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Encinitas, California
City of Encinitas
Aerial view of part of old town Encinitas showing Moonlight Beach on the left. Parallel with the shore is Historic Coast Highway 101; also parallel and further inland is Interstate 5.
Aerial view of part of old town Encinitas showing Moonlight Beach on the left. Parallel with the shore is Historic Coast Highway 101; also parallel and further inland is Interstate 5.
Official seal of Encinitas, California
Location of Encinitas in San Diego County, California
Location of Encinitas in San Diego County, California
Encinitas, California is located in the United States
Encinitas, California
Encinitas, California
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County San Diego
Incorporated October 1, 1986
 • Total 20.16 sq mi (52.21 km2)
 • Land 19.06 sq mi (49.35 km2)
 • Water 1.10 sq mi (2.85 km2)  5.89%
82 ft (25 m)
 • Total 59,518
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,290.77/sq mi (1,270.61/km2)
Demonym(s) Encinitan
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
92007, 92023, 92024
Area codes 442/760
FIPS code 06-22678
GNIS feature IDs 1652705, 2410440

Encinitas (Spanish for "Small Oaks") is a beach city in the North County area of San Diego County, California. Located within Southern California, it is approximately 25 miles (40 km) north of San Diego, between Solana Beach and Carlsbad, and about 95 miles (153 km) south of Los Angeles. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 59,518, up from 58,014 at the 2000 census.


Encinitas is a Spanish name meaning "little oaks".

The city was incorporated by 69.3% of the voters in 1986 from the communities of historic Encinitas, new Encinitas (Village Park, etc.), Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Olivenhain. The communities retain their identities and distinctive flavors.


Encinitas can be divided into five areas:

  • Old Encinitas: a small beachside area featuring a mix of businesses and housing styles. Sitting along the coastal 101 highway, the Encinitas welcome arch, the famous surf break Swamis, and the early 20th century La Paloma Theater are located here. Old Encinitas is divided from New Encinitas by a low coastal ridge.
  • New Encinitas: a newer region which features a golf course, many shopping centers, and is composed of larger tract homes.
  • Olivenhain: a semi-rural region in eastern Encinitas, composed of mostly single family homes, an active 4-H Club, and several private equestrian facilities. Olivenhain connects to Rancho Santa Fe via Encinitas Blvd.
  • Leucadia: a coastal community of the city. Leucadia features tree-lined streets and boulevards. The community features art galleries, unusual stores, and restaurants, along with single family homes. This also contains beaches such as Beacons and Grandview.
  • Cardiff-by-the-Sea: Encinitas' southernmost oceanfront community, which features streets named after British cities and classical composers, the Lux Art Institute, and the San Elijo Campus of Mira Costa College.


Aerial view of San Elijo Lagoon

Encinitas is located at 33°2′40″N 117°16′18″W / 33.04444°N 117.27167°W / 33.04444; -117.27167. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.0 square miles (52 km2). 18.8 square miles (49 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it (5.89%) is water. The city's elevation ranges between sea level and 180 feet (55 m) above sea level.

Encinitas lies on rugged coastal terrain. The city is bisected by a low-lying coastal ridge that separates New and Old Encinitas. In the north of the city, the coast rises in elevation and the land is raised up in the form of many coastal bluffs. The city is surrounded by Batiquitos Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon to the north and south, respectively.


Encinitas has a very mild, Mediterranean climate. Average daily high temperature is 72 °F (22 °C). Temperatures below 40 °F (4 °C) and above 85 °F (29 °C) are rare. Average rainfall is about 10 inches (250 mm) per year. The wet season lasts during the winter and spring, when temperatures are usually cool. Average daytime temperatures hit 65F in winter and spring, when rain and marine layer (fog) are common (May Gray/June Gloom). Nighttime lows range from 45-55F. The dry season lasts from summer through fall, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 75-85F, and nighttime lows being from the upper 50s–60sF. Ocean water temperatures average 60F in winter, 64F in spring, 70F in summer, and 66F in fall. In winter, strong pacific storms can bring heavy rain. During the winter of 2015-2016, the area saw rounds of severe thunderstorms. Tornados touched down nearby.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 2,786
1970 5,375 92.9%
1980 10,796 100.9%
1990 55,386 413.0%
2000 58,014 4.7%
2010 59,518 2.6%
2020 62,007 4.2%
U.S. Decennial Census


At the 2010 census Encinitas had a population of 59,518. The population density was 2,977.5 people per square mile (1,149.6/km2). The racial makeup of Encinitas was 51,067 (85.8%) White, 361 (0.6%) African American, 301 (0.5%) Native American, 2,323 (3.9%) Asian, 91 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 3,339 (5.6%) from other races, and 2,036 (3.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8,138 persons (13.7%).

