History of Encinitas | Historic Encinitas Places to Visit

Visit This List of Encinitas Historic Spots and Uncover the History of Encinitas One Place at a Time

“It’s always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you’re going.”
–Anthony Burgess–

The Swami’s Self-realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens and Hermitage | History of Encinitas

Just off the Coast Hwy 101 and K Street at the South end of downtown Encinitas, you will find the golden Spires of the Swami’s Self Realization Fellowship. The beautiful golden spires and unusual architecture can be seen entering Downtown Encinitas and attracts visitors from all around the world. In 1937 the hermitage was built for Paramahansa Yogananda. Here, Yogananda wrote his well known book, Autobiagraphy of A Yogi. Prior to the gift of land to build the Self Realization Fellowship, this land above famous Swami’s beach was owned by the Noonan family and actually called “Noonan’s Point”.

Colony Olivenhain Meeting Hall | History of Encinitas

Located in the Colony of Olivenhain, you will find the old Meeting Hall. The Colony itself was formed in 1884 and ten years later the meeting hall was built. The builder, was an Olivenhain community member named, Bill Dommes, who was paid a whopping $6 for his work. This served as a place where the mostly German-speaking immigrants could gather, share ideas, celebrate, dance, and build a successful community together. It has been meticulously restored and maintained andrepresents over 100 years of Encinitas History. Swing by, it is located on South Rancho Santa Fe Rd. For More Info Visit the website here.

Then: Shamrock Cafe. Now: Cap’n Keno’s | History of Encinitas

This well known spot along Coast Hwy 101 is a great historic landmark in Encinitas. It was once known as Shamrock Cafe which served as a rest stop and eatery for many weary travelers and a go-to hang out for the bar scene. This iconic building that speaks to the history of Encinitas has gone through many reincarnations, but one has seemingly stayed the longest… In 1970, Gerry Sova bought the Encinitas restaurant and renamed it famously Cap’n Keno’s. For over 45 years the restaurant has served as a staple for Encinitas residents and visitors who want to get a taste of the History of Encinitas. Check out more information on the Cap’n Keno’s here.

“The Arks” – the Famous Encinitas Boathouses | History of Encinitas

Perhaps one of the more obscure places to visit in Encinitas to show the quirky and fun history of Encinitas, are the well known and much featured Encinitas Boathouses. These dry docked homes look like something out of an old movie set, but allas they are real life homes and a fun feature two blocks back from the beach. The Encinitas boathouses were built by architect, Miles Kellogg in the late 1920’s and still stand there today. He used salvaged wood and materials from the 1888 Moonlight Beach Dance Parlor – which closed because of prohibition. And yes people actually live in them! They are currently both rented out as private dwellings. Schedule a walking tour here.

Pannikin Coffee & Tea in the Old Encinitas Railroad Station | History of Encinitas


La Paloma Theater in Downtown Encinitas | History of Encinitas

As a tried and true look into the history of Encinitas, La Paloma Theater stands in downtown as a beacon of where we come from and where our community is going. Currently showing new movies, surf films, and the occasional “Talky”, La Paloma Theater is rich in history and has been entertaining Encinitas residents for decades. The theater opened in 1928 and was one of the first theaters to show “talkies” in 1927. Take a stroll by the historic landmark, or go catch a surf movie with friends, where voices of the past and the history is Encinitas is rich. Check out what is showing here.

1883 Encinitas One Room Schoolhouse | History of Encinitas

The one room schoolhouse in Encinitas currently serves as the main office of the Encinitas Historical Society. Before it became a historical icon for Encinitas heritage, it served as a school for the small population that built what is now the community of Encinitas. Built in 1883, it housed the entire school age population of children in Encinitas, which totaled in 8 students. John Pitcher deeded land at 3rd and E street for a school and E.G. Hammond and his Son, Ted Hammond, built the one room schoolhouse out of redwood with classic shiplap siding.
The school house was moved from its original spot in 1927 and actually served as a home for many years. In 1983 the Encinitas History Society saved it from being demolished and moved it back to the approximate spot. Visit this classic building reminding us of the long history of Encinitas at 390 W F St., Encinitas, CA.

