Small beach town with world renowned surf spots and an active, outdoorsy community.


Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a popular beach haven with beautiful sandy beaches, striking cliffs and great surfing. Add charming shops, wonderful cuisine and a vibrant arts section to the mix and you have the perfect place to call home. 
Known locally as “Cardiff”, this sought-after area features two miles of Pacific coastline and a relaxing beach town atmosphere. Home to the Lux Art Institute as well as the lush gardens of the Self Realization Center, Cardiff is on the border between Encinitas and Solana Beach and just steps from the ocean. Several local beaches, including Cardiff State Beach, San Elijo (with scenic bluff campsites), Pipes, Cardiff Reef, and internationally-known Swamis never disappoint.
Cardiff hosts a variety of annual events, including the Cardiff Kook Run, which is a 5k and 10K event where competitors run along picturesque coastline. The Taste of Cardiff is held in May and provides local eats, sip stops and live music. Other town festivals include the Dog Days of Summer event, the Cardiff Surf Classic and Green Beach Fair and the Kringle Mingle, a community-sponsored holiday event in December.
With many excellent residential neighborhoods in Cardiff, such as the Composer and Walking District located on the ocean side along the I-5 freeway, residents are never far from all the amenities this one of a kind beach town offers. 
Here's a list of top places to visit, restaurants to try, and a 3-day weekend itinerary for Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA:

Top 10 Places to Visit in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA:

  1. Cardiff State Beach: Enjoy the picturesque coastline with a walk along this beautiful dog-friendly beach.
  2. Seaside Market: Visit this beloved local market known for its gourmet food selection and famous Cardiff Crack tri-tip.
  3. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve: Explore the scenic trails, spot birdlife, and enjoy the natural beauty of the lagoon.
  4. Cardiff Kook Statue: Snap a photo with the iconic surfer sculpture, a popular Cardiff landmark that locals decorate for special events and occasions.
  5. Cardiff Reef: A renowned surf spot with great waves, it's perfect for surfers and spectators alike.
  6. Ada Harris Park: A family-friendly park with playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic views of the ocean.
  7. Cardiff Seaside Market Shopping Center: Explore local boutiques, cafes, and shops in this charming shopping center.
  8. Glen Park: Enjoy a peaceful walk among eucalyptus trees and picnic areas in this serene park that also features a “Movie in the Park” series each spring.
  9. Cardiff 101 Main Street: Discover local events, art galleries, and community activities through the Cardiff 101 Main Street organization.
  10. Cardiff Farmer’s Market: A Certified California Farmers Market features locally sourced produce harvested that morning and sold by local farmers. More than 85 vendors, including an array of related food products and prepared food vendors, and a curated group of craft vendors and local makers.

Top 10 Restaurants to Try in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA:

  1. Seaside Market: Grab a Cardiff Crack sandwich or build your custom sandwich or salad at the deli.
  2. Pacific Coast Grill: A renowned waterfront restaurant offering fresh, local and free-range ingredients, and two levels of bars, decks and patios so every seat offers an ocean view.
  3. Pipes Cafe: Start your day with a hearty breakfast and delicious coffee at this beloved café by the beach.
  4. Ki's Restaurant: Enjoy organic, fresh, and nutritious food from the ocean view deck with a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. 
  5. Besta-Wan Pizza House: A local favorite for pizza, pasta, and classic Italian dishes.
  6. Vigi’s Donuts: Treat yourself to freshly made donuts in a variety of flavors at Vigi’s Donuts, a local favorite for sweet treats.
  7. Sambazon: For healthy and delicious açaí bowls, smoothies, and organic juices
  8. Waverly: Experience contemporary American cuisine with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients at Waverly, known for its farm-to-table offerings.
  9. Las Olas Mexican Restaurant: Savor Mexican cuisine and cocktails on their ocean view patio.
  10. Cicciotti's Trattoria Italiana & Seafood: An Italian and seafood restaurant known for its flavorful dishes and inviting ambiance.

3-Day Weekend Itinerary for a Visitor to Cardiff-by-the-Sea:

Day 1: Beach and Local Eats
  • Morning: Relax at Cardiff State Beach and watch surfers catch waves.
  • Lunch: Enjoy a gourmet sandwich from Seaside Market.
  • Afternoon: Explore the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.
  • Dinner: Dine with ocean views at George's at the Cove.
Day 2: Surfing and Shopping
  • Morning: Try surfing at Cardiff Reef or watch the surfers.
  • Lunch: Grab a hearty breakfast at Pipes Cafe.
  • Afternoon: Explore the Cardiff Seaside Market Shopping Center and boutiques.
  • Dinner: Savor Mexican cuisine at Las Olas Mexican Restaurant.
Day 3: Parks and Picnics
  • Morning: Visit Glen Park for a serene nature walk.
  • Lunch: Have a picnic at Ada Harris Park overlooking the ocean.
  • Afternoon: Discover local art and events at Cardiff 101 Main Street.
  • Dinner: Try seafood with ocean views at Chart House.
This itinerary offers a mix of outdoor activities, dining experiences, and shopping in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. Please reach out to Neda Nourani & Associates for more local information and recommendations.

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