There are things that anyone who has visited knows about Encinitas, like the fact that Moonlight Beach is the bomb, Trattoria i Trulli has the best Italian food, and Whole Foods is always packed. Always. Then there’s a rather hidden side of Encinitas that perhaps only those who have lived here for years know about this scenic seaside town. Whether it’s where to access the beach to get some privacy, when to visit the tide pools, or where to go to get happy hour all night long, insider tips make us squeal with delight. How about you? Below, we’ve shared 6 hidden gems around Encinitas:
1. San Elijo Campground: You don’t have to be a camper at San Elijo Campground to park there and enjoy a meal at Bull Taco. There is plenty of seating, the views are amazing, and the food at Bull Taco is absolutely killer (don’t forget the hot sauce!). You can park in the campground or try to find a spot along the 101. Once there, grab a seat on the benches and hit the line, as there is usually a decent sized one from 5 p.m. on (sorry!). The only downside for those who like to imbibe is they don’t allow alcohol in the seating area outside of Bull Taco (some have been known to sneak it, but we’re not putting them on blast). Kids will love to roam around and take in the scenery, and can even take the stairs down onto the beach to dip their toes in the ocean post-meal. Just because you’re not a camper there doesn’t mean you can’t come back for s’more fun!
2. Self-Realization Center: If you’re like us, you thought the Self-Realization Center by Swami’s was just a beautiful and serene monastery. It wasn’t until we had to do some research on something else that we found out that this center is open to the public. You can wander the marvelous meditation gardens there, attend a lecture, or even take a yoga class! While there are monks and nuns at SRF that still adhere to the principles of the center’s founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, it’s also a place where we can all go to get in touch with ourselves. This can be especially helpful in this day and age of iPads, iPhones, and other ways that we are incessantly connected via technology.
Whether you hit one of the meditation centers, temples, or attend a retreat, you’ll certainly feel at peace once you leave this Highway 101 landmark. Adults are likely the norm here, they also offer programs for children and teens. While spiritual guidance is offered and there are things such as the Worldwide Prayer Circle, this place is more about self-realization than religion. Kriya Yoga is SRF’s practice, as it has been known to calm people mentally and physically, freeing their consciousness and limitations while helping them to feel that God is ubiquitous in our lives.
Of course, if you’re inclined to pray, love, eat, Swami’s and plenty of other fantastic restaurants are right in the vicinity of the center.
3. Black’s Beach: While most of us call our fave SoCal town Encinitas, there are some who have been known to call it “Enci-NUDE-as,” and those people like to hang at Black’s Beach. While the beaches in our area are relatively tame compared to those in other countries, Black’s is the one beach (or at least part of it) that caters to those who tend towards exhibitionism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is officially part of Torrey Pines State Beach, with the northern portion of it owned and managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The southern part – which is the part where you can don your birthday suit if you like – is managed by the city of San Diego. If sunning yourself sans clothing is your thing, you should know the clothing-optional part begins approximately 100 yards south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport trail head.
Should your eyes wander to – ahem – other things on the beach, you might notice quite a few spectacular and secluded mansions that sit atop the cliffs, including the famous Salk Mansion. This space-age looking fortress has a funicular for access and an elevator that goes down to the beach. What more could a bazillionaire ask for?
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