Wooden tiki poles at Swami's Beach in Encinitas

Disclaimer: Traveling Ness contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my privacy policy for more information.

19 Fun Things To Do In Encinitas, California (Local’s Guide)

When envisioning the classic California surf town, look no further than Encinitas. Encinitas has that laid-back beach community vibe where you can’t resist feeling relaxed immediately upon arriving. There are several fun things to do in Encinitas that make visiting this palm tree-lined town a must-see.

As a local, Encinitas has always been a favorite place for me to hang out for its chill atmosphere, gorgeous beaches, along with top eateries and bars you don’t want to miss.

Six miles of pristine coastline and ideal surf conditions make it a must for anyone that loves riding waves. In fact, it has been repeatedly voted as one of the best surf spots in Southern California.

But don’t worry, there are plenty of activities in Encinitas beyond surfing that will keep you entertained no matter the time of year.

Palm trees behind a yellow square sign that shows a guy carrying a surfboard for surfer crossing in front of a popular beach on a sunny day. Surfing is just one of many fun things to do in Encinitas.

If you are planning a trip to San Diego then head north along the scenic Highway 101 to Encinitas for the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.

So, if you are wondering what to do in Encinitas, look no further as I share the best things to do in downtown Encinitas and its surrounding area.

If you are looking to explore other areas along San Diego’s coast, check out the cool beach towns of Carlsbad and La Jolla!

Encinitas has always been one of the coolest surf towns in the USA

Things To Do In Encinitas

1. Beach Day At Moonlight Beach

If you are visiting San Diego then most likely visiting the beach is high up on your list. There are some epic beaches in Encinitas but the one that has the most facilities and easiest access is Moonlight Beach.

You can even walk to Moonlight as it is located just a few blocks from the downtown area of Encinitas.

Standing up on a bluff overlooking the sandy Moonlight Beach and Pacific Ocean on a sunny day, one of the most popular beaches in Encinitas.

Moonlight beach is a favorite beach of mine as it has it all with a wide-open sandy beach, restrooms, a lifeguard tower, and a concession stand. There is also a playground for kids, picnic tables, and fire pits available.

Since it has a gorgeous beach and is simple to get to, it tends to get crowded on a summer day, especially with families.

If you aren’t a fan of the crowds, just walk left or right and you will have plenty of space to yourself. To the left from Moonlight to D Street is a really nice area to enjoy.

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas has a playground, concessions and volleyball courts right off the sand and steps from the ocean.

If laying out and swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing but you would still like to enjoy the view, there are a number of benches at the top of the bluff to look out onto the Pacific Ocean!

Address: 386 B Street, Encinitas, CA 92024. You can park in the parking lot off of C Street or on a nearby residential street.

Tip: A few other top beaches in Encinitas are Beacon’s Beach and Swami’s.

2. Surfing In Encinitas

Encinitas is pretty famous for being a surf town and what makes it an excellent spot for those wanting to learn.

If you have always wanted to try surfing it is one of many fun things to do in Encinitas! Both pros and beginners can find the perfect wave to ride along the beaches of Encinitas.

Dirt curving path down to Beacon's Beach with the beautiful blue of the Pacific Ocean beyond in Encinitas, CA.

The best beaches to surf in Encinitas are Beacon’s Beach, Grandview Beach, Moonlight Beach, and Swami’s Beach.

If you already have your board then you can head straight to the beach but if you would like to take a lesson and/or rent a board then there a few options to look at.

Two companies to look at for lessons are Encinitas Surf Lessons and Leucadia Surf School.

Looking down from the top of the bluff at the curving dirt trail down to the Beacon's Beach in Encinitas with surfers carrying surf boards on trail.

If you already know how to surf and just want to rent a board then look at San Diego Surfboard Rental, Hansen’s Surfboards or Progression Surf Shop.

With San Diego Surfboard Rental, they will deliver the surfboard to the beach of your choice and with chairs and umbrella if you want! Talk about no hassles…

3. Shopping on the 101

The 101 is officially known as the Coast Highway 101 that is the road that runs along the coast in San Diego County.