The census reported that 58,990 people (99.1% of the population) lived in households, 123 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 405 (0.7%) were institutionalized.

There were 24,082 households, 6,997 (29.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 12,113 (50.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,950 (8.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 981 (4.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,359 (5.6%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 169 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 6,303 households (26.2%) were one person and 2,118 (8.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.45. There were 15,044 families (62.5% of households); the average family size was 2.98.

The age distribution was 12,285 people (20.6%) under the age of 18, 3,767 people (6.3%) aged 18 to 24, 16,584 people (27.9%) aged 25 to 44, 19,239 people (32.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 7,643 people (12.8%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males. Females comprise the majority of Encinitas' population at 50.5% as of April 2010.

There were 25,740 housing units at an average density of 1,287.7 per square mile, of the occupied units 15,187 (63.1%) were owner-occupied and 8,895 (36.9%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.3%. 39,101 people (65.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 19,889 people (33.4%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census of 2000, there were 58,014 people in 22,830 households, including 14,291 families, in the city. The population density was 3,035.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,172.1/km2). There were 23,843 housing units at an average density of 1,247.6 per square mile (481.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.60% White, 0.59% Black or African American, 0.46% Native American, 3.10% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 6.28% from other races, and 2.85% from two or more races. 14.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 22,830 households 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 25.7% of households were one person and 6.9% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.06.

The age distribution was 23.1% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% 65 or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.3 males.

The median household income was $63,954 and the median family income was $78,104. Males had a median income of $51,132 versus $38,606 for females. The per capita income for the city was $34,336. About 3.8% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.9% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Downtown Encinitas, California
Downtown Encinitas, California

Encinitas Ballet. Encinitas Ballet is an exceptional classical ballet studio in Encinitas. Established in 2008 by Sayat Asatryan former principal dancer of the Kremlin Ballet Theatre and Olga Tchekachova, former soloist of the Mariinsky Ballet II

Regular events

  • April Street Fair: annual two-day street fair, held every April in downtown Encinitas
  • Deep Pit BBQ, held the end of May at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, 450 Quail Gardens Dr.*`
  • Encinitas Environment Day: held on the 2nd Sunday of June- environmentally-themed games and entertainment for families.
  • Lima Bean Faire and Battle of the Beans Cook-off, held each September at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, 450 Quail Gardens Dr.
  • Fall Festival: annual one-day street fair, held each November in downtown Encinitas.
  • OktoberFest: held the third Sunday in September to coincide with the start of the Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany.
  • Classic Car Cruise Nights: classic cars line Coast Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas on the 3rd Thursday of each month, May–September.
  • The Wavecrest Woodie Meet: takes place once a year on the third Saturday of September at Moonlight State Beach. It is the largest rally of wooden bodied vehicles in the world and it is free to the public and to participants.
  • Wellness Week: annual week-long program of events and special offers designed to help people learn about and experience ways to improve their well-being.
  • Salute to Education: Encinitas Chamber of Commerce Salute to Education event that is held each year in June honoring local teachers and students for their outstanding efforts during the current school year. This event is hosted each year by Rancho Santa Fe Security Systems.
  • Switchfoot Bro-Am: annual free surf competition and outdoor music festival usually held in early July at Moonlight State Beach, home of the world's only Surf Jousting competition, along with several other competitive surfing events. All proceeds from the event go to local charities.

Surfing Madonna

In 2011 Mark Patterson and Robert Nichols illegally installed a 10 by 10 feet (3 m × 3 m) mosaic of a surfing Virgin de Guadalupe on the north concrete support wall of the train bridge on Encinitas Boulevard, leading to a battle over whether it should be removed or preserved. It was named "the Surfing Madonna" by the media and public.

Museums and other points of interest

Boathouses, Encinitas
Built in the late 1920s, the boathouses are historic landmarks in Encinitas

The Lux Art Institute and San Dieguito Heritage Museum are located in Encinitas. Other points of interest include the San Diego Botanic Garden, Self-Realization Fellowship temple and Hermitage, as well as the gardens which are routinely open to the public, the historic La Paloma Theater, Moonlight Beach, and one of California's classic downtown areas along historic Coast Highway 101. Surfing is a popular activity in Encinitas, particularly at Swami's, which is rated in the top 5 surf locations in the world, and is mentioned in a verse of The Beach Boys' song "Surfin' U.S.A."

