Vista is a city in Southern California and is located in northwestern San Diego County. The city also includes portions of unincorporated San Diego County to north and east, with a county island in the central west, which is within its sphere of influence. Vista has more than 25 educational institutions for youth, and a business park home to over 800 companies. Vista was listed as the seventh-best place in the United States for family life, based on factors such as jobs and business opportunities, education, climate, and cost-of-living in a 2008 review.
The city is a hilly city. Most of the businesses are located in the flatter areas, and residences climb the hills. In undeveloped areas, the natural vegetation types includes chaparral brushland, oak-sycamore woodland, riparian (stream) woodland and oak-grass savanna. The natural vegetation is best seen in natural Shadowridge Park on the south side, in the San Marcos Hills east of the city, and in undeveloped pockets on the north side
Vista is home to two city-supported theaters: the recently updated Moonlight Amphitheatre and the Avo Playhouse. The Moonlight Amphitheatre is an open-air theater that specializes in musical productions, performing several during the course of the summer, and a winter season at the Avo Playhouse. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department runs the Wave Waterpark, a small but well-equipped waterpark near the downtown area open from mid-spring to early fall, and the brand new Vista Community Sports Park. Another attraction is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum, an open-air museum demonstrating agricultural equipment from the 19th and early 20th centuries. A Boomers family fun park is also located in Vista.
Two of the best-known parks in the city are Brengle Terrace Park and Guajome County Park. Brengle Terrace Park houses the Moonlight Amphitheatre, Alta Vista Gardens (a city-owned botanical garden), a baseball field, a senior center, a playground, and the city community center, where the main offices of the city’s day camps are held. Guajome County Park has 557 acres of land, which is shared between Vista and nearby Oceanside. It features a small lake, willow and oak woodlands, campsites, horse trails, and the Rancho Guajome Adobe, a National Historic Landmark. Shadowridge Park on the south side of Vista is a natural park where users can hike on trails through native chaparral and oak woodland.
The Vista Unified School District serves Vista. Vista has eighteen elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools, including Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista High School and Mission Vista High School.