Encinitas Travel Guide

Encinitas, California is an exciting, dynamic beach town of San Diego county. It is renowned for its warm climate, lovely beaches, top notch surfing and beautiful gardens. If you're looking for a relaxing getaway to detox and re-center yourself, Encinitas is definitely the place.

What to Do in Encinitas

In a warm town like Encinitas, there is plenty to keep you occupied, whether you want to relax or have fun.

Encinitas Beach Vacation

Warm Up in the Sun or Cool Off in the Surf

There are plenty of beaches to check out in Encinitas. There are three main beach areas in Encinitas, so you can pick the best one for you, or go exploring to see the vibe offered by each one.

Moonlight Beach is one of the more accessible beaches in the area, and the abundance of sand—as opposed to rocky shores at other nearby beaches—makes it great for a family gathering, picnic, or volleyball game, and you will even find a lifeguard stand, snack bar, restrooms, and shower. For a unique beach experience, take part in one of the painting lessons offered on some mornings.

D-Street is one of the rockier beaches, so it's not quite as family friendly as Moonlight Beach, but it does offer a different kind of environment, one more suited towards surfers. A winding boardwalk leads you down to the shore, where you can catch some waves or just sit and watch.

Swami Beach is the other big surfing beach, and while it gets major points for ambiance, it loses a few with its restricted surfing area. It's located right by the serene Self-Realization Center Fellowship Temple and Ashram Center, so you're afforded a gorgeous atmosphere with a breathtaking view. But if you find yourself fighting for waves with other surfers, it's probably best to head over to D-Street.

Take a Deep Breath of Beautiful Blossoms

If you're looking for something more than clear waters and sandy beaches, be sure to stop by the San Diego Botanic Garden, formerly Quail Botanical Gardens. Some claim Encinitas is the Flower Growing Capital, and one trip to the Botanic Garden will show you why. With over 27 different gardens to explore, this is a nature lover's dream come true. Check out the Bamboo Garden, the largest collection of bamboo in the nation.

The kids will love the Hamilton Children's Garden, filled with fun-sized tree houses and forests to explore. Learn about various medicinal herbs in the Herb Garden and regional plants from places like Africa, New Zealand, and Mexico, each with their own huge section.

While you're there, you can also check out one of many meditation gardens. Encinitas has many of these, aside from the beautiful one in the Botanic Garden, which flourishes with cork oak trees, daffodils, cyclamen, iris, lavender, rosemary, and rock rose. If you need some quiet meditation time, the Self-Realization Center Fellowship Temple and Ashram Center is just what the doctor ordered. The meditation gardens, complete with small waterfall and koi pond, are a great place to meditate and empty your mind. The gardens are open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Relax in the Comforts of a Bed and Breakfast

On the hunt for the perfect bed and breakfast? Encinitas is sure to satisfy, since they have some great options. A bed and breakfast in Moonlight Beach is one of your best options, practically defining the word “quaint.” You'll be so close to the beach that you will feel the ocean breeze through the window.

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What to See in Encinitas

If you're looking for more nature excursions after visiting the meditation gardens, consider stopping by the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. This is especially for nature nuts who want to see some wildlife other than trees. You'll find all sorts of exotic birds and insects you won't find anywhere else. You'll also learn a ton about ecology and how different ecosystems relate to and depend on each other.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Encinitas

When it comes to both shopping and dining, you'll find plenty of opportunities for both in downtown Encinitas.

Encinitas Restaurant

A Fully Tummy Is a Happy Tummy

For great food at very reasonable prices, along with a great atmosphere, try Swami's Cafe. While they offer the traditional breakfast food, sandwiches, and more, the real draw is their selection of healthy smoothies, juices, and wheatgrass. A fantastic eatery with a litany of vegetarian options.

