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Cardiff is a charming, seaside village with a long surfing history.

road down to water


A relaxed and beautiful seaside town that has something for everyone

Cardiff is a charming, seaside village with a long surfing history. Located about 25 miles north of San Diego and situated right between Solana Beach and Encinitas, Cardiff has terrific views of the Pacific. Also known as Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the area is officially part of the Encinitas Town Government and is home to many laid-back residents who love the down-to-earth energy of the area.

The town of Cardiff was founded by J. Frank Cullen, a Boston painter who later became a developer. The town was allegedly named Cardiff after the city in his wife’s native country, Wales, and many streets in town pay homage.

Cardiff is known for surfing, and many shops in town cater to surfers' needs. The area is home to surfing events and competitions, drawing a fun and lively crowd. It’s not uncommon to see lots of surfboards under arms, on bikes, in the backs of trucks, and running across the coast highway to the beach.

What to Love

  • A laid-back surf town with a great history

  • Friendly residents and a clean city

  • Small, close-knit community 

People & Lifestyle

Cardiff offers an idyllic Southern California lifestyle with world-class beaches and a Mediterranean climate all year round. The neighborhood is full of relaxed and friendly beach-lovers who take full advantage of the multiple coastline activities. Don’t be surprised to see your neighbors surfing, swimming, running, windsurfing, kayaking, or biking.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

The best-known breakfast place in the area is Pipes Cafe, whose breakfast burritos are second to none. Trattoria Positano on San Elijo is quite popular with locals, and for vegan treats and healthy bites, Ki’s Restaurant is another favorite in town.


For a stunning indoor bar area and charming American and European cuisine, Waverly is the go-to spot. Their cocktails are delicious, and close proximity to the beach makes this a trendy hot spot.

Things to Do

The beaches, of course, are spectacular and offer great surfing, sunbathing, kite flying, or the perfect spot to enjoy the views. Seaside Beach or Solana Beach are local gems and fit the bill of gorgeous SoCal beaches.


In addition to the beaches, you can enjoy the community park in the downtown area, running along the train tracks, and George Berkich Park in the Composer District. San Elijo Park/State Beach offers a popular campground for beachside camping and is a lovely state park to spend the day exploring.



Cardiff children attend 1 of 2 elementary schools depending on their grade. Older students attend San Dieguito Union High School District. There are several private schools in Cardiff as well, including Montessori and the Sanderling Waldorf School.


  • San Dieguito Union High School District

  • Cardiff Union School District

  • Montessori School

  • Sanderling Waldorf School

  • MiraCosta Community College, San Elijo Campus (Cardiff, CA)

cardiff by the sea
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