Cardiff Kook - FInd a Cure
Cardiff Kook dressed in pink to support Brest Cancer Awarness Month

Cardiff Kook - Magic Carpet Ride

Main article: Cardiff Kook

The Magic Carpet Ride, or more affectionately kown by Encinitas locals as the Cardiff Kook, is a 16ft bronze statue located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, in the city of Encinitas. The San Diego Architectural Foundation, in its annual "Orchids & Onions" awards for the best and worst architecture of the year, awarded the Kook an Onion in 2007. The nickname comes from a derogatory surfer slang name for a "wannabe" surfer, and reflects the low opinion that locals and surfers have of the statue. The Kook has been criticized by surfers for its shortcomings, and for what they state to be an unrealistic depiction of a surfer. At various times during the year, The Kook is "vandalized" and dressed up (wearing a lucha libre mask, being eaten by a paper-macho shark, wearing a full Uncle Sam costume for Independence Day) bringing local flair and tourists constantly to the statue.

Sister cities

Amakusa City, Japan


Since 1982, the Encinitas 101 Main Street Association has helped keep downtown Encinitas economically viable yet historic and beachy. Downtown Encinitas is vibrant and full of thriving local salons, restaurants, shops, bars, and art galleries.


School districts

  • Cardiff School District
  • Encinitas Union School District
  • San Dieguito Union High School District

Visual Art schools

  • Watts Atelier of the Arts


  • California Institute for Human Science
  • Mira Costa College District
    • Mira Costa College, San Elijo Campus
  • St. Katherine College

High schools

  • Grauer School (Private, college preparatory)
  • San Dieguito Academy
  • Pacific Academy
  • Sunset Continuation High School

Middle schools

  • Diegueño Middle School
  • Encinitas Country Day School (private Middle School)
  • Grauer School (private)
  • Oak Crest Middle School
  • The Rhoades School (private)

Elementary schools

  • Ada Harris Elementary School
  • Cardiff Elementary School
  • Capri Elementary School
  • Encinitas Country Day School (private)
  • Flora Vista Elementary School
  • Ocean Knoll Elementary School
  • Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School
  • Park Dale Lane Elementary School
  • Paul Ecke Central Elementary School
  • Rancho Encinitas Academy (private)
  • The Rhoades School (private)
  • Saint John The Evangelist School (private)
  • Sanderling Waldorf School (private)


Coaster trains stop at Encinitas station multiple times a day, 7 days a week with service from Oceanside to San Diego. Between 2013 and 2017, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner also stopped here, but discontinued this stop due to low ridership.

Notable people

  • Guy Beahm, video game streamer and Internet personality known as "Dr DisRespect"
  • Cindy Lee Berryhill, American singer-songwriter and wife of the late Paul Williams
  • Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers
  • Diana Serra Cary, Child Star Known as Baby Peggy
  • Michael Chang, professional tennis player
  • Claire Chase, classical flautist
  • Harold Cohen, Pioneer of Computer-Generated Art
  • Tom Dempsey, Record-Setting NFL Kicker
  • Richard Dreyfuss, American actor
  • Robert Ellsworth, Lawmaker, Nixon Aide, Obama supporter
  • John Fairchild, professional basketball player
  • Manny Farber, film critic
  • Mary Fleener, underground comics artist
  • Tim Foreman, bassist for Switchfoot
  • Lukas Gage, actor
  • Rune Glifberg, Danish professional skateboarder
  • Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder
  • Kit Horn, pioneer surfer
  • Mel Hutchins, B.Y.U. All-American and N.B.A. All-Star
  • Bobbi Jordan, actress
  • Allan Kaprow, American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art
  • Cloris Leachman American actress and comedienne
  • Hugh Martin, Broadway and film composer, Meet Me in St. Louis
  • Jerry Mathers, American actor
  • Jack McDowell, baseball player and musician
  • Mike McGill, professional skateboarder. inventor of the McTwist
  • Jeremy McGrath, Supercross racer
  • Mark McMorris, professional Canadian snowboarder (two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist)
  • Mickey Moniak (born 1998), baseball player
  • Patti Page, American pop singer and occasional actress
  • Emily Ratajkowski, model and actress
  • Ravi Shankar, acclaimed sitarist
  • Staciana Stitts, 2000 Olympic gold medalist
  • Jack Tempchin American musician and singer-songwriter
  • Patricia Canning Todd, tennis champion, refused to play on side court
  • Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam
  • Joe Walsh, American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter
  • Irene Ware, actress - (last place of residence)
  • Ryn Weaver, singer and songwriter
  • Paul Williams, journalist, author, creator/publisher of first US magazine of rock
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