Encinitas, California, the once sleepy beach town, is now a busy, bustling hub of activity. In terms of Peaceful Living Travel itunfortunately does not warrant a stellar review anymore.
Over recent years I have watched Encinitas turn into a little Los Angeles. It was especially distinct on this visit because I have not spent time there for three years.
In general my visit was nerve-wracking! That said…
In spite of the obnoxious people Encinitas still maintains a beautiful, peaceful energy in certain places. Thus, the title of this blog starts with the word beautiful. It truly is a gorgeous place and can be peacefully enjoyed with a few easy strategies.
California is known for its natural beauty. Encinitas does not let us down on this score. From the Flora covered hills and canyons to the soaring views over the turquoise seas Encinitas is just breathtaking.
To enjoy a truly peaceful visit to Encinitas I recommend three primary places to visit:
Founded in 1920 by the Paramahansa Yogananda the SRF (as it is affectionately known by locals) is still one of the most serene places I have ever been. Full disclosure here, the SRF is my spiritual home & a place I have been blessed to have in my life since I was a small child. A visit to the meditation gardens overlooking the ocean is a must on any peaceful living travel agenda.
As you are driving on the Pacific Coast Highway you can’t miss the giant, gilded lotuses that adorn the white stucco walls surrounding the temple and garden. Turn up the hill towards the ocean on “J” Street and you will see the wrought iron gates that open allowing visitors to the gardens. Park on the street and just walk in!
When visiting the gardens make sure to turn to the south to enjoy the koi ponds and venture to the north to take in the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
Notice the beauty of the carefully tended plants and flowers. And allow yourself to breath in the fresh sea air. I strongly suggest giving yourself enough time to sit and meditate or even do some yoga on the lawn! That’s what the gardens are for!
SOME POINTS OF CONSIDERATION
- Donate: The gardens are FREE to enter and spend as much time as you would like. There is a small donation slot in the kiosk where the SRF literature is available at the start of the walkway. Place a few dollars in there to help fund the care and upkeep of the gardens.
- Respect the Quiet: These are meditation gardens. Thus, people are meditating. Even if they are walking around they may be doing a walking meditation. If you are with friends save your conversation for after you leave the gardens. I have been increasingly saddened over the years by the level of loud chatter going on as people visit the gardens and do not seem to have any consideration that others are meditating.
- Respect the Plants: Take photos and memories. But, please leave the plants alone. I know that it seems as though there are so many flowers, but unless they have already fallen off of a plant please do not pick them to take with you. And please do not allow your children to do this either.
- Teach Children Mindfulness: Yes, the spirit of our little ones is so wonderful when it is exuberant and exited. And it is lovely to watch little children run free in gardens. But, please save their free-running for our next stop – The San Diego Botanical Gardens – which has a special garden dedicated to our sweet kiddos. Children can benefit from the quiet practices of mindfulness as much as adults can.
- Mondays: The gardens are closed on Mondays. Plan your visit accordingly.
Located off of Quail Gardens Road, and a little bit hard to find, the San Diego Botanical Gardens are another place of beauty to visit on a peaceful living travel agenda. Use your GPS and you will arrive with no problems.
This gem of a garden covers 37 acres of rolling hills. There are 30 distinct gardens within those acres, including the fully interactive Hamilton Children’s Garden where the kids can run and play and even make music! Take an afternoon and visit them all or spend just an hour and pick those to which you are most drawn.
Also, check their website for a list of current and ongoing festivals and events. There is something unique and interesting going on at the gardens almost every weekend!
The Encinitas beaches are some of my favorites in all of Southern California! Even Moonlight beach, the busiest of the Encinitas beaches, can be very peaceful at the right time. Encinitas hosts three distinct beaches:
- Moonlight: is the northernmost beach (Locals, I’m not including Leucadia in this article). It is also the most accessible and the most fun. With a snack bar, volleyball nets, a large playground and fairly ample FREE parking Moonlight offers easy accessibility and thus a bit of stress reduction in that you don’t have to pay or fight for parking. It also offers peace of mind if you are traveling with kids or you are not a strong swimmer yourself as there is a large well-staffed lifeguard station. And again, if traveling with kids, the snack bar, playground and restrooms are a BIG stress-reliever.
