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17 Things to do in Encinitas That'll Make You Want to Stay Forever
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17 Things to do in Encinitas That'll Make You Want to Stay Forever

Want to fully experience the coastal city? Here are the best things to do in Encinitas that’ll make your stay worthwhile.

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6 min read

May 22, 2021

Encinitas isn’t just a city—it’s a whole vibe. Everything about this coastal community embodies the surfer-cool aesthetic. Regardless of whether or not you like to shred, these things to do in Encinitas reflect the beach city’s laid-back attitude. Bask in an eclectic mix of 60s-inspired beach culture, shopping boutiques, fine dining, and new-age meditation only 30 minutes north of Downtown San Diego. Want to fully experience the coastal city? Here are the best things to do in Encinitas that’ll make your stay worthwhile.

Incredible Things to Do in Encinitas, California 

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is all about adventure. The estuary was formed where the Escondido and La Orilla Creeks meet the Pacific.

1. Explore San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center

The 1,000-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is one of the most interesting places to go in Encinitas. The county’s largest remaining coastal wetland is filled with miles of trails that lead you to flora and fauna native to Southern California—six plant communities, 300 types of fish, 26 mammals species, and 300-plus families of birds call this place their home. Whether you’re a family of hikers, runners, photographers, or painters, this sublime location is sure to provide you with natural solace and recreation. 

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2. Relax at the Self Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple

Seek greater harmony on the bluffs above the Pacific; this is where the tranquil Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple is found. Unplug from the chaos of daily life with lectures, meditations, and teachings offered at this peaceful hidden gem in San Diego. Get lost in rustic perfection and practice outdoor yoga in a quiet spot—this location makes a great addition to the things you want to do in Encinitas this weekend.

3. Tour the Encinitas Historical Society

Fall in love with this quaint beachside community while visiting the Encinitas Historical Society and 1883 Schoolhouse—one of the most important attractions in Encinitas. Learn what life was like in this sleepy city by exploring a one-room schoolhouse built in 1883. Originally accommodating the only eight children of the town, the property now stands as a testament to how far Encinitas has come. 

Yeah we're into fitness…fitness whole taco in our mouths. A well-balanced diet is a taco in each hand, so what are you waiting for?

5. Eat All the Tacos 

When it comes to San Diego's neighborhoods, all roads lead to taco heaven. At the iconic Taco Stand in Encinitas, hardly a day goes by without lines of customers waiting to take a bite out of the delicious crispy shells. Handmade corn tortillas, quality meats, and top-notch seafood tacos—munching on these delicacies is one of the best things to do in Encinitas.

Fun Things to Do in Encinitas with your S.O.

Lux Art Institute redefines the museum experience to make contemporary art more accessible and meaningful. Photo courtesy of Lux Art Institute.

6. Go on a “Luxcursion” at the Lux Art Institute 

Nothing says sweet SoCal romance like being surrounded by creativity. The Lux Art Institute gives you and your S.O. the opportunity to see completed works and witness the artistic process firsthand. By observing internationally recognized artists in their studios, you’ll become one with learning, understanding, and beauty—maybe you’ll even discover a hidden flare.

7. Have Dinner by Moonlight State Beach

Nestled a few blocks from Downtown Encinitas, Moonlight State Beach is nothing short of magical. This picturesque stretch of sand is equipped with amenities designed to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Spend the day playing volleyball and building sandcastles as the Pacific sun glows in the background. When the rays of sunshine disappear beneath the horizon, head on down to the countless eateries by the beach— it’ll be one of the best things you do near Encinitas.

Cal Pacific Orchid Farm has been growing beautiful, high-quality orchids since 1976. Photo courtesy of Cal Pacific Orchid Farm.

8. Visit Cal Pacific Orchid Farm

If you’re searching for an affordable romantic getaway in California, Encinitas has a lot of stuff to do. Watch your romance blossom (literally) at the family-owned Cal Pacific Orchid Farm. This 36,000 square foot farm is filled with hundreds of exotic orchids from all over the world. Walk hand in hand through the museum-like showroom, flooded with gorgeous orchid arrangements and let an explosion of color whisk you away.

