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Our Hometown Guide to 36 Can't Miss Spots in Encinitas

There’s a magical place, just north of downtown San Diego where Coast Highway 101 opens up to beautiful, sun-drenched sandy beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, then slows to encourage stops for sweet coffee spots, treasure troves of trendy and vintage shops as well as delicious high-end and street eats that feel like a California dream. And it is. Encinitas is a beautiful mix of 1960’s surf culture combined with the passion of creatives and dreamers pushing fashion, interior design, food and spirits forward. Here is an Insider’s Guide to Encinitas, one of the great quaint beach towns along the coast of Southern California.

Reporter: Katie Bush
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Where to Stay

Encinitas, California
Quality over quantity is the Encinitas approach to chic stays. Surf inspired rooms that are frill-free and full of contemporary comfort ensure your beach town getaway is laid back and completely chill. 
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Surfhouse learn more

For an intimate and curated North County stay, check out Surfhouse, a recently renovated boutique motel featuring eight surf inspired rooms nestled in the heart of Encinitas. It's beautifully done but minus a lot of the frills you’d get at a larger hotel - the real beauty is the location. Surrounded by some of the best shops and restaurants Encinitas has to offer, you’ll get a true North County experience here. Don’t forget to check out Surfhouse's sister company, aptly named "Surfhouse Adventures" which offers an all-inclusive week-long surf retreat experience or al la carte services such as surf lessons, yoga on the beach, local brewery beer tasting tours and more.
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Where to Shop

Encinitas, California
Find curated collectibles, local treasures and stunning style in the shops of Encinitas. From luxurious home pieces to coastal bohemian clothing, there's something for every personality.
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Lone Flag

Encinitas, California
Lone Flag is a “concept space dedicated to providing global access to premium contemporary menswear and lifestyle goods that are made well with a core emphasis on made in USA and made in Japan denim.” Expect incredibly well-made designs coupled with unparalleled service. In addition, they offer denim repair, accessories and coffee while you shop.
Photo: PopUp
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PopUp

Encinitas, California
While the name suggests a finite time frame, PopUp Encinitas is a vintage and handmade co-op we hope sticks around for infinity and beyond. Shop for beautiful Mexican blankets from Gunn Swain, mud cloth throws from Mesa Vintage, equipale chairs from Bohemian General, one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry pieces from Little Hobo Bird and of course, the go-with-everything bohemian pillows from Anaber Design among so many other treasures.
Photo: trune
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Seaweed & Gravel

Encinitas, California
Seaweed & Gravel is described as a “retail extension of the collective conscious of non-conforming-never-grow-up-weirdos.” The shop is a beautiful menagerie of new and vintage apparel, surfboards, custom & vintage motorcycles, handmade hats, accessories, home goodies, bonsai trees and loads of secret finds you need to discover for yourself.
Photo: UNIV
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UNIV

Encinitas, California
UNIV is a global brand for coastal denim and made in USA apparel and accessories influenced by the beach and surf culture with a more refined approach. The shop, located in downtown Encinitas also carries a variety of curated brands in addition to their own – think soft, handmade, Aloha shirts, boardshorts, hand woven t-shirts, bags and beautifully understated yet statement-making sneakers, shoes and accessories.
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Salt Culture

Encinitas, California
Salt Culture is located in a 1930’s beach cottage in the heart of Encinitas, owned and operated by local Sophie Machado, wife to surfing legend Rob. It is a beautifully curated boutique store that features women's and men's fashion as well as home decor. It’s a love letter to Sophie’s travels with goods reflective of the people she’s met and the cultures she admires while also being beautifully fashion forward.
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Surfy Surfy

Encinitas, California
Surfy Surfy Surf Shop is a small mom and pop (you guessed it, surfboard shop) that advertises their hours as “open after we drop the kids off at school and check the surf” and closes “when our wives say it’s time to come home.” It’s a shop to both purchase or admire surfboards built at family surfboard factory Moonlight Glassing. Made for surfers by surfers (called “Surfer Labor”) it's a laid-back, family oriented environment connected to Coffee Coffee next door.
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What to See + Do

Encinitas, California
You probably were drawn to Encinitas for the surf culture whether you consider yourself a certified grom or casual beach lounger. Beyond world class surfing and beautiful beaches, find gardens, walks and spas to wile away your day with.
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Swami's Meditation Gardens

