Best of San Diego: Encintas

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Encinitas is one of the most picturesque coastal cities in North County San Diego. When you drive up the 101, you can see surfers along the shoreline from the San Elijo Lagoon all the way up to the Bataquitos Lagoon. Encinitas is much more than just a great view. The city extends East to include many ranches and nurseries.


Hi! My name is Drea Colores and I have lived in North County San Diego for 10 years. My family includes two teenage sons and a 7-year-old daughter. We LOVE where we live! We spend our free time going on local adventures, these usually include hikes, beaches, skateparks, museums, and new restaurants. I am a full-time mama and I also enjoy photography, graphic design, and writing. 

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Beaches | Parks | Brunch | Happy Hour | Things to do with Kids 
Hike |Don’t Miss

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach
400 B Street
Encinitas, CA

Moonlight Beach is the heart of Encinitas. Popular with locals and tourists alike, there is plenty to do there. The beach has Volleyball Courts, a kids playstructure, a snack bar and fire pits. We have been to many beach bonfires at Moonlight and they are a perfect way to celebrate and occasion. However, the pits are in high demand, so if you do want to use one, get there early inthe morning (6am!), to stake your claim. Moonlight also has a large parking lot, and street parking surrounding it. Moonlight is also one of the only Encinitas beaches that is accesible via ramp and not a stairway. Popular events that happen at Moonlight include Switchfoot’s Bro-Am in June and the Surfing Madonna Beach Run in October.

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Swami’s Beach
1298 South Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA

Swami’s Beach is one of the most popular surf spots in Encinitas. The parking lot is tiny, so it’s easier to park across the tracks and walk under the bridge to get there. The small park at the top of Swami’s is always buzzing with musicians or yoga enthusiasts. There are restrooms and the picnic tables and benches are privy to some of the best sunsets. To get to the sand you have to descend the bluff via a stairway. During the winter months, Swamis tidepools are exposed during the daylight hours during low tide. The tidepools are filled with life including sea anemones, crabs and fish. 

Other great Beaches in Encinitas:

Grandview Surf Beach – 1700 Neptune Ave, Encinitas, CA
Grandview is a favorite among surfers and residents who like to take a stroll on the sand. The neighborhood entrance has a small parking lot, but no restrooms. 

Beacons Beach – 948 Neptune Ave, Encinitas, CA
Another popular surf spot. Beacons is also on Neptune and has a small lot without restrooms. The beach is reached by walking down switchbacks.

Encinitas Community Park
425 Santa Fe Dr, Encinitas, CA

Restrooms • Dog Park • Skate Park • Children’s Play Area • Picnic Facilities • Beer and Wine allowed • Muiltipurpose Fields

Adjacent to the I-5, Encinitas Community Park is one of the newest in the area. The park is massive and was built on 44 Acres. Highlights of the park include a play structure that is shaded by giant red sails, and of course the phenomenal skate park. Known to locals as Poods, the skatepark is always filled with boards and blades.

Cottonwood Creek Park
425 Santa Fe Dr, Encinitas, CA

Restrooms • Gazebo • Basketball Court • Tennis Courts • Children’s Play Area • Picnic Facilities • Beer and Wine allowed 

Just down the street from Moonlight Beach is one of the best parks in Encinitas. The park is so lush that you almost forget that you are in the city. The Children’s Play Area includes swings and sand and a small water feature. 

Other great Parks in Encinitas:

Encinitas Viewpoint Park– Cornish Dr & E D Street, Encinitas, CA

Children’s Play Area • Picnic Facilities • Off-leash Dog Hours
Encinitas Viewpoint Park isn’t that big, and it doesn’t have restrooms, but we think it’s great because it’s right across the street from the library! Especially great for toddlers, this park is ideal for after library storytimes when the kids need to run around a bit before they nap!


Priority Public House
576 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 230-1999

Priority Public House is a great hang out spot that has a prime location off the 101. There is a small parking lot, but it fills up quickly. Brunch Highlights include Chicken and Waffles, Sliced Steak Salad and fantastic Burgers.

