With shops, beaches and restaurants at such close proximity, this week we're zeroing in on
central. Yes, it's home to the much loved, mid-size music venue, Belly Up Tavern, but beyond that, there's so much more. This North County coastal enclave is easily accessible to visitors by Coaster, biking or hiking between the best of what Solana Beach has to offer. Rule number one when visiting? Don't rush it. Besides the time it takes to cover the Cedros Design District, life is a couple paces slower here despite it being the center of all the action.
Breakfast with locals
What is it about Solana Beach that makes people want to eat breakfast? This part of town arguably has more cafes dedicated to early-rising brekkies - and brunch, for the stragglers - than any other neighborhood we've explored in this series.
Our top pick (besides Cali-comfort food at Claire's on Cedros, clairesoncedros.com) lies just beyond the heart of Cedros Design District in the tucked away garden hangout, Lockwood Table. This wholesome eatery is abuzz with people lining up on weekends for baked egg soufflé, grilled brioche French toast (served all day, every day), and specialty items, like decadent walnut butter. This rich, good-for-you nutty spread comes with an order of grilled, multigrain toast, perfectly ripe strawberry slices and honey for drizzling on top. Also enjoy a from-scratch soda made with fresh pear and cucumber juices; squeezed to order blends like the naturally sweet carrot, apple ginger; plus coffees and teas from Café Motto. Ask about items you can take home. 346-B S. Cedros Ave., 858-794-4919 or lockwoodtable.com.
Another hit among locals is the lesser known, aptly named Hide Away Café. Housed in a shrub-covered building that dates back to 1931, hungry surfers and tourists alike easily fill up this friendly 12-table eatery. The options include American diner food, along with some Mexican classics, plus, freshly baked confections like cinnamon rolls and fruit breads. House favorites include the humungous avocado omelet and potato pancakes. 150 S. Acacia Ave. 858-755-3388.
Relax near the water
The walking appeal of this community is topped only by its close proximity to the beach. Just across the street from Hide Away Café is a compact, sandy stretch for sunning at Fletcher Cove Beach Park. Though, if water sports or catching rays aren't on the agenda, there's also a basketball court and playground for the kids. With a free parking lot, showers and bathrooms, this beach park is super convenient, located just blocks from Cedros Design District, and a hop-skip-and-a-leap from Coast Highway, where a Pizza Port (135 N. Highway 101, 858-481-7332) pie beckons a seaside picnic.
Back on Cedros Avenue, it's easy to get lost in a world of design envy at its collection of high-end stores, many of which are in vast