Valentine's Day is approaching quickly and many of you will be stuck at the last minute wondering what to do for that special person in your life.
Encinitas has many romantic places to stroll as well as wonderful restaurants, chocolate shops, florists, etc. I have compiled a list of ideas that are in our own backyard as well as a few worth traveling a few miles to make your loved one feel special.
FREE ROMANTIC PLACES TO VISIT:
1. Local Beaches - Moonlight Beach, D St, Swami's, etc. Spend some time holding hands and strolling on the beach. Take a moment to stop and see if you can spot whales as they are migrating south or dolphins playing in the surf. Enjoy watching surfers as they ride the local waves. If it's low tide, go out on a reef and touch the anemones, watch crabs scurry and enjoy the beautiful sea life. Even more special is to gaze at one of the awesome sunsets over the ocean. Truly magical! Moonlight Beach allows bonfires if you want to stay late and enjoy a toasty fire with your loved one.
2. Self Realization Center Gardens - Click to see my previous post on this gorgeous garden overlooking the ocean. Very tranquil and magical place to spend with someone you care about.
3. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve - Stroll through the local lagoon trails and enjoy our flora and fauna that are in our own backyard. Bring your binoculars to spot rare birds. "More than 319 species of birds have been recorded at San Elijo Lagoon and Cardiff State Beach. Over 106 of these species are rare to uncommon migrants, and 74 are considered sensitive, threatened or endangered species, including 16 of the 65 nesting species." The newly built LEED gold nature center building is open from 9am-5pm daily and is has museum quality exhibits.
4. Local Parks and Trails - Encinitas has many local parks and trails that are great to bring the kids to or leave the kids home and enjoy a romantic picnic for two. Some parks allow beer and wine as long it is not in a glass container. See link for a complete list of parks and what is allowed at each park.
5. Stroll on Coast Highway and enjoy Seaside Bazaar. Seaside Bazaar is an open air flea market where you are sure to find local artisans and merchants selling tie dyed clothing, teak furniture, jewelry, eclectic art pieces and incense. The Bazaar is only open on weekends and is located next to the famous La Paloma Theatre at 459 S. Coast Highway.
6. Encinitas Historical Society - Learn about the history of Encinitas located in an old one room schoolhouse built in 1883 and the oldest building in Encinitas located behind the old Pacific View Elementary school at 390 W. F Street.
PLACES TO SATISFY THAT SWEET TOOTH
1. Visit Chuao Chocolates at 937 S. Coast Highway and try interesting twists on chocolate combinations mixed with ingredients sure to enlighten your taste buds.
2. Berry Happy Self Serve Yogurt - 480 S. Coast Highway
3. St. Tropez Bakery and Bistro - 947 S. Coast Highway in the Lumberyard. Sit outside and enjoy one of their many delicious pastries. Try the chocolate croissant or the fruit tarts or any of their pastries with a cup of coffee on their patio.
4. Pannikin Coffee Shop - 510 N. Coast Highway located in the old Enciniitas Train Station and has some of the best coffees around. Go early and enjoy a sweet homemade pastry. Beware, this place is usually quite busy!
5. Darshan Bakery - 949 Second St located off the beaten path and owned by a husband wife team. Everything in this bakery is made by hand on the premises and using real butter....no crisco here! The Chai Tea is also made on the premises and is amazing.
6. Gordy's Bakery - 441 Encinitas Blvd located in a strip center behind Kinkos. Gordy serves up delicious baked goods and may be best known for his hearty "plonks". It is a muffin full of all the healthy delights of oats, raisins, brown sugar, banana, butter, flour, dates, walnuts, water, sugar, eggs, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger. Delightful!
PLACES TO BE PAMPERED
1. Lemongrass Spa - 910 Second Street in a darling old home. Massages, facials and pampering. Go to the website and receive 10% off your first service.
