Best of North County San Diego

Advisor - Jen Huyck
Curated By

Jen Huyck

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  • California

  • San Diego

  • Active Travel

  • Beaches

  • Boutique Travel

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

ocean in San Diego during sunset with a pier and people enjoying the view.
Curator’s statement

Along the coastline from Oceanside to Del Mar, you will find breathtaking beaches, exquisite culinary experiences, and unforgettable attractions. The scenic beach towns in this area offer their own unique personalities, making North County San Diego a must-see! Time to grab a coffee from a local cafe, browse through a Farmer's Market, and hit the surf in this relaxed yet never boring destination!

The Fora Difference

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay North County San Diego

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Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Situated directly on Highway 101, this oceanfront hotel offers an elegant relaxing atmosphere with its blissful pool and spa.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast credit.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Seabird Resort - Destination by Hyatt

Steps away from the beach, this San Diego property offers an award-winning pool, indulgent spa, California-style restaurants and beach activities.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Mission Pacific Hotel - JDV by Hyatt

A luxury resort in San Diego's North County with sweeping Pacific Ocean views, a Michelin-Starred restaurant and the Top Gun House — now a pie shop — from the 1986 movie.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Advisor - Jen Huyck

Unlock perks by contacting Jen to book your trip.

Things to do in North County San Diego

Waves crashing on legs of the pier in Oceanside during cloudy orange sunset.

Hiking: Hike on Annie’s Canyon Trail to the mushroom caves in Solana Beach or walk along the cliffs at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for stunning ocean views.

Oceanside Harbor: Stop by Oceanside Harbor to visit a cafe or restaurant. Rent a kayak or paddle board and paddle through the scenic harbor.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an incredible experience! This nonprofit conservation organization allows you to travel in an open-air safari truck to get up-close to many different mammals. This is surely an experience you won’t forget!

San Diego Botanic Garden: Wander through the urban oasis at San Diego Botanic Garden, featuring 29 themed gardens and over 4 miles of trails. Experience a wide diversity of habitats including a tropical rainforest with a waterfall, desert gardens, and North America's largest bamboo collection.

Beaches: Plan a beach day at one of the many beautiful beaches! Consider Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, Carlsbad State Beach, or Cardiff State Beach for surfing or lounging. Plan on bringing your dog on vacation? Take your furry friend to Del Mar Dog Beach.

Encinitas: Spend a day in Encinitas walking through the cute beach town, with restaurants, cafes, shops, and more lined along highway 101. Visit the Leucadia Farmer’s Market, containing a large vendor selection every Sunday from 10AM-2PM. While in Encinitas, take a peaceful stroll through the Self-Realization Fellowship meditation garden.

Visit a lagoon: Enjoy a relaxing and scenic walk along the paths of Carlsbad Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon or Agua Hedionda Lagoon, all located in Carlsbad. Feeling more adventurous? Head to Calavera Lake or Mission Trails for a greater selection of hiking and mountain biking trails.

La Jolla Cove: Wander through the streets and shops of La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Village. Make sure to take the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail for gorgeous ocean views and wildlife spotting. Rent a kayak in La Jolla Village and kayak out to the sea caves, keeping an eye out for leopard sharks in the summer months.

Places to eat & drink in North County San Diego

Fancy tacos laid flat on wooden board on table in stylish restaurant.

The Switchboard: The Switchboard got its name due to its location in The Fin Hotel, which was used as a communication center during World War II. Offering Hawaiian inspired cuisine, a daily happy hour from 5-6PM, and wine Wednesdays, this restaurant is sure to be a hit.

The Privateer: Locally owned and committed to community, The Privateer serves up the best coal-fired pizza in town. Their artisan bites and impressive local beer and wine list bring people together in a relaxed dining setting.

Local Tap House: Built with community in mind, the energy found at LTH is unparalleled. LTH blends comfort food with flavor creativity to create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. A local’s favorite!

Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub: Wrench & Rodent offers an exhilarating culinary experience through their delicious and creative sushi menu. Tip to try the omakase for a chef’s daily specialty menu prepared with fresh seasonal and local ingredients. Check out their other restaurant, The Plot, for delicious plant-based cuisine.

Dija Mara: Get ready to try some bold Southeast Asian flavors off Dija Mara’s Balinese-Inspired menu. Truly a flavorful and unique dining experience that does not disappoint.

Anita's: A local favorite for Mexican cuisine and margaritas. Join the lively atmosphere for great traditional Mexican and seafood specialities.

Oceanside Broiler: Located in the Oceanside Harbor, the Broiler boasts magical sunset views over the water and has a fantastic happy hour menu Monday-Friday 3-6PM.

264 Fresco: Visit 264 Fresco in Carlsbad village for tasty Italian food in warm and inviting atmosphere. Sit outside on the cozy patio by a fire pit or grab a cabana up on The Deck to enjoy ocean views and shareable plates. Located just one block down Carlsbad Boulevard sits their other restaurant, Fresco Cocina, offering Latin-inspired cuisine.

Le Papagayo: Le Papagayo offers a fusion of Mediterranean and New American coastal cuisine. With nightly live music in both their Leucadia and Carlsbad locations, Le Payagayo is a fun atmosphere and a local’s favorite!

Waverly: Waverly is a stylish and trendy restaurant serving American cuisine with a European influence. Providing beautiful aesthetic, creative dining options, and fun specialty cocktails, this restaurant is sure to impress!

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide on the best of Oahu, Hawai'i.

Advisor - Jen Huyck

Travel Advisor

Jen Huyck

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