What to Do at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

by Tonya Staab
Published: Updated:

If you are looking for a fun day out with kids in North County San Diego, you can’t go wrong visiting the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center.

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center is located on the south side of Cardiff-by-the-Sea between the 5 Freeway and Highway 101. 

It’s a wonderful place to take kids, with storytimes, special programs, a great nature trail, and the
staff at the nature center are all too happy to teach the kids about the area.

Welcome sign at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Trail

We loved it so much the first time we went that we ended up returning a couple of weeks later.

Nature center

Visit the nature center where there are snakes, lizards, and lots of information about the lagoon.

Treasure hunt

Grab a nature treasure hunt board and crayon and set out on the walking trails.

Kids doing a treasure hunt along the trails of the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

Along the walk, you might get lucky and spot silver striped mullet (that I’ve talked about before) jumping out of the water, spot a snake, or even see a butterfly caught in a web.


They have wonderful events at the nature center too. On one of our visits, we arrived just in time for the nature center’s regular storytime. My kids can read children’s books, but they still love to have books read to them, and the books read during storytime were all nature-inspired.

Kids listening to a story being read during storytime at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

Lessons with rangers

During another visit they had a special bird event, where rangers spoke to the kids about the different types of birds in the area, the kids made a bird marionette and they did various activities to learn how birds pick up food and what makes each type of bird different.

Learning about birds at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center


They have an upcoming Not-So-Scary Estuary event coming up in October for Halloween.

Update: Here’s the link to the Halloween event we attended.

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1 comment

Lindsay @FitandAwesome August 20, 2013 - 1:10 pm

Beautiful place. I miss San Diego so much!


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