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Twenty-five miles north of San Diego, a small beach town lays nestled into the California coastline. It’s a town where it seems like everyone knows each other, yet there are new opportunities waiting around every corner.
Once the misty marine layer burns off mid-morning, Encinitas opens itself up to observation. We decided to spend a weekend there, getting to know the ins and outs of this local gem.
Here’s how to spend a weekend in a beach town that will linger on your mind long after you’ve left its borders.
By car, by train, by plane: Encinitas is accessible to most modes of transport. It’s about 40 minutes from the San Diego International Airport, if you’re flying in. It sits just off the I-5, and is easily accessible by car as well.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for the ultimate Encinitas experience, you’ve got to stay at the Surfhouse Hotel. Opened in 2017, the boutique hotel is an ode to the ocean and adventures that define the surf town.
Impeccable design that blends the natural elements and colors of the surrounding area, blended with a varied selection of activities, including surf lessons, SUPing, as well as local recommendations on where to get the best cup of coffee (Coffee Coffee is literally across the street and their croissants are heavenly.)
What to do
8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Surf Beacons. A mellow break a five-minute walk from the hotel. It’s a popular spot, but if you walk a bit south, there are less crowded waves perfect for beginners. Surfhouse has a quiver of Firewire surfboards as well as soft tops for guests to borrow.
11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.: Clean off from the morning spent in the waves. Take advantage of the outdoor shower Surfhouse has to offer – you’ll feel like you were transported to a tropical island.
12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.: After surfing, you’re going to be starving. Take a half-mile walk south to Mozy’s Café – reggae vibes and health food come together in this bright and plant-filled café. We recommend the breakfast burritos, as well as a smoothie for good measure.
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Walk around the neighborhood and check out the boutique shops, cute alleyways, and everything the Leucadia neighborhood has to offer. One of our favorites is Surfy Surfy. Connected to Coffee Coffee, the surf shop is owned by locals and houses everything you could want or need to get in the water.
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Grab a few of the bikes Surfhouse keeps for guests, and take them out for a spin. Ride downtown, and then head to Swami’s Beach for a sunset/surf watch. Swami’s is one of the most popular beaches in the area, and a great place to people-watch.
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.: Grab a happy hour beer at Regal Seagull. Tucked just off the 101, it’s the perfect divey spot to grab a few beers and relax after your active day. If you’ve got a big appetite, try one of their hot dogs before dinner, or make a mental note to head back the next day.
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Dinner is at Fish 101. It has to be. When you’re staying so close to the ocean you can practically feel the waves lapping at the foot of your bed, you need to eat fresh fish, and there’s no place in town like Fish 101.
9:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.: Grab a glass of wine from Solterra Winery, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Surfhouse Hotel. The atmosphere is relaxed, and you will be too after trying a few of their varietals.
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.: Sleep in a little bit. You deserve it. When you’re rested, Meditation gardens start off the day on a peaceful note.
*Alternate plan: Wake up early, and go on a SUP adventure with Paddle Planet, which works with Surfhouse to give guests private lessons and SUP sessions.
10:30 a.m.: Head to gather yoga studio, part of a new Encinitas collective that merges all the bohemian/ modern vibes you could want into one thoughtfully-designed location.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: After you’ve worked up another appetite, head down the road to Taco Stand for lunch. There’s always a line, but don’t be put off by that; it moves quickly, and the food is most definitely worth the wait.
2:30 p.m.: Walk over to La Paloma Theatre from Taco Stand and check the showings. The theatre is an Encinitas institution, and plays a mix of new releases and older classics. If you time it right, catch the Sunday afternoon matinee.
After that, grab one more coffee from Coffee Coffee for the road, and your weekend in Encinitas is complete.
All photos by Katie Rodriguez
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