Okay, nature enthusiasts, add this one to your list of “must go” places: San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Having driven past the lagoon often and seen the signs, we decided it was time we visit this beautiful area. The reserve is located between Solana Beach and Encinitas covering 1,000 acres of habitat with hundreds of plants and animals. We had a great time visiting this reserve for the first time.
We started off at the Nature Center. My kids loved seeing the king snakes and lizards, learning about native creatures to San Diego. The center also has guides to birds and mammals found living in the reserve. We learned what a lagoon is an what an estuary is. We ventured up to the second floor to look at the expansive view of the lagoon out to the ocean as well as the “green” features of the building, such as the plants growing along the roof areas. Outside the nature center we had fun playing with the topographical map of the area we could run water from the mountains and watch it travel down rivers to the ocean, simulating the fresh water that travels towards the ocean and mixes with the salt water in the lagoon.
We headed out along the trails through the lagoon. Our first site was of an osprey flying by having just grabbed a fish out of the lagoon! It had the fish in its clutches and it was flying around overhead us as if to show off its prize! And the best part was an hour later hiking in another area, we actually came across the same osprey up on a tree branch eating its catch. What an incredible sight – nature in all its glory. Along the water’s edge, we saw crabs clicking along. Ducks, fish jumping out of the water, a bittern, egrets, lizards, and more delighted us as we walked along the winding trails.
Later on we drove around to the south side of the lagoon and followed another trail. With so many areas to walk, we will be back to explore and enjoy this lagoon again.
The nature center hosts activities throughout the month and the year.
– Every Saturday join a guided nature walk from 10-11 am
– Summer evening walks to view animals that come out in the evenings, June 19, July 17, August 10 (5:30-7 pm) & September 14 (5-6:30 pm)
– Family Discovery Days – The next set will be October 19-20, 1-4 pm (check back for next year’s schedule);
- Go Trick-or-Treating along the “Haunted Hike” nature trail, where clues help families look and listen for wildlife
- Meet nocturnal animals in Live Presentations (2 pm each day)
- Create lollipop spiders
- Design animal facemasks
- Feel animal pelts
- Make animal tracks in the sand, and more!
This free treasure of San Diego’s is a great place to visit with you family. Take the kids, take some binoculars and water. You can do some geocaching as well. Enjoy a great day outdoors.
Other San Diego outdoor adventures: