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Your Complete Guide: Things to See & Do in Encinitas

a view of a beach next to a body of water

San Diego, California is a city known for its overwhelming beauty. One of the small towns that contributes to this reputation is Encinitas. Other than being a leading grower of poinsettias, Encinitas is well known for being one of the best surf towns in America as a result of its great surf and quirky personality. The picturesque coastline is what attracts visitors and the list of fun things in Encinitas is what makes them locals. Check out our list of 9 things to do in Encinitas below to start planning your next vacation!

San Diego Botanic Garden. Leave it to the city known for its blooming poinsettias to have the most sought after botanic garden. The entire garden is four miles long and every square inch exudes natural beauty. Its unique layout is the reason why it’s the first recommendation on what to do in Encinitas. Along the four mile stretch, you will observe every different type of environment: tropical jungles, bamboo forests, dry deserts, you name it. In each of these different environments, you will be able to see firsthand all of the different elements in nature thriving according to their landscape. In the desert, there are succulents. In the jungle, there is a waterfall. In the bamboo forest, there is the largest collection of bamboo in the country. The San Diego Botanic Garden is truly a sight to see!

Whale Watching. In addition to Encinitas being the home of the largest bamboo collection, it is also near the best whale watching location. From Encinitas, you are able to witness whale spouts from afar due to the gray whale migration moving through San Diego. Luckily, being so close, it is quick and easy to hop on over for some San Diego whale watching! On a single whale watching excursion, you can expect to see a gray whale, a minke whale, a humpback whale, a fin whale and all 4 types of dolphins, sea birds and sea lions. Whale watching season in San Diego is typically from mid-December to April. Towards the end of the season, whale watchers are able to witness female gray whales with their calves traveling north.

Moonlight Beach. Moonlight Beach is the reason why Encinitas is known for its great surf. When it comes to fun things in Encinitas, activities centered around these gorgeous coastlines is to be expected. The beach itself is sandy and wide, which is perfect for every beach activity, whether it be picnicking, building sand castles, playing beach volleyball or just laying out. What makes Moonlight Beach even more beloved is it’s an incredible location for water activities such as swimming, snorkeling and even surf fishing! In addition, the beach has an area with a snack bar and a place to rent beach equipment.

Swami’s Beach. Another incredible beach in Encinitas that boasts the best surfing in the country is Swami’s Beach. Swami’s Beach is great for experienced surfers and even better for observers since there are cliffs with a great view. On top of these cliffs is a park with benches and the perfect area to picnic with family and friends. An iconic wooden staircase that leads down to the ocean. A fun activity to do when the tide isn’t too high is to walk along the beach to San Elijo State Beach or Swami’s Cafe.

Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage and Meditation Gardens. The sleepy town of Encinitas is the perfect location for a weekend getaway to relax and unwind. If that is the main priority, the Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage and Meditation Gardens is the perfect place for you. The fellowship is a non-profit spiritual organization started by leading yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda. If you take a walk along the grounds, it leads to a temple where you can indulge in yoga lectures, meditation and Sunday School. In addition, it has the perfect view of Swami’s Beach right below.

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve spans up to 1,000 acres and boasts the title of one of the county’s largest remaining coastal wetlands. You are able to hike along the reserve on trails to witness the beautifully preserved wildlife. The reserve is maintained by the County of San Diego Parks & Recreation. The rangers even operate the nature center, which is a location on site that provides information on the lagoon and the history behind it. In addition, fun activities are hosted at the nature center.

Leucadia Farmers Market. The Leucadia Farmers Market is known to be one of the best farmers markets in Southern California. There is fresh food and produce from over 75 vendors where you can find the most organic ingredients for everything up to pasta sauces and marinades. There is even a playground for kids with stations for face painting and games!

Cardiff State Beach. Last but certainly not least, Cardiff State Beach is yet another must-see beach in Encinitas, California. It is run by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which is how it stays so clean and well-preserved. This beach is the perfect location for laying out and surfing; in addition, there is a place to rent any gear you may need for water activities. What makes Cardiff State Beach stand out is it has tide pools up and down the coast for general observation or even guided tours.

Cal Pacific Orchid Farm. Encinitas may be known for being the leading grower of poinsettias, but it also has an unbelievable orchid farm as well! The orchid farm is 36,000 square feet and holds over 100 different orchids. Upon visiting, you will be able to observe orchids at every stage in the process of blooming and also unique orchid arrangements. The workers at Cal Pacific Orchid Farm are extremely passionate about what they do, and you will learn the best tips on plant care.