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Encinitas

Encinitas coastline looking north
Photo by Joe Wolf
Situated approximately 25 miles north of San Diego with a population of 60,000, Encinitas offers many of the features North County is famous for: six miles of coastline, tranquil lagoons, coastal cliffs, rolling hills and high bluffs that provide wonderful views of the ocean.

Encinitas was incorporated in 1986, drawing together the communities of New Encinitas, Old Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Olivenhain and Leucadia. Each community has its own flavor, providing a broad range of lifestyle options.

New Encinitas, in the central portion of the city, is composed of suburban subdivisions with plenty of cul-de-sacs, highly rated schools and convenient shopping centers.

Old Encinitas is located along the coast between Leucadia and Cardiff-by-the-Sea. It includes Encinitas’ downtown area. Even with new shopping and restaurants, it has kept its cozy, beach town charm.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea is the southernmost coastal community within Encinitas and the only one with its own zip code. J. Frank Cullen was the first developer in Cardiff and named the community after Cardiff, Wales. Many of the street names are also British. Cardiff offers breathtaking ocean and lagoon views.

Olivenhain started as Colony Olivenheim, an immigrant farming colony founded in 1884. Olivenhain maintains its rural feeling with large lots, trails for horses, pedestrians and bicycles, and a dark sky policy.

In the northernmost coastal section of Encinitas, you’ll find the charming community of Leucadia. Its name is said to have come from a Greek island, which is reflected in many of the street names. Leucadia was once full of avocado groves, flower fields and green houses. Although many of those fields have been replaced with homes, some are still left on the hillsides helping Leucadia preserve its sleepy, artsy beach town feel.

Elementary students are served by Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) and Cardiff School District. EUSD consists of nine schools all of which have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education. Four EUSD schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. The two Cardiff elementary schools are also award winning.

EUSD and the Cardiff School District are two of the five elementary districts feeding the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) which consists of middle and high schools. SDUHSD has won numerous awards.

Please contact the schools directly to confirm attendance boundaries. This website only provides general information and should not be relied upon to determine attendance boundaries.

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Encinitas is located 25 miles north of downtown San Diego and the San Diego International Airport. Interstate 5 will get you downtown or to the airport. If you want to travel farther, it will take you from Mexico to Canada. For those needing an east-west route, you have several options nearby. Head south on Interstate 5 to State Route 56. It will take you to Interstate 15. Go a little farther south to State Route 52, and you can connect to multiple freeways. If you drive a few miles north, State Route 78 offers an east-west route to Interstate 15 and beyond.

There are several mass transit options in or near Encinitas. The Coaster, a commuter rail that runs from downtown San Diego to Oceanside, has a station in Encinitas. North County Transit District provides bus and shuttle service in and around Encinitas. Amtrak offers limited service from the Encinitas station, but fourteen miles north of Encinitas, Oceanside’s transit center has frequent Amtrak or Metro trains to Los Angeles and beyond and an east-west Sprinter commuter rail. You can also fly to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from the neighboring city of Carlsbad using McClellan–Palomar Airport, a single-runway public airport owned by the County of San Diego. This allows business and leisure travelers to skip long commutes and airport congestion but still have access to one of the largest airports in the U.S. for national and international flights.

The city of Encinitas is more a bedroom community than an employment center. The largest employment by industry in Encinitas is found in trade, transportation and utilities; educational and health services; professional and business services; and finance, insurance and information. There are additional employment opportunities in nearby communities such as Carlsbad, Sorrento Valley, Rancho Bernardo, downtown San Diego, and others.

Encinitas average temperaturesEncinitas average precipitation

On top of its well known surf beaches, Encinitas has many interesting places to explore and shop. San Diego Botanic Garden (Quail Botanical Gardens) features miles of trails, lovely vistas, multiple gardens and botanical exhibits. It offers tours, classes, events and specialty shops. The San Dieguito Heritage Museum has exhibits, field trips, family activities and tours to preserve and teach local history. The Lux Art Institute offers an innovative museum experience.

Downtown Encinitas is over 100 years old and includes historic architecture, charming boutiques and sidewalk cafes. While you are there, you can visit the gardens at the beautiful Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens and Hermitage, take in a movie at the historic La Paloma Theatre where some of the first “talkies” premiered, or take an Encinitas Historical Walking Tour which will guide you to these attractions along with historical homes and buildings in Old Encinitas.

In addition to the shops and restaurants all along Coast Highway, downtown Encinitas features The Lumberyard which actually was a lumberyard before it became a retail center. It has unique boutiques and restaurants along with well known chain stores. Downtown also has a Farmers Market every Wednesday evening. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping outside of downtown. If you run out of fresh produce from the Encinitas Farmers Market, Leucadia Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You’ll also find local, community shopping centers throughout the city which feature everything from large chains and organic markets to small, specialty grocers. The Forum, located in Carlsbad right on the Encinitas border, offers upscale shopping and a variety of dining experiences. There are large shopping malls in nearby Carlsbad, University City and Escondido.

With the Pacific Ocean on the west, Batiquitos Lagoon to the north and San Elijo Lagoon to the south, Encinitas has many opportunities to enjoy the beach and surf. It was even named one of the World’s 20 Best Surf Towns by National Geographic and the third best surf town in the U.S. by Surfer Magazine.

Moonlight Beach at the foot of Encinitas Boulevard is a large, family-friendly beach with fire pits, volleyball courts, restrooms, a snackbar and a children’s play area. The city holds free summer concerts here on Sunday afternoons. Switchfoot, a local, Grammy winning rock band, sponsors an annual Bro-Am surf contest at Moonlight. Swami’s, at the south end of town, sits below the Self-Realization Center and is a famous surf spot. These are just two of the many beaches along Encinitas’ six miles of coastline. San Elijo Lagoon has an ecological reserve and nature center with eight miles of trails, guided walks and family activities.

Along with the beaches and lagoon, there are 17 public parks in Encinitas. Facilities at the parks vary, but some have basketball, tennis, volleyball, bocce or horseshoe courts. Most have children’s play areas and picnic facilities. There are several sports parks with fields for soccer, baseball and softball, one where dogs are allowed off-leash, another that has equestrian facilities, and a skate park.

Encinitas offers many recreational opportunities for young and old. There are multiple sports programs available such as golf clinics, karate, soccer, softball, volleyball, kickball, basketball, surfing and skate tours. They offer babysitting training for preteens and teens, dance lessons, book publishing and tutoring. There are several different music lessons including ukulele. There is music, dance and art for toddlers, bellydancing and pilates for adults, and many activities and classes for the over-50 crowd.

In addition to the many city provided programs and sports fields, Encinitas is home to the 20-acre Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. Ecke YMCA has fitness facilities, two pools, a skate park, playing fields and basketball courts. It offers fitness programs, classes, trips and events for all ages from infants to seniors.

If golf is your thing, try the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, a championship 18 hole par 72 course with panoramic ocean views.