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Encinitas Neighborhood Guide: Olivenhain

Hot Air Balloons over Olivenhain

Olivenhain (German for olive grove) is the eastern-most neighborhood in the City of Encinitas and offers upscale country living just a short drive from downtown.

Walking and riding trails meander through the neighborhood, and historic landmarks dot the landscape to remind residents of the Colony Olivenhain that once called this land home.


After the Mission Era, the area that is now Olivenhain became part of Rancho de Los Encinitos. This rancho was later divided into Rancho Las Encinitas and Rancho San Dieguito. After Rancho Las Encinitas was lost to foreclosure in 1800, it changed hands twice to come under the ownership of the Kimball brothers. Their intention was to find a group of immigrants interested in purchasing the land to form a colony-like community and, in 1884, their marketing efforts paid off when Theodore Pinther expressed interest in putting together a colony on the land.

There were just seven original colony members in May of 1884, but their numbers grew quickly, and a total of 67 members traveled by train from Denver to Olivenhain to settle the land. Folks of any nationality were welcome to join – as long as they spoke German fluently – but the members were not interested in allowing gamblers, insurance agents or lawyers. The colonists all crammed into the only three buildings on the property until land distribution and the construction of homes began in January of 1885.

The vast majority of the original homes built in the community were less-expensive shanties, but some more well-to-do families built more elaborate homes, such as the Germania Hotel built by Herman Baecht. The Germania Hotel and one of the original shanties are still standing today and can be seen on the Town Hall and Meeting Hall properties, respectively.

It did not take long for colonists to become suspicious of Theodore Pinther after hearing rumors that they were paying well over market value for the undeveloped land on which they were building their colony. According to these rumors, Pinther was getting commission from the Kimball brothers, and after this was confirmed by the Kimball brothers themselves, Pinther was kidnapped and held until he confessed to his unsavory deeds.

Olivenhaim Meeting Hall

After Pinther was ran out of town, the colonists and the Kimball brothers came to a new agreement and a new contract was signed. This document was finalized on July 8, 1885, and Colony Olivenhain was officially founded.

With this early trouble and a lack of water on the land, many of the farms within the colony were abandoned within just a couple of years, but some of the colonists stayed in the area to homestead nearby land. Some of the descendants of the original colonists and homesteaders still live in Olivenhain today.

Although this community has had its ups and downs throughout the years and was a bit behind the curve when it came to acquiring some of the modern conveniences we consider essential today, it continued to expand and develop into the upscale neighborhood we now know and love.

Early colonists were committed to maintaining a close-knit community with controlled growth and community meetings where all members could participate in important decisions. Current residents remain committed to preserving their rural way of life and continue to hold Town Council meetings that are open to all Olivenhain residents. In fact, these monthly meetings are even held in Olivenhain’s original Meeting Hall, which was built by colonists and first used for a colony meeting in March of 1895. The Olivenhain Town Meeting Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Olivenhain remained an independent unincorporated area for more than 100 years before becoming part of the City of Encinitas in 1986.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Olivenhain, there is an incredibly detailed account of how the colony came to be and how it grew over the years at

Ocean View from Olivenhaim


Olivenhain is a semi-rural community made up of mostly custom-built, detached homes on lots that range in size from about .5 acres to five acres. Gently rolling hills, small ranches, and two-lane roads that wind through the community past rail fences and horse stables give this small community the country feel that residents hold dear and visitors quickly fall in love with.

There are currently about 1,500 homes in Olivenhain, and low-density zoning ensures that this number is not likely to significantly increase. When remaining lots are developed, the number of houses is projected to reach just more than 1,600.

There is a variety of properties available here, including more modest homes, country estates, horse properties and multi-million dollar mansions. Like its eastern neighbor, Rancho Santa Fe, Olivenhain is considered an exclusive, upscale community for those looking for country living within a short drive to city amenities, attractions and beaches. However, homes in Olivenhain are generally more affordable than Rancho Santa Fe – which most people would agree is the most exclusive community in San Diego County – and Olivenhain is generally perceived as a more laidback neighborhood without the old money reputation of Rancho Santa Fe.