Encinitas, California
For some of the absolute best views in San Diego, take a stroll through Swami’s Meditation Gardens, located within the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas. Whether you’re in need of a bit of self-reflection or simply want to wile away an afternoon meandering through a beautiful place with unbeatable views, don’t miss a browse at SRF Books & Gifts store.
Photo: colekincart
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San Diego Botanic Gardens

Encinitas, California
San Diego Botanic Gardens is a floral wonderland in the heart of Encinitas, boasting 29 themed gardens on over 37 acres. Bring your walking shoes and take a self-guided tour or simply stop at nearby Crack Shack and bring a picnic lunch into the secret Walled Garden. Make sure and check out their schedule of events during your stay as there’s everything from jazz nights to Fairy Festivals happening throughout the summer.
Photo:Four Moons Spa
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Four Moons Spa learn more

For a special, curated spa experience, make sure to book a service at the lovely Four Moons Spa. Four Moons offers traditional spa services, alternative healing experiences, a thoughtfully curated boutique, classes and workshops and events space. Located on stunning private grounds - globally inspired, natural design elements ignite familiarity of once traveled destinations. The space is comprised of several buildings encircling a large garden courtyard with traditional Balinese bales situated over a tranquil koi pond and waterfall. Guests will sip tea on outdoor daybeds amidst a coastal landscape of succulents and tropical palms.
 
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Where to Eat + Drink

Encinitas, California
Love beer but also a good, healthy meal? You've finally come to the right place. A mini beer mecca, craft coffee community and kitchen kaleidoscope, your taste buds (and body) will thank you. 
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Better Buzz Coffee Roasters

Encinitas, California
Boasting eight locations and a headquarters throughout San Diego, each Better Buzz is awash in beautiful surroundings like honeycomb tiled coffee bars and raw wood edged tables while serving beautiful coffee drinks, teas and freshly baked goods. A few blocks from Moonlight Beach on Coast Highway 101, stop in for something simple or fancy and leave with a smile.
Photo: northsdeats
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The Taco Stand

Encinitas, California
Let’s taco bout how Taco Stand is inspired by the street carts of Tijuana and the Baja Peninsula. Let’s also taco bout how it features handmade corn tortillas and freshest ingredients used to make to-die-for guacamole and salsas from scratch daily. Besides amazing tacos and burritos, they also have a great selection of Mexican flavored popsicles, refreshments, imported beer and freshly prepared Rosarito-style churros - essentially the best post-beach treats EVER.
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Saint Archer Brewing Co.

Encinitas, California
Saint Archer’s 57,000 square foot production facility may be located in the heart of San Diego’s craft beer scene in Miramar, but they recently opened a tasting room in Leucadia, mere minutes from Encinitas, to great fanfare from beer-loving locals. It’s an intimate setting at only 1,200 square feet, but it’s the perfect spot for a frosty brew after a day at Beacon’s Beach. With a selection of 30 beers on tap as well as cans, bombers and crawlers available to-go, it’s bound to satisfy any sandy suds lover.
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Birdseye Kitchen

Encinitas, California
Birdseye Kitchen is a small, secret spot boasting the beautiful, bold flavors of Thai, Lao and Vietnamese food as well as a charming, warm interior. Grab a seat at the beautifully tiled bar and enjoy house made pho prepared with grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chickens, or dig into fresh made curries prepared daily. Wash it all down with selections from the thoughtfully curated wine list and extensive craft beer list.
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Leucadia Donut Shoppe

Encinitas, California
Donut mind if we do! With a plethora of reviews boasting “the best donuts I’ve ever had,” Leucadia Donuts is a perfect place to stop and grab a sweet treat accompanied by a cup of Kona coffee. Nothing fancy here, open from 5:00a-12:30p, it’s only decor throwback surfing images and a surfboard on the walls. It is the warmth and scent of fresh-baked donuts made with heart each day that makes it a perennial local favorite.
Photo: Jim Sullivan
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The Crack Shack

Encinitas, California
Top Chef winner Richard Blais has adopted San Diego as his home away from home and brought with him Crack Shack, the undeniably most delicious place to grab fried chicken, eggs and cocktails. It’s a simple concept really, they’ve elevated chickens (and their eggs) to kingly status, believing a $12 chicken sandwich can be treated like a $90 roast chicken. Do not miss ordering the fried chicken despite whatever tempts your taste buds on the menu and be sure to pair it with border slaw, deviled eggs and mini biscuits with miso-maple butter for the most decadent picnic you can imagine.
Photo: Hayden Buck
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Hapifish Sushi

