Encinitas is a coastal town about 25 miles north of San Diego, sandwiched between Carlsbad to the north, Solana Beach to the south, the ocean (west, of course), and Rancho Santa Fe to the east.
The city was incorporated in 1986, covers about 20 square miles, and as of the 2017 census had a population of over 63,000. Encinitas has an international reputation as a flower capital (especially poinsettias), and a cruise around town will show you why this is so. You will find a decent number of nurseries although many have disappeared, being sold and turned into residential areas.
Encinitas is also the home of the San Diego Botanic Garden, a feast for the eyes if you are a plant lover, with a number of different fairs, festivals and special activities during the year (e.g., the Chocolate Festival, an Art Fair, the Festival of Lights over the holidays), including a 5K Paw Walk in the Garden.
Encinitas consists of several communities from which it was originally incorporated – Encinitas (which includes the downtown area) and sometimes referred to as Old Encinitas, Leucadia (the older, funky, surfing part of town to the north bordering Carlsbad), Olivenhain (to the east and bordering Rancho Santa Fe), Encinitas Ranch (a newer large subdivision with golf course), and Cardiff, or more formally Cardiff-by-the-Sea (to the south bordering Solana Beach, with a separate zip code but within the Encinitas town government).
Encinitas has a thriving downtown area, primarily south of Encinitas Boulevard along the Coastal Highway (Route 101) near the beaches. There is office space, along with numerous shops, clothing boutiques, multiple restaurants from casual to upscale, art galleries, and a wide range of services catering to residents, surfers, vacationers and others – just about everything you can imagine. Pacific Station offers a restaurant and upscale loft-style condos.
The Coaster (commuter train running between Oceanside and San Diego) also stops in downtown Encinitas (the Amtrak trains do not – head south to Solana Beach or north to Carlsbad or Oceanside to catch these).
The El Camino Real shopping corridor is a popular retail area to the east with lots of shopping, dining and services, north of Encinitas Boulevard. There are hundreds of retailers (e.g., Home Depot, Target, Office Max, TJMaxx,, HomeGoods, Best Buy, Staples, REI, among others), and several distinct shopping centers (e.g., Encinitas Town Center).
Restaurants vary widely in Encinitas, ranging from casual to fairly upscale. The downtown area along the Coast Highway has around 50 eateries, offering a broad range of America, California, and ethnic styles (Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, French). A favorite local hangout and one also popular with vacationers is Le Papagayo, in Leucadia.
The amenities of Carlsbad, including high-end dining at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (formerly the Four Seasons) and the Omni La Costa Spa and Resort, are a short distance away. Or head south a mile or so to Cardiff and take in one of the beach-front eateries along Route 101 and right on the beach offering fabulous views (e.g., Chart House, Pacific Coast Grill).
Encinitas Schools have an excellent reputation, a reason many residents have decided to reside here. There are two school districts for residents, plus students from neighboring communities in the upper grades: San Dieguito Union High School District and Encinitas Union School District.
Encinitas beaches are well-known by surfers (especially Swami’s) and non-surfers alike. No matter what your favored beach activity, you will likely find a place here that will feel just right.
Swamis, at the far southern end, is probably the best known surfing beach in the area. It is located below the bluff where the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple and Ashram Center was built back in 1937 – locals began calling the beach Swamis (it was originally named Noonans Beach) and the name stuck [this beach was immortalized by the Beach Boys’ famous hit, “Surfin’ USA”].
Heading north the next major beach is Moonlight Beach, perhaps the most activity friendly for all ages – it is popular with residents and vacationers, there are barbecue pits, picnic tables, beach volleyball areas, showers/changing rooms, a playground for kids, a snack bar and plenty of parking, plus handicapped access to the beach itself.
Other beaches to the north include Stone Steps, Beacon’s and Grandview (in Leucadia), all of which are popular with surfers and beach-goers alike and known for their views from the bluffs above.
Housing in Encinitas is fairly diverse – in style (cottage, contemporary, Tuscan, Spanish, Italian/Mediterranean, traditional, craftsman and so on), age, size and price, from a few hundred thousand and well into the millions for oceanfront homes.
There are beach cottages (some of which have been updated) and a couple of homes built to look like boats that are now preserved, bluff-top homes along Neptune Avenue (the most expensive area) with fabulous ocean views, expansive tract homes in Encinitas Ranch, funky houses in Leucadia mixed in with some of the newest subdivisions in Encinitas, larger homes on huge lots with room for horses in Olivenhain, and numerous condos and town-homes.
There are a good number of rental properties in the area for vacationers, as well as several mobile home parks and multiple small apartment buildings. There are also several 55+ communities for seniors.
There are a good number of subdivisions in Encinitas, both gated and ungated, and some have been built in just the last several years and may even still be under construction, including Mainhouse, Fiore and 1 Channel Island.
Village Park is a large neighborhood east of Encinitas Ranch offering a mix of housing (attached and detached homes , condos and apartments) and tending to be the least expensive area on average (e.g., High Country Villas, Summerhill).
Encinitas Ranch is a large community of newer tract homes, some of them quite large, many with views of the distant ocean or the Encinitas Ranch golf course.
Some other complexes include Pacifica, Nantucket, Sea Bluff (attached townhomes in Leucadia, some with direct ocean frontage), West Hampton Cove, Cambria, Rancho Encinitas, Palomare Heights, Sage Canyon, Sheridan Estates, Nautilus Cove, and Sandalwood.
An appealing coastal town in North San Diego County, Encinitas may be just the place for you, with a range of homes for sale, excellent schools, beautiful beaches, a booming downtown, and terrific weather year-round.