According to, the average price of a four-bedroom, detached, single-family home in Olivenhain is $1,615,000 at the time of this writing. This same source reports that the average price of a three-bedroom, detached, single-family home is $1,272,000. The average price for a three-bedroom townhouse or condominium is $778,000, and the average price for a two-bedroom townhouse or condominium is $559,000.

Although this community is not located on the beach, many homes enjoy ocean views. Residents also enjoy stargazing that is unmatched in most of the towns along the coast in North County due to Olivenhain’s Dark Skies Policy, which reduces light pollution by placing restrictions on outdoor lighting used on tennis courts, streets and other structures in the community.

Double LL Ranch in Olivenhain

Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment

Olivenhain is primarily a residential community with few stores or restaurants within the neighborhood. The primary shopping location where most residents in this area complete day-to-day errands is the area around Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real, which is along the southwestern border of Olivenhain. Here you will find the West Village Shopping Center and stores like Vons, Trader Joe’s and T.J. Maxx. A bit further north on El Camino Real, you will find Target, The Home Depot and other larger chain retailers.

There is also some shopping available around the junction of Encinitas Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe where you will find shops like Rite Aid and the Meritage Wine Market.

While there is not a lot of shopping, dining and entertainment options in the neighborhood, the shops and eateries of downtown Encinitas and Carlsbad are just a short drive away. This allows Olivenhain residents to enjoy a quiet, country lifestyle in close proximity to city amenities.

Parks & Recreation

Outdoor enthusiasts will find this neighborhood particularly appealing – both for its close proximity to many of North County’s most popular outdoor recreation areas and for the many walking, biking and horseback riding trails that meander throughout the neighborhood. Access to an extensive network of trails can be found at the end of Taegan Lane, and part of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is located within the Olivenhain community, which includes the dog-friendly, three-mile San Elijo Lagoon Trail.

The Little Oaks Equestrian Park located at 2879 Lone Jack Road is also a great find for horse lovers and provides locals and visitors with trail access, an arena, trailer parking and picnic tables. Beer and wine are allowed in this park, but there are no restrooms available.

There is also Wiro Park on 11th Avenue, which offers trail access, play equipment, picnic tables and barbecue grills, as well as Sun Vista Park, which is located at the corner of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Avenida La Posta and offers picnic facilities, a playground and off-leash dog hours most days of the week.

Other nearby attractions include the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, the San Diego Botanic Garden, Batiquitos Lagoon and, of course, the beaches of Encinitas, which are just a few miles away.

Sun Vista Park


Public school students living in Olivenhain are served by the highly rated Encinitas Union School District and the San Dieguito Union High School District. Elementary school children generally attend Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary, junior high school students generally attend Diegueno Junior High School, and high school students most often attend either La Costa Canyon High School or San Dieguito Academy.


The community of Olivenhain is located in Eastern Encinitas and is bordered by New Encinitas and Cardiff-by-the-Sea to the west, Solana Beach to the south, Rancho Santa Fe to the east and the La Costa neighborhood of Carlsbad to the north.

Additional Information

If you are looking for upscale country living just minutes from shopping, dining, attractions and the beach, Olivenhain is likely the neighborhood for you. The active Town Council keeps an eye on growth and planning in the area and makes sure the voice of Olivenhain is alive and well at Encinitas City Council meetings. This group also organizes several community events throughout the year, including a Halloween Party, Holiday Party, craft fair and Beer and Bratwurst Festival.

All Olivenhain residents are invited to Town Council meetings, and you can learn more about the neighborhood and community events at


Photo Attributions: Hot Air Balloons over Olivenhaim – Zackstarr, Wikimedia Commons Olivenhain Meeting Hall – Zackstarr, Wikimedia Commons Olivenhain CA View of Pacific Ocean – Zackstarr, Wikimedia Commons Double LL Ranch View – Dusty Brazil, Sun Vista Park Sign –

AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+