Classic California beach culture shines in Encinitas

Highway 101 is the mother road of coastal California, and the stretch that runs through Encinitas in San Diego's north county has been preserved better than almost anywhere else in the state, with its historic road signs and cherished landmarks. It's been called the classic "Surf City". Though Encinitas has grown significantly over the years, most of the change has happened on the east side of town, known as "new Encinitas" with "Old Encinitas" maintaining its spirit of a true beach town. The bookends to Old Encinitas are Swami's surf beach at the south end, and the La Paloma theater at the north end. Swami's was named for the hermitage, built in 1937 for Paramahansa Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship. The northern bookend is the La Paloma theater, which opened in 1928 and was one of the first theatres to show "talkies."

house at Moonlight Beach Encinitas, CA
Prime beach front property overlooking Moonlight beach enjoys a panoramic view from La Jolla to Dana Point.

The median price of a single-family home in August, 2017 was 947,800 according to Zillow. Home values have increased 5.3% over the past year.

Most of the beach towns in California are unrecognizable today and, though change is inevitable, Old Encinitas has been able to maintain the feel of the past with a mix of commerce, restaurants and retail stores. Maintaining its "Main Street America" identity while transitioning into a tourist destination and a burgeoning business district has been a slow process. In the 70's, the Lumberyard Shopping Center was built on the former site of a lumberyard and had its fits and starts. In 2002, the more recent and ambitious "Streetscape Project," gave the business district, a $5.3 million makeover. Sidewalks were widened and inlaid with tile mosaics, curved stone benches were put up, and both sides of the street were landscaped to encourage strolling through the north end of downtown.

Moonlight Beach
Moonlight Beach.

Two projects recently completed, Pacific Station and the Union Kitchen and Tap, may finally tie the entire stretch together. The construction of Pacific Station, an in-fill project, recently opened with an amazing level of excitement considering the typical laid-back attitude of most residents. The mixed-use Pacific Station includes approximately 40,000 square feet of prime retail space, some 9,000 square feet of professional office space, and 48 residential units; all constructed over two floors of underground parking. Retail tenants include a Whole Foods Market, a restaurant, and several unique shops including Bliss 101 selling local art and unique furnishing from the south pacific. The shops surround a lively courtyard where you can sit and enjoy the casual atmosphere.

Surfing in Encinitas
Beautiful bluffs and good surfing can be found along the beach stretching from Swamis to Moonlight.

Pacific Station's residential architecture is an Encinitas-inspired eclectic mix of two-story town homes, two-story lofts and single-story flats ranging from approximately 600 to 2,400 square feet in size and priced from the low $400,000's to $1.2 million. The first new retail space to be built in downtown Encinitas in more than 20 years, the unique Pacific Station project creates a synergistic environment combining the very best of beach living, working and shopping. Being located next to the Encinitas transit center, one block from the civic center and downtown library and a few blocks from Moonlight Beach might just make driving a thing of the past.

Pacific Station Encinitas, CA
Along the Coast Hwy., the newly built Pacific Station includes approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space, 9,000 square feet of professional office space, and 48 residential units.

Situated at the southern end of downtown Encinitas on the historic 101 highway, is the Union Kitchen & Tap. Union's unique building design features materials of reclaimed wood and steel, unfinished concrete and brick, and is highlighted by a 26 foot high barrel roof with a ceiling made of 20 year old snow fence from Wyoming. Local artisans were commissioned to craft many of the elements found throughout the space and their work is showcased everywhere you look. The over-sized windows slide open to the street, as if to include the strolling locals and tourists alike. The creatively designed outdoor patio is still in the works and will feature organic garden beds and a vertical herb garden. The herbs and spices will be utilized in the food preparation as well as the signature cocktails. There will also be a children's play area and a bocce ball court.

Along the mostly over built, franchised outlet covered crowed stretches of the coast, you can still find a slice of classic California beach town in a new thriving "Old" Encinitas.

Moonlight Snack Shack
Snack Shack and volleball at Moonlight Beach.

Union Restaurant
The Union Kitchen and Tap is one of many new restaurants popping up along the Coast Hwy..


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More communities


City of Encinitas



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95 N. Vulcan

Orpheus Park
482 Orpheus Ave.

Oakcrest Park
1219 Encinitas Blvd.

Glen Park
2149 Orinda Dr.

Cardiff Sports Park
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Hawk View Park
1309 Blue Heron Ave.

Paul Ecke Sports Park
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Mira Costa College
3333 Manchester Ave.


San Dieguito Academy
800 Santa Fe Dr.

Sunset High School
684 Requeza St.

La Costa Canyon High School
1 Maverick Way


Oak Crest Middle School
675 Balour Dr.

Digueno Middle School
2150 Village Park Way


Ocean Knoll Elementary
910 Melba Rd.

Park Dale Lane Elementary
2050 Park Dale Lane

Paul Ecke-Central Elementary

185 Union St.

Capri Elementary
941 Capri Rd.

Flora Vista Elementary
1690 Wandering Rd.

El Camino Creek Elementary
7885 Paseo Aliso




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Meditation Garden Self Realization Fellowship

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