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How To Enjoy A Beach Vacation
In Encinitas California

Spending some vacation time in Encinitas California should be pretty laid back. There are several beaches, a botanical garden, an annual street fair and a lagoon for bird watching.

It's in North County San Diego, and is one of a string of beach towns that lie along the coast. This now also includes Leucadia to the north and Cardiff-by-the-Sea to the south.

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Beach in Encinitas California

Most of Leucadia's coastline is made up of bluffs and cliffs, with stairs accessing the beaches. You can find overlooks and views in several places, such as H, I and J Streets. The town is also known for its abundance of commercial flower farms.

Beaches In Encinitas California

Encinitas Beaches Map

© OpenStreetMap contributors

The city beaches don't allow any dogs, alcohol or camping. But you can camp at San Elijo State Beach (see below). The lifeguards are there during the summer season. If you're looking for a beach with restrooms, both Moonlight Beach and Swami's have them.

Beacons Beach

Part of Leucadia State Beach. Sandy, with cliffs. No restrooms. Located at Neptune Avenue.

Stone Steps Beach

Also part of Leucadia State Beach. Small beach with no restrooms on South El Portal.

Grandview Beach

1700 Neptune Ave.

D Street Beach

450 D Street

Swami's Beach

Small beach surfers love. Above the cliffs is the Self Realization Retreat. There are restrooms and a picnic area.

Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight Beach has big, sandy and popular. Has all kinds of usual beach amenities such as restrooms, food (in summer), fire pits, beach gear rentals and a playground. Besides the sandy beach, their are tidepools. Located at the end of Encinitas Blvd. on B Street.

Cardiff State Beach

Surfing and wind surfing. Lots of sand plus tide pools at the southern end. Across the street is the San Elijo Lagoon, which has trails and birdwatching.

San Elijo State Beach

This beach has a campground with 171 sites on the high bluff. The beach has lots of tide pools. For camping info, call 760-753-5091.

Other Encinitas Attractions

San Diego Botanic Garden

Other things to do in Encinitas California include visiting the San Diego Botanic Garden, (formerly Quail Botanical Gardens), which features palm trees, tropical plants, bamboo, a waterfall and a children's garden. You can hike on their trails or picnic in their picnic area. They even have a gift shop.

San Diego Botanic Garden Encinitas CaliforniaSan Diego Botanical Gardens in Encinitas

Self Realization Fellowship and Retreat Hermitage Grounds

Another place to visit is the Self Realization Fellowship and Retreat Hermitage Grounds. You can walk around their peaceful grounds and look over at the surfers down below at Swami's Beach. The building was built as a retreat for monks in the 1920's. It's found at 215 K Street.

Self Realization Fellowship and Retreat Hermitage Grounds and Surfer Crossing signSurfer Crossing sign in front of Self Realization Fellowhip Center

San Elijo Lagoon

Nature lovers and bird watchers will love to hike the paths around the San Elijo Lagoon.  This lagoon makes for a great little stop on the drive along the coast of northern San Diego County.  Located just across from Cardiff State Beach in between Solana Beach and Encinitas, this ecological reserve is one of the last of the coastal wetlands along this Southern Califrnia coastline.

The park encompasses close to 900 acres, including saltwater marsh and freshwater marsh.  Various trails wind through a wide variety of natural coastal plants, many endangered.

An amazing number of threatened animal species are present, and if you look carefully, you may be treated to a sighting.

If you are an avid birdwatcher, this is a treasure trove of viewing.  This lagoon is part of the Pacific Flyway, where millions of bird species migrate through yearly.  The lagoon is home to about 300 species.  Stay awhile, and you can really explore the 3 miles of hiking trails through the wetlands.

But if you only want to stretch you legs or make a quick stop, there is a short nature trail which leads from the nature center at 2710 Manchester Avenue.  There is a small parking lot and restrooms here also.

For more info, call the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation at 858-694-3049.

Map of Encinitas California

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Where To Stay

Some of the Encinitas hotels are located near Moonlight Beach. Two of these are Days Inn Encinitas and the Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites.

Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites

Convenient to Legoland, the Del Mar Racetrack and San Diego attractions to the south, the Best Western Encinitas Inn Suites is located off the Interstate 5 freeway. This newly renovated hotel is three stories high, and sits up on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

Many suites have ocean views and/or large balconies, and some have kitchenettes.

There is a heated pool and jacuzzi, and you can walk to nearby Moonlight Beach, Encinitas' most popular beach. Quail Botanical Gardens is just a mile away.

A Japanese restaurant with a Sushi bar is on site as well.
The address of this Encinitas Best Western is 85 Encinitas Boulevard.

Encinitas Days Inn

Close to the Quail Botanical Gardens and Moonlight Beach is the Days Inn Encinitas.

There's a 24 hour Denny's in the parking lot, which can come in handy for those late arrivals and super early risers. Continental breakfast is included with your room stay. The swimming pool is heated.

This hotel is located right off the I-5, which makes it convenient to Legoland and San Diego tourist attractions.

The Days Inn address is 133 Encinitas Blvd.  Check rates and reviews.

More Hotel Options

Other Encinitas California hotels include the Moonlight Beach Motel, the Ocean Inn Hotel, Econolodge, Howard Johnson, and Quality Inn.

If you don't like chain hotels and motels, there are also a handful of bed and breakfast inns. Or find a vacation rental.


There is camping at nearby San Elijo State Beach. Learn more.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links on this page may go to the TripAdvisor website, where I will gain a small commission if you click certain links within their website. However, I wouldn't link to that site if I didn't think it would be useful and interesting as a supplement to this site.

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