Cardiff-By-The-Sea: What To Do, See and Experience

Southern California has a coast full of beach towns. But some of them are more touristy than others. If you are looking for a seaside retreat in a salty air sleepy seaside town, Cardiff-By-The-Sea just may be the place for you.

Nestled just south of San Diego’s prominent beach town, Encinitas, Cardiff offers a more quiet respite from the daily So Cal hustle, and an opportunity to go back in time, where beach towns were quaint, noise controlled and most of the shops and vendors were local. Cardiff starts at the river mouth, flanked by San Elijo State Beach and Cardiff State Beach, and extends north to Swami’s Point in Encinitas. The swells are surf-friendly and the sandy beaches are perfect for camping.

Here are five suggestions to make your stay spectacular when you travel to Cardiff-By-The-Sea.

Where To Stay

Cardiff Vacation Rentals offer you a chance to be right with the locals in a luxury seaside rental. Their villas and sea cottage boast HALO water filtration, and modern furnishings, and all are impeccably clean. Each rental places you within a mile of the beach.

What To Do

Cardiff-By-The-Sea is a sleepy seaside town, but there are lots of activities. Bike rides and runs or brisk walks through the trails of Elijo State beach will get you outside in the salty air. Be sure to check out the San Elijo Lagoon and Ecological Reserve. Take a walk along the bluff trails and check out the ways that the reserve is preserving the wetlands.

Where To Eat

There are some wonderful dining options to choose from. For your morning cup of joe, head down to Bump Coffee or Zumbar’s. And be sure to visit nearby VG Bakery for out-of-this-world donuts, cookies, and pastries. A popular dining spot, The Waverly is an all-day cafe serving Progressive American cuisine with a European influence. Check out the grilled oysters and the butterscotch dessert. And their cocktails and live music add a bit of elegance to the ocean breeze.

Where To Play

The scenic beach of Cardiff is the key to staying active while you are visiting. Elijo State Beach is perfect for a beach picnic and water sports. Be sure to check out the tide pools with the kiddos, a visual education on sea life.  And for nightlife, take yourself back to 1964, with wood-paneled walls, pool tables, and a Shaka vibe for a nightcap at the Shanty Lounge.



Cardiff-By-The-Sea has done an amazing job of being progressive in flavor, without losing its small-town seaside cool. Whether it is in the winter to take a break from the blues, or a summer vacation to hit the waves, book your stay in Cardiff. You won’t regret it.