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.
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)
2710 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
FREE ADMISSION & PARKING
Bike Rack Available
COUNTY PARKS PROGRAMS:
- Every Saturday 10-11 am (except 2nd Saturday)
- Begins/Ends at Nature Center
CHILDREN'S STORY TIME
3rd Tuesday and Thursday: 11 am
We pre-schoolers! Park staff read a selection from the center's library of nature-themed storybooks. An animal interaction, themed craft, or coloring activity follows story time.
FAMILY FUN DAYS
1st Sundays: 11:30 am-1:30 pm
The whole family will enjoy exploring the nature center's exhibits and loop trail through themed explorations. New each month. More info
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
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.
North County Transit District
Breeze Bus 101
Signal Chesterfield Drive stop
Note: Conservancy staff offices are not located at the nature center. Get directions.