It is a scenic way to cruise along the beach towns of San Diego, take in the salty air, and feel the charm of living in Southern California.

The Encinitas sign crosses over the historic Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas, California.

There are many great shops, cafes, and restaurants along the 101 between Encinitas Blvd and K Street.

Walk up one side of the street and do a loop back on the other side. Some of my favorite shops along here are:

  • Hansen Surfboards – Everything related to surf, beachwear, sandals, boards, you name it.
  • Vuori – Is a store that makes the most comfortable lounge and activewear clothing. I wear Vuori when I travel on a plane as the pants and zip-up sweatshirts are both cute and comfy for a long travel day.
  • Artifact Books – If you are a lover of books and that book smell then Artifact Books is a used book store that is a classic place to roam and find a new read!
  • Candles On Tap – A candle bar? Yep, you can make your own custom candles!

Address: Along the Coast Highway 101 in between Encinitas Blvd and West K Street.

4. The San Diego Botanic Garden

For anyone remotely interested in botanical gardens or the tranquility of being out in nature then visiting the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas is a treat.

The San Diego Botanic Garden got its start when the Larabee’s purchased around 22 acres of land and cultivated it themselves.

Their focus is to include plants from Mexico and South America with a Southwest feel to it.

A large water fountain with green tiles surrounding the water and lush foliage behind it at the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas.
The rain forest area of the gardens with ferns, flowers, and greenery around a small pond.
Beautiful pink flowers with huge broad leaves amongst dense foliage and ferns at the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas.

The land was given to the County of San Diego and in 1970 it opened up to the public for all to visit.

At that time and while I was growing up, it was known as Quail Botanic Gardens. Although renamed as the San Diego Botanic Garden, I still refer to it as Quails…

The main goal initially behind creating the gardens was to preserve and protect the habitat of the quail birds living here.

You can walk among several trails that take you through various themed gardens such as desert landscapes, rain forest, and bamboo forest.

A huge and stunning Corpse Flower that is around 10 feet tall and surrounded by lush green foliage, ferns, and trees at the botanic gardens in Encinitas.
A close up view of a huge Corpse Flower in colors of green and deep purple which smells quite bad, taking 7-10 years to bloom and the bloom is only for a few days.

If you happen to visit when the Corpse Flower is blooming, get there quick as this fascinating and smelly flower only blooms every 5 – 10 years.

When it does bloom, you only have a few days to see and smell the corpse-like flower in all of its glory. I have never seen such an unusual and enormous flower like this!

There is various art and sculptures intertwined throughout the gardens such as this one in colors of red and orange of a cut out of a person standing with their arms stretched out.
A closeup of several red, orange, and pink flowers at the San Diego Botanic gardens are a relaxing oasis.

If you want to find out more detailed info on the different plants and flowers then you can opt to take a tour.

If you visit on a Saturday, then you can join the tour led by a docent at 10:30 am and included in your admission.

Tip: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed Tuesday). Purchase your ticket ahead of time online at their website as they don’t take cash payments. Adult tickets are $18, Seniors are $12.00 and children (3+) are $10.00.

Address: 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024

5. Explore Tide Pools

Swami’s Beach might be known as a prime surfing destination, but it is also an excellent spot for exploring tide pools at low tide.

If you aren’t familiar, tide pools are shallow pools that form in rocks along the shoreline and when the tide is out you can see all sorts of sea critters living in them.

Rock formations and tide pools among the wet sandy shoreline Swami's Beach at low tide in Encinitas, CA.
Looking down at Swamis Beach from the top of the bluff with surfers getting into the blue Pacific Ocean on a sunny day.
The rock formations create both big and small pools along the shore
Black shells of mussels all over the rocks near the shoreline at low tide at Swamis Beach in Encinitas.

As in the pictures here, the mussels are easy to see but with patience and a keen eye you may find other sea animals such as sea stars, crabs, octopus, and sea anemones.

When searching for the various life in the tide pools, may sure to not remove anything you might find even if it is tempting.

Swami’s is an excellent beach to go for a walk, sunbathe or surf in addition to searching among the tide pools.

