Central Coast

Located north of South Coast, North San Diego County’s Central Coast is a quirky, colorful area that welcomes wanders, artists, and those deeply-rooted in self-expression. Culture-wise, it’s a warm, welcoming place that seems tailor-made for creative people who love the arts and the outdoors. Key areas in Central Coast include Cardiff, Encinitas, and Carlsbad.

Cardiff Named after Cardiff, Wales, Central Coast’s Cardiff community is on the rise. Often compared as Del Mar’s sportier rival, the area is popular among triathletes, and notable pro surfers JD Lewis and Rob Machado honed their skills at the breaks at Cardiff Reef. In fact, the area is so active lifestyle-centric that GoPro, a sports-driven video camera company, opened an office in Cardiff to be close to the action. Still kitschy and close-knit Cardiff homes are slightly less expensive than estates in Del Mar — but not for long.

Encinitas As Cardiff’s protective older brother, Encinitas is technically a neighborhood comprised of miniature neighborhoods — one of them being Cardiff. Aside from the staunchly independent Cardiff-by-the-Sea area, other parts of Encinitas include a small beachside area called Old Encinitas, the posh shopping-centric New Encinitas, the rural and equestrian friendly Olivenhain, and quirky residential Leucadia. In Encinitas, there’s a robust mix of housing options that include coastal single family homes, larger tract homes, and rural ranch-style estates.

Carlsbad Just north of Encinitas, Carlsbad offers residents a world of entertainment. There’s a thriving beach scene, with bustling Tamarack Surf Beach and secluded South Carlsbad State Beach. And for visitors, Carlsbad’s tourist claims to fame include the Legoland California theme park, the seasonal Flower Fields, and California’s unofficial home of the peacocks, Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park. With median home values that amount to nearly half of estate costs in South Coast, Carlsbad is a more affordable, family-friendly neighborhood option.