Smoking is prohibited in City Parks and Trails ~ Please see City of San Marcos New Release

​​​​Walnut Grove Equestrian Park
City Of San Marcos, California
By Lori Hall-McNary

Once or twice a month the equestrian area of Walnut Grove Park located in San Diego's North County, saddles up for free family fun. A conservative crowd stops to watch the shows, consisting of magnificent horses and riders. Plenty of bleacher space, but bring a hat in the summer. The Southern sun tends to fry the unsuspecting.

The excitement of a Gymkhana show really send the dirt flying as participants compete in a variety of classes that test both horse and rider's skill and speed.

In the popular rodeo barrels, participants run a cloverleaf pattern, to the skill of Pole bending, where a horse and rider team 
must weave up and back through six poles set twenty feet apart. 

Vallecitos Spurs, a non-profit equine group, has hosted horse shows at Walnut Grove Park  since 1964. Located three and half miles off of Hwy 78, the park is steeped in San Marcos history. Walnut groves have been cut away to make room for grassy fields large enough to play soccer on. A Children's playground and covered picnic areas are installed around the park. The Red Barn built in 1950 for the purpose of square dancing and community shindigs was moved from its home in the center of town in 1992 to Walnut Grove Park. The Red Barn, renamed the Fred E. and Frances A. Williams Barn in 1997, stands as a proud heritage to a man who was the first San Marcos Volunteer Fire Chief and the barn's original builder.

During the lunch break at the show, you can purchase juicy hamburgers or sizzling hot dogs at the cook shack or venture 6 miles West to Old California Restaurant Row located at 1020 W. San Marcos Boulevard. Food ranges from Mexican to seafood, Indian to Chinese. There is also a microbrewery, coffee shop and small boutiques to purchase gifts for the folk' back home. Lunch prices range from $5 to $15, dinners are higher, but many of the restaurants offer an early bird special.

After lunch come back for more free equine entertainment. The show will wrap up in time for you to catch a round of champion golf at Twin Oaks Golf Course (1-760-591-golf) two miles from the park.

If you're staying in the area, try Elfin Forest Vacation Ranch 1-760-744-2444, Champagne Lakes RV Resort 1-760-749-7572, San Marcos Motel 1-760-744-9924 or Quails Inn Hotel at Lake San Marcos Resort at 1-800-447-6556 (

Alcohol is prohibited at all City parks (Municipal Code Section 10.32.040). Inclusion of alcohol will not be approved as part of a standard picnic area reservation. For general information, sponsors of a major community event, that can demonstrate community benefit for alcohol inclusion, may apply for an exception through the separate City Special Event Application and Review process.