9. Take Surfing Lessons with Leucadia Surf School

Considered the ultimate California experience, the Leucadia Surf School offers you and your partner exactly that. From private sessions to group lessons, you’ll love splashing around San Diego’s waters with your loved one by your side. The school provides you with a soft board and a wetsuit and specializes in getting you up and riding on easy boards right away—even if you’ve never surfed before.

The Best Things to Do in Encinitas with the Family 

The San Diego Botanic Garden welcomes you to enjoy four miles of trails amidst 37 peaceful acres. Photo courtesy of San Diego Botanic Garden.

10. Visit the San Diego Botanic Garden

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that traversing the trails at the San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the best things to do in Encinitas today. Exotic bamboo groves, desert gardens, and a tropical rainforest await in a diverse bouquet of nature’s wonders. Your kids will love running around the flowering palms as you sneak adorable pictures of them around the nation’s largest bamboo collection.

11. Swim at Swami’s Beach

Every winter, the swells at this pristine San Diego beach bring in surfers from all over the state to put on a show that’s unlike anything you’ve seen. The best spot to watch surfers is from the park above Swami’s Surf Beach, situated atop a beautiful cliff. Once you’re done gawking at displays of watersport excellence, take your kids down to the crashing waves for a splash and a swim—SoCal getaways don’t get better than this. 

Butterfly Farms preserves native butterflies and their habitats through education and conservation. Photo courtesy of Butterfly Farms.

12. Pay a visit to Butterfly Farms 

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Encinitas, a 3,000-square-foot space filled with butterflies might just do the trick. Butterfly Farms is a non-profit facility established to protect and preserve the endangered Monarch species, so you know it’s run by people who truly care about our environment. You and your family get the chance to observe California native butterflies up-close and take pictures as they flutter above your heads.

13. Take a Photo Near the Encinitas Boat Houses 

On a quiet street lined with mismatched cottages, you’ll suddenly find yourself confronted by a strange sight—two enormous boats that are just blocks away from the beach. These are the iconic Encinitas Boat Houses built by architect Miles Kellogg. Visiting this historical landmark is among Encinitas’ top things to do. Snap all the pictures next to these giant showstoppers that—despite having 19 portholes, mariner’s wheels, and a starboard—have actually never been to sea. They stand proud as an example of “courtyard architecture”, a movement popularized by the famous architect.

Weird Things to Do in Encinitas with your Friends

More than 75 vendors gather every week to sell fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, and fragrant flowers at the Leucadia Farmers Market.

14. Check out the Leucadia Farmers Market

Spend the day basking in the flavors of more than 75 vendors at the Leucadia Farmers Market—one of the best things to do in Encinitas, California. A must-visit farmers market in California, this spot makes grocery shopping fun. From fresh flowers to baked goods, this market is flooded with visitors every Sunday—don’t forget to get your hands on local honey on your way out.

15. Kiteboard at Cardiff State Beach

For those looking for fun in the sun, Cardiff State Beach is an excellent option. Sunbathing, swimming, and surfing are regular activities at this Encinitas gem, but if you want to do something extra-special on a beach day with your friends, kiteboarding is the answer. Feel the wind in your hair as you rise with the waves, and tick off another item from your California bucket list. Ride and glide across the warm SoCal waters, with gear provided by nearby water sport shops.

A golfing experience at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course is what you need for a relaxing afternoon with magnificent coastal views.

16. Tee off at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course

Kicking it back with a few rounds of golf has never been as scenic an experience than at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course. Perched atop bluffs overlooking the ocean, this spectacular location boasts five sets of tees and unmatched views of the Pacific. The front 9 of the 18 holes are known for being exceptionally forgiving to beginners. The elevation changes throughout the course, presenting exciting new challenges.

17. Grab a Bite at The Bier Garden of Encinitas

After you’re done splashing around and enjoying everything Encinitas has to offer, swing by The Bier Garden of Encinitas for a snack. Everything about this local eatery set inside a beautiful and historic building is quintessentially SoCal. Try their short rib corn nachos—an all-time local favorite—prepared with mango salsa, tomato sauce, and served with a side of tortilla chips.

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