Just north of Solana Beach lies a beach town with it’s own unique flair. Recently named among the 20 best surf towns in the world by National Geographic, Encinitas wears its surf history proudly. Located along six miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, Encinitas is an unspoiled reminder of the historic Highway 101 beach culture that thrived in the mid-1900s.
The city’s eclectic downtown has long drawn surfers and hippies with its unique and dynamic blend of San Diego’s top surf shops, coffeehouses and record stores, not to mention the beaches in Encinitas are coveted by locals as hidden gems.
Below are some fun things to do as you head just a couple miles up the coast.
Encinitas Boat Houses
The S.S. Encinitas and S.S. Moonlight, collectively dubbed the “boat houses,” are located at 726 and 732 3rd Street. Local architect Miles Minor Kellogg paid homage to his sea captain father by creating the Encinitas Boathouses in 1928, using the reclaimed and recycled lumber from a landmark nightclub.
San Diego Botanic Garden
Established in 1970, San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG) is a 37-acre urban oasis that creates, shares and applies plant wisdom with people of all backgrounds, ages and interests. The Garden’s four miles of trails display more than 5,000 plant species and varieties, including 300 plants for which SDBG is the only garden maintaining a population. SDBG has 15 gardens that represent different regions of the world, 12 demonstration gardens, and the largest public bamboo collection in North America. SDBG has three children’s gardens, including its flagship, one-acre Hamilton Children’s Garden, the largest kids’ garden on the west coast.
La Paloma Theater
Opened in 1928, the La Paloma was one of the first theaters to show “Talkies” and has hosted many a Hollywood celebrity (Mary Pickford attended the opening gala) and performers from Jerry Garcia, Eddie Vedder and Timothy Leary to Jay Leno, as well as premiering countless surf films.
The downtown Encinitas shopping district is more than 100 years old. Today, the historic buildings house boutique shops and sidewalk cafes, where shoppers can find treasures old and new. Visit “Downtown by the Beach” for charming cafes, retro coffee shops, decadent bakeries, unique treat shops and bistros and award winning restaurants.
Downtown Encinitas has more than 80 retail shops. You will discover everything from charming specialty shops, to clothing and jewelry, music, hardware, home furnishings and great gifts from all over the globe.
Every seat in the two-story Pacific Coast Grill
has a view of the ocean. Choose from the fresh seafood, oyster bar, fresh ground premium beef burgers and best-selling lobster tacos, plus world-class margaritas.
Vigilucci’s Trattoria Italiana
serves authentic Italian cuisine in a coastal location with dog-friendly patio seating that provides a wonderful opportunity to people-watch on Highway 101.
Located in the historic Santa Fe Railroad Station of 1888, the Pannikin Coffee & Tea
is a long-time popular hangout, as much for the lack of wireless internet as the coffee, tea and café food.
A Stubbs staff favorite, Bier Garden
has cute decor, friendly staff and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With over 20 rotating draft beer taps, cocktails crafted with care and southern California-inspired fare with something everyone can enjoy, including allergy-sensitive options. Plenty of outdoor seating to check out the scene on the 101.
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