Visit Swami's Beach in Encinitas at low tide to see the tide pools and rock formations.

The tide pools are mostly found north of the stairs that you come down from the parking area.

To check ahead of the tide schedule for your visit, verify the California tide table. At low or negative tide is ideal to make sure the pools are not hidden in the water.

Address: 1298 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Discover Fun Tours And Bike Rentals In Encinitas!

 

6. Eat Tacos!

If you love an epic taco, then look no further than the Taco Stand. If you couldn’t tell by the name, they specialize in tacos but also have burritos and quesadillas.

All the food is served using fresh homemade tortillas and a variety of tasty salsas.

All of the tacos I have tried are incredible but the Baja (battered fish taco) is amazing and keeps me coming back for this one alone!

Some other taco options are the Carne Asada (beef), Al Pastor (pork), Chicken, Spicy Shrimp, and Grilled Fish.

The front entrance to the Taco Stand with its red sign and a line out the door to get in and worth the wait for the tastiest tacos.
The Baja Taco which is the fish tacos may look a bit messy but it is amazing...

There are even a few veggie options with the Mushroom taco and Nopal (cactus). These two I haven’t tried as I prefer ones with protein but I’m sure they are tasty too.

The Taco Stand is in the heart of Encinitas right along the Coast Highway 101.

For those that are connoisseurs when it comes to tacos, The Taco Stand has some of the best tasting and authentic Mexican style tacos that are a must to try. There may be a wait but it is worth it…

A delicious carne asada taco at The Taco Stand in Encinitas, CA.

Eating tacos is definitely one of the best things to do in Encinitas! Visit this post to find out where the best tacos in San Diego are!

Tip: And they even have delicious breakfast burritos that you can take to go and enjoy eating at Moonlight Beach!

Address: 642 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024. Open from 10:00 am to 10:00pm.

7. Encinitas Meditation Gardens

Sitting up on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas is the Self-Realization Fellowship and mediation gardens.

The Self-Realization Center is next to Swamis Beach and shares the beach area below.

At the Self- Realization Center, there are lectures, meditations, and teachings to find one’s spiritual practices.

But the area that is open to the public and my favorite is the Encinitas Meditation Gardens that is a peaceful oasis.

You can't miss the Self-Realization Fellowship as it stands out with its large white wall, dome towers, and row of tall thin palm trees.
Looking up at the contrast between the distinct architecture of the gold colored dome on top of a white tower and rows of palm trees lining each side is a beautiful sight in Encinitas.
Walking up steps through the lush meditation gardens. in Encinitas.
Benches to sit as the perfect spot to meditate, read a book, or enjoy a quiet moment with the ocean view in Encinitas, CA.

It doesn’t hurt that the ocean views from the gardens are breathtaking! There are several sitting areas throughout the lush gardens to sit down and unplug from the chaos of daily life.

You can spend your time gazing out at the ocean or bring a book to enjoy seaside.

Me standing enjoying the stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. with purple flowers, plants and trees behind me and the ocean below.
Turquoise blue water of the Pacific Ocean at Swami's Beach lies below the Fellowship and Meditation Gardens with cacti and plants in the foreground.

Whether you are looking to practice your meditation or commune with nature, the Encinitas Mediation Gardens is a must to visit.

You will immediately feel relaxed after spending time in this tranquil gem in Encinitas.

Address: 215 West K Street, Encinitas, CA 92024. This address will give you access to the gardens except for Mondays (closed).

If you love this post, subscribe to get my latest travel inspiration!

8. Visit Butterfly Farms

* As of 2024, the Butterfly Farms in Encinitas has closed but they are in the process of opening a larger Butterfly Farms in Poway near the end of the year. 

On many occasions, I have driven past the Butterfly Farms and seen the butterflies fluttering around and been curious about what it was.

One day I stopped and learned that Butterfly Farms is a non-profit that started in a goal of conservation for the declining butterfly population in the area.

Front entrance to the Butterfly Farms with huge fake butterflys as you enter the garden to where the butterfly's are.
Inside the 3,000 square foot vivarium with several butterflies flying around.

