San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve


2710 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

Hours: 9 a.m. - sunset, daily
Pedestrian access available sunrise to sunset daily, no public vehicle access or restroom availability on December 25.

Park Phone: (760) 634-3026
Reservations: (858) 565-3600

Get park updates and check for closures on our  News Page

Directions: From I-5 take Manchester Avenue west. The entrance to the Nature Center is on the south side of the road. From Solana Beach, access to the trails on the south side is at the north end of North Rios Avenue, reached from Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Other trail access points are available throughout the Reserve.

Location Map


San Elijo Lagoon is one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in San Diego County and home to an exceptional number of plants and animals. A walk along more than seven miles of trails will take you through various plant communities where you’ll encounter many of the 300 species of plants, 16 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 26 species of mammals that live in the preserve. The lagoon is especially known for its bird life. At least 300 species have been seen here, 76 of which are classified as sensitive.

Kids can get involved in the Track Trails Program by taking an outdoor adventure that features self guiding brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoor experience. Kids can earn prizes like nature journals, backpacks and pins by tracking their adventures online!  

The “green” nature center located on the north side of the lagoon offers exhibits that detail the lagoon’s plant and animal communities, its fascinating history, and the various natural and human influences that affect this sensitive ecosystem. As an Ecological Reserve, San Elijo Lagoon has no developed facilities on the southern trails. However, restrooms and water are available at the nature center. The nature center is also available for private rentals. Click on the nature center link for more information or contact the center directly to make a reservation. 


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