- Swami’s: Affectionately known as Swami’s because it sits below the SRF, this beach is a surfer’s dream. Because of the rock formations along the shore it provides a nice beach break with the potential for well-formed barrels. It is also a longboarder haven, so watch out hot-shots, your attitude will not be welcomed!Swami’s is my favorite beach to frequent for the tide pools. At low tide the critters in the pools are fun to discover and watch. This beach is also my favorite for solitude as you can find little private nooks tucked in amongst the cliffs. Be aware of the tides here though. If the tides come in you could get stuck in that little private nook and all of your beach gear will get soaked.
- Cardiff/ San Elijo State Beach: The southernmost beach in Encinitas this long strand of sand is ideal for taking long walks or runs. While these beaches do not have the dramatic cliffs above the ocean, they also do not have the dramatic stair or ramp climbs down to and up from the beach! This is a definite plus for many people!
Parking is either tricky or expensive here. There is free parking all along the Pacific Coast Highway, but DO NOT PARK in the restaurant or business parking lots! You will be towed! There are two paid lots that are run by the California State Parks. They are expensive in my book. But, it’s often worth it to pay to park in order to avoid the hassle of driving up and down the PCH hoping for someone to pull out from the free street parking. These also have the added bonus that there are public restrooms available.
For peaceful dining I recommend eating in Cardiff, the southernmost area of Encinitas. The restaurants all have beautiful views of the ocean and either decent parking or valet parking. On this trip I had the opportunity to spend a two-hour fantastic lunch at Ki’s, a longtime Cardiff staple for healthy, yummy fare! My Quinoa and beet salad with roasted chicken breast was AMAZING! I opted out of the smoothies this time, but their smoothie selection will make even the most di-hard smoothie junkie drool!
You just can’t beat the view from Ki’s patio. But, it’s not too shabby from the inside dining areas either. And because Ki’s is so casual it’s easy to have anything from a lunch with the girls to a moms’ morning out with the kiddos.
For fine dining I recommend Pacific Coast Grill. This is one of my favorite spots to watch the sun set over the Pacific. Their selection of fresh seafood is wonderful, but they also do a great steak! One of the things I especially love about PCG is that you can choose between a more casual atmosphere upstairs or a more formal one downstairs. Either way you can sit on a patio or at a picture window seat and have an unmitigated view of the sunset!
What About Accommodations?
Honestly, your best bet for accommodations in Encinitas is to Air BnB it or stay in one of the hotels in Carlsbad, the neighboring city to the north. My favorite is the La Costa Resort and Spa. It’s an upscale, Omni resort so it can be pricey. For more budget-friendly options I recommend the Hilton Garden Inn or the very, family-friendly Grand Pacific Palisades (the added bonus here is that it’s located right across the street from Legoland!).
The Bad & The Ugly:
I saved this part until last because I still do truly believe that Encinitas has a lot to offer The Peaceful Living Traveler. But, as I mentioned at the beginning, Encinitas has also become overrun by truly aggressive people. The honking horns and extremely loud motorcycles along the PCH in the heart of the beach community definitely put a damper on what I was hoping would be a peaceful day.
But, honestly the worst part was the personal interactions I had with people. From bicycle riders who believe they own the road and yell at people in cars to the people I walked past and said, “hi” to who completely ignored me, I was overwhelmed with disappointment.
From what I could tell, these were locals. (Locals have a certain “look” they try to curate for themselves & there weren’t many out-of-state license plates). Maybe they are doing this on purpose to keep tourists out. I don’t know… But, I do know that the shops and restaurants rely on tourist dollars to stay in business.
Therefore, I caution the Encinitas residents to take a cue from the old days… keep Encinitas funky and fun! Be nice! What’s it going to cost you???
And, as always we are grateful for your comments and your follows on Social!
With Love & Gratitude!
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