San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center


My little family went on a little outing to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center this weekend. I love finding local places to go for walks/mini hikes with my kiddos. It’s always a bonus when the place we go to has a museum or nature center that gives information and history of the area. The best is when the location participates in the Junior Ranger program. My children are able to complete activities to earn a special Junior Ranger badge, such an awesome FREE program. And the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center hit all of these.

San Elijo Lagoon and Nature Center
San Elijo Lagoon is a Ecological Reserve located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea (Encinitas). It features a loop trail through part of the lagoon and a 5,600-square foot visitor center. The visitor center is a fun interactive center great for kids. There are live animals that are inhabitants found in the lagoon inside the center so you can get a nice up close look. There is also artifacts of past civilizations as well as recycled material that has come from run off into the lagoon. The information is also presented in a nice kid friendly way with hands on interaction.




The visitor center wasn’t very large but it is very nicely set up and easy for kids to go around and take it all in. My littlest one loved seeing all the animals there especially the snakes. While at the visitor center we picked up the program to complete for their Junior Rangers badges. The Junior Ranger program is put on by many National Parks and is a great way to get kids outdoors and learning about nature. The program here was a scavenger hunt where children check off items that they see while on the trail.




Our walk on the trail was just so gorgeous with the sunset as a backdrop. It’s so funny how we are only minutes from the freeway and housing tracks while at the lagoon yet feel like we left that all miles away. There where some great little look out spots and also benches positioned in just the right spots to just take it all in. My little explorers very much enjoyed all the bridges on the trail. Especially one that went through a portion of the lagoon. The trail is great for beginning and novice hikers. It’s a loop trail so even if you only do a portion you see a good amount of the lagoon and get a nice little workout in.


My kiddos completed the Junior Ranger program and were awarded their very own Junior Ranger Badges. I was so happy that my son was able to participate in the program this time. Parks may have age requirements for their program; when we visited Cabrillo National Monument only my daughter was able to do the program there so a return visit once my son is older is a must ;)
I have to say our little outing was a success and I can see us returning for another little adventure here.

Get out and have a little adventure yourself!

Cruzin Mama

View of the lagoon at sunset from the visitor center's  observation deck.

View of the lagoon at sunset from the visitor center’s observation deck.

San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
2710 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

Parking and Entrance

Open daily 9am to 5pm
Closed December 25th


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