Encinitas, CA (ENC)
The station is close to popular Moonlight Beach and hosts a weekly farmers market. Encinitas is known for its annual Fall Festival featuring live entertainment and numerous vendors.
25 East D Street
Encinitas, CA 92024
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 12,975
- Facility Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Parking Lot Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Platform Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
- Track Ownership: North County Transit District (NCTD)
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Amtrak began service to the city of Encinitas on October 7, 2013. The six daily stops by Pacific Surfliner trains are made possible under an agreement between Amtrak, Caltrans and the North County Transit District (NCTD), which runs the COASTER commuter rail service.
Post-World War II, California experienced a population boom, and the resulting automobile congestion prompted communities statewide to actively explore alternative transportation options. It’s against this backdrop that COASTER commuter rail service was inaugurated in 1995, linking San Diego and Oceanside with another passenger rail option in addition to Amtrak. Today, the tracks between San Diego and Oceanside are owned by the NCTD, having been purchased from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) in 1994; in addition to COASTER trains, the line also carries intercity and freight trains.
The Encinitas COASTER station is located off of historic Route 101 in downtown, and is only three blocks from popular Moonlight Beach. The tree-lined platform includes shelters to protect passengers from the warm summer sun and inclement weather. South of the rail station across D Street is a bus plaza where Breeze buses offer easy connections to destinations up and down the coast. On Wednesday evenings, passengers and residents can enjoy the Encinitas Station Farmers Market held in the parking lot south of the bus plaza. More than 40 vendors offer fresh produce, meats, cheeses and other goods.
The California coast was first explored by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who worked for the Kingdom of Castile. In 1542 he claimed the region for Spain, but no permanent settlements were planned until the late 18th century when the Russian Empire began to take an interest in the area. To secure the coast, King Carlos III authorized the creation of a chain of forts and missions to protect strategic sites that could be of future use to the Spanish Empire in North America.
In 1769, the fort or “presidio” at San Diego was founded on the hills to the northeast of the harbor; soon thereafter the Mission of San Diego de Alcalá was established by Franciscan friars to work toward the conversion of the American Indians to Christianity, a stated goal of Spanish colonization. Each mission was supported by large tracts of land used by the friars and American Indian converts for agriculture and grazing.
The Kumeyaay people had long inhabited the coastal border region between Mexico and California, and many of the tribes migrated between summer and winter villages. Early Spanish accounts recall that the Kumeyaay survived by harvesting local plants such as a type of grain and acorns which were ground into a meal. Returning to the coast, the tribes took advantage of the sea life; beautiful shells were used to barter with inland desert peoples. Near present day Encinitas, the San Elijo Lagoon’s brackish waters fostered a diversity of flora and fauna used by the Kumeyaay tribes.
After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the missions were secularized and many of the buildings and land holdings were sold off to private owners. A more than 4000 acre tract east of downtown Encinitas was given by the Mexican governor to Andrés Ybarra, where he and his wife built an adobe house. Converted into a stagecoach stop in the 1860s, the house is today in ruins, but the remnants are visible in Carlsbad’s Stagecoach Community Park. Ybarra named his property Rancho Los Encinitos, meaning “little oaks,” but over time the name was corrupted to become the current “Encinitas.”
By the 1870s Los Angeles and San Francisco dominated Californian shipping and railroading. The foremost railroad in the state was the Southern Pacific (SP), which overlooked San Diego’s request for a rail line until the rival ATSF started to make inroads into California. Meanwhile, San Diego civic boosters led by newspaper publisher Frank Kimball made a deal with the ATSF to bring service to the city. To access San Diego, the ATSF started building a line under the subsidiary California Southern Railroad (CS) that was intended to reach Barstow, California to link with the SP line that ran to the Arizona border.
From 1880-1882, the CS line drove northward through coastal swamps and bogs and inland gullies and canyons, requiring numerous trestles and other infrastructure built by Chinese laborers. After years of building and lawsuits with the SP, the line reached Barstow in 1885. That same year, the first transcontinental train reached San Diego. The original route of the CS proved treacherous, as the inland portion through Temecula Canyon washed out in 1882 within a year of its opening. Although rebuilt, the line was soon replaced by the ATSF’s “Surf Line” which was laid through Orange County to meet the CS at Oceanside in 1888. It allowed a safer coastal link between San Diego and Los Angeles that avoided Temecula Canyon which washed out again in 1891 and was abandoned.
