 79. The sign for Stonewall Mine, an abandoned relic of old mining days is on Route 79, just before reaching Lake Cuyamaca. Follow the signs to the entrance. Lots of original mining equipment is strewn around the grounds.
Anza-Borrego State Park
This is the second largest state park in the United States. It offers camping, hiking, biking, trail riding and tours to examine Indian artifacts and rock art sites. Open all year.