Hometown shoutout: Encinitas, CA

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Amanda Chung/File

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As you make your way down the coast of San Diego County, the winding 101 brings you to a lovely beach town by the name of Encinitas.

Lying just between the cities of Carlsbad and Solana Beach, Encinitas holds a feeling of spunk and home that tempts visitors to stay forever and the homegrown to never leave. Not to mention that the delicious food and cliff walled beaches offer unparalleled comfort and relaxation.

Do I know how to sell it or what?

Honestly, though, Encinitas is a magical place in more ways than one.

The good vibes of the city spread from the crashing waves of Moonlight Beach to the depths of Rancho Santa Fe, but let’s bring our focus west of the railroad tracks. On any given day, you can find the sidewalks from the iconic Encinitas sign to the campgrounds of San Elijo filled with locals. With its beaches, shops and food, there’s no place you’d rather be.

The beaches range from secluded Stone Steps to dog-friendly Cardiff State Beach. In between the two, there’s no shortage of sand to get your tan on. Moonlight Beach provides volleyball courts and a relatively new snack shack, while D Street serves as a local hangout for current high schoolers and those of us who were once students at La Costa Canyon and San Dieguito Academy.

While the beaches are a great place to spend the day, you’ll probably have to journey up the wooden steps (a common feature of Encinitas beaches) to grab some grub.

Like any San Diego town worth visiting, Encinitas is equipped with some pretty solid Mexican food. Along the coast, your best bet is Juanitas, Raul’s or Filiberto’s. If Mexican food isn’t really your thing (there may be something wrong with you), there’s an array of other options. For the vegans, the place to be is Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar. Craving an acai bowl? Cruise Swami’s Cafe. For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Potato Shack Cafe or Honey’s Bistro & Bakery. The all-day deliciousness continues at The Bier Garden of Encinitas, Union Kitchen & Tap and East Village Asian Diner, all of which are within walking distance of each other.

After a bite to eat, there are a few funky clothing stores worth checking out. Thrifty Threads and Flashbacks Recycled Fashion serve as great thrift stores, but probably better Halloween stores if colored wigs and old dad clothes aren’t your everyday style.

Unfortunately, many of the beloved shops and restaurants have recently been kicked out of their timeless homes because of increased rent and a desire for more apartment buildings. Favorite shops such as Home and beloved restaurants Kealani’s and Manhattan Giant Pizza are no longer providing Encinitas with welcoming vibes. A moment of silence for the loss of trendy clothes and Hawaiian food is now necessary. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy, such as the stunning sunsets.

If you’ve journeyed above sea level for the evening, there’s nothing quite like driving the coast at sunset while blasting music with your favorite friends. However, if you’re trying to save gas, grabbing some VG Donut & Bakery and parking on Vulcan Avenue to watch the sun go down is just as magical.

For the young among us, the night may come to a close after the sunset, while those of us who are of age may venture to the local bars. Several of the restaurants such as Union and Bier Garden become great bar hangs once the sun goes down. In addition to those spots, D Street Bar and Grill and 1st Street Bar come alive.

By day, Encinitas beaches and cafe are alive with locals. By night, Encinitas is the perfect place for grabbing a deliciously brewed beer with friends and dancing until you’re ready for a late night California burrito. So, if you’re ever cruising the 101 in SoCal, by day or by night, make sure to check Encinitas off your to-see list.

Contact Hailey Johnson at [email protected].