Like many towns in the American West, Encinitas owes its existence to the railroad. Steam engines required regular stops for water and wood, and the area that became Encinitas offered both. Running to the ocean along what became B Street, Cottonwood Creek supplied the needs of the railroad and early settlers. As the railroad drove northward, it sent Tom Rattan to choose a spot for a depot. Along with John Pitcher, he also laid out streets parallel to the track, and the settlement was officially established in 1883. Pitcher deeded land at Third and E Streets for a school, and the redwood structure still stands today as a reminder of the town’s early days.
The one story wood combination depot opened in 1887, and was similar to ones built in nearby Carlsbad and Elsinore. A fine example of Folk Victorian architecture, it featured wood siding, hipped roof with stepped cresting and a cross gable whose faces displayed delicate stickwork. A wide overhang around the building protected passengers from inclement weather as they waited outside for the arrival of the train, while a trackside bay allowed the station master a view up and down the tracks. Combination depots such as Encinitas included passenger and freight functions under one roof, with a central ticket office typically separating the two.
ATSF passenger service to Encinitas ended in 1957, but the railroad continued to use the building as a freight depot into the 1960s. Sold to a private individual, the depot was moved north to Leucadia in 1972 and now sits at the corner of Route 101 and Athena Street. Over the years, it has housed various businesses.
As in much of the coastal area north of San Diego, dry farming was common until improved irrigation systems were installed in the early 20th century. Popular crops included lima beans, wheat, barley and oats, while cattle grazed on the hills. In 1884, the old Ybarra rancho was sold to a group of German immigrants who moved down from Colorado to start an agricultural community. Called Olivenhain, meaning “olive grove” in German, the colony faltered due to insufficient water and folded by the late 1890s.
In the 1920s, with the advent of irrigation, Encinitas gained a business that would bring it worldwide fame: the Ecke family poinsettia ranch. Native to southern Mexico, the poinsettia came to Americans’ attention in 1828 when a sample was brought back by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first American Ambassador to Mexico. Scientifically known as Euphorbia pulcherrima, the flower had popularly taken Poinsett’s name by the late 1830s.
The Ecke family, German immigrants, settled in the Hollywood area in 1906 and grew fruits and vegetables as well as poinsettias. In 1923, the family moved the business south to Encinitas. Initially grown in fields, the flowers were moved to controlled greenhouses by the late 1950s. To popularize the bright red flower with the public and promote its use around Christmas, the Eckes donated flowers to decorate the sets of popular television shows such as The Tonight Show and theBob Hope Christmas Special. By the beginning of the new millennium, the poinsettia was the bestselling potted plant in America.
Today, Encinitas is appreciated for its small town charms and great surfing—popular Swami’s beach was even mentioned in the Beach Boys’ classic “Surfing USA.” Buildings constructed in the early 20th century still line Route 101, such as La Paloma Theatre. Opened in 1928 with a gala featuring Mary Pickford, it was one of the first movie houses equipped for the new “talkies” that revolutionized the industry. Another favorite tourist spot is the Boat Houses on Third Street. Recycling lumber from old structures on Moonlight Beach, local builder Miles Kellogg constructed the unique houses in 1928 to look like boats, complete with prows, portholes and covered decks. Named the SS Encinitas and SS Moonlight, they are now owned by the Encinitas Preservation Association and still rented out as private homes.
Moonlight Beach offers not only a spot in the sand, but also volleyball and tennis courts, snack bar and fire rings for bonfires and barbecues. The family atmosphere harkens back to that of a century ago when picnics by moonlight were a popular activity and the origin of the beach’s name. Each September, Moonlight Beach hosts the Wavecrest Woodies meet-up, where owners and aficionados of the wood paneled cars can trade stories and admire restoration work. Residents of the North Coast area also flood the community for the Encinitas Fall Festival featuring live entertainment, children’s rides and arts and more than 400 vendors selling arts and crafts, antiques and other goods.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Encinitas station. ThePacific Surfliner service is primarily financed through funds made available by the State of California, Department of Transportation, and is managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority.
Image courtesy of NCTD.
Platform with Shelter
- Short Term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park for the day only, not overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the station platform.
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
Baggage storage is an area where passengers may store their bags, equivalent to "left luggage" in Europe. A storage fee may apply.
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- High Platform
A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train, with the exception of Superliners.
Self-service lockers are available in select stations for passenger baggage storage.
- Long-term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lift is a platform-mounted lift for loading passengers from low platforms onto trains that do not have onboard ramps.
For passengers who cannot walk far or at all, we offer a wheelchair to move the passengers around within the station. At some stations this may be a battery-powered people mover. The wheelchair or other types of movers must not leave the station or be moved onto the train.