A Local's Travel Guide to Encinitas, California

We are updating our local's travel guide to Encinitas, California to reflect the strange experience that is traveling in 2021! School is about to be out for summer, the sun is shining, and the beach is waiting. Health regulations related to COVID-19 do remain in California, and are changing every day, so please check the CDC and other relevant sources for up-to-date information before traveling. Once you're ready to visit North County San Diego this summer, we've got you covered with an Encinitas local's travel guide to make sure you get the most out of your Encinitas vacation, including recommendations for shopping, dining and activities that are all COVID-safe.

Downtown Encinitas, California - Thread Spun Boutique - Carlos Bastias

Photo by Carlos Bastias

California Coastline - Thread Spun Boutique - Encinitas California

Photo by Joshua Brown

Moonlight Beach at Sunset - Thread Spun - Encinitas, California

Photo by Teagan Maddux

WHERE TO EAT 

Buona Forchetta

Best pizza in Encinitas. I said it. Neopolitan-style pizza plus fresh, daily specials and reasonable prices. This place is teeny tiny with a great outdoor patio that has safely spilled out into the street out front as the City of Encinitas works hard to accommodate small businesses seeking to add safe dining space. No reservations, so come early or be prepared to wait. Super friendly staff that accommodates even the unruliest of three year-olds. 

Buona Forchetta is a pizza and Italian food restaurant in Encinitas, California, serving up authentic and fresh lunches and dinners!

Death By Tequila

Mexican cuisine inspired by my one true love, Baja California. They had me at amazing margaritas and fresh vegetables - but meat and fish-eaters will be equally happy here. Plus, this restaurant supports local businesses from farms to their handmade tableware, which we love. On the pricey end, with loud music. Good for a date night in downtown Encinitas, again with expanded outdoor dining options.

Death by Tequila in Encinitas - Best Date Night Spot - Encinitas Local's Guide by Thread Spun

La Especial Norte

A Leucadia neighborhood staple, no local's Encinitas travel guide would be complete without mentioning "Especial". My husband and I even went here on our first date ten years ago. Located just south of Leucadia Boulevard on Coast 101 Highway, this Mexican food restaurant serves up classics, cold beer, and amazing soups. Very reasonably priced and casual. Great for families. 

Birdseye Kitchen

Organic Thai food for lunch and dinner - and I would eat here every day if I could. Amazing vegan and vegetarian options, with my favorite (local) Duck Foot beer on tap and a casual atmosphere. Good prices and family friendly, although sometimes a longish wait for food (made-from-scratch takes time). Please note that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, this restaurant is only offering food to-go. Grab yours and head down to Beacon's for sunset.

Kai Ola Sushi

Super fresh sushi rolls based on local Leucadia surf spots, cold Sake and draft beer. If you don't order the garlic Edamame you're missing out. This spot is tiny, but since COVID, they've been taking reservations. They've also greatly expanded their outdoor dining with some quirky alleyway seating that actually reminds me of NYC.

EVE Encinitas

Casual vegan restaurant in downtown Encinitas open for lunch and dinner and offering pizzas, burgers and bowls. Kids eat free! Just ask. Has a truly crunchy feeling with kind people and a beautiful living plant wall. 

Haggo's Organic Taco

Leucadia locals' favorite lunch spot - you'll find me here at least once a week seeking vegan soup or fresh veggie tacos. Fresh fish and meat options also available. This Wes Anderson-themed restaurant is a must-see on your Encinitas vacation.

WHERE TO SHOP

Thread Spun Shop Storefront - Encinitas - Local Travel Guide

Thread Spun Shop - Encinitas, California - Local Travel Guide Thread Spun Boutique - Encinitas, California - Travel Guide

Photography by Nicole Capri Creative

Thread Spun

Okay, we're obviously biased, but there's a reason why we were named in San Diego Magazine's "Best of North County 2019". Thread Spun is a woman-owned and run brick and mortar and online boutique in Encinitas, California, offering a curated selection of sustainably-produced goods and apparel from around the world. We also host a selection of products by local makers at no cost to them to encourage small and independent business. Come and check out our handmade and fair trade clothing, accessories, home goods and jewelry, with 10% of all profits going directly to charity.

Find everything from ethically- and sustainably-produced home decor and goods like African baskets and handmade wall hangings to sustainably-produced apparel made in the USA. We've got clean beauty products, hand-beaded jewelry, gifts in every price range, and proudly support the Shop Local movement. Since COVID, we have taken extensive precautions to protect the health of our staff and community; masks are strictly required. Please note we also no longer accept cash.

Thread Spun - Encinitas, California - Local Travel Guide

Four Moons Spa

Just up the street from Thread Spun you will find this serene escape, which features a beautiful boutique offering a variety of goods and gifts made by local vendors. They also showcase natural and clean-beauty offerings. After you're done shopping, take a yoga class, book an acupuncture session or hot stone massage, or perhaps receive an astrology reading. You could easily spend half a day here safely relaxing in their gorgeous outdoor space that allows plenty of space for social distancing. Go on, you deserve it, this is your Encinitas vacation, after all.  

 

Seaweed and Gravel store in Leucadia, CA offering vintage clothing and goods, motorcycles and surfboards

Seaweed and Gravel

Our almost-next-door neighbor, this Leucadia staple is a little slice of Americana featuring (duh) surfboards and motorcycles. They've also got vintage and new clothing and a variety of goods and gifts perfect for your dude. No Encinitas or Leucadia local travel guide would be complete without its mention.

