Must-Sees

Nature Center

  • HOURS: Sunrise to sunset (parking lot: 9 am–5 pm daily). Closed one day (12/25) each year.

  • RESTROOMS: Yes (designed for accessibility inside Nature Center)

  • PETS/animals: Leashed dogs welcome

  • ENTRANCE: 2710 Manchester Ave, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007.

  • CLOSEST PUBLIC TRANSIT: Highway 101 + Chesterfield (Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA).

  • PARKING: Paved parking lot with 19 spots, including ADA-, carpool-, and EV- marked parking stalls (9 am–5 pm daily). Additional street parking along Manchester Ave (south of the parking lot entrance). Tues–Fri 9 am–12 pm is a peak time for school field trip visits. Bike rack available.

  • TERRAIN: Flat, wide, and even path. Suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.

Visit the friendly hub of the lagoon.

From the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center’s second-floor outdoor observation deck, you can see far-reaching lagoon + ocean views. Go for a relaxing adventure around the loop trail (with two concentric loops to choose from).

Inside the Nature Center, you can explore interactive museum exhibits. Learn all about the San Elijo Lagoon’s history and ecology. The displays illustrate and explain how connected everything is in your local lagoon – from protected plants + animals to intriguing artifacts. Even a few local animals make their cozy home in the Nature Center. You see how they all play their crucial role in this rare marshland environment.

We partner with the San Diego County Parks and Recreation, who owns the Nature Center, and county rangers and volunteers who operate it.

From Our Visitors

  • @seanpaints

    The visitor center was full with kids learning and enjoying nature, and found the ‘rooftop’ very cool and neat, great view, breeze and with…
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    Carmen V

    San Jose, CA

  • @shmandieee

    Super cool! If you want a place to go running or walking with some among views then this is your place.
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    Janice H

    San Diego, CA

  • @kellygrnlandscaping

    There’s an awesome visitor’s center off Manchester Ave. complete with nice, clean lavs. . . . On any day, you’re apt to see Ospreys, Egrets…
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    Phillip W

    Shorewood, WI

  • @griswold_group

    I’m a kid at heart, I love to get dirt in my hair, travel unmarked paths, and climb things. The reserve was the perfect place for me. The…
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    Andrew V

    Gaslamp, San Diego, CA

Restoring our local ecology,
together.

At Nature Collective, we work with our community and supporters to
conserve and preserve San Diego’s natural habitats. You can even
volunteer – everyone is welcome!

What’s New at Nature Collective?

Join us for community events!
Art + Nature Solstice Event
21

Jun

Art + Nature Solstice Event

6-8 pm

Join us to celebrate the union of art + nature at our Lake Drive trail, where you can hike into…

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August Discovery Tour
03

Aug

August Discovery Tour

10:00am – 11:00am

Learn about your San Elijo Lagoon – where fresh water and salt water meet and mix, where migratory and resident…

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August Family Fun Day
04

Aug

August Family Fun Day

11:00am – 1:00pm

Come one, come all to our monthly lagoon learning day! Take a couple of hours out of your weekend to…

Learn More