Scenic USA - California

Cardiff by the Sea

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Cardiff by the Sea - Encinitas, California

Photos by Amanda Haddox
Amanda Haddox Photography

     Even though the first explorers arrived on the southern coast of California in the mid 1500s, it took two more centuries before the first ppermanent Spanish mission was established in 1769. Called Alta California, the first mission was guided by the Franciscan leader Father Junipero Serra. Serra went on to establish 20 more Spanish missions which extended all the way to San Francisco. The missions were protected by a series of presidios, military posts designed to enforce Spanish control over the native population. The California coast was broken up into four military districts, occupying San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. During centuries of occupation this region of California was heavily saturated by Spanish culture, and many landmarks and cities still reference this Spanish heritage.
     In this midst of this prevalent Spanish influence, the coastal town of Cardiff took on an unusual twist with a salute to Old World Wales. Developer J. Frank Cullen kept his wife's native roots in mind when he named the town and it streets. Surfing Action Boasting a moderate climate, breathtaking views and two miles of Pacific beaches, Cullen's prime lots went for as much as 45 dollars in 1912. Boston painter turned developer, Cullen went on to built a hotel on a Cardiff bluff, an ocean pier and bathhouse. Cullen's original home, built in 1911, still stands today.
     Today, small town Cardiff by the Sea prides itself with walkability, as local shops, restaurants and beach are all within a short distance. Cardiff residents enjoy this small town atmosphere and charm, as do all its visiting guests. The real attention grabber is the Cardiff surf break. Pro and amateur surfers gather here at San Elijo Lagoon to ride its world-class surf. This premier surfing location is ruled by the Cardiff Reef, ensuring consistent breaks. Along historic highway 101, San Elijo State Beach takes in the blue Pacific where California's coastal hills provide a wonderful backdrop. It may be hard to believe this laid back town exists so close to Interstate 5 and the hubbub of the San Diego metro area sprawl.

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