Encinitas, California
“C’mon get Hapi.” This beloved local sushi hotspot on the cusp of Encinitas and its northern sister, Leucadia, is all about that social “hapi hour” life. Boasting a beautiful patio, Hapifish is chock full of laid-back vibes, quick eats, a fabulous “hapi” hour and fresh cut sushi rolls just blocks from super popular Moonlight Beach. Insider tip: Hapi Hour runs all night on Wednesdays and is wonderful for large groups and families.
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URBN

Encinitas, California
A small, quaint spot on bustling Coast Highway 101 adjacent to a sweet art gallery is Urbn Pizza, serving craft pies, salads and beers on tap for lunch and dinner every day of the week. Pick a seat at the bar and create your own pie or try anything from the simple Margherita pie to the more adventurous Fresh Clam.
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Handel's Homemade Ice Cream

Encinitas, California
There’s not a time of day or night that you won’t find locals lined up around the block for a scoop or two of Handel’s Ice Cream. There’s a reason you’ll want to wait in line, since Handel's Homemade Ice Cream is made fresh every day on the premises. With an ever-rotating variety of flavors on the handwritten signs, indulge your sweet tooth in the creamiest ice cream around with additions like fresh nuts, creamy caramel, rich dark chocolate, fresh fruits or marshmallows.
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Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

Encinitas, California
A sweet and small shop on Coast Highway 101 in the heart of downtown Encinitas, just blocks from Moonlight Beach, Ironsmith Coffee Co. are purveyors of slow-roasted goodness, affable pop-up experiences and freshly baked goods.
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Priority Public House

Encinitas, California
A look good and feel good gathering space on North Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, Priority Public House is serving up delicious homemade eats, happy hours and beautiful brunches in a warm setting. Expect bottomless mimosas and biscuits and gravy for brunch and pop in for Tapas Tuesdays where small plates and live music reign from 6:30p-9p.
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Pannikin Coffee & Tea

Encinitas, California
You can’t miss the big yellow house on North Coast Highway 101, so pull over for Pannikin’s freshly roasted coffee, fine imported tea and fresh baked goods. Pick a spot under a sweet yellow umbrella, open up a newspaper and sip on a freshly roasted-for-you beverage.
Photo: msnancyma
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Fish 101

Encinitas, California
Pull up a seat at Fish 101 Restaurant on Coast Highway just north of Beacon’s Beach for superb oysters and the freshest seafood around, well-known and loved for their close relationships with local fishermen and farms. Open for lunch and dinner daily, expect fabulous fish tacos, seasonal vegetables and grilled fish plates along with a rotating selection of oysters, paired with your choice of six local craft beers, wine, kombucha and cold brew coffee on tap.
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Coffee Coffee

Encinitas, California
Coffee Coffee is a place you frequent if you live in the neighborhood or you just wish you did. Pick a spot on the patio under the beautiful Ipe tree and wile away an afternoon with conversation or a good book. Choose from a selection of fresh coffee hand roasted on the premises and delicious locally sourced teas accompanied by a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes made fresh to order.
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Culture Brewing Co.

Encinitas, California
Culture Brewing Encinitas is the third neighborhood tasting room of this beloved beer-slinging brand. It features 20 rotating Culture Brewing Co taps as well as a variety of events like monthly art shows, local pop-up shops, film premieres, fundraisers and more. A beautifully open space that allows the sweet sunshine in through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, it’s art-filled, curated and cool, reflecting that surf culture and laid-back lifestyle lived by locals.
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Solterra Winery & Kitchen

Encinitas, California
For a real, true winery experience without heading out to Temecula or Northern California, look no further than the beautiful concept that is Solterra Winery & Kitchen in Leucadia. There are two buildings on site, the tasting room that was built in 1957 and the new 3400 square foot building which is the winery. The concept was to respect the aesthetics of the original building but tie into it a new and more modern building for winemaking and barrel storage. Grab a glass and get a spirited education in the stunning open-air space, then stay for a beautiful meal comprised of rustic mediterranean flavors.
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Blue Ribbon Pizza

Encinitas, California
When a fine dining chef decided to try his hand at pizza, Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza, a North County staple, was born. If there’s such a thing as a California-style pizza, these 100% gluten free, seasonal pies with all kinds of indulgent ingredients would fit the bill. What to order: the Signature pie with Lemon EVOO, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, lemon zest, red onion & basil and share one or more of the delectable appetizers like deep fried brussel sprouts or the heirloom Wisconsin black seed popcorn topped with truffle salt and parmigiano reggiano.
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Lofty Coffee Co.

Encinitas, California
Lofty Coffee is a beautiful indoor/outdoor community space with locations throughout San Diego. Serving gorgeous hand-roasted coffee drinks and teas accompanied by freshly baked pastries and simple yet divine breakfast and lunch menu it's a lovely see and be seen casual patio.
Photo: Ania Zaroda
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Moto Deli

Encinitas, California
“No guts, no glory, no sandwich, no story.” Moto Deli is located in the spirited center of Leucadia, just north of Encinitas and is absolutely serious about making some delicious sandwiches. Insisting on the quality of each ingredient, you can be sure this motorcycle inspired deli will hand build you a sandwich superior to any other you’ve ever tried. Open everyday except Tuesdays, choose from options like the Hamachi Salad Sandwich or the fancier (and lighter, but equally delicious) salmon toast.
Photo: wildlykale
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EVE

Encinitas, California
Meander through downtown Encinitas and you’ll spot the beautiful turquoise awning of EVE, welcoming you into it’s lush foliage-filled embrace. From the overgrowth of beautiful greenery hanging from the ceiling to the vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily, it’s a plant-based experience. You'll find tasty, creative vegan cuisine, superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices, local kombucha and a relaxed community gathering space.
Photo: gabaccia
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The Roxy

Encinitas, California
The Roxy is a classic main street eatery located within a restored building in downtown Encinitas meant to evoke an ambiance reminiscent of the 1920’s. Cushy leather booths and mismatched glass light fixtures emit an amber glow, making it the perfect date night spot with live music 7 nights a week.

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge

Encinitas, California
Solace & the Moonlight Lounge is situated in Pacifica Station, a LEED certified center just off of historic South Coast Highway 101 and near Moonlight Beach. Best described as a creative blend of classic and modern American Cuisine, it’s a sweet, tucked away spot for a lovely lunch of oysters paired with sparkling wine or a delicious, grass-fed burger with house-cut crispy fries.
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SHELTER + Saloon

Encinitas, California
If you’re looking for hand-crafted cocktails, bottle service and curated interiors, The Historic Saloon isn’t for you. Open as of 1934, expect ice cold beer, straightforward cocktails, weathered floors, a great playlist and a darn good time.

If you’re looking for hand-crafted cocktails, bottle service and a retractable ceiling that allows the moon and the stars to illuminate beautiful interiors, SHELTER is for you. With ultra-comfortable elevated and comfy booths and a patio area featuring a large fire pit, SHELTER offers a wide array of specialty cocktails with everything from Mules in copper mugs to VIP Bottle Service in a private booth. While Encinitas may be peppered with dive bars, SHELTER is the alternative, a place to see and be seen without leaving North County.
 
Photo: norishious
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Umi

Encinitas, California
If Japanese comfort food and endless sake pours mere blocks from the beach sound simply perfect, pull up a chair at one of a handful of simple wooden tables at Umi. Located on Coast Highway 101, expect traditional Japanese tapas, ramen, small plates and sushi rolls accompanied by 20+ types of sake.
Photo: explorecoast
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The Lanai

Encinitas, California
For a lovely lunch of island grinds, head north to The Lanai Leucadia and indulge in fresh, authentic Hawaiian food. Get your fix of fresh fish caught daily, plate lunch, ahi poke, loco coco and kalua pork in a beautiful, community-based setting.
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Union Kitchen & Tap

Encinitas, California
Located at the mouth of downtown Encinitas, where open beach road becomes beautifully lined shops, Union Kitchen & Tap may have one of the best brunches in town. Serving beautifully prepared, locally sourced food in a fun, lively setting, do yourself a favor and order the Union Bloody Mary with bacon. Then, prepare to stay awhile perched on a stool at one of the sunny indoor/outdoor, raw wood tables.

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