 

Nada Shop Encinitas | Thread Spun | Travel Guide

Nada Shop

Located in The Lumberyard in downtown Encinitas, the Nada Shop is another women-owned small business we love! The Nada Shop is a zero-waste shop offering everyday essentials for low waste living and refillable home and body care products with natural, clean ingredients in sustainable packaging. Their mission is to make low waste living easier and more accessible to everyone. This is a mission we can get behind! The Nada Shop has refill stations for over 50 household and body care products, shop here and bring the containers home to your local zero waste store to keep the sustainability goodness flowing.

 

WHAT TO DO 

Encinitas Surfer - Thread Spun - Travel Guide Leucadia
Photo by Teagan Maddux
Leucadia Farmers Market | Organic Fruit and Vegetable | Encinitas Travel Guide
Photo courtesy of Your North County San Diego
Leucadia Donut Shoppe - Thread Spun - Leucadia, California

 Photo by Katie Rodriguez

Beacons Beach

No Encinitas travel guide would be complete without mention of our many beaches, especially Beacons. Check out the world famous (not really) Beacons bumps (local surf break). This is a family-friendly, locals beach with decent waves and an even better happy hour at sunset. Other great family friendly beaches can be found at Moonlight Beach, Grandview, and D Street. If you're with the family, stop by our favorite donut shop, Leucadia Donut beforehand - arrive early.

South Ponto Beach

Technically this is in Carlsbad, at the very north end of Leucadia, but it is our favorite family beach. It's got a good surf break, wide open sandy beaches and public bathrooms. Free parking along the 101 and in designated paid parking at the south end. You can have propane fires on the beach here, one of our favorite family activities. 

Ponto Beach - Things to do in Encinitas, CA - Encinitas Local's Guide by Thread Spun


Leucadia Farmers Market

This is our neighborhood farmers market, and we attend every Sunday for the variety of fresh organic fruits and vegetables in addition to local food vendors, artisan makers and more. They are up and running again with strict COVID precautions; masks are required, as is social distancing, and only 50 people will be allowed to enter at a time. There is usually a small but quick moving line to enter. The Leucadia Farmers Market is a Family Friendly Certified Farmers Market consisting of 75+ vendors. Find everything you'll need for a delicious farm to table dinner including vegan cheeses, kombucha, organic vegetables and fresh pasta, or take it easy and grab a meal from one of the diverse food vendors. Our very favorites are authentic Kenyan food from Rafikiz Foodz (try the vegan platter) and also the vegan crunch wrap from Leucadia locals Nomad Eats. Founded in 2005 the proceeds from the market go to support the Paul Ecke Central School P.T.A. and the Leucadia Main Street Association. We LOVE supporting causes like these.

Meditation Gardens

* Please note the Gardens are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; I am leaving it up here because it is truly a treasure of our community and I surely hope that by the time you are reading this they are able to safely reopen. If you need a break from the beach, head to the Meditation Gardens at the Self Realization Fellowship in downtown Encinitas. Don't worry, you'll still have jaw-dropping views of the ocean from its bluff top location overlooking the ocean. The gardens were founded by Paramahansa Yogananda to disseminate the universal teachings of Kriya Yoga, a sacred spiritual science originating millenniums ago in India. They are peaceful, serene, welcoming to everyone, and free. Kids will enjoy the meandering paths and koi ponds.

Southern California Beach - Thread Spun Shop - Encinitas Travel Guide
Photo by Tricia Small

San Diego Botanic Gardens

Right in the heart of Encinitas, these Botanic Gardens are designated one of the “Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For". This Encinitas Travel Guide would not be complete without mention of its four miles of trails that wind through 29 uniquely themed gardens, among them a tropical rain forest, a bamboo garden, and regional desert landscapes. Two acclaimed Children's Gardens offer plenty of fun and activities for kids, and a Family Education Conservancy was just completed on the grounds. A full day of family fun in Encinitas can be found here - we visit at least once a week. This is such a great family-friendly and COVID-safe Encinitas activity. Masks and social distancing are required, as are advance reservations, so make sure you get yours on their website, where you can also learn more about special planty events.

Cactus - Thread Spun - Encinitas Botanic Garden

Photo by Pawel Czerwins

The Ecology Center

In 2018, the Ecology Center broke ground on an Encinitas location at our local Farm Lab, expanding beyond its San Juan Capistrano Roots. This site now serves as a hub for sustainability education and an opportunity to connect with and learn about our ecosystem. Volunteer a few hours and walk away with new knowledge, or attend a farm-to-table dinner without a renowned chef in the garden at one of their Community Table Dinner Series. If you have an extra day of vacation, visit their San Juan Capistrano location.

 

Encinitas Travel Guide - Thread Spun - Leucadia
Photo by Pass the Honey

La Paloma Theatre

*Please note the La Paloma Theatre is currently closed due to COVID. I am leaving it up here because it is truly a treasure of our community and I surely hope that by the time you are reading this they are able to safely reopen. After your farm to table meal grown right here in Southern California, head to the renowned La Paloma Theatre (or La Paloma), a historic treasure of Encinitas. Built in 1928, this theatre shows everything from Hollywood movies to independent surf films and hosts concerts and community events. This is the perfect way to cap off your Encinitas vacation, but if a beautiful sunset is more of your vibe, we have those too.

Leucadia Sunset - Thread Spun Encinitas, CA - Travel Guide

Photo by Nick Abrams

We love our funky beach town of Leucadia and our family-friendly beach vacation location of Encinitas. We know you will too! We hope to see you at our boutique on the historic 101 Coast Highway, where we're always selling sustainably and ethically-produced, unique gifts and handmade goods.

If you can't plan an in-person visit to our favorite Encinitas spots, you can always get fair trade gift inspo and shop our best-sellers online!

Shop Now - Thread Spun - Encinitas, California

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