Le Papagayo
1002 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 944-8252

Happy Hour: 4pm-6pm; All-Day Tuesdays

Beer $5/$6, House Wine $7, House Maragrita $6, Home Made sangria $7/$28 Pitcher

Le Papagayo has always had a great crowd. The vibe is laid back and friendly, and there is live music every day.  Papagayo has a full bar and Happy Hour Drink specials under $7, which includes Sangria. The Happy Hour menu is extensive and includes Spicy Macadamia Calamari Strips, Pear and Brie Flatbread and Truffle Fries.

Solterra Winery & Kitchen
934 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 230-2970

Happy Hour: 3pm-6pm Daily

Beer $5, $3 Off Cask Wine, $5 Select Wine

Solterra Winery & Kitchen ages their wine just blocks away from the ocean. The barrels line the walls and give the restaurant a special feeling that is unique in the area. Happy Hour Specials start at $5 and include an array of cheese and meat boards.

More great Happy Hour spots:

Fish 101 – 1468 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 943-6221
Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday  4pm-6pm
Dos Equis on Tap $4, Wine on Tap $5, Brown Bag Beer $5, Fish Tacos $2.95, Oysters $1.25

The Roxy – 517 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 230-2899
Happy Hour: Monday 11am-11pm, Tuesay-Friday 3pm-6pm
Draft Beer $4.50, Well Cocktails $5, Select WIne $7, $2Off Craft Cocktails, $4-$11 Small Plate Menu

Bier Garden Encinitas – 641 S Coast Hwy Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 632-2437
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4pm-6pm, Wednesday All Day

$2 Off All Beer, Libations, Well Drinks, House Wine, and Select Starters; Monday: 1/2 Off Charcuterie Boards, !/2 Off Select bottles of Wine, $5 Select Craft Beer; Tuesday: $3 Tacos

The San Diego Botanic Garden
230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 436-3036

The San Diego Botanic Gardens occupies 37 Acres of prime realestate in the heart of Encinitas. With views of the ocea, the Garden takes days to explore and is a sight to be seen. There are two childrens areas on the grounds. The first is the Seeds of Wonder near the front parking lot. In this area there is a model train, a small garden house for pretend play, secret paths, a sand box and a water play area. Perfect for smaller kids, there are also shaded picnic tables and restrooms nearby. On the far northern corner of the SDBC (about a 10 minute walk), you can find Hamilton’s Children’s Garden. This part of the SDBC is a children’s paradise. There is an amazing Treehouse that overlooks musical instruments, mazes, a small brook, and much more. 

Throughout the year the SDBC hosts many family-friendly events including a Spring Party, a Fairy Festival, an Insect Festival, and throughout the month of Decemeber the Botanic wonderland Garden of Lights.



Elizabethan Desserts
114 El Camino Real, Encinitas, California 92024 | (760) 230-6780

Elizabethan Desserts has the lovely quaint atmosphere that you dream of as a child. The white and pastel interior is almost like a pastry come to life. The case is always filled with delightfully displayed cupcakes, cookies and GIANT Cinnamon Rolls. You can order to go, but I would spend the time to enjoy a sweet treat with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. 

More great things to do with kids: 

Butterfly Farms – 441 Saxony Road Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 613-5867

Tumbles – 1221 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 942-7411

Encinitas Library – 540 Cornish Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 753-7376

Sew Inspired – 531 Encinitas Blvd #103, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 908-7853

Studio Cybrid

1465 Encinitas Blvd, Suite C, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 753-1609

Studio Cybrid offers indoor cycling with the addition of strength, yoga and barre classes. 

Other great fitness suggestions:

Studio Barre Encinitas
208 N El Camino Real Suite C, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 633-2243

BodyRok – 121 N El Camino Real b, Encinitas, CA 92024 | (858) 775-9779

Soul of Yoga – 627 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, California 92024 | (760) 943-7685

Club Pilates – 555 2nd St., Suite 2 Encinitas, CA 92024 | (760) 783-3852

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