Things to See & Do in Encinitas California
Food & Drink
Pacific Coast Grill (Encinitas, California)– You may as well have a view of the Pacific Ocean if you’re dining in Encinitas and every table in this two-story restaurant offers that! If you’re in the mood for seafood you will enjoy everything fresh, from a great oyster bar to lobster tacos. If you’d like meat, they have amazing premium beef hamburgers. Wash it all down with a fantastic margarita and you’re in heaven.
Vigilucci’s Trattoria Italiana (Encinitas, California)– For traditional Italian cuisine you can’t find anything to compare in Encinitas. Enjoy your pasta and veal picatta in what used to be the old Encinitas Hotel. If you don’t want to leave your puppy at home, just ask for patio seating overlooking Highway 101, a perfect spot for people-watching.
Pannikin Coffee & Tea (Encinitas, California)– You’ll find this charming little hangout in the Santa Fe Railroad Station that goes way back to 1888. It’s been a popular spot among locals for many years and especially now as they can avoid the laptop crowd since there is no wireless Internet access. The café food is great, and so is the coffee and tea!
Interesting Encinitas Activities
San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center – This is an eco-friendly exhibit, located where 40% of North American birds fly over on their yearly migrations. It features a collection of “green” amenities and the admission is free. Visitors can participate in interactive activities or view the exhibits, which have to do with the environment, our ecosystem, the history of lagoons and the building’s interesting “green” components. You can also take a guided nature walk, which is offered every Saturday at 10:00 AM.
San Diego Botanic Garden – This spectacular garden has about 4,000 different types of plants from around the world. It covers more than 37 acres with all kinds of exhibits, including the largest collection of rare bamboo groves in the U.S., as well as a tropical rainforest, subtropical fruit garden, desert gardens, an undersea garden with succulents, Mediterranean climate landscapes and the interactive Hamilton Children’s Garden, which is the largest one of its kind on the West Coast.
Moonlight State Beach – In the early 1900s the locals used to picnic here at midnight so this is how the beach got its name. Today the beach is mainly a place where families come to play tennis, volleyball and sunbathe. There is a snack bar and a little shop for renting recreational equipment. At night you can enjoy the fire rings and barbecue your dinner or just have a post-sunset bonfire.
Swami’s Beach – A favorite location for surfers in the area, which was forever immortalized in the Beach Boys’ song, “Surfin’ USA”. You may have to wait your turn if you want to take in the waves, otherwise just enjoy looking down at the surfers from a bluff at the top of the hill where there is a little park overlooking the beach.
Downtown Encinitas – The shopping district in downtown is over a century old and full of old historic buildings that house sidewalk cafes, interesting little shops full of treasures new and old.
La Paloma Theatre – Nearly a century old, having opened it’s doors in 1928, this was among the very first theatres to feature “Talkies”. Many a Hollywood celebrity has been hosted here, including Mary Pickford (who attended the gala on opening night), Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, Eddie Vedder and Jay Leno. And of course this theatre has premiered countless surfing films.
The Self-Realization Fellowship – If you’re seeking serenity, this is the place to go. There are gardens for meditating, koi ponds and a view looking down on Swami’s Beach, which was named after the Golden Lotus Temple located high above it.
Historic Highway 101 – Enjoy a drive down the coast starting from Oceanside, a typical laid-back beach community down to the upscale town of La Jolla. You’ll see a wide array of diverse and lively communities that embrace the real essence of life in Southern California.
Special Events of Encinitas
Classic Car Nights – This is held on the 3rd Thursday of the month starting in June and lasting through September. You can see vintage hot rod cars, woodies and all kinds of other classic cars as they line Main Street. Bands play music from the 50s and 60s on three different stages, setting the mood for Rock ‘N Roll.
Wavecrest – This event is held at Moonlight Beach every year on the 3rd Saturday in September. It’s known as the “Grandaddy of all Woodie Meets”, and where every one meets up to show off their wood-paneled vehicles from yesteryear. It is without a doubt the largest gathering and the longest-running exhibit of this sort.
Arts Alive Exhibition – This is an annual outdoor event featuring original paintings, which are really great works of art. These paintings can be seen hanging from the light poles illuminating Highway 101 between the cities of Leucadia and Cardiff-by-the Sea. The banners are first unveiled in early February and hang there until May, when all of them get auctioned off.
Encinitas April Street Fair – Conducted every year over a span of two days during springtime, this is a family friendly event with arts’ and crafts’ vendors, rides for children, and an interesting array of food. The entire event is free for all ages and features five stages with groups playing live music.
Encinitas Fall Festival – This holiday street faire was established in 1989 featuring live entertainment performing on two separate stages, rides for the kids, 400 vendors offering food and shopping, along with 200 more local stores that specialize in antiques, arts & crafts, clothing and other items from across the globe.