“Keep Leucadia funky” is the perpetual battle cry of the bohemian beach town where the real estate and retail are as eclectic as the people. Blink and you’ll miss the 2.5-mile coastal community rooted in California surf culture, an undeniable quality that has attracted yogis, families, and foodies alike to the seaside stretch along San Diego’s North County.
Come as you are to this environmentally forward gem—hopefully that’ll be hungry, thirsty, active, and ready for anything. From holistic spas and art walks to organic eateries, craft brews, and the freshest sustainable seafood caught just miles offshore, there’s something for everyone.
Pack your weekender bag, grab your sunnies, and get ready to soak up clean, green boho beach vibes.
Stay: Surfhouse Boutique Motel
With rooms as breezy as the Leucadia-bred brothers that run the place, and a location steps aways from the town’s best beaches and restaurants, life doesn’t get much better than calling this intimate, surf-inspired motel home. As for the extra perks, discount cards to local hot spots are included with each room along with beach cruisers ready to roll.
7am: Leucadia Donut Shoppe
Or show up as early as 5am to score some glazed dough. Owned and operated by Tom and Emily Cheu for 29 years, this nostalgic establishment is as much a Leucadia institution as it is a doughnut shop. Unlike recent hipster joints, you won’t find superfluous concoctions a la bacon or Cap’n Crunch—simply a classic lineup of all your traditional favorites.
7:30am: Morning Jolt at Coffee Coffee
Pop in for a quick pick-me-up at this small-batch specialty roaster serving hot joe along with an array of crafted teas. Try the Hammerhead, a shot of espresso poured over brewed coffee for an instant jolt of caffeine. And while you’re waiting, stroll through the adjoining Surfy Surfy for hand-shaped surfboards and Surfy-branded gear, then snap an Insta-worthy pic outside on the cafe’s famed Leucadia mural.
9am: Yoga at Gather
Seeing as Leucadia is the hub of all things wellness, align your chakras for the day with one of Gather’s beaming instructors. My vote is kundalini with Libby. It’s perfect for beginners, challenging for more advanced, and results in an inner strength you’ve never felt before. Check their online calendar for yoga schedules and other wellness workshops.
11:30am: Lunch at Nectarine Grove
The perfect follow-up to a restorative yoga sesh is a nourishing meal at Nectarine Grove. Come hungry with any and all dietary requirements for this organic, grass-fed, green-loving, kombucha-drinking, Paleo-friendly cafe that serves up outrageously good food for the mind, body, and gut flora. Owner Rhiana Glor transforms traditional menu items with nourishing ingredients that rival the originals. All items are 100% gluten-free using organic, locally sourced ingredients when possible.
Hits include the chimichurri steak bowl with butternut squash noodles and the crispy chicken salad breaded in plantain chips and fried to perfection in avocado oil. Don’t miss droolworthy gluten-free goodies like fudgy vegan brownies and orange almond cake.
1pm: Seaweed and Gravel
Venture into this throwback shop for new and vintage clothing, homewares, local art, surfboards, and eclectic odds and ends from California’s best eras. Created out of a frustration with big-brand domination, apparel industry professional turned shop owner David Patri decided to build his original collection that fits right in with fellow Leucadians. Note: In true nonconformist fashion, you never know when the place is going to be open, which I suppose just adds to the allure of this spot.
2pm: Ocean Dip at Beacon’s Beach
Rent any and all beach adventure equipment from e-bikes to stand-up paddle boards at The Hatch and walk the short switchback trail down the bluffs to this large stretch of sand located on Neptune Avenue between Jasper Street and Leucadia Boulevard.
Sunset: Stone Steps
If you haven’t felt Leucadia love yet, set your alarm for a stunning sunset on this 300-step path to one of North County’s most secluded beaches. Join couples, families, kids, and pets and watch as the sun paints a stunner of fluorescent hues before it finally melts into the horizon. (Check the internet to confirm golden hour.)
7:30pm Dinner at Birdseye Kitchen
Featuring local artists, beers, and wine, this Thai-Lao eatery gets bustling fast and for good reason. With a lineup of organic bone broth-based phos, classic noodle dishes, curries, and unexpected starters like Laotian-style lemongrass sausage or banh xeo (a crispy turmeric rice crepe with ground pork and wild shrimp), choosing what to order may be the toughest decision you make all day.
Late-Night Cravings: Juanita’s Taco Shop
Hopefully by now you’re wearing elastic, because a visit to North County is not complete without a taste of Mexican fare. The sticker-tatted pink taqueria situated on historic Highway 101 is home to the tastiest tacos in town. This fine establishment is always full (from 8am to 2am) of excited patrons in booths double-fisting Juanita’s red and green salsas and tearing away the neon yellow paper that holds the key to their heart’s desire—at least for that moment. Try a trio of street tacos, or if you’re with a friend, split the pollo asado burrito packed with chunks of stewed chicken, crunchy onion, and creamy guac.
8:30am: Breakfast Burritos at Mozy Cafe
Home of Leucadia’s low-key paradise and easily North County’s best breakfast burrito, the cafe offers a Caribbean-ish assortment of smoothies, acai bowls, and burritos paired with a friendly staff. Get the tropical burrito: With pepper-flecked eggs, black beans, avocado, and grilled plantains glued together with melted jack cheese in a whole wheat tortilla, it’s perfect.
12:30pm: Lunch at the Cantine Organic Cafe + Market
The way food should be: slow, seasonal, simple, and absolutely delicious. Let chef and owner Karyn Kraus Smith nourish you with her organic provisions and affable energy. Committed to providing seasonal and local fare to fuel her foodie community, the menu is on constant rotation. What you will find at every visit? A bone broth-based soup of sorts that will likely prompt a request for the recipe—to which Karyn will kindly oblige.