Cardiff by the Sea, California, is a beach community located in the incorporated city of Encinitas, in San Diego County, California. It is approximately 35 miles north of the San Diego airport, and the rest of incorporated Encinitas (including Leucadia and Olivenhain) is to the east and north. To the west is the grand Pacific Ocean, and the San Elijo lagoon is to the south. Cardiff runs along the beach for 1 mile, and extends east approximately 1 mile from the oceans' edge.
With a population of around 12,500 residents, Cardiff operates as a part of the city of Encinitas, but has its own zip code (92007), while Leucadia and Olivenhain share the 92024 zip code with Encintas.
Cardiff beaches and ideal weather are the perhaps the biggest draws for our beach town. There are no houses located on the beach in Cardiff, just the San Elijo State Beach Campground. The local residents and tourists have full access to the beach through the capmground. There are also two restaurants currently on the beach, Chart House and Pacific Coast Grill. Otherwise, the beaches are wide open, and usually have broad sand fronting the water, and various reefs up and down the beach that offer good surfing. Surfing conditions are ideal almost every day of the year.
There are three distinct neigborhoods in Cardiff. The Composer District is located on the north side of Birmingham Drive, west of Interstate 5, and south of Santa Fe Drive, with the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Composer District includes twelve streets named for musicians, i.e. Bach, Motzart, Liszt, etc. There are approximately 600 homes in this neighborhood, and most are situated on larger, irregularly shaped lots, providing more privacy than the other neighborhoods in Cardiff.
The Walking District was named such by Mark Bobo in 1992, and the name has stuck, currently being used by all. This neighborhood is south of Birmingham Drive, west of Interstate 5 and north of San Elijo Lagoon, with the Pacific Ocean to the west. It has approximately 900 houses/twinhomes and apartments. They are sited on more rectangular lots which are primarily 50 foot frontage by 100 foot depth. The homes in the Walking District are more likely to have panoramic ocean views, due to the topography of this neighborhood. However, it is more congested than the Composer District due to parking on the public streets.
Poinsettia Heights is on the east side of Interstate 5, with Santa Fe Drive on the North, Lake Drive on the east, and Manchester Avenue on the south. It has approximately 500 homes and condominiums. The houses are more homogeneous than the other two neighborhoods, as they were built in tracts designed and built by large developers in the 1960's. They are situated on rectangular lots, like the Walking District. This neighborhood is Cardiff's most affordable, and typically sell more quickly.
There are two public parks in Cardiff. Glen Park is located at Norfolk Avenue and San Elijo Avenue, just behind the 7-Eleven in the Walking District. The park is used primarily by residents of the Walking District with small children, but people from all over Cardiff and Encinitas come here, as well, because of its small size and quiet location. On the weekens, the park is usually full with daytime parties and social events. The second park is the Encinitas Community Park, located on MacKinnon Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, in the Composer District. It is much larger than Glen Park, with soccer and baseball fields, a skate park and a dog park. It also has picnic tables and some grills, and is a day-use park.
Encinitas Community Park
Encinitas Community Park
Encinitas Community Park
Downtown Cardiff is known for the Cardiff Town Center, located in the Walking District. Seaside Market is the biggest draw, and is considered one of the finest gourmet markets along the coast. There are 12 other unique places to shop and eat in this center. The library and post office are in thei area as well, along with the famous VG Donuts, one of the original businesses in Cardiff, and still run by a local family.
The coastal rail trail is a newer addition to Cardiff, and runs along the railroad tracks, just east of Highway 101. It extends from Chesterfield Drive, the entrance to Cardiff from the Coast Highway, north to Santa Fe Drive, and connects Cardiff to Encinitas by walking, skating or riding bikes. At the north end of the rail trail, there is a pedestrian underpass the allows users to safely cross under the train tracks to access paths that run along the bluffs, Swamis beach and park, and downtown Encinitas.
Cardiff Town Center
Coastal Rail Trail
Coastal Rail Trail and Underpass
You cannot talk about Cardiff without menentioning the Cardiff Kook statue, located at the Coast Highway and Chesterfield Drive. This bronze statue of a surfer riding a wave has generated loads of controversy since it was erected. Instead of seeing it as a piece of art, there is a group of locals that cannot get past the idea that it portrays a surfer who looks like he cannot surf, which has struck a sour chord for some of the surfing community. Ths, the art is nicknamed the "Cardiff Kook". I was the olnly Realtor who recognized the importance of this piece of art for Cardiff, and donated money to have it erected. What it lacks in style is made up for by identifying and showing the public that Cardiff is is a surf town in San Diego County that has great surf and beautiful beaches. The Kook has become something of a community gathering spot, and is often decorated for various causes and holidays.
Cardiff by the Sea is considered one of the finest small beach towns in all of San Diego County. Before you settle in the area, make sure you check this piece of paradise along the beach, in North San Diego County. You won't be disappointed!