Hoist a surfboard atop a vintage Woody, strap it to your bike, or just tuck it under your arm. You won’t want to come out of the water once you jump into the surf of Encinitas, California.
A plaque near a cliff house overlooking the Pacific in Encinitas reads, “The Eagles wrote songs here.” The home belongs to longtime Encinitas resident Jack Tempchin, the musician and songwriter who wrote the group’s 1972 hit “Peaceful Easy Feeling” featured on their debut album, The Eagles. Throughout the ‘70’s, Tempchin co-wrote a series of other songs with America’s most popular band when members Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder hung out with him on Encinitas’ beaches. With the late great Glenn Frey on lead vocals, here’s this week’s Listen Up, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,”a song that so aptly describes Encinitas, the consummate California beach city.
The Surf Liner rattles along the tracks, blowing its horn on its way north as we drift off to sleep in the over-the-garage apartment of a stunning modern teahouse residence in Encinitas. Damp haired women and men — faces barely kissed by mist or leathered, creased, and carved by the sun’s rays — populate our dreams. Zipped neck to ankles in black neoprene, surfboards tucked under their arms, surfers rain down from the Encinitas hills. Their bare feet slap against hot pavement, cross over railroad tracks and stride across the South Coast Highway before sinking into sand and navigating clattering washes of sole-bruising pebbles. Children industriously dig deep to fill primary red buckets with glops of wet sand – their upended molds of crudely shaped turrets instantly collapse into ruins under multicolored umbrellas. The mini architects’ make-believe is invaded by giants as the black-suited swimmers advance to the water’s edge, their solitary focus on the rhythm of the waves. Like lifeguards towering above the busy beach fray, we follow each surfer’s scan, the plunging of every child’s shovel, the comical duck walk of an old man in flippers, a bikini-clad volleyballer’s spike attack for a kill, the zinc-nosed awkward teenagers playing plastic jai-alai, a renegade polka-dot beach ball rolling toward Tijuana. Sun up to sun down, on into deliciously cool nights wrapped up in UCSD hoodies, the beach is the center of the universe. The dream of Encinitas is only transcended by the real thing.
While Austin and Portland vow to keep their cities weird, within the city of Encinitas the surfside community of Leucadia has its own request: Keep Leucadia Funky. Whether the intention is to remain odd, quaint or unconventional, Leucadia remains all of the above. In 1986, Leucadia joined with the Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Olivenhain and historic Old and New Encinitas to form the city of Encinitas. Tucked along the California coast between Carlsbad and Solano Beach, Encinitas is a truly excellent town: beautiful beaches, nearly perfect weather year round, and about 62,000 easy-going people who know how to make the most of both.
When you visit Encinitas, it’s easy to stick close to the beach. Look for the less obvious places to enjoy a good breakfast like Hide Away Café (technically its over the city line in nearby Solano Beach) or at one of Bull Taco Cardiff’s picnic tables on the cliff overlooking San Elijo State Beach. Then head down the five levels of wooden stairs to the beach, where if the tide is right, you can walk the length of Encinitas beaches from Swami’s to Boneyards and ending at Moonlight Beach.
Back in the downtown area, most of the stores, cafes and restaurants along South Coast Highway open at 11 or 12 – it is a surfing town after all. We recommend stopping in at Detour, the Store and browsing through the selection at the Seaside Bazaar, Encinitas’ outdoor market which is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Enjoy dinner or drinks at Shelter, where they roll back the ceiling to open up to the stars. Shelter is also open for brunch on weekends.
We’d like to thank my sister Mary and her wife, Karen, for putting us up at their amazing new Encinitas teahouse residence. Come on, Mary, Encinitas is your new home – time to get out of Baltimore!
There’s always something new on Zippertravel’s Pinterest. This week you’ll find 115 images on our new board “Teahouse” at www.pinterest.com/zippertravel.
And while you’re on our Pinterest page, browse through some of the other 186 terrific boards dedicated to travel, architecture, fashion, politics, and design, along with some original photography by Elizabeth and Steven. You don’t have to be a Pinterest member to view Zippertravel’s boards, but if you enjoy pinning you can do so by clicking on the button in the upper left hand corner of this page or selecting the Pinterest icon below. It’s just that easy.