The History Behind Encinitas

Get Your Zen on in This Diverse Coastal Town



Encinitas, San Diego

What do surfers, politicians, skateboarders, and poinsettia enthusiasts have in common? In a word, Encinitas. A ‘beach town’ like no other, it encompasses a colorful cross-section of San Diego’s population; and in the process, celebrates differences by bringing those cultures together.

Encinitas has always been a diverse, beautiful city with a great cultured history. It began its development with the Dieguenos Indian converts assisting the Spanish in building local missions. Later, after this venture proved successful, the governor of Baja, California, Gaspar de Portolabegan, started construction in various areas. His main goal was to educate people with the basics (English and math) but also religion. Gaspar officially named the city after the numerous oak trees that surrounded the area; Encinitas is Spanish for “Encina Canada”, meaning Hills of Live Oaks.

True, there are less oak trees in the topography of Encinitas today, however, there is plenty of beauty preserved in its beaches, wetland preserves, and other historic landmarks. As the population continued to grow, the city branched off into five diverse communities: Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Leucadia and Olivenhain. These areas make up almost twenty square miles, and some felt these communities should dilute into one. But instead, each fought to maintain its unique identity; incorporated or not, each carved out its own niche and created a certain mystique in the process. Today, Encinitas and its communities continue this tradition.

There are many factors that draw people to this North County Coastal town. For outsiders looking in, Encinitas represents the quintessential California experience: luxury living with a relaxed attitude. The only way to “pocket” this type of moxy is to buy a home and live out the dream; surfing, shopping, sunsets, chic style, and that zip code. Of course, not everyone can afford the dream, but this unattainability is part of the draw. On top of its superior location and built-in attitude, Encinitas boasts top-rated blue ribbon public schools from kindergarten through high school; where else can you find the elective of Surf P.E.? There’s also the 18-hole championship golf course with panoramic ocean views - just ask Tiger or Jack. It’s no accident that Encinitas is home to the Self-Realization Center, where people go to study ‘inner stillness’ and practice a zen-like existence. And one main-stay, the historic highway 101, is still as busy, having traded its horse and buggy set for chic boutiques, bars, and the occasional drag race from folks like Harley Davidson and the antique motorcar enthusiasts.

Another part of Encinitas’ history that continues today is the proliferation of poinsettia and bulb growers. What started in the early 1920’s as an experiment in soil and hybridization has continued to this day with much success. Like those before them, poinsettia and other bulb flowers have been grown and sold year-round as a great source of income. Examples of continued success today include B. Dollimore’s famed hibiscus garden, the 60-acre poinsettia farm of Paul Ecke, the Quail Botanical Gardens and possibly, Carlsbad’s famed flower fields.

When you add up these life-enriching aspects, it’s easy to see why Encinitas is so popular (and we haven’t even mentioned the most obvious - the beaches and their unbeatable surf spots).

Speaking of sports, Encinitas is home to many professional athletes. Action Sport Stars like Rob Machado, Tony Hawk, and Shawn White call it home. The Magdelena-Ecke Y.M.C.A. houses one of the best skate parks in the country. Numerous surf contest are held every summer, along with beach volleyball events. The near-perfect temperatures make it the ideal location for all type of athletes to train. Travel any given day on the 101 and you’ll see everything from the triathlete to the weekend warrior to the mom pushing a stroller - yet another example of the diversity and relaxed, nurturing appeal of this town.

So if you’re looking for diversity, look no further. Encinitas has its own unique flair, and it doesn’t apologize. Who could argue with the million dollar ocean views? Maybe that’s why, despite the real estate downturn, homes continue to hold their value - from Olivenhain to Leucadia. If you’re considering a purchase in the area of Encinitas, remember, you’re not just buying a home, you’re truly buying a lifestyle that is envied by many, from sea to shining sea. And who could argue with that?

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