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Encinitas is one of San Diego's coastal neighborhoods with a great love and appreciation for color, creativity and nature.  I have have stumbled upon so many wonderful pockets while exploring out here. Here is our list of our favorite hidden gems in Encinitas!


1. Butterfly Farm


The Butterfly Farm grow and study dozens of plants that are important to the ecosystems of butterflies. Beyond the immediate grounds of Butterfly Farms, the staff engages in field work monitoring, tagging and tracking Monarchs.

For a small charge that helps support the mission of the farms, the organization offers guided workshops that provide an overview of the farms, as well as critical information on the plight of the pollinators. The workshop was developed in concert with local educators and complies with Next Generation Science Standards.



2. Cottonwood Creek at Moonlight Beach


Cottonwood Creek is an extremely short adventure (or possibly long if you enjoy tennis), but it’s a fun hidden gem nonetheless. Beyond the sweet little pond and lush natural landscaping, there is a secret tennis court tucked in here!  I was really taken back by it because it just doesn’t fit in with the spot in my opinion! That makes it that more special though!

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3. Dave's Rock Garden


Frustrated with an empty lot next to his house that was constantly filled with trash, Encinitas resident Dave Dean decided to take matters into his own hands. Since 2015, Dean has worked tirelessly to transform this coastal plot of land from a neglected dirt lot into a work of art.

Today the garden is thriving, with every inch being filled with sweet messages and colorful paintings. Make sure to pay attention to all the tiny details because they are what makes this garden so special.  Dave’s Rock Garden isn’t the only neighborhood in town which is bedazzled head to toe in art.

TIP: If you're enjoying this post, make sure to check out our article on Hidden Gems in Los Angeles next!


4. Encinitas Hippie Homes


Many years back I was tipped off to these legendary hippie homes in Encinitas where artists lived and painted their houses in bright colors and added beauty across every inch of the exterior. I had even seen photos which further proved they existed! It took many years to finally figure out where they were and they definitely did not disappoint!

The coolest home in this park, in my opinion, was the mosaic house shown below.  It was literally covered from head to toe both inside AND outside with mosaic artwork.


5. Encinitas Neighborhood Walk


For those that are interested in learning more about the neighborhoods in Encinitas, we've put together a page of neighborhood walks in this town!  I've compiled my favorite photos to show just how fun and unique this town is!


6. Herman's Farm


Although we no longer give directions to this spot (it used to be part of our members section) I am keeping its page up for historical reference of the area. Herman Wiegand, known as "Pop" by most, was one of the first pioneers in Encinitas. Land went for $1 an acre in the early days and so Henry purchased some land and started his first lima bean and cattle ranch.

What is left of the ranch today are many old remnants of the past. There is old farming equipment and tools, multiple farm homes and sprawling land. You can still feel the warmth that this homestead brought all those years ago.

7. Hermitage Self-Realization Garden


I have been visiting the Self-Realization Gardens for years now. Although it is a lot more popular than ever, and there are many other healing spaces in San Diego to visit, I still love to take friends who’ve never been here before. The coastal views are breath-taking and I love exploring Encinitas while out in this area.


7. San Diego Botanic Garden


The San Diego Botanic Garden offers four miles of garden trails, enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms, and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to our mild climate, plants from all over the world thrive here.

Our diverse topography provides a variety of microclimates giving the visitor a sensation of going from a desert environment to a tropical rainforest, all within 37 acres.


8. Heritage Ranch Museum


The Heritage Ranch is home to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum which was founded in 1988.  The museum’s goal is to help preserve the history of Leucadia, Encinitas, Olivenhain, Cardiff, Solana BeachDel Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe.

You will get the opportunity to  explore several historic homesteads, view ancient artifacts from the Kumeyaay and see old belongings once owned by early pioneers.

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  • Maria Olah

    thank u

    December 4, 2022

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