The farm opened up in 2012 as a place to educate the community on the butterflies, research, and the vital role of pollinators.

The native butterflies primarily Monarch Butterflies fly within the 3,000 square foot vivarium.

The vivarium is basically outdoors but the fence like netting keeps the butterflies inside so that they can be researched and prosper.

You can see the different stages of growth a butterfly goes through in real-time here too.

YA close up of a orange and black Monarch butterfly on white flowers at the Butterfly Farms in Encinitas, California.
A Monarch Butterfly with striking markings sitting on a white flower surrounded by yellow and pink flowers inside the vivarium at the Butterfly Farms.
Remember to Smile Sign among the foliage at the Butterfly Farms.

There is a small nursery that you can buy various plants such as Milkweed that attract butterflies. So, you can take one home and recreate your own butterfly farm if you wanted to!

Address: 441 Saxony Road, Encinitas, CA 92024

Cost: There is a $6.00 per person to enter and free for active-duty military ($3.00 for their spouses and kids). Open daily from April through November, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

9. Have A Bonfire with Smores

If I can think of one tasty treat that is quintessentially American, I think of a smore.

A smore is a delicious, gooey, and sticky sweet goodness that you make when camping or hanging out at the beach over a fire pit.

In writing this, it has me curious if other countries make this or something similar?

The essentials to making the perfect smore, bar of chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows with a bonfire behind it.

Ever since I could remember, it has always been a tradition to have smores when having a beach bonfire or sitting around the campfire.

Smores involve roasting large marshmallows on a metal skewer (an old wire hanger back in the day). I personally like it when the marshmallow catches on fire and becomes crispy and blackened.

Before roasting your marshmallow, layout two Graham Cracker squares and a few small squares of a Hershey Chocolate Bar on the graham cracker.

When the marshmallow is ready, make a sandwich in between the chocolate and graham cracker for a blissful bite!

An extra hot and toasty marshmallow makes a smore extra gooey!

Head to a grocery store to get these items and have your own bonfire with smores at one of the fire pits at Moonlight Beach mentioned in #1.

Eating a smore and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean is a perfect way to end your day.

Tips: Have some hand wipes as your hands will get quite sticky!

Address: 386 B Street, Encinitas, CA 92024

10. Golf At Encinitas Ranch

I have never played golf that is unless mini-golf counts? For those that play real golf and like to try out new courses when they travel, then visit Encinitas Ranch.

Plus, if you need a break from hanging out at the beach then give golf a go.

A close up of a golf ball on a green. Take a break from the beach and play some golf!

Encinitas Ranch is an 18-hole golf course with a golf range and ocean views for added scenery. If you are not a local then prices to play on the course are $85 (weekday), $91 (Friday), and $105 (weekend).

For more information on booking a tee time, you can visit their website here.

Address: 1275 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024

11. The San Dieguito Heritage Museum

Looking to learn a little bit about the local history? Then step back in time as you visit the San Dieguito Heritage Museum to see artifacts, photographs, records, and stories of life pertaining to the communities of the San Dieguito River region.

The San Dieguito Heritage Museum is also referred to as the Heritage Ranch. The area that we know today as being part of the San Dieguito River community are the towns of Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Olivenhain, and Rancho Santa Fe.

Tip: The Heritage Museum is located next to the San Diego Botanic Gardens so you can plan to visit both back to back if you want.

Address: 450 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas, CA 92024. It is open from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm Friday and Saturday.

Explore Fun Tours And Bike Rentals In Encinitas!

 

12. Sip Wine

What better activity than sipping wine after a day at the beach day or exploring the town?

Instead of having to go far out into wine country, Solterra Winery & Kitchen has both excellent wine and food for you to taste a short distance from the beach.

Wine tasting local blends is a great way to end the day, with a person pouring a glass of red wine that is on a table outside.

It has a very Mediterranean feel with several wine barrels that decorate the space beckoning you to try some wine.

All of their wines use locally sourced grapes from Temecula, California, and Valle de Guadalupe in Mexico.

