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When a full plate of entertainment at the Wild Animal Park, San Diego Zoo or Sea World isn’t feasible, but you want to get out and do something, the “World’s Largest Auto Museum of Convertibles and Americana” at Deer Park Winery fits the bill.

Located 3½ miles north of Deer Springs Road in Escondido, the three-building winery/museum complex hides a few surprises.

For me (baby boomer) and my elders, an unexpected drive down memory lane awaited. I was shocked to see cars in a museum that I remembered driving – in real life, on the road! The ‘50s Cadillac borrowed from my cousin to cruise the streets of Bakersfield and Arvin seemed present. A teen icon back in the day, the ‘57 Chevy sat innocently enough in the main building, its secrets safe.

Radios, TVs and appliances from their early years enrich the milieu of America’s automotive past. Walking by vintage radios, you can almost hear Walter Cronkite’s broadcast-ending trademark “And that’s the way it was” echoing down the corridor. TVs of the ‘50s bring back memories of Howdy Dooty and Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

Younger adults, whose history knowledge consists of three periods, Ice Age, Cave Man and Today, may fill some gaps. They can peruse the museum much like a modern-day anthropologist might examine American life in the “Cave Man” era. Pre-iPod jukeboxes, cars with no CD players, black-and-white TVs dusted off and displayed. “What, you only had three stations and TV was free?"

Wine tasting can either cap off or begin a museum tour. A very limited array of wines is available to taste and purchase.

Deer Park Winery is generally open on weekends 10am-4pm, but call (760) 749-1666 for a recorded message and current hours of operation. Admission is $5 through December.

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