Encinitas

Flower breeding and growing has been the major industry in Encinitas since the early part of the 20th century. 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), and today is the largest producer and breeder of the Christmas blossom in the world. The golden domes of the Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat mark famed Swami's Beach and the southern entrance to downtown Encinitas.

The vibe is laid back, with surfing and yoga as top priorities for residents. Expect to see flip-flop clad locals crossing the boulevard with surfboards in tow, and signs of historic California alive and well. Lining the main drag are plenty of cafés, bars, and restaurants to hold your attention, as well as the 1928 La Paloma Theater that still shows cult classics, foreign films, and music performances nightly.

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