Whether you want to kick back and enjoy a glass of wine and/or a delightful meal, this is a stellar place to unwind.

Another great spot to get wine in Encinitas is at 3rd Corner which is also a fantastic place to grab dinner.

Address: 934 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

13. Visit The Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Market in Leucadia is held at the Paul Ecke Central Elementary School every Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The school is in a residential neighborhood, so you might need to hunt for a street parking spot.

Close up view of blueberries and raspberries at the Leucadia farmer's market in Encinitas, CA.

There are over 75 vendors that have booths at the Farmer’s Market each week that offer fresh and delicious products to enjoy.

Products from produce, yogurt, breads, sauces, flowers, and artisan crafts to name a few.

My primary reason for going is to get the incredibly yummy Frenchy Yogurt that has flavors such as fig, rose, raspberry, and lemon!

And if you come hungry there is a small food court where you can get a tasty meal.

Tip: Most of the vendors accept credit card but not all, so make sure you bring cash with you. There are no ATM machines onsite so plan ahead.

Address: 185 Union Street, Encinitas, CA 92024

14. Sip Awesome Coffee In Encinitas

Need a pick me up with an excellent cup of coffee? I’m sure there are many great spots but there are two that I especially love and find to be top-notch when it comes to coffee.

The first is Pannikin Coffee & Tea that is a little less than a mile from the downtown Encinitas area.

Pannikin's has some of the best coffee in San Diego and cute decor with its bright yellow house and several tables with yellow umbrellas outside in front in Encinitas.

At first glance, Pannikin will attract your attention as it is an adorable pale yellow building that looks somewhat like an old house.

But in reality, Pannikin is housed in what used to be an old railroad station from 1888. I love how you get to walk back into history when you sip a coffee here.

Pannikin is family-owned and has been serving freshly roasted coffee to locals since 1968. No surprise there as it is so good. Plus, they have an assortment of teas and baked goods for those that don’t drink coffee.

The yellow building of Pannikin's used to an old railroad station from the late 1880s!

Another coffee shop I enjoy is Better Buzz Coffee that is in the middle of downtown Encinitas on the 101.

I enjoy their coffee but I might enjoy their food even more as they have a delicious avocado toast and grilled sandwiches.

The Better Buzz has a cute modern atmosphere that also serves tea, smoothies, and baked goods.

A black mug with white lettering that says "Life truly is better buzzed" and an avocado toast next to it at Better Buzz coffee in Encinitas, California.

Their motto “life is better buzzed” is both catchy and cute. What I love about these two coffee shops is that they not only have excellent coffee but are local to San Diego.

Note: In total there are four Pannikin locations (Encinitas is original) in San Diego County and 12 locations for Better Buzz Coffee.

Pannikin Address: 510 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Better Buzz Coffee Address: 578 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

15. The Encinitas Boat Houses

The first time I happened to drive down Third Street on my way to the beach, I was like what the heck is that?!

In the middle of a residential street sits two gigantic ships up on stilts that look like they just came to port. I’m a local and can’t believe it took me so long to see these!

It is a rare sight to see houses like the Encinitas Boathouses, which are two boats sitting parallel next to each other.

They literally stick out as you don’t usually see houses that are a replica of a large ship on land. In the water yes, but never like this.

These huge houseboats, named SS Encinitas and SS Moonlight have a long-running history in Encinitas as they were built in the 1920s.

Known as the Encinitas Boathouses, they were built after the Prohibition Days (1920s) using wood from a bathhouse and hotel that weren’t able to survive the dry days.

These two boats have never been out to sea but the 20 feet long and 15 feet tall boathouses are a fun thing to see in Encinitas!

The Boathouses are appropriately named SS Encinitas and SS Moonlight

Back in 2008, the Encinitas Historical Society purchased the homes and there are currently tenants living there now. So, make sure you don’t trespass up past the sidewalk as people call these boats home.

Once the mortgage is paid off, the Historical Society plans to turn them into a museum that all can visit!

Address: 726 and 732 Third Street, Encinitas, CA 92024

16. Encinitas Historical Society

If you want to get a taste of what life in Encinitas has been like since the late 1880s, then visit the Encinitas Historical Society that is in an old schoolhouse.

