The historic Santa Ysabel General Store, an iconic landmark, is now open for business with an innovative dual purpose. Dating from 1884, the store is now being restored, bringing a unique emporium brimming with heirloom and artisanal foodstuffs, back-to-nature gifts, wares for home and garden, and books and guides for the naturalist or cultural tourist. The store, ideally located at a well-traveled crossroads where state Highways 78 and 79 meet, is a popular destination as it doubles as a new Backcountry Visitor Center focused on public trails, birds and wildlife, recreational opportunities, and cultural heritage sites. Open Friday-Sunday from 11am-5pm.
The Santa Ysabel General Store is an updated version of the traditional central source of food and essential items for farmers, families, and travelers. Instead of huge burlap sacks of flour, corn and grain heaped on the floor, shoppers will find attractive, pantry-sized packages from heritage and organic food producers. Instead of agricultural tools and supplies, there are heirloom seeds and bulbs, do-it-yourself cheese or craft beer making kits, and specialty honey, pickled vegetables and preserves put up in micro batches by food artisans.
The new Visitor Center within the store offers maps, guidebooks, practical gear, binoculars and scopes, and information for hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, and other nature enthusiasts. It is staffed by knowledgeable members of San Diego County land and nature conservancies. The headwaters for the San Diego and San Dieguito Rivers originate near Santa Ysabel, so the focus on these regional watersheds is a natural fit for the Visitor Center.