Exclusive Rancho Santa Fe was once the property of the Santa Fe Railroad, but the area was "discovered" in the early 1900s by movie director Theodore Reed, who encouraged his friends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford to purchase property as an investment; they bought 800 acres in 1924. After just a few minutes in town today, you'll notice that Rancho Santa Fe is a playground for the über-wealthy, though not in the usual pretentious sense -- this upscale slice of North County is a sweet little town that's enjoyed by everyone. Primarily residential, Rancho Santa Fe has just two hotels that blend into the stately eucalyptus groves surrounding the town. Shopping and dining -- both refined and quite limited -- revolve around a couple of understated blocks known locally as "the Village." There are more real estate businesses here than anything else, and the homes advertised all list for well into the seven digits. This is one of the most affluent communities in the United States.
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