The 1883 Schoolhouse was built in yep, 1883!

You can even see the original schoolhouse bell in front

It is a charming small house with a white picket fence and houses exhibits, photos, and artifacts that give you a glimpse back into time.

It is free to visit but they do appreciate donations to keep it open to the public.

Address: 390 West F Street, Encinitas, CA 92024. Open on Saturdays from 10:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

17. La Paloma Theater

In 1928 the La Paloma Theater opened in Encinitas and was one of the first theatres to play “talkie” movies.

Otherwise known as movies that had voices or talking in them that was revolutionary for its time. Previous to this, movies were only silent which seems so strange to us today!

In 1928, the La Paloma was one of the first theaters to play movies with voices!
The historic La Paloma marquee

The Spanish Colonial Revival styled theater holds 540 seats and is still in use today.

The schedule varies but you can catch various shows, movies, and community events at the La Paloma Theater that means “dove” in Spanish.

I love whenever I see old historic movie theatres that have the original marquees hanging with its vintage vibes. Located in downtown Encinitas on Coast Highway 101, you will pass right by it as you enter in town.

Address: 471 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

18. Best Viewpoints in Encinitas

When visiting a new city, it is always nice to find out where the best spots are to view what a place has to offer.

These locations are great at any time of the day but even more so if you are looking to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

You can find a spectacular view from any beach in Encinitas

At almost any beach in Encinitas is an excellent viewpoint but my favorite beaches to see the ocean are from Grandview Beach, Moonlight Beach, D Street Viewpoint, and Swami’s Beach.

Encinitas Viewpoint is a lovely park and place to look out over Encinitas
View of Pacific Ocean from up at Encinitas Viewpoint

A site that is a short distance from the beach and up on a slight hill is at Encinitas Viewpoint Park (404 West D Street, Encinitas, CA 92024).

It is a park where you could enjoy a picnic and look out to the Pacific Ocean and coastline of Encinitas.

Gazing down at Encinitas from the corner of Santa Fe and Cornish Dr

Another spot that I like is on the corner of Santa Fe Drive and Cornish Drive. There are a handful of benches here so that you can kick back and scan the area of downtown Encinitas, the Fellowship Center, and the ocean.

Tip: If you are taking in the sunset while visiting, keep your eyes out for the “green flash”! I personally have never seen it but it is said it is part luck and part folklore.

In the right conditions and rare, is an optical phenomenon that occurs when a flash of green light is seen right after the sunset. You could blink and miss it!

19. Places To Eat In Encinitas

  • Union Kitchen & Tap (1108 South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Mediterranean meets California cuisine
  • Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria (897 South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Pizza and salads
  • 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro (897 South Coast Hwy 101, Suite f-104, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Seafood and Italian
  • Trattoria I trulli (830 South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Italian
  • The Crack Shack (407 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Everything centered around fried chicken specializing in breakfast.
  • In-N-Out Burger (130 Magdalena, Encinitas, CA 92024)– I normally don’t include fast food but it seems like everyone is in love with In and Out. I’m not a huge fan but people fly all over to get a burger and fries from here so I thought I’d mention it!
  • Swami’s Café (1163 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Fresh breakfast and lunch dishes with many vegetarian options.
  • Fish 101 Leucadia (1468 North Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Seafood and fish tacos
  • Le Papagayo (1002 North Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) – Mediterranean and Latin fusion

Beach Trip Essentials

Where To Stay In Encinitas?

There are not many hotel options in Encinitas along the beach area except for a few mentioned below. Other great nearby options to stay at are in Carlsbad or Del Mar.

Encinitas

Carlsbad (9-miles north)

Del Mar (9.5-miles south)

Encinitas has great weather all year...

Fun Encinitas Tours To Take

Guided Electric Bike Tour – Hop on an electric bike and ride through Encinitas and its beautiful coastline with a guide!

North County Booze & Cruise Tour – If you are a beer lover, sip some of the best beers in the North County portion of San Diego in a cool ride!

