15 Best Things To Do In Encinitas, California

things to do in encinitas california
Alyssandra Raiza
Alyssandra Raiza
Updated

Located in northern San Diego County in Southern California, sunny Encinitas is often described as the quintessential Californian beach city. Having been named one of the world’s 20 best surf towns, as well as the “flower capital of the world,” Encinitas boasts an eclectic and laid back surfer culture. Wondering what to do in Encinitas? Home to a cluster of sandy beaches and some of the world’s most vibrant botanical gardens, Encinitas promises both adventure and relaxation. Book a night or two in any of the amazing vacation rentals in Encinitas or top Airbnbs in the area.

Read on to find out about the best things to do in Encinitas, California.

1. The Mediation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship

Lake shrine, LA, 01
Source: Photo by user sailko used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located within the local Self Realization Fellowship Temple, the internationally renowned Meditation Gardens are best known for their wide variety of flora and is one of the best places to visit in Encinitas. Visitors are free to take a stroll amongst their numerous meditation nooks, koi ponds, and waterfalls, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the coastline.

The Mediation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship

Address: 215 W K St, Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: The Mediation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship

2. San Dieguito Heritage Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Curious about the origins and the culture of Encinitas? The San Dieguito Heritage Museum would be your best bet. This charming museum is a popular Encinitas tourist spot. It was founded in 1988 in order to preserve the rich and unique cultural heritage of the San Dieguito River area including Olivenhain, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Leucadia, Cardiff and, of course, Encinitas. Among the things that one may find at the museum are interactive exhibitions about Native American ancestry, as well as exhibitions about the diverse flora and fauna that can be found in the area. A visit to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum would be enjoyable, especially for families with young children.

The San Dieguito Heritage Museum

Address: 450 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: The San Dieguito Heritage Museum

3. Lux Art Institute

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Lux Art Institute is quite unlike the stiff, uptight museums that people often associate with contemporary art. Rather, the Lux Art Institute resonates the relaxed vibe that Encinitas is well known for.

At the Lux Art Institute, viewers can see the art as it unfolds – it is not at all uncommon for visitors to be able to watch the artists as they work. Visitors may also unleash their creative sides by participating in the art camps and various education courses that the museum regularly offers.

Lux Art Institute

Address: 1550 S El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: Lux Art Institute

4. La Paloma Theatre

La Paloma Theatre
Source: Photo by user Visitor7 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The La Paloma theatre is one of the oldest and most memorable structures in Encinitas. Built in the late 1920s, this architectural gem maintains its Spanish Colonial Revival Style structures to this day, and is a testament to the history of Encinitas and of California, as a whole. Nowadays, one can readily enjoy the various movies that the La Paloma regularly schedules, as well as concerts and other performances that the theater sometimes hosts.

La Paloma Theatre

Address: 471 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: La Paloma Theatre

5. The San Elijo Ecological Reserve

San Elijo Lagoon
Source: Photo by user Tim Buss used under CC BY 2.0

Another top Encinitas tourist attraction is situated just between Encinitas and Solana Beach. San Elijo Ecological Reserve is a 1,000 acre (404.6 hectare) reserve that has over seven miles (11.2 km) of easy to moderate hiking trails. These trails cut through numerous ecological habitats including one of the largest remaining open wetlands in California. Countless species of animals also take refuge at this ecological reserve – from beetles to birds. Guests are free to go on a hike and enjoy the natural beauty that the reserve has to offer, or take a visit to the Nature Center to learn more about the rich biodiversity of the reserve.

The San Elijo Ecological Reserve

Address: Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: The San Elijo Ecological Reserve

6. Annie's Canyon Trail

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Spanning ¼ mile (0.4 km), Annie’s Canyon Trail is a moderate to challenging hiking trail that can be accessed through the Rios Avenue trails. Shrouded in mystery and wonder, this natural formation of sandstone is believed to have been a spiritual place for the Kumeyaay and the early settlers. Annie’s Canyon Trail continues to draw in thousands of hikers every year, all hoping to see the breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and the lagoon from its peak.

