I love my hometown: Encinitas, California. It’s absurd I’ve never posted about it before.
For the past decade, I’ve made San Francisco my home. But with my close friends and family still living in San Diego, I visit often. Who wouldn’t want to hop on that quick flight when beautiful beaches, warm weather, pitaya bowls, THE BEST Mexican food, epic hikes, and a laid-back, carefree atmosphere are waiting at your fingertips??
So on my latest trip, I decided to document all of my favorite things to do, eat, and see in Encinitas, and share it with you fine folks.
1. Swami’s Beach
I love so many of the beaches in San Diego, but my hands-down favorite is Swami’s Beach. Two of my other favorite beaches, Stone Steps and Moonlight, are also in Encinitas, with Powerhouse Park in Del Mar and Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla rounding out my top five.
Swami’s has a grassy area up top with picnic tables, gorgeous cliff views, a tucked-away beach reachable by glute-kicking stairs, a surf break loved by the local surfers, and tide pools with all kinds of creatures to explore.
I love to come here any time of day: a morning run along the beach followed by an acai bowl (see #2), an afternoon laying out and swimming in the ocean, or an evening stroll to catch the sunset up on the cliffs. It’s got a chilled-out, bohemian vibe and good eats just steps away.
Just south of Swami’s are the San Elijo State Beach Campgrounds. If I start my walk or run at Swamis, I head south along Highway 1 for a long stretch of unobstructed ocean views and then pass through the campgrounds. I’ll make sure to check out the Cardiff Kook statue, which is always decorated in some crazy fashion. On my return run back, I soak in the smell of Mexican food at the Bull Taco shack at the top of the beach cliffs just inside the campground entrance.
2. Beach Day Eats
After my morning beach workout, I wander across the street from Swami’s Beach to Swami’s Cafe. You’ll find smoothie bowls and breakfast burritos at this local spot with a quirky inside decor and colorful outdoor umbrellas. I often get my food to go and bring it back to Swami’s beach to eat.
Just a few doors down is Good On Ya, an organic eatery boasting delicious wraps, salads and smoothies, kombucha on tap, and all sorts of other funky good-for-you-stuff like adaptogen shots, hemp milk, grass-fed collagen and bone broth.
One of my family’s favorites, just a little further north in The Lumberyard, is St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro. If we’ve done a group run and are looking for a heartier meal, we’ll head here and chow down in their outdoor patio. Crepes, omelettes, pastries, quiche, croque madame, you name it, YUM! It is hippie Encinitas, though, so they also serve acai bowls and other healthy options.
And if you’re being really naughtly, head on over to VG Donut & Bakery for ridiculously cheap — but-oh-so-delicious — donuts and more.
3. Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens
The golden-spired Self Realization Fellowship building is an iconic Encinitas symbol. I particularly love when it’s lit up during the holiday season. Regardless if you’re religious or not, SRF opens up its beautiful meditation gardens to the public every Tuesday through Sunday. The gardens have some of the best ocean views, coupled with colorful plants, koi ponds, the soothing sound of bubbling water, and shady recesses. I often bring a book, a sketchpad to draw, or just simply sit in peace in a quiet nook and enjoy the views.
4. Happy Hour & Dinner
Las Olas in Cardiff is my go-to authentic Mexican food spot. Whether it’s grabbing happy hour margaritas and chips after a hot day at the beach, or plunking down for an incredibly delicious dinner, I always find a way to sneak in a stop here. I love the super beach-y decor with surfboards on the walls and a palapa-covered bar. It’s right by the water, so if the wait is long, you can order your margs or local craft beer and wander out front to watch the sun go down.
Newer to the seen is Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, and I have not been disappointed yet with a breakfast or dinner here. Hello yumminess to their butternut squash mac n’ cheese or their Best Darn Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll. Definitely worth a try.
Trattoria i trulli is one of my favorite Italian spots, which is great for a family dinner or a date night. It’s a cozy “mom and pop” operation with rich Italian dishes. You’ll sleep well after a night here!
5. San Diego Botanic Gardens
My family has a membership to the San Diego Botanic Gardens, and one of my friends had her wedding in this beautiful setting. It’s a family-friendly place with a children’s garden, and there is always something going on, from summer camps and classes to a chocolate festival. We always attend during the Christmas season for their Garden of Lights display, complete with sleigh rides, hot cider, and Christmas carols.
I hope you enjoyed discovering the top things to do in my hometown. Cheers!