Encinitas juxtaposes palm trees against light posts in an almost incandescent backdrop of spectacular scenes for travelers and locals alike. Located in the North County district approximately 30 minutes from the city of San Diego, sandwiched between Carlsbad and Solana Beach, this coastal town encapsulates the epitome of activity. Commercial districts line the boardwalk, providing places to eat, drink or shop. Skate parks invite youth culture, while bars and nightclubs give parents places to unwind after a long day at work.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Right along Highway 101, Encinitas possesses some of the greatest dining experiences that California has to offer. Choices range from fine Japanese cuisine to healthy alternatives, Italian trattoria and beach hot dogs to enjoy right after riding a coastal eddy off the surf. Great food and good times are in high supply at local businesses that can be found by walking a few minutes in any direction.
Locals flock to Borrelli’s Pizza, a longtime staple of the neighborhood that brings New Yorkers back home for delectable cuisine made by Italians who really understand food. This historical landmark has been in business since 1975 and is known for its pasta, sauce, antipasto salad, generous portions and excellent service. Take home a pie or two, then come back for the calzone.
The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro provides its clientele with late-night dining and a kitchen that stays open long after other restaurants have already shut their doors. Reservations are recommended, as 3rd Corner tends to get a little crowded most nights. Patrons recommend the mussels, pork schnitzel and baked Humboldt fog.
The neighboring Beachside Bar and Grill provides fire pits for customers craving a little warmth on cold nights. Anyone looking for a brew and sports on large-screen televisions should find Beachside a welcome addition to their daily activities. Locals recommend the tuna melt with cheddar cheese and French fries, which are always cooked to perfection. A popular hangout, Beachside tends to get a little crowded, which can be off-putting for visitors looking for a place to sit and unwind.
If you’re looking for a huge stage for sights and sounds, just eight minutes away in neighboring Solana Beach is The Belly Up Tavern, the premier venue showcasing both live and local acts on a stage big enough to fit into a coliseum. Tickets are moderately priced, and drink specials often pass happy hour. The historic La Paloma Theater also frequently showcases live music.
History & Culture
Historical sites such as The La Paloma Theater and The Boat Houses have become major staples in a county that has withstood the test of time. The casual and carefree attitude in Encinitas can be attributed to a resource-rich climate that allowed early farmers and settlers a chance to purchase land grants for people who didn’t mind that their properties were under Mexican rule. After the Mexican-American War in 1848, California was officially an American territory, and all land (including land bought in Encinitas) would become a part of its identity.
The Lux Art Institute and The San Dieguito Heritage Museum both teach local history, and ladies and gentlemen with green thumbs are more likely to peruse the walkways of the San Diego Botanic Garden. Annual events also include Oktoberfest, the April Street Fair, Encinitas Environment Day and Classic Car Cruise Nights.
Encinitas is proud to establish itself as a truly green-friendly environment, supported by the North County Transit District mass transit bus and rail system. NCTD buses run along bicycle-friendly roads, and Coaster stations provide stopping points for trains. Taxis, Uber and Lyft can also help people who need to get around. The 101 and 5 freeways run through historic downtown Encinitas, where plentiful parking lots greet drivers in public parks with the occasional paid parking places along the busy districts.
California was never known for cheap rent, and Encinitas is no exception. It supplies affluence for those who can afford it, as even the price for a one-bedroom apartment may cost around $1,300 per month. A beer at a local bar may run anywhere between $4 to $7 after happy hour, and gas prices run just about a dollar over the national average.
The Lumberyard Shopping Center has an eclectic mix of fascinating stores for the casual shopper that includes food, art galleries, books, boutiques and coffee shops. Magical Child carries toys, novels, novelties and gifts for children of all ages, while Chuauo allows that same inner child to satisfy an adult passion for chocolate. The Bella Moda boutique stocks its shelves with stylish designs and colors fitting for a youth-oriented generation unafraid of bold statements and ideas. Decorated with fountains and flora, The Lumberyard also often serves as a stage for holiday shows, and up and coming bands use it as a live music venue on occasion.
Whole Foods, Stater Bros and Vons run the gamut of local grocery stores in the area, while local farmers markets sprout in the area periodically. Most notably, the vendors at the Leucadia Farmers Market frequently carry fresh, locally grown ingredients for patrons searching for a healthier lifestyle. The Encinitas Seaside Bazaar also houses over 50 vendors with their own unique arts and crafts.
Moonlight State Beach is just minutes away from downtown Encinitas on a coastline that stretches between fire pits, volleyball courts and snack shops that welcome anyone with a smile and a little free time. Downtown Encinitas has a shopping center by the beach with a jogging trail for those looking for a little exercise. Swami’s, immortalized in a line from the Beach Boys' song “Surfin' USA," closely resembles a seaside resort for surfers. Botanists and other nature lovers may also favor the Quail Botanical Gardens or the San Elijo State Beach Campground.
Encinitas doesn't forget about its canine population when it comes to having a good time. Cricket's Corner Community Dog Park, operated by the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, fences in an acre for dogs to romp around unleashed, with a special area set aside for smaller dogs and puppies. Water fountains refresh pups and people. Other parks in Encinitas, including Orpheus Park and View Point Park, also allow leashed dogs to come out for a walk, with special hours set aside for off-leash play time.