Encinitas California Beach Vacation

Spending some vacation time in Encinitas California should be pretty laid back. There are several beaches, a botanical garden, an annual street fair and a lagoon for bird watching.

It’s in North County San Diego, and is one of a string of beach towns that lie along the coast. This now also includes Leucadia to the north and Cardiff-by-the-Sea to the south.

Most of Leucadia’s coastline is made up of bluffs and cliffs, with stairs accessing the beaches. You can find overlooks and views in several places, such as H, I and J Streets. The town is also known for its abundance of commercial flower farms.

Beaches In Encinitas California

The city beaches don’t allow any dogs, alcohol or camping. But you can camp at San Elijo State Beach (see below). The lifeguards are there during the summer season. If you’re looking for a beach with restrooms, both Moonlight Beach and Swami’s have them.

Beacons Beach

Part of Leucadia State Beach. Sandy, with cliffs. No restrooms. Located at Neptune Avenue.

Stone Steps Beach

Also part of Leucadia State Beach. Small beach with no restrooms on South El Portal.

Grandview Beach

1700 Neptune Ave.

D Street Beach

450 D Street

Swami’s Beach

Small beach surfers love. Above the cliffs is the Self Realization Retreat. There are restrooms and a picnic area.

Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight Beach has big, sandy and popular. Has all kinds of usual beach amenities such as restrooms, food (in summer), fire pits, beach gear rentals and a playground. Besides the sandy beach, their are tidepools. Located at the end of Encinitas Blvd. on B Street.

Cardiff State Beach

Surfing and wind surfing. Lots of sand plus tide pools at the southern end. Across the street is the San Elijo Lagoon, which has trails and birdwatching.

San Elijo State Beach

This beach has a campground with 171 sites on the high bluff. The beach has lots of tide pools. For camping info, call 760-753-5091.

San Elijo Lagoon

Nature lovers and bird watchers will love to hike the paths around the San Elijo Lagoon.  This lagoon makes for a great little stop on the drive along the coast of northern San Diego County.  Located just across from Cardiff State Beach in between Solana Beach and Encinitas, this ecological reserve is one of the last of the coastal wetlands along this Southern Califrnia coastline.

The park encompasses close to 900 acres, including saltwater marsh and freshwater marsh.  Various trails wind through a wide variety of natural coastal plants, many endangered.

An amazing number of threatened animal species are present, and if you look carefully, you may be treated to a sighting.

If you are an avid birdwatcher, this is a treasure trove of viewing.  This lagoon is part of the Pacific Flyway, where millions of bird species migrate through yearly.  The lagoon is home to about 300 species.  Stay awhile, and you can really explore the 3 miles of hiking trails through the wetlands.

But if you only want to stretch you legs or make a quick stop, there is a short nature trail which leads from the nature center at 2710 Manchester Avenue.  There is a small parking lot and restrooms here also.

For more info, call the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation at 858-694-3049.

San Diego Botanic Garden

Escape to a tropical rainforest and wander through Palm Canyon at San Diego Botanic Garden, just two of 30 unique landscapes within the 37 acres of rolling terrain tucked away just east of Interstate 5. Four miles of garden trails weave through the hillside home of more than 4,000 plant species from around the globe, plus large-scale sculptures of animals and elaborate, life-like topiaries. Explore on your own using a garden map, or go on a weekly Saturday tour at 10:30 a.m. On the last Saturday of every month (also at 10:30 a.m.) a tour educates visitors about conservation.

Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Christmas, and with summer hours extending until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. 230 Quail

Sunshine Gardens

Down the street is Sunshine Gardens, a sprawling independent nursery and home to Twigs by Teri florist, a loveable gift store specializing in miniature gardens, vertical garden setups and whimsical outdoor decorations. There’s also an aviary, tortoise enclosure and tons of affordable plants to peruse.

155 Quail Gardens Drive. twigsbyteri.com

Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon

Cool off with a mason jar of fresh-squeezed lemonade and a down-home snack from Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon, which shares the property with Sunshine Gardens and Twigs. As its name suggests, all pies are sold whole here, but not to worry, because sweet and savory confections are available in individual sizes, too. The popular “wee-ball pie” is a single turkey meatball with marinara inside golden-baked pastry; cheddar chipotle pastry is filled with pulled chicken and BBQ sauce in “the cowpoke” hand pies. Petite desserts means more to sample, so try the two-bite, sour cherry tart in addition to your order at this adorable, country café.

155 Quail Gardens Drive. (760) 230-6781 or bettyspiewhole.com

Where To Stay

Some of the Encinitas hotels are located near Moonlight Beach. Two of these are Days Inn Encinitas and the Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites.

Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites

Convenient to Legoland, the Del Mar Racetrack and San Diego attractions to the south, the Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites is located off the Interstate 5 freeway. This newly renovated hotel is three stories high, and sits up on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

Many suites have ocean views and/or large balconies, and some have kitchenettes.

There is a heated pool and jacuzzi, and you can walk to nearby Moonlight Beach, Encinitas’ most popular beach. Quail Botanical Gardens is just a mile away.

A Japanese restaurant with a Sushi bar is on site as well. The address of this Encinitas Best Western is 85 Encinitas Boulevard.

Encinitas Days Inn

Close to the Quail Botanical Gardens and Moonlight Beach is the Days Inn Encinitas. There’s a 24 hour Denny’s in the parking lot, which can come in handy for those late arrivals and super early risers. Continental breakfast is included with your room stay. The swimming pool is heated.

This hotel is located right off the I-5, which makes it convenient to Legoland and San Diego tourist attractions.

Living in Encinitas CA

Encinitas is such a beautiful area of North County that we couldn’t possibly fit all of the great things to see and do into one story. There’s so much to do there, in fact, that you might need more than one day to explore it all. To help make it a little easier on you, we’ve broken Encinitas into three distinct day-trip itineraries.

Here we take a look at the lush gardens of Encinitas, and some pies that are sure to satisfy your hunger as you escape from the hustle of the city. Other day-trip itineraries will be for beach lovers and relaxation lovers.

Scenic Encinitas is often referred to as the Flower Capital. Growing ornamental flowers is one of the largest industries here and the mild year-round climate sure does help. This northern San Diego coastal beach city is divided into five areas: Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Olivenhain, Cardiff by the Sea and Leucadia. Events appeal to all age groups and include the Annual Fall Festival and the Annual OktoberFest.

Academic pursuits are met with plenty of school districts, visual arts institutions and a college. After a day of house hunting, dine at your choice of eclectic eateries. The region encompasses parks, museums and the Swami’s Beach, a Beach Boy’s famed surfing location.

Real Estate in Encinitas, CA

Condo prices are reasonable as are townhomes. Gracious sized homes with pretty green views are available in a range of prices to suit various budgets. For cool summers, opt for a property with a private pool. Luxurious homes that command an impressive ocean lookout are ready for you to see. Feast your eyes on Moonlight Beach at the start of sunset in Encinitas.

Encinitas Neighborhoods

Crest Acres
Double Ll Ranch
Encinitas Highlands
Encinitas Ranch
High Country Villas
Moonlight Beach
Park Encinitas
Rancho Santa Fe Vista
Sea Bluff
Seaside Gardens
Village Park

Encinitas Market Facts

Homes Currently For Sale 102
Average Home Price $1,667,533
Homes Built Between 1929 – 2016
Ocean View Homes 17.6%
Homes With A Pool 22.5%
Golf Course Properties 0%


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