Annie's Canyon Trail

Address: Solana Hills Trail, Solana Beach, CA 92075

7. Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach, view from the south
Source: Photo by user Invertzoo used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Conveniently located close to the local stores and eateries, Moonlight beach is best known for its warm, family-friendly vibe. With amenities such as beach rentals, a volleyball court, shower rooms, and children’s play areas, there is something for every member of the family at Moonlight Beach.

Moonlight Beach

Address: 400 B St, Encinitas, CA 92024

8. Swami's Beach

Surfing session of sober living in Swamis in Encinitas, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Adioslepido used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Of course, a trip to Encinitas wouldn’t be complete without hitting the waves. Located south of the Self Realization Fellowship Retreat (where one will find the Meditation Gardens), Swami’s beach is a sort of haven for surfers, drawing in hundreds of them, every year. In addition, Swami’s Beach is also a great spot for diving, with beds of kelp located about a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) from the shore. Swami’s beach is also connected with other beaches, stretching from the San Elijo Lagoon to the South Carlsbad Beach jetty, making it the perfect place to go jogging or even to go on a long, romantic walk.

Swami's Beach

Address: 1298 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

9. San Diego Botanic Garden

170411 715 Encinitas - San Diego Botanic Gdn, Herb Garden, Lavandula multifida Fernleaf Lavender, Arctotis cv, Ocimum basilicum cv
Source: Photo by Flickr user cultivar413 used under CC BY 2.0

The San Diego Botanic garden is a place where couples, families and even solo visitors can enjoy nature. There’s a fascinating display of diversity in the garden, from native California plants through to succulents, Meditteranean landscapes, and even a tropical rainforest. Paths and walkways take you through different regions of the world’s vegetation.

For the kids, there’s a treehouse with climbing ropes, The children’s garden is home to many birds and butterflies in season. With plenty of shade, you can avoid the heat of summer. The gift shop is worth stopping in as well if you enjoy gardening. Additionally, there’s restrooms, drinking fountains and a snack bar. As you enjoy your walk, you will find some sculptures dotted around.

San Diego Botanic Garden

Address: 230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

Website: San Diego Botanic Garden

10. Visit the Solterra Winery

DSC19944, Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma Valley, California, USA
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jim G used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The Salterra Winery offers three settings for you to enjoy trying different wines. There’s an outside patio with a firepit that comes with a view of the sea. Inside, there’s a tasting bar in the restaurant and a barrel room with big tables. On the menu, you will find vegan-friendly foods. The atmosphere is lively and they have a happy hour.

If you don’t want to drink wine, there is a variety of beer on tap to try. Learn about the grapes that make the different wines when you visit the barrel room. The staff is friendly, but if you have a large group, it’s best to call ahead. Wine tours can also be arranged.

Solterra Winery

Address: 934 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024-2049

Website: Solterra Winery

11. Leucadia Farmers Market

Produce at Leucadia Farmers Market 1 of 2
Source: Photo by Flickr user advencap used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at 185 Union Streeet in Encinitas, California, Leucadia Farmers Market has some of the choicest and freshest produce in the entire area. Open every Sunday, this market is popular far and wide for the quality of its organic fruit and vegetables as well as its assortment of over 75 vendors and stalls – including bakeries, meat and seafood stalls, pasta, and a food court specializing in lunch and breakfast. Stop by if you have the chance because you won’t regret it.

Leucadia Farmers Market

Address: 185 Union St, Encinitas, CA 92024, United States

Website: Leucadia Farmers Market

Opening hours: Sun: 10am - 2pm (closed from Mon - Sat)

12. Cal Pacific Orchid Farm

Orchid
Source: Photo by Flickr user Susanne Nilsson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Cal Pacific Orchid Farm is a place of beauty, relaxation, and freshness – all thanks to the wonderful array of flowers on sale. The majestic orchid - and all of its varieties - takes pride of place here, and fans of this particular flower find themselves coming from all over to check out the selection. For a small fee, they will plant-sit your orchids for you, and they also sell a variety of pots and decorative additions for your garden as well. Situated on Orpheus Avenue in Encinitas, Cal Pacific Orchid Farm is definitely worth a visit.

