Eclectic. Funky. Hip. Happening. The Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas just might be the only place you will ever see a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard on the side of a building, but the Surfing Madonna is not all that makes this coastal community unique. A strong surf culture and a dedication to keeping Leucadia funky ensure that this community will remain vibrant, active and diverse.
Art galleries, locally owned restaurants, quaint coffee shops, mom and pop shops and – of course – an abundance of surf shops – line the streets, and with plenty of public art, community events and local hangouts, it is easy to see why this is one surfside retreat where tourists often long to be locals.
It’s not cheap to live here, but long-time residents and newcomers alike will tell you that living the Leucadia lifestyle every day is worth every penny.
The earliest known inhabitants of the land that is now the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas were the Kumeyaay Indians. As with other areas in Southern California, the area was explored and claimed by Spain, and was significantly influenced by the Mission Era. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the Rancho Era began, and the Leucadia area became part of Rancho de Los Encinitos.
The rancho was later divided into San Dieguito Rancho and Las Encinitas Rancho. San Dieguito Rancho became Rancho Santa Fe, as it is known today, and Las Encinitas Rancho eventually became home to the five communities that now make up Encinitas. After California became part of the United States, the land was bought and sold several times and was settled by a Civil War Veteran named Nathan Eaton and English spiritualists, who are usually credited for giving the area the name Leucadia and giving Roman and Greek names to the streets. However, the town was originally registered as Merle, and some say that the Greek and Roman names came from developers who failed at their plan to create a Greek-style resort area.
The area was once well known for growing flowers and avocados but, while flower fields and avocado groves can still be found throughout Encinitas, much of the land has been subdivided and developed into residential neighborhoods.
As is true of many coastal communities in North County, many celebrities have stopped in Leucadia en route between Hollywood and San Diego, the Del Mar Racetrack or Mexico. However, as you would expect from Leucadia, the stories of celebrities in these parts have a bit more flavor – like the time John Wayne reportedly broke up a fight in the parking lot of the old Shamrock Café.
For more than 100 years, Leucadia was known as its own entity, but this unincorporated area officially became part of the City of Encinitas in 1986.
The Leucadia community is known for its narrow, tree-lined streets, quaint cottages, luxury beach properties and diverse residents. This beachside community offers a variety of housing options, so it is no surprise that real estate listings run the gamut from about $500,000 to more than $3,000,000. At the time of this writing, there was even one home for sale on Neptune Avenue for $11,750,000, but there were also plenty of homes available for around $1,000,000.
There are not many new homes in Leucadia, and it is more common to find older homes that have been remodeled or updated. There are many homes along the coast with ocean views, and any home in this area is just a short walk or drive to the eclectic shopping district along Highway 101.
Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment
Leucadia is well known for its diverse shops and eateries, and the Highway 101 Coastal Corridor that runs through the neighborhood is lined with lots of locally owned shops with eclectic offerings. Mom and pop shops are the norm in this area and, like the neighborhood itself, there is plenty of character to be found while walking to a local coffee shop or one of the area’s popular surf shops.
This is the kind of neighborhood that is heavy on the local hangouts and hidden gems – like Juanita’s Taco Shop, Surfy Surfy and Lou’s Records – but you can find just about anything you need here, particularly if what you need is surf gear, scuba gear, beachwear or funky gifts.
The Leucadia Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday from 10:00am to 2:00pm at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School at 185 Union Street. Locals show up rain or shine to stock up on local meats, organic fruits and vegetables, some on the area’s famous flowers or a variety of specialty foods.
We can expect to see even more going on along the Highway 101 Coastal Corridor in Leucadia as Leucadia 101 Main Street Association’s N. Coast Highway 101 Streetscape Project works to encourage more shops, restaurants, events, music and arts in this already thriving and diverse area.
Parks & Recreation
Surfing is the most popular pastime for Leucadia locals who want to get outdoors and enjoy the year-round sunshine, but there are plenty of other options for outdoor recreation on days you decide to leave the board at home.
Beacons, which is officially known as Leucadia State Beach, is a hot local hangout where you can swim, surf, fish and sunbathe. Mostly locals head to this small beach located on Neptune at the bottom of Leucadia Boulevard, particularly because there is a bit of a hike down a hillside before you get to the sand.
There are also three parks located in the Leucadia neighborhood, including Leucadia Oaks Park, Orpheus Park and Leucadia Roadside Park.
Leucadia Oaks Park, which is located at 1511 North Vulcan Avenue offers a basketball court, volleyball court, picnic tables, playground equipment and a skateboarding feature.
Orpheus Park, which is located at 482 Orpheus Avenue, has picnic tables and playground equipment for visitors to enjoy. This park also has off-leash dog hours certain days of the week.
Leucadia Roadside Park is a cute little park with grassy areas for picnics, but there are no real facilities at this park. This is the oldest of the three parks and is rumored to once be where the English spiritualists who settled this area would meet.
Beer and wine are allowed in Leucadia Oaks Park and Orpheus Park but not at Leucadia Roadside Park.
Other nearby North County attractions include the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, Batiquitos Lagoon and the San Diego Botanic Garden, which is just a bit south of the neighborhood.
Public elementary school students living in Leucadia are served by the Encinitas Union School District and generally attend either Paul Ecke Central Elementary School or Capri Elementary School. Middle schools in the area include Diegueno Middle School and Oak Crest. Nearby high schools include La Costa Canyon High School and San Dieguito Academy.
All nine schools in the Encinitas Union School District have been named California Distinguished Schools, and this school district is considered by many to be one of the best in San Diego County.
For extracurricular activities, there are also dance studios, martial arts studios, art studios and surf schools.
The Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas is located south of Batiquitos Lagoon and west of El Camino Real. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the southern border drops down below Leucadia Boulevard to about where Union Street is located.
Community events like the Light Up Leucadia holiday lights event, LeucadiART Walk, Summer Fun on the 101, Taste of Leucadia and the weekly Leucadia Farmer’s Market ensure that there is always something to do in this eclectic neighborhood.
The Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (Leucadia101.com) and The Leucadia Blog (TheLeucadiaBlog.com) are two great places to find more pictures of Leucadia or learn more about this popular neighborhood.
Photo Attributions: Welcome to Leucadia sign photograph courtesy of The Reaves Team website (ReaveSteam.net). Surfy Surfy photograph courtesy of the Leucadia 101 website (Leucadia101.com). Leucadia Roadside Park sign photograph courtesy of The Leucadia Blog (TheLeucadiaBlog.com). Beacons Beach Leucadia Shark photograph courtesy of the Beacons Beach Facebook page (Facebook.com/pages/Beacons-Beach/107534672635943). Capri Elementary School photograph courtesy of Encinitas Union School District website (EUSD.net).