Go San Diego Pass – If you plan to visit the rest of San Diego, get this pass and save on a bunch of top attractions!

Where Is Encinitas?

Nestled along the scenic Coast Highway 101 that hugs the Pacific Ocean is the beach community of Encinitas.

Encinitas is located in the northern part of San Diego County and is commonly referred to as North County.

About 26-miles north of downtown San Diego and 15-miles south of the border between San Diego County and Orange County is Encinitas.

You can easily reach Encinitas off of the 5 Freeway but if you want to cruise along the many cool beach towns, then opt to take the Coast Highway here.

The town of Leucadia is now considered to be part of the city of Encinitas so I will include that in this post. Locals will refer to each town as separate but note officially they are one.

Driving along the Coast Highway 101 you will pass miles of gorgeous coastline

When To Visit Encinitas

When visiting any area of San Diego County, there really isn’t a bad time of year to visit. San Diegans are blessed with having so many sunny days giving it the nickname “Sunny San Diego”.

Each year there are about 266 sunny or partially sunny days which is why people love to travel here year-round.

Being situated along the water, Encinitas like all the coastal towns in Southern California has fog and a marine layer.

The fog and marine layer tend to be the most prevalent in April through the beginning of July. It is common for it to be super overcast and then around noon it breaks off.

If you are particularly interested in spending some time on the beach then July through November tends to be the best.

But you would be surprised that there have been very hot summer-like days around Christmas! Definitely no snow days around here…

Lots of awesome mural art to be found in Encinitas!

How To Get To Encinitas

There are two airport options when visiting Encinitas that you can fly into. The San Diego International Airport (SAN) is 26-miles south of Encinitas and in the opposite direction (north) is John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County at 61-miles away.

Why not explore the best flight deals today to get your beach vacation started!

No matter which one you choose, be aware that their airport codes are very similar! I usually look for the best deals and make my decision based on that.

From either airport, you will arrive into Encinitas off of the 5 Freeway and exit off of Encinitas Blvd. Head west towards the beach to reach the charming downtown.

Find the best deals on a car rental here!

Things To Do In Encinitas Map

Got Travel Insurance?

Don’t leave home without travel insurance as you never know what might happen on a trip! It is always when you least expect it that something can go wrong like getting sick, in an accident or cancellation of some sort.

Get a no-obligation quote from two trusted travel insurance companies for peace of mind on your next trip!

World Nomads Travel Insurance

SafetyWing Travel Insurance

Looking For More Travel Inspiration?

15 Best Things To Do In San Diego

Exploring The Best La Jolla Attractions

25 Fun Things To Do In Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields In Carlsbad: The Best Visitor Guide

Carlsbad Oyster Farm Tour Guide + Learn To Shuck Your Own Oysters

15 Most Popular Beaches In San Diego

A Guide To The 5 Most Beautiful Beaches Of Malibu, California

17 Fun Things To Do In Orange Beach, Alabama On Your First Visit

15 Best Things To Do On Dauphin Island, Alabama

The Best Guide To Maui Whale Watching

5 Ways To See California’s Imperial County

The Best Northern California Coastal Road Trip

Encinitas is a charming and very laid-back beach town that is an epic surf destination, with stunning beaches such as Moonlight Beach and amazing restaurants. Follow this guide with tips on all the fun things to do in Encinitas, California!

Vanessa Shields

Vanessa Shields is the founder of Traveling Ness helping people with trip ideas, itineraries, travel planning, and boosting confidence for female travelers to take a solo trip. She has been a travel writer and content creator since 2019.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with friends!

44 Comments

    1. Thank you so much and I am glad you agree how wonderful Encinitas is! Hopefully, you get the chance to go back and visit from time to time. 🙂

  1. What a wonderful place. dreaming of visiting since you had me at sweeping palm tree lined cliffs and ocean panoramic views. But tacos and butterfly farm are high in the list. Absolutely loved this post.

    1. Thank you! I might be biased as I grew up spending a lot of time in Encinitas but I agree it is a wonderful place! Hopefully, you will get the chance to visit one day and then we could do a meetup! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *