Few other places in Southern California can surpass or even equal the magic and effortless elegance of Encinitas. From the unspoiled beaches to the stylish ocean-view mansions, the city marries sophisticated living with the action-packed San Diego North County lifestyle.
Encompassing over 18.81 square miles of land along the Pacific, Encinitas is defined by a rugged coastline featuring gorgeous beaches, endless rolling hills, steep cliffs, and mesa bluffs overlooking the ocean.
While the exciting landscape and endless beaches are perfect for outdoor lovers, Encinitas’s vibrant cultural scene appeals to those who love the more refined things in life. The city’s population of around 62,700 includes numerous creatives, from designers and artists to musicians and actors, who provide the community with an array of live performances, exhibits, public art displays, and more.
And there’s the fabulous shopping and dining to cap it all. You’ll find a wide variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes in historic and modern neighborhood hubs. The scenic waterfront Main Street is a retail and dining haven where the views and unhurried pace make for a truly relaxing respite from the daily grind.
The name “Encinitas” comes from the Spanish “Encinita Canada”, which means Hills of Live Oaks. Baja, California Governor Gaspar de Portola is credited for giving the city its name in the 1600s, after the numerous oak trees that blanketed the hills in those early days.
Jabez Pitcher is widely recognized for founding the city in 1881, filing a land claim from the Mexican government for over 160 acres of land where the present-day Civic Center is located.
Today, there are fewer oak trees in Encinitas, but the city remains rooted to its agricultural past and is known for its coveted poinsettias and bulb flowers. Local growers spearheaded soil and hybridization experiments in the 1920s to much success.
The opening of the Del Mar Racetrack in 1937 brought the Jet-Set to Encinitas and the rest of North San Diego County. In the 1960s and 70s, local inns and motels like Beacon Inn in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Log Cabin Apartments in Leucadia attracted celebrities like Sammy Davis, Jr., Desi Arnaz Jr., Bette Davis, Betty Grable, and Liberace.
While founded over 100 years ago, the city only incorporated on October 1, 1986. Historic Encinitas combined with four other districts to make up the new city, which soon became one of the most desirable places to live in the United States.
Over the years, famous residents have included Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, rock guitarist Joe Walsh, Jaws actor Richard Dreyfuss, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, and professional snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
Encinitas is nestled in the northern portion of San Diego County, approximately 26 miles north of the City of San Diego and 95 miles south of Los Angeles.
It is a city surrounded by water, with the Pacific Ocean bordering it to the west, and the San Elijo Lagoon and the Batiquitos Lagoon serving as its southwest and northern borders respectively.
Encinitas is flanked by other popular Southern California beach cities, including Carlsbad and Oceanside to the north, and Solana Beach and Del Mar to the south. Other nearby communities include San Marcos, Vista, and Escondido.
The city comprises five main neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor and character:
The birthplace of the city, Historic Encinitas is a beachside community with numerous businesses and an eclectic mix of housing styles.
A newer district with upscale homes and its own golf course and shopping center, New Encinitas has a more suburban feel than the rest of the city.
This oceanfront community features single-family homes and condominiums perched on hillsides, as well as popular surfing spots, campgrounds, and a small downtown area.
An area known for its old downtown, quaint shops and restaurants, and streets lined with mature eucalyptus trees, Leucadia is a hip neighborhood where surfing is the main passion.
This semi-rural area on the eastern section of the city is known for its equestrian tradition, historic landmarks, and luxury country lifestyle.
Bring your A-game when buying a home in this city. Thanks to its desirable location, amazing lifestyle, and unmistakable prestige, real estate in Encinitas is always in great demand. Homes for sale typically receive multiple offers, and about 30% sell for up to 1% or more above their list price.
Encinitas, CA home values have stayed strong over the last few years, with Redfin reporting a year-over-year increase of more than 2% in sales-to-list price ratio. If you’re looking to buy or invest in a prime property, you will not be disappointed with what Encinitas has to offer.
Homes in the city are mostly single-family properties, but condos, townhomes, and multifamily homes also make up a significant part of real estate here. There’s plenty of vacant land available for development or for building your dream home from the ground up.
Waterfront luxury homes command multimillion dollar prices, but with great beach access, beautiful designs, and stunning views, they are well worth every dollar you pay.
You will find a good mix of older and new construction homes, and this means a wealth of architectural styles reflecting the changing trends in different eras. Classic ranch, Mediterranean, Spanish Revival, Art Deco, and contemporary are just a few of the styles that make up the diverse housing stock.
Encinitas, CA homes typically feature seamless indoor-outdoor living, allowing residents to fully enjoy the surrounding views and year-round California sunshine. Many homes come with spacious and fully furnished decks and patios where residents can entertain friends and family for much of the year because of the temperate climate. Balconies and wrap around porches are also popular features.
Premium appliances like Wolf ranges and Sub-Zero fridges will bring out the chef in you. Other high-end features like oak flooring, French doors, and sliding glass doors give Encinitas homes a luxurious and elegant feel.
According to PayScale, the cost of living in Encinitas, CA is 69% higher than the national median, with housing costs having the largest impact. However, the median income in the city is also higher than in most of the country. The typical resident makes $48,067 a year compared to the national median of $28,555 a year, based on data from Best Places.
The largest industry in Encinitas is the cultivation and sale of ornamental flowers, particularly poinsettias. Major employers in and around the area include Qualcomm, Illuminia, Scripps Research Institute, Caesar Entertainment, Kaiser Permanente, SeaWorld San Diego, and Barona Resort & Casino.
The city has also seen a job growth rate of 1.4% in recent years, making it a top destination for professionals in search of fresh opportunities.
Neighboring Carlsbad, CA is home to major golf manufacturing companies like Callaway Golf and Odyssey.
As in most of Southern California, Encinitas enjoys comfortable sunny weather almost all year-round. Average temperatures rarely dip below 40 and soar above 85. July, August and September are the most pleasant months. Overall, the city gets 263 days of sunshine on average. Along with the enviable location on the Pacific coast, the sunshiny weather makes Encinitas a popular destination for biking, hiking, surfing, and other outdoor activities.
The city has an exciting dining scene led by independently-owned restaurants and cafés. You’ll find a wide range of cuisines, including Mexican, American, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Thai, and more. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or need to stick to a special diet, you’re bound to find restaurants and eateries that cater to your preferences. But as a coastal city, Encinitas is best known for seafood, with restaurants serving freshly caught lobster, oysters, and other daily bounties from the sea.
In Encinitas, finding a great school for your kids is not a problem. The city is served by Encinitas Union School District (EUSD), where all nine schools have been formally recognized as California Distinguished Schools. The district provides quality education to an estimated 5,400 students in kindergarten to 6th grade.
The highest rated school in the area is Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary (OPE). Other schools include Flora Vista Elementary School, Ocean Knoll Elementary School, Paul Ecke-Central Elementary School, Capri Elementary School, and Park Dale Lane Elementary School
Getting around Encinitas and beyond is easy and convenient. The city is highly accessible via Interstate I-5, which connects it to all points north and south. Coastal Highway 101, which goes through the city, is an older north-south route that stretches along some of the most scenic places in California.
Encinitas is also served by Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and North County Transit District (NCTD), which offer safe and efficient bus services and rail transit. Ride sharing and carpool services are also available.
Amtrak, one of the biggest train services in the U.S., starts in South San Diego County, runs north through LA, and on to the North West states.
Other public transport options in Encinitas, CA include Breeze, Coaster, Sprinter, FLEX, and LIFT Paratransit.
Encinitas’s green parks are important to the active way of life in the city. Each main neighborhood boasts carefully maintained parks with a host of family-friendly amenities, including playgrounds, sports courts and fields, and picnic facilities. And if you love dogs, you’ll be happy to know that Encinitas has more dog parks than most other cities in North County San Diego.
Encinitas’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department maintains around 18 parks, including three sports parks.
The newly built Encinitas Community Park in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is the biggest sports park in the city, with 44 acres of recreational space for everyone in the family. It features the Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park, a skate park, multi-purpose fields, softball/baseball fields, picnic areas, and more.
Whether you’re single, a young family, or a retiree, you will never run out of things to do and places to see in Encinitas. No matter where your interests lie, this beautiful city has something to keep you busy and entertained any time of the year.
Spending time at Encinitas’s stunning beaches is the best thing to do in the area. Surfing is a passion for many residents, and the city often hosts professional and amateur surfers from around the world who come for the thrilling swells in Encinitas’s top surfing spots.
Encinitas’s mostly wide, sandy beaches are also the perfect spots for walking and jogging, or simply for hanging out and enjoying breathtaking sunsets.
The best beaches to visit include:
According to local lore, Moonlight Beach gets its name from moonshine and the rum-runners who frequented the area during the Prohibition. Here, you’ll find a sandy beach with volleyball nets, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a children’s playground. This iconic beach offers swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and surf fishing opportunities.
This popular surf spot features a park perched on top of a cliff that commands sweeping views of the beach and the Pacific. From Swami’s Park, you can easily access the ocean and go on a beach walk.
Cardiff State Beach
This beach is known for its tide pools, where you can spot starfish, sea cucumbers, and other sea creatures at low tide. The rest of the beach is popular for sunbathing and beach combing.
Encinitas is nicknamed the “Flower Capital of the World” because of its exquisite gardens and nurseries, as well as for being the top grower of poinsettias in the world. Some of the local families have been growing ornamental flowers for generations and are fighting to keep California’s flower tradition alive.
You can visit these beautiful gardens and flower farms to bask in the beauty of the blooms and support Encinitas’s long tradition of flower growing.
San Diego Botanical Garden
Rediscover the city’s pastoral past when you visit the garden, where you’ll find a wide variety of flowering trees, fruit trees, succulents, waterfalls, and the largest bamboo exhibit in the U.S. There’s also a children’s playground and tree house for the little ones.
Cal Pacific Orchid Farm
This family-owned farm features a massive greenhouse with hundreds of orchid species from around the world.
Formerly owned by the Ecke family, Ecke Ranch is the largest producer of poinsettias today and is credited for developing numerous poinsettia varieties. You can visit the ranch during the holiday season when it’s open to the public for a limited period.
The lagoons and wetlands that flank Encinitas offer many opportunities for nature exploration and bird and wildlife watching, whether through guided tours or peaceful hikes.
San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve
This natural area harbors one of the largest coastal wetlands in San Diego County, with miles of scenic hiking trails and hundreds of species of birds and native plants.
Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation
One of the few remaining tidal wetlands in Southern California, Batiquitos Lagoon also features walking trails where dogs on leash are welcome. Fishing is allowed in a designated site for those with a fishing license.
There’s always an art exhibit or live performance to enjoy in Encinitas. Or you can simply walk around the city and marvel at the stunning street murals and public art that are on display everywhere.
Here are a few of your options:
In addition to offering dance classes to kids and adults, the Encinitas Ballet Studio also stages performances of popular ballets like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.
San Dieguito Heritage Museum
Opened in 1988, the local museum showcases artifacts, photos, and records documenting the rich history of the area. They also facilitate interactive activities that include bartering, churning butter, and building a homestead to shed light on how Encinitas’ earliest known settlers lived.
Lux Art Institute
The museum features art exhibits, sculpture installations, and an open studio where guests can witness artists’ creative process first-hand. They also host community events like yoga classes and other programs.
La Paloma Theatre
This iconic movie theater first opened its doors in 1928 when silent movies were the rage. Today, it continues to show acclaimed indie films and is a popular venue for live performances.
Murals and other public art
You’ll find murals on almost every street corner of Encinitas. Public art is also exhibited in parks, buildings, schools, and other locations. Some pieces have become local icons, including the Cardiff Kook or The Magic Carpet Ride bronze sculpture in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and the giant Surfing Madonna mosaic in Leucadia.
Encinitas Ranch Golf Course
This premium resort and golf property features an 18-hole golf course with open fairways and five sets of tees. The property also has a 6,000-foot clubhouse with an on-site bar and café.
Leucadia Farmers Market
Shop for fresh produce, flowers, and baked goods every Sunday at the local farmers market, which has over 75 vendors and a children’s playground.
If you think Encinitas, CA should be your next home, get professional real estate guidance from Mickey Booz, Tina Polansky and Associates. Our team has over 18 years of real estate experience and was ranked the #1 top-producing large team for Coldwell Banker in San Diego County in December, 2020 and February, 2021. We are also a Sterling Society awardee, having made it to the Top 11% of the top Realtors for Coldwell Banker International.
We continuously find new ways to provide the best possible service to our clients and cater to their unique, individual needs. We are members of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, as well as of Million Dollar Guild. We have a GREEN Certification from the National Association of Realtors and we are Certified Negotiation and Marketing Experts. We use our exceptional marketing and refined negotiation skills to help you secure the best deals.