For another low-key eatery, stop by Juanita's Taco Shop. It may look like a hole in the wall, but there are delicious late-night munchies to be found inside. Juanita's stays open late, so if you're coming in from a long night at the beach or out on the town, you can grab some last-minute grub on your way home for a great conclusion to your day.

Where to Drink in Encinitas

This being a sunny California town, there are plenty of establishments to wet your whistle. Here are some of the best Encinitas bars.

1st Street Bar is, by most accounts, an all-around good bar. Good, prompt service, with bartenders who can actually carry on a conversation, fairly priced drinks that don't empty your wallet on the first round, and well-proportioned shots that don't leave you questioning whether you got your money's worth are a few hallmarks of this Encinitas bar.

For a dive bar with spirit, try the Leucadian. If you like your bars more on the “hole in the wall” end of the spectrum, this is definitely the place for you. Good crowds, occasional live music, and a good time are to be expected here. Great drink specials are another reason to add this bar to your bar crawl list.

Stock Up on the Obscure and Fashionable

As far as shopping goes, there are just as many great options to choose from. It'd be hard to turn down a look inside Ducky Waddle's Emporium, because a. it's called Ducky Waddle's Emporium and b. there's a bright red neon sign that casts a strange glow over the street-side window display case that certainly makes it stand out. Inside is an insane collection of eclectic and kitschy artwork, knick-knacks, books, and magazines to make any fan of the odd and obscure salivate. It's a must for anyone who considers themselves remotely offbeat, or anyone who just wants a gangster rap coloring book.

For those with more mainstream, fashionable and edgier tastes, check out UNIV, one of the highest rated stores in Encinitas. This place has all sorts of fresh fashions for men and women, along with one of the more immaculate shoe collections in the state. If you ever knew someone who had a deep, almost scary appreciation for a tight new pair of shoes, they will adore UNIV. The selection coupled with some of the nicest employees working in retail makes UNIV a must.

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When to Visit Encinitas

The great thing about Encinitas is that whenever you visit, you're guaranteed some fantastic weather. In the winter months, the lowest average high is 68. The hottest temperatures are recorded in August, so if you want a really warm end of summer vacation, Encinitas is definitely the place to be.

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What to Bring to Encinitas

Encinitas Sun ScreenFor one thing, you'll need a pair of comfortable shoes. There's a lot to explore in Encinitas, and if you don't have shoes with support your feet will definitely be aching by the end of the day. Insoles might be a good idea for Encinitas.

You'll also want a beach bag filled with all the staples—swimwear, towels, sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and a cheesy paperback, since you'll be spending a good amount of time in the sun.

Also prepare to drop a few dollars on souvenirs and keepsakes. There's lots of great shopping here, so set aside some money and room in your suitcase to bring back a reminder of your Encinitas vacation.

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Local Services in Encinitas

Encinitas is a pretty well populated area, with the population approaching 60,000, so there's a good chance they can take care of any service you're in need of. Whether you need a good day care, storage facility, moving truck, catering company, or taxi cab, there is no doubt that you can find a good one in Encinitas.

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What to Know About Encinitas

The beaches are a ton of fun in Encinitas, but it's important to know what you can and can't do. Too many travelers have returned home with tickets and citations for not knowing some pretty simple rules for you to repeat their mistake.

Beach hours are pretty flexible, lasting from 4 a.m. till 2 a.m. So as long as you're not partying it up at three in the morning, you should be fine.

Also, be sure to keep dogs, portable grills, alcohol, cigarettes, and glass away from beaches, as none of them are allowed on the premises.

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Getting to Encinitas

The closest international airport to Encinitas is the San Diego International Airport. It's about a 25 mile drive from the airport, so you might want to invest in a rental car.

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Why Encinitas Vacation Rentals?

The real question is, why not Encinitas? Gorgeous sights, world-class beaches, great fining, fine shopping and an unworldly amount of natural abundance. There's enough to keep any nature lover busy for days. Make this next trip a vacation to remember with an Encinitas vacation rental.

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