2. Bergamot Spa - 775 N. Vulcan Ave (Leucadia) Bergamot is an Indonesian inspired spa with many of its pieces hand picked and imported from Bali by the owner. The couples massage is amazing and is done in a tranquil "hut" next to a large koi pond. Heaven. Other services are also available as well as specials.
3. East Holistic Reflexology and Massage - 7750 N. El Camino Real, Suite C, Carlsbad - Not quite as romantic as the others but still a slice of heaven. Located in a strip center in La Costa you are treated to an open room with leather comfy chairs and a warm bowl of water for your feet. "Your foot reflexology massage starts with soaking your feet in hot water infused with 100% Chinese herbs for detox. As you soak, the toxins are drawn out through your feet and ankles. While you soak, you will experience a head, neck, shoulder, back, and hands massage. Once the toxins are drawn out, your feet will be dried, and our therapist will apply a healing foot reflexology massage. A Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal tea is also served."
PLACES TO DINE WITH YOUR LOVED ONE
Highway 101 is filled with amazing restaurants depending on what your taste buds desire. Below is a list of my personal favorites and is not a complete list of restaurants that are located in Encinitas. There are many restaurants but I wanted to focus on MY personal favorites.
1. Siamese Basil - If you like Thai food then this is THE place to go. Located at 527 S. Coast Highway this small restaurant usually has a wait so be prepared...it is worth it! Panang curry, pineapple fried rice, frest spring rolls, Thai soups...I haven't met a plate I haven't loved here. You can let them know from 1-10 how hot you want it...beware...anything over a 5 is pretty darn spicy!
2. Vigilucci's - Quaint and romantic Italian Tritorria. Authentic pasta dishes, wonderful bread, great staff...need I say more? 505 S. Coast Highway
3. El Q'Ero - Peruvian restaurant that is all the talk in Encinitas. Reservations are recommended.
4. Yu Me Ya Sake House - Cute Japanese restaurant with only about 5 tables so make a reservation or prepare to wait. Extensive list of sakes and very knowledgable staff. Try the tuna carpaccio, blackened cod and calamari...they are delicious as well as the tempura. 1246 N Coast Hwy 101 (Leucadia)
5. Tomiko Sushi - Located in the Best Western overlooking Moonlight Beach. I like it for its ambiance.
6. Kaito Sushi - Tucked away in a strip mall on El Camino Real but don't let the location hinder you from enjoying some of the best fresh sushi around. The sushi chefs are masters at what they serve and can tell you everything you want to know about where the fish is from and when it was caught. Kazuo Morita is great at just serving you delicious food without ever having to order. Just be careful...it adds up! 130 A N. El Camino Real
7. Ki's - Located just across the street from the ocean Ki's has amazing sunset views and delicious fresh and natural foods. Homemade soups, salads, fish of the day, pastas...YUM! 2591 S. Coast Highway (Cardiff by the Sea)
8. Fidel's Mexican Food - 607 Valley Avenue (Solana Beach) Fidels has been a Solana Beach staple for those wanting delicious Mexican food since the 1960's. Very funky vibe, authentic food and fun atmosphere.
9. Beach House - Fine dining on the ocean in Cardiff. Steak, seafood, salads all with panoramic views of the Pacific. 2530 South Coast Hwy 101
10. Las Olas Mexican Food - Located between the Lagoon and the Ocean this restaurant is all about location as well as great margaritas. Take a walk across the street to the beach while waiting for your table! Good food and good fun. 2655 South Coast Highway 101 (Cardiff)
These are just a few ideas for those of you needing a hint or two of what to do. Other things worth considering...take in a round of golf at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course that boasts an ocean view from every hole, go to a movie at the historic La Paloma Theatre on Coast Highway 101 (see if you can get her to snuggle a little closer by telling her about the famous ghosts that reside there), take in some culture at the Lux Institute on El Camino Real and meet the in house artist, stroll in the San Diego Botanical Gardens known for rare bamboos and other flora as well as an impressive man made waterfall with lush gardens, snap a photo in front of the famous Encinitas "boat houses" on 720 3rd Street.