Moonlight Beach | History of Encinitas

As a natural sandy beach, Moonlight Beach is the center for the seaside history of Encinitas. With the sandy bay and Cottonwood Creek flowing into the beach, early female settlers could be seen washing their clothes in the creek (circa the early 1900s). An early land prospector, J. S. Pitcher built a bathhouse, playground, boardwalk, dance hall, and picnic areas on this classic beach. Back in the 1920s you could find people dancing, riding horses, or even driving their Model Ts on the beach at low tide.
In the 50’s surfing and volleyball attracted Encinitas residents to enjoy the beaches. Now, bonfire pits and great amenities attract beach go-ers to enjoy this historic piece of sand in the heart of Encinitas. Events such as the Switchfoot Bro-Am, Surfing Madonna 5K Beach Run/Walk, and Surfrider Beach Clean-Ups bring the community together in one place just like the old dance hall back in the 1920s – showing us how the past can influence the present.

The Derby House | History of Encinitas

In between all of the modern beach homes, businesses, and bungalows, you will find a large pink house with odd sized windows with purple trim and pops of color. This building is known famously as The Derby House, a famous home perfectly representing the history of Encinitas as is once was.

In 1883, Edward Hammond and his family of 11 took a chance on Encinitas, lured by the rumors of a booming population and great farming, they instead found that they doubled the towns population with their own presence and these tales of a hot town on the rise were all but folklore. Although their arrival seemed to be a let down, the Hammonds stayed and made Encinitas their home.

Edwards ties to the Derby House in Encinitas come from his skills as a cabinetmaker and skilled carpenter. He built the Derby House for Amose Derby, a wealthy railroad man who lived their with his family for several years. The house later served as a wartime hospital, gathering place to wait for the nearby train, and even a religious retreat. In the 70’s it was a 14 room flophouse where visitors could stay for $2/night. Now some rooms are rented and it was currently put on the market – but the new owners need to preserve the charm and history of the Encinitas home. Tours may still be available – you can walk or drive by the home at 649 S. Vulcan Ave.


Paul Ecke & His Poinsettia Ranch | History of Encinitas

It is hard to talk about Encinitas, without mentioning the Ecke Family. Why? Because they put Encinitas on the map as the Poinsettia capital of the world. The Eckes gave back to much of the community and you can still see their names all over town, in places such as the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA and Ecke Ranch.
Paul Ecke, moved his families Poinsettia business from Hollywood down to Encinitas in 1923. His son Paul Ecke Jr saw the foresight to transform the weedy poinsettia plant into a Christmas staple, growing their business exponentially. In 1990s Paul Ecke Jr. Also bought and developed the famous Encinitas Ranch and what is now Legoland – showing how much the generations of their families have contributed to North County San Diego.
Although the Ecke Ranch no longer belongs to the family – Ecke III, sold the company in 2012, the family name and influence on the history of Encinitas still stand strong. Eke Ranch is still a wholesaler and influencer for Poinsettias and many global Poinsettia strains can be linked back to the Eckes farm. Check out the website here.

Cardiff Surfing History | History of Encinitas

The History of Encinitas would be incomplete with out mentioning some of the famous and historic surf breaks that made Encinitas a surfing mecca and voted one of the best surfing towns. Above is a classic picture of a surfer in the late 50s pulling into a head high wave at Cardiff Reef. Cardiff is a classic and historic Encinitas beach and surfing wave which has churned out classic surfers, committed locals, and pro surfers.
What was once a county beach with a short pier, dirt parking lot, and motel and bar – is now a famous State Beach and surf spot. It is said that the first locals to paddle out in 1948 were two guys named Ron Mc Carver and Sam Gray, who hopped on wooden surf boards and glided across the playful rock reef waves to christen Cardiff as a world class wave. From the days with only two guys out in the water to now the local crowds, Cardiff still speaks to the history of Encinitas and our surfing roots. It is a classic example of how the beautiful beaches and classic waves are all apart of the Encinitas Lifestyle.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the history of Encinitas and are inspired to explore the history of our community. This is a look at where we have come from and where we will go. We recommend paying homage to the spots on this list and learning more about the life of past Encinitas residents.

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