SAN ELIJO LAGOON NATURE CENTER


LEED Platinum-Certified San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

Begin your visit to the County-owned and operated,
LEED-certified nature center.

Welcome to the visitor center for San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Enjoy expansive views of the lagoon from the second-floor Observation Deck. Inside, you'll discover interactive museum exhibits about the history and ecology of San Elijo Lagoon. Displays tell the interconnected stories of the reserve's iconic plants, animals, and artifacts that are protected. Meet several living animals that provide glimpses into how food webs exist in this rare environment. The center is operated daily from 9-5 by park staff and volunteers with County of San Diego Parks and Recreation, our local partner in restoring and protecting the reserve.

 
An ADA-accessible mile-long Nature Center Loop trail provides an overview of the lagoon. Information panels help identify plant communities and animals along the loop and boardwalk. 

 


Free, naturalist-guided
Weekend Walks begin at the Nature Center every Saturday at 10 am.

Restrooms and water fountains are available only at the nature center (not elsewhere in the reserve).

The Green Nature Center
The nature center provides a unique glimpse for the public to see “green” building concepts in use. The 5,600-square foot building is Platinum-Certified by U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The two-story building is made from recycled materials and relies on solar energy, natural light, and ventilation. Visitors can see solar panels and irrigated roof plants. Recycled water is used in landscape irrigation. The Nature Center opened to the public in Spring 2009, replacing the former center that opened in 1988. 
 

OPEN DAILY 9–5
(Closed Dec. 25)

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

PHONE
(760) 634-3026

FREE ADMISSION & PARKING
Bike Rack Available

COUNTY PARKS PROGRAMS:

CHILDREN'S STORY TIME
3rd Tuesday and Thursday: 11 am
We welcome toddlers and pre-schoolers! Join park staff as they read a selection from the center's library of children's nature-themed storybooks. A special surprise, such as an animal interaction, themed craft, or coloring activity will follow each story time.
$1 Suggested Donation

FAMILY FUN DAYS
1st Sundays: 11:30 am-1:30 pm
Join us for nature-themed activities featuring the TRACK Trails: Kids in Parks initiative, which aims to unplug our kids and rejoin with nature. The whole family will enjoy exploring the nature center's exhibits and loop trail. Tables and chairs on the upstairs Observation Deck make for a great picnic spot, too! $1 Suggested Donation. More info.

FAMILY DISCOVERY DAYS:
NOT-SO-SCARY ESTUARY
October 3/4: 1-4 pm
Meet creepy, crawly, and hooting animals this Halloween at San Elijo Lagoon. Kids can crawl through a giant spider web, go trick-or-treating along the Haunted Hike Nature Trail, and meet live nocturnal animals that really aren't so scary after all. More info.

GUIDED WALKS FOR SCOUTS
& COMMUNITY GROUPS
Scouts and community group leaders are encouraged to book in advance for ranged-led tours of San Elijo Lagoon. Please contact us for more information: (760) 634-3026

RENT THE NATURE CENTER
Link to the county page for rental information, and please contact the nature center directly for reservations.

Nature Center Loop Trail
More Information


Google Map and Directions

The Nature Center is owned by County of San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation. County parks staff and volunteers maintain and operate the center daily.

BUS DIRECTIONS
North County Transit District 
Breeze Bus 101

Signal Chesterfield Drive stop

Note: SELC staff offices are not located at the nature center. Get directions.