The topography of Rancho Bernardo consists of canyons and rolling hills. It is a sprawling community, with shopping malls, golf courses and office parks typical of San Diego development. The community is located about 20 miles north-north-east of downtown San Diego, immediately east of 4S Ranch, north of Carmel Mountain Ranch, northwest of the city of Poway and south of Escondido.
There is an annual carnival-type street fair, RB Alive!, during the summer. Rancho Bernardo is also home to the oldest operating winery in Southern California, the Bernardo Winery Established in 1889 and family owned and operated since 1927.
The area is part of the Poway Unified School District.