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kayakers, and body-boarders congregate at Cardiff on summer weekends.
Cardiff lies north and west of the San
Elijo Lagoon (a naturally occurring inland waterway fed by the
ocean) and consists of Cardiff
State Beach to the south and San
Elijo State Beach to the north. Those looking for a low-key
beach for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing will enjoy Cardiff’s
This beach community is primarily residential and offers great views
of the Pacific
Surfliner train, which parallels the beach. The San Elijo Lagoon
is an ecological reserve administered by the San Diego County Parks.
It is an excellent spot for bird watching and catching a glimpse
of natural coastal habitat in Southern California before the advent
of 20th century development. Curious children and adults will want
to explore the tide pools at the south end of Cardiff State Beach.
Locals and tourists enjoy the mexican and seafood restaurants located
at "Restaurant Row" on the beach at the north end of San
Elijo Lagoon. This laid-back beach area lacks the hustle and bustle
of city beaches, making it popular with tourists seeking a more
low key beach experience.
Lifeguards, showers, and restrooms are available
at both state beaches. San Elijo State Beach offers overnight camping.
Paid parking is available inside San Elijo State Park. However,
ample free parking can be found outside the park along the highway.
To get to Cardiff, take I-5 north from San Diego and exit at Manchester
Avenue. Take Manchester west; it will turn into San Elijo Avenue.
From San Elijo Ave. turn left on Chesterfield Dr. which will take
you to Highway 101 (Coast Highway).
The south end of Cardiff State Beach ("Seaside" parking
lot) is a favorite surf break periodically hosting surfing events
For an interesting twist to your vacation, visit the beautiful gardens
at the Self Realization Fellowship Retreat located near "Swami's"
parking lot north of San Elijo State Beach (look for the gold domed
roof). The retreat, built by followers of Paramahansa Yogananda
in 1937, opens its gardens to the public Tuesday through Sunday
during daytime hours.
Market, located on San Elijo Ave. just north of Chesterfield Dr.,
offers a wide assortment of ready to go, healthy snacks and food
items including a full service deli. Seaside Market is a great place
to stop before spending the day at the beach.
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