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. Home to a cluster of sandy beaches and the some of the world’s most vibrant botanical gardens, Encinitas promises both adventure and relaxation.
Read on to find out about the best things to do in Encinitas, California.
1. The Mediation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship
Located within the local Self Realization Fellowship Temple, the internationally renowned Meditation Gardens are best known for their wide variety of flora. 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
2. San Dieguito Heritage Museum
Curious about the origins and the culture of Encinitas? The San Dieguito Heritage Museum would be your best bet. This charming museum 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
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
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
Situated in between Encinitas and Solana Beach, the 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
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
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.
Address: 400 B St, Encinitas, CA 92024
8. Swami's Beach
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.
Address: 1298 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
9. San Diego Botanic Garden
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
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.
Address: 934 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024-2049
Website: Solterra Winery
Rest, relaxation, and fun in the sun
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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