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Top recommendations from locals

From sightseeing to hidden gems, find out what makes the city unique with the help of the locals who know it best.

Natural Feature
“It is a simple 15 minute walk from the Casita. Food is available during the summer. There are volleyball courts, a kids play area, bathrooms and showers. The lifeguards are there year round. ”
  • 90 locals recommend
“Explore four miles of garden trails, enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms, and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to our mild climate, plants from all over the world thrive here. Our diverse topography provides a variety of microclimates giving the visitor a sensation of going from a desert environment to a tropical rainforest, all within 37 acres.Located 30 minutes north of San Diego in Encinitas, California, San Diego Botanic Garden features numerous exhibits, including rare bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, California native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, succulent gardens, an herb garden, firesafe landscaping, a subtropical fruit garden, and native coastal sage natural areas. In June of 2009, we opened the Hamilton Children's Garden, the largest interactive children's garden on the West Coast.”
  • 75 locals recommend
Seafood Restaurant
“It's incredible. Fresh fish and cold beer. Great happy hour too! There can be a line at times from 5-7ish but its worth it. It is also less than a mile from our door.”
  • 67 locals recommend
“Hands down our FAVORITE beach in all of Southern California! Something for everyone from a playground for the kids, volleyball, rentals, snack bar, showers & restrooms. This beach is the best of the best & only about a 30 min drive. ”
  • 53 locals recommend
Coffee Shop
“Locals spot... very casual, even a little bit bohemian, but they have great coffee & baked goods!”
  • 64 locals recommend
“Beautiful grounds with koi ponds, ocean views, lush landscape. Free to public.”
  • 60 locals recommend
Caribbean Restaurant
“Live music, a creative & delicious menu, plus walking distance from our cottage! ”
  • 57 locals recommend
New American Restaurant
“This is decent food close to the coast. I'd go here for drinks and appetizers ideally.”
  • 45 locals recommend
“This is a winery with a ton of varietals because they don’t have their own vineyard—they source from all over. Their Spanish-inspired tapas and platters are also good!”
  • 51 locals recommend
“During the winter when the swells are particularly good, surfers often put on quite a show at Swami’s Surf Beach, one of the area’s most popular and most famous beaches. The best spot to watch them is from the park on the cliff above the beach. This lovely park is the main entrance point for Swami Beach and has many benches in the shade, several picnic tables, and a well-tended shady lawn. From the park, a long and steep wooden staircase leads down to the beach, which has a lifeguard station. If the tide is not high, you can walk along the beach to San Elijo State Beach. If you are wondering what to do in Encinitas with kids, this is a great place to visit.”
  • 47 locals recommend
“Union Kitchen and Tap is a large rustic tavern with a massive bar, long communal tables, brick walls, and very comfortable seating. The space encourages you to hang out with friends over one of their many craft beers or small plates of New American cuisine with Southern touches. Executive Chef Michael Lina is a wizard with shared plates that include delights such as Thai Coconut Mussels or Octopus Lyonnaise. The menu is huge and changes seasonally. Union has a nice wine selection and a range of imaginative cocktails. Dogs are allowed on their small patio, and there is even a special menu for man’s best friend.”
  • 46 locals recommend
Shopping Centre
“If you are in the mood for some shopping, The Forum Carlsbad is a short drive inland and offers some amazing stores and restaurants, including Apple, Lulu Lemon, Buca De Beppo, and our favorite restaurant, Urban Plates. There is also a Walmart and REI close by. ”
  • 37 locals recommend
“In the downtown area of Encinitas, you always know what you're getting with Whole Foods. Quality food and products - though their prices are above regular grocery stores. ”
  • 37 locals recommend
American Restaurant
“Cardiff State Beach is managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and is popular for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. There are many businesses where you can rent gear for surfing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Visitors will also find a lot of people beachcombing and looking for valuable and interesting things – equipment can be rented for those looking to join in. Tide pools are located up and down the coast, and guided explorations are held throughout the year – more information can be found at the visitor center. Basic amenities such as lifeguards at intervals, bathrooms, and showers are available to all those looking for a fun day in the sun.”
  • 41 locals recommend
Indie Cinema
“This is classic Encinitas. Show all types of movies, from surf flicks to documentaries to first run. Grab a burrito across the street and bring it in-they don't mind. ”
  • 47 locals recommend
“One of our favorite cafes near Moonlight Beach. Go for a walk on the beach just down the street then have breakfast at Lofty ...a great weekend starter. We love the avocado toast and lattes. ”
  • 42 locals recommend