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Carlsbad vs Encinitas

St. Albert, Canada
Level Contributor
2 posts
23 reviews
Carlsbad vs Encinitas

My husband and I are wanting to take the coastal train from Old Town to one of the towns and spend the day at the beach, lunch etc.

Would love some advice from anyone that knows the area! We will be travelling in September. We love a great beach, ocean front restaurants and lots to see!

8 replies to this topic
San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
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68,365 posts
72 reviews
1. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

Not sure what you mean by "lots to see" in walking distance from the train station?

Will you also have time to check out the beaches closer to Old Town within San Diego or in Coronado across the bay from downtown San Diego??

One does not have to go outside the city to find lovely beaches.

If you get off the train in Encinitas you can walk to the meditation garden at the Self Realization Fellowship and to the lovely state beach just south of it.

You can also get to some restaurants and to Moonlight State Beach depending on how much walking you'd like to do:


In Carlsbad if you get off at Carlsbad Village you can either walk into the town area or to the beach.


If you merely take our lightrail south to downtown San Diego you can get off and take the ferry across the bay to Coronado where the bus(or walking) will take you to a lovely beach, to restaurants, to bike rentals, and to the historic Victorian Hotel del Coronado.

If you take the bus from Old Town you can get directly to Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and to La Jolla or take the hop on hop off tour that goes to those beaches as well.


Probably more info than was necessary but I was not sure why you picked those particular towns for this day trip??

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,628 posts
26 reviews
2. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

If you do want the take the train north, I'd also suggest Solana Beach. Lots of restos on Cedros where the train station is and Fletcher's Cove is just down Lomas Santa Fe.

Clare's on Cedros or the Wild Note are both good. And others as well.

St. Albert, Canada
Level Contributor
2 posts
23 reviews
3. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

Thank you very much for the information. The only reason I was thinking of up the coast was the views alone. But we will check out the beaches within the City as they sound just as nice.

Corona del Mar...
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
59,863 posts
441 reviews
4. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad are all good and dare I mention San Juan Capistrano?

Look at the three SD cites and see what appeals and see if the trip to SJC is doable.

Level Contributor
11 posts
24 reviews
5. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas


I think you have a great idea to check out a town in north county on your trip. I live in Encinitas and really like it up here. Here are some things that may be helpful.

Most of San Diego (except for Pt Loma) sits pretty much at sea level. So there are Ocean Front restaurants in OB and PB but they are mostly bars and pubs that cater to the 20-40 crowd and its a beach scene. As you go north into La Jolla, the towns sit atop cliffs 20 - 150 feet above the beach, except where lagoons come in. The Coaster is a great way to experience a Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, or Oceanside and at $13 round trip per person its a great deal. One responder mentioned San Juan Capistrano but thats in Orange county and you will need to take Amtrak to get there. You might be able to check out more than one of the towns too

Encinitas and Solana Beach are smaller than Carlsbad. I know Encinitas better than SB so I'll talk about that.

Encinitas - Moonlight beach in Encinitas is a beautiful beach maybe 500 yards from the coaster station. A really easy walk. Most of the reastaurants and shops are right on the 101, which is 2 - 3 residential blocks of houses away from the coast, but moonlight beach is pretty much your walking distance beach and its a great one. Its a really great vibe and I think you would enjoy walking up and down the 101, its about 1.5 miles of restaurants and shops. If your really want the oceanfront dining you'd have to walk, bike or run further south, on a very scenic walk on the cliffs past the campground, about 3 miles south of the coaster station, to Pacific Coast Grill or Chart house and a couple other restaruants in that area. They are right on the water where the lagoon comes in that separates Encinitas from Solana beach.

Carlsbad is a much bigger town. There are 2 coaster stations. Skip the first one (Carlsbad Poinsettia) as it is a commuter station. Get off at Carlsbad Village. You will be 3 blocks from the coast and in the middle of several blocks of shops and restaurants in between Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. Really cool town but more city than encinitas. There are many more beach access spots in Carlsbad where Encinitas only has a couple. You can walk for miles along both beaches but Carlsbad has more stairs up the cliff if you want to get a mix in. The closest thing to Oceanfront dining would be Dinis, its more of a bar tho.

Both Carlsbad and Encinitas are great options. Let me know if you have more questions about those. Someone else may give you some tips on Solana beach. Oceanside which is north of Carlsbad and the last stop on the coaster is an interesting option too. Its more urban than carlsbad, it has a heavy Military/Marine presence, but it has a Pier with a rubys diner at the end (that neither Carlsbad or Encinitas offer) and some great restaurants as well as remnance of the old Top Gun house - in pretty bad shape :/

If you want fine Oceanfront dining, there is JRDN in PB (interestign fine dining restaruant int he middle of the chaos of PB), but Del Mar and La Jolla are your best bet. Look up Jake's Del Mar, its right on the ocean and there are a few great restaurants right on the ocean around there. The ocean is beautiful during the day but in the evenings, I personally prefer san diego bay and city views to oceanfront.

Enjoy North County! have a great trip

6. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

Do any of you know a nice hotel that takes dogs. I wanna visit friends who moved down from the Bay Area to Solana Beach a year ago.. Thanks so much!!!

Edited: 21 September 2018, 16:45
Level Contributor
665 posts
55 reviews
7. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

Sherpa- you added your question to a very old thread. Try starting a new one, with your question in the title. And check out the Apo, Bring Fido for help with area hotels.

Edited: 22 September 2018, 00:08
Level Contributor
665 posts
55 reviews
8. Re: Carlsbad vs Encinitas

That was supposed to say “App, Bring Fido”.

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