Flower breeding and growing has been the major industry in Encinitas since the early part of the 20th century; the town now calls itself the Flower Capital of the World, thanks to the large number of nurseries operating here. The city, which encompasses the coastal towns of Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Leucadia as well as inland Olivenhain, is home to Paul Ecke Poinsettias (open only to the trade), which tamed the wild poinsettia in the 1920s and today is the largest producer and breeder of the Christmas blossom in the world. During the spring blooming season some commercial nurseries east of I–5 are open to the public. The palms and the golden domes of the Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat mark the southern entrance to downtown Encinitas.
U.S. 101—now Route S21—was the main route connecting all the beach towns between southern Orange County and San Diego before the I–5 freeway was constructed to the east of Encinitas. Local civic efforts are bringing back the historic California–U.S. 101 signs and restoring the boulevard’s historic character.