Encinitas will forever be the perfect beach town. With its palm-lined streets, easy going attitude, great burrito shops, and perfect beaches, this place couldn't embody the Southern California lifestyle any better. When I lived in Del Mar, just a couple coasts down from Encinitas, I found myself making the 15 minute drive up the 101 to the coastal town on a weekly basis.
I frequented Encinitas not because it was a "perfect beach town" but rather because it was something different and all it's own. It is a place reverberating with artistic energy and a sense of limitlessness. It's a place where you can be a hippie, a rebel skater, a chic fashionista, or a food connoisseur. In all my trips up the coast I was able to explore whichever side of myself I wanted that day, all in the company of the glistening Pacific Ocean and it's salty breath. Encinitas is truly a place to discover on your own, but here are some of my favorite places that kept me going back all those years.
Where to Eat
Casual Eats --
This is the place to go if you find yourself in two situations: 1) You have been at the beach all day, have sandy feet, don't feel like putting on real clothes, and need something delicious and warm to fill your empty stomach; or 2) It's late at night and that ritzy dinner, which consisted of a lentil in the middle of a huge white plate, left you with an empty stomach two hours later. Whatever the situation, this is the place to get the best pizza in town! Plus, with their combo of two slices and a drink for $5, it's a total steal!
Tip: It is located in the Seaside Village shopping center so make sure to look carefully because it's hidden behind big name restaurants.
A great place for a hearty breakfast and satisfying your sweet tooth in the morning. It's old-fashioned style and quaint feel give the restaurant a certain charm that brings in lines of people out the door on Sunday mornings. More than it's charming style, their slew of pancake flavors and "Dutch Baby" (pictured below) make it a local favorite.
This is definitely one of the most well known cafes in Encinitas and it's neighboring Cardiff By The Sea neighborhood. Literally right off the 101, this roadside dive welcomes visitors with umbrella'd tables, vegan dishes, healthy burritos, and surfing stickers covering the walls. Their Açaí Bowl with homemade granola, raspberries, bee pollen, strawberries, coconut, bananas, and blueberries is the best I have ever had. Also, make sure to get their "Grasshopper" juice... it will make you feel like a whole new person.
Absolutely the best donuts and pastries in all of San Diego County! From the outside, this place looks like a typical bakery with a large glass display and some outdated machinery in the back; however, their old fashioned methods prove to be best. Not going to say I haven't been in the store at it's opening time of 5am! Plus, they offer more than just donuts. Their bakery makes stunning and polished cakes that are sure to be the hit of any wedding, shower, or birthday party.
What to Do
Shop at Home -- No I am not suggesting you go online shopping... Home is the coolest vintage store around. This is not the place to load up on J.Crew steals but a place where you can find cool dresses, chunky boots, vintage Levi shorts, old band t-shirts, and the infamous "Home" tee (a favorite of John Lennon). Everyone needs a classic band tee-- even if your wearing it under a blazer!
Watch a Movie at La Paloma Theatre -- This historic theatre located on the 101 is a trademark of Encinitas. Opened in 1928, this was one of the first theaters to show "talkies", and originally made the transition from silent films with its own beautiful pipe organ. Today, you can catch the Rocky Horror Picture Show, surf videos, cultural events, and the latest movies at the theatre. Just drive by and read what's playing on their outside display!
Play Volleyball at Moonlight Beach
Moonlight Beach is a hidden gem that not many tourists know about so this is a great place to escape the crowds and play a game of pickup volleyball. This smaller beach also offers bonfire pits so you can stay and enjoy the beach long after the sun goes down.
Tip: Be sure to reserve a bonfire pit early on as they go fast. Also, try to avoid a bonfire bash on a Friday or Saturday because there are usually a ton of local high school students having a bonfire of their own during weekend nights.
Where to Stay and Entertain
The best way to experience the Encintas lifestyle is by renting your own estate in the area so you can truly live like a local. Plus, because Encinitas offers so many fun activities and great places to eat, hosting a weekend long event at your own estate would work perfectly!
One of my favorite estates in Encinitas is the Spanish-inspired Casa Miel. This hacienda style estate features stunning stunning patios and manicured gardens throughout. The stunning hacienda offers beautiful photo opportunities because of its rustic yet sophisticated charm.
For example, take look at this couple's beautiful shot at the estate. Their romantic and feminine theme worked perfectly with the estate's amorous air and rustic swing set, which hangs from a grand oak in the entry way.
Different from all the other estates, the sprawling hacienda style allows for little pathways leading to different garden areas, a pool, and even a private tennis court.
Finally, Casa de Miel is completed by the details! I love the antique doors throughout the estate.
Encinitas is a place to discover what you love because of all the different activities and food it offers. Hosting an event or even just getting away for the weekend with friends and family will prove to be an unique adventure!
What is Encinitas to you? If you are not yet familiar with the town, tell us what type of suggestions you'd like to see more of!