Located on the San Diego Bay, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean beaches, life in Chula Vista – Spanish for "beautiful view" – can seem like a permanent vacation. A moderate climate, a host of housing and neighborhood options, and good schools are a few other reasons Chula Vista made our list of the Best Cities for Families.
With a population of more than 253,000, Chula Vista is the largest city on this list, and it's also the most diverse, which means parents who want their children exposed to people of varying cultures and backgrounds won't be disappointed. Chula Vista's size also offers families a number of neighborhood choices. For example, the culturally diverse Castle Park features quiet homes nestled among rolling hills.
North Chula Vista is one of the oldest and largest neighborhoods in the city and has gained a national reputation as one of the most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods in the country. The Sunbowl neighborhood is home to many young families and young adults, and offers home prices below the regional average. It also boasts an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes and shops. Otay Ranch and Eastlake offer wide streets and sprawling parks and a first-rate school system.
Southern California weather allows families to spend a lot of time outdoors – whether frolicking in the waters of San Diego Bay or spending an afternoon at one of the city's many parks and aquatic centers. Chula Vista is also home to the Chula Vista Nature Center as well as the OnStage Playhouse, the only live theater in the South Bay area. A favorite of Chula Vista families is the Living Coast Discovery Center, a zoo and aquarium located on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
"At the Living Coast Discovery Center, we strive to be a resource to our community as a nearby, affordable way to engage with and learn about wildlife. Last year we had 67,000 visitors and over 25,000 school children in our educational programs. Located on a national wildlife refuge, we offer a unique setting for families to experience animals up-close," says Rachel Harper, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Living Coast Discovery Center. "Chula Vista sits on San Diego Bay and we feel it’s important for people to be able to enjoy and learn about the remarkable habitats found in our own backyard. And of course, we’re lucky to have temperate weather which often allows us to explore the great outdoors in sunshine!"
Chula Vista’s schools are served by two separate school districts – the Chula Vista Elementary School District for K-6 and the Sweetwater Union High School District for grades 7-12. Chula Vista is also home to Southwestern College, which offers certificates and degrees in more than 75 academic programs. The city is currently working on recruiting a four-year university to town as part of a collaborative University and Innovation District that will encourage research, development and entrepreneurship.