Encinitas is about 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. If staying in the downtown area, southbound traffic can be heavy during rush hour. Swami's Beach is a great place to watch the sunset while waiting for traffic to die down.
San Diego has a year-round temperate climate, so families can do these outings throughout the year. If swimming in winter, there are wetsuit rentals at many of the surf shops on Highway 101.
Moonlight State Beach parking is paid parking, so look for free street parking around B Street. It would also put you closer to Handel's Ice Cream. If you sign up for the Handel's newsletter, you get a free cone if the coupon is used within 48 hrs.
Named among the 20 best surf towns in the world by National Geographic, Encinitas is the quintessential Southern California beach culture, famous for its big waves and good vibes. Swami’s Beach, a pro-surfer beach at Encinitas, was immortalized in the Beach Boys’ song “Surfin’ USA,” and the Historic Highway 101 runs right through the town. It’s also a great home base for a family trip to San Diego since it’s just a short drive away. This itinerary is a fun twist on a family beach outing, starting off with a lunch at Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon, a local favorite Southern Californian pie shop, and a secret garden respite with a mini animal enclosure at Sunshine Gardens Nursery next door. Then hit Moonlight State Beach for a local beach with a great playground and lots of family activities, before ending your perfect beach day in Encinitas with kids with a treat of homemade ice cream at Handel’s Ice Cream.