Cal Pacific Orchid Farm

Address: 1122 Orpheus Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024, United States

Website: Cal Pacific Orchid Farm

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 4pm (closed on Sun)

13. Lobster West

lobster roll
Source: Photo by Flickr user beccapie used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Hankering for some lobster while in Encinitas? Look no further than Lobster West, the premier restaurant for your crustacean needs. Succulent, buttery lobster, hearty soups, crab rolls, and shrimp are all popular with the locals. Can’t decide? Get a Maine Feast for two and try everything. All the items are served up in generous portions, and patrons dine in a classy and cozy interior. Looking for something a little less heavy? Their lobster tail romaine salad with avocados and cherry tomatoes is just the ticket.

Lobster West

Address: 765 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Website: Lobster West

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 8pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 9pm

14. Encinitas Ranch Golf Course

Encinitas Ranch Golf Course
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tim Buss used under CC BY 2.0

With beautiful greenery like this, how could you not want to play a round of golf at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course? This 18-hole course has a variety of easy and challenging sections, perfect for the amateur golfer or the seasoned pro. The Clubhouse and the Ranch Grill Restaurant offer incredible food and comfy seats to relax in, while the driving range is just the place to work on your shot. Encinitas Ranch Golf Course is unique in that it is one of the rare courses in California that has a constant view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, no matter where you are on the greenway.

Encinitas Ranch Golf Course

Address: 1275 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024, United States

Website: Encinitas Ranch Golf Course

Opening hours: 6:30am - 7:30pm (daily)

15. The Bier Garden of Encinitas

200710 039 Encinitas - The Bier Garden of Encinitas, cheeseburger with waffle fries
Source: Photo by Flickr user cultivar413 used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re a fan of hardy American food and beer, The Bier Garden of Encinitas has you covered. Mouthwatering burgers, crispy fries, and to-die-for desserts flood the menu of this popular establishment. The Tennessee chicken sandwich, calamari, and any of their many rib-based recipes or burgers are especially worth trying. With a cornucopia of ales, IPAs, lagers, and beers of all kinds available, you’ll definitely find something that suits you. The atmosphere is amazing, and Taco Tuesdays are a regular hit. For scrumptious food and good drinks, this is the place to be.

The Bier Garden of Encinitas

Address: 641 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, United States

Website: The Bier Garden of Encinitas

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11am - 10pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 10pm

Rest, relaxation, and fun in the sun

Downtown Encinitas, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mikefairbanks used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Although it is perhaps best known for its surfing culture, Encinitas has a lot more to offer than just that. With its rich cultural heritage, sprawling beaches, and world class gardens, Encinitas is a place where anyone can enjoy both the beauty and excitement that nature has to offer. Whether you’re looking for some rest and relaxation or some fun in the sun with your family, Encinitas is truly the perfect place for your next vacation.

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10 Best Things To Do In Encinitas, California
Source: Trip101

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Encinitas

1. What are the best attractions to visit in Encinitas?

Some of the best attractions to visit in Encinitas are San Dieguito Heritage Museum, San Elijo Ecological Reserve, and Solterra Winery. Don’t forget to drop by these places when in Encinitas.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Encinitas?

Enjoy the great outdoors of Encinitas. Hike and stroll around San Elijo Ecological Reserve, swim and enjoy the beachside activities of Moonlight Beach, and play a fun round of golf in Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Encinitas with kids and family?

Have a fun-filled family day with the kids and enjoy two of the best beaches in Encinitas. Swim and lounge by the beachside of Moonlight Beach or bask on the sandy shores of Swami’s Beach. Families can also enjoy a delicious meal at Lobster West.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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