Encinitas is a quintessential Southern California surf town located about 25 miles north of San Diego. There is Encinitas, but also a handful of other well-known areas that are part of its incorporated city that include Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Olivenhain. So, when we refer to Encinitas hotels, we’re talking about accommodations in all four San Diego County neighborhoods.
Together, they boast pristine sandy beaches, world-class surfing (Swami’s beach was even name-checked in Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys), diverse local food offerings, an expansive craft beer scene, and eclectic vibrant downtown areas along Highway 101. Encinitas has managed to retain its laid-back, small-town vibes hotels in Encinitas are typically smaller, boutique-style inns with loads of charm and amenities, small budget chains, or family-owned motels — all close to popular things to do.
Inn at Moonlight Beach (Top Pick)
The all-suite Inn at Moonlight Beach was completely redesigned in 2019 and is a standout among Encinitas hotels, being the first WELL-certified hotel in the world. WELL certification is accredited by GBCI (Green Building Certification, Inc.) when buildings enhance the guest experience across seven categories that include Air, Water, Light, Nourishment, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.
Hotel guests are greeted with a fresh pot of herbal tea in their rooms; the onsite biodynamic garden features medicinal herbs, teas, and vegetables; and Healthy Start Breakfast Baskets full of local artisanal treats are offered daily — to name a few of the healthy living offerings.
The Inn at Moonlight Beach is conveniently located just two blocks from the Coaster train station, and within easy distance to Moonlight Beach and downtown Encinitas. It was also voted Best of North County San Diego 2019 by San Diego Magazine. There are only five suites so book early.
The top post photo is also courtesy of Inn at Moonlight Beach.
If you’re looking for Encinitas hotels on the beach, Surfhouse fully embraces the local surf culture. Surfboards and gear rentals are available to hotel guests, and Surfhouse offers lessons and customized guided surf experiences as well. Shred waves at Beacon’s Beach, a block away, widely considered also one of the best spots to take in a Southern California sunset.
For those who want to stay on land, try a yoga class on the beach or use a complimentary beach cruiser.
Each of the quaint hotel’s eight unique guestrooms is named after well-known local surf breaks and decorated with art from local artists. Guests can enjoy a hot outdoor shower and complimentary WiFi. There’s no onsite dining but you’re within steps of several excellent dining and nightlife options along Highway 101.
Moonlight Beach Motel
Family-owned and operated since 1976, Moonlight Beach Motel is one of the hotels in Encinitas CA located two blocks from Moonlight Beach, which offers incredible surf, sand volleyball, grassy picnic areas, and bonfire pits on the sand. Several restaurants, coffee shops, and nightlife hotspots are within walking distance as well.
The guestrooms at Moonlight Beach Motel range in size from studios to suites with up to three beds and each offers private balconies and ocean or garden views. Each room is equipped with a full kitchenette that has a stove and oven, refrigerator, and microwave. Fresh danishes and coffee are also served daily in the front office. WiFi and self-parking are both complimentary.
Best Western Encinitas Inn & Suites at Moonlight Beach
When looking for pet-friendly Encinitas hotels, the Best Western Inn & Suites at Moonlight Beach should be a consideration. It is conveniently located west of Interstate 5 and within easy walking distance of Moonlight State Beach and bustling downtown Encinitas, with its eclectic surf shops, cafes, boutiques, and restaurants.
Accommodations at the Best Western Moonlight Beach range from standard rooms with single or double beds to suites with kitchens and sofa sleepers. All rooms have private balconies and include complimentary WiFi and a hot continental breakfast which includes eggs, meats, waffles, and pastries. There are several rooms with an ocean view. The hotel has a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, and self-parking is complimentary.
Leucadia Beach Inn
The Leucadia Beach Inn is one of the hotels in Encinitas CA that has a rich local history. It was originally built in 1920 in the classic horseshoe design popular at the time to serve people traveling between Los Angeles and Mexico. Although it was completely renovated in 2005, the Leucadia Beach Inn still retains much of its original charm. All guestrooms face into a sunny, flower-filled courtyard and the hotel is within walking distance of some of the area’s best beaches.
All of the spacious guestrooms include free WiFi, air conditioning, and kitchenettes. The Leucadia Beach Inn is ultra dog-friendly and will happily provide guests with pet beds, grain-free dog food and snacks, and food and water bowls. Parking is free and the Coaster train station is just a three-minute walk away.
Kate Stanton Inn
When deciding on which Encinitas hotels on the beach to stay at, consider the Kate Stanton Inn, a luxury bed-and-breakfast perched on a hill but within walking distance of Moonlight Beach and Carlsbad State Beach. Each of the spacious guestrooms at the Kate Stanton Inn includes complimentary WiFi, comfortable work desks, plush bathrobes, refrigerators, and premium linens.
Guests are treated to a daily personalized breakfast, as well as an afternoon reception with tea, wine, and cheese on the community shared patio with sweeping ocean views. There are also numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops within easy walking distance. Parking is free and guests also have complimentary access to beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas. The Kate Stanton Inn also maintains a community library of books and movies for guests to enjoy.
Cardiff by the Sea Lodge
Cardiff by the Sea Lodge boasts one of the best locations in Cardiff, situated within walking distance of San Elijo State Beach. Several restaurants (Pipes for breakfast is legendary), cafes, and shops are also within minutes and easily accessible in Cardiff and the adjacent towns of Solana Beach and Encinitas.
The 17 guestrooms at this boutique hotel are all uniquely appointed with individual themes and designed by the husband (an architect) and wife (an interior desitner) owners. Each room offers a view of either the hotel’s gardens of the ocean and comes with complimentary WiFi and breakfast each morning.
Some rooms also have Jacuzzi spa tubs or working fireplaces. The expansive rooftop desk features lush tropical landscaping and sweeping ocean views. Parking is also complimentary at Cardiff by the Sea Lodge.
Hampton Inn Encinitas-Cardiff Beach Area
With an ultra-convenient location and several standard amenities, the Hampton Inn Encinitas-Cardiff Beach Area offers something for every type of traveler. It is just off I-5, a three-minute drive from Moonlight State Beach and Fletcher Cove Park and 10 minutes from Cardiff State Beach and the Del Mar Fairgrounds. LEGOLAND California and premium outlet shopping in Carlsbad is just 10 miles north.
The hotel offers an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, a 24-hour fitness center, free parking, and a daily complimentary hot breakfast. For guests in a hurry, On the Run grab-and-go breakfast bags are offered during the week. Although there is not a full-service restaurant onsite, there are many restaurants within walking distance. Pets are welcome at the Hampton Inn Encinitas Cardiff Beach Area, and there is an on-site 24-hour market and ATM for guest convenience. It’s also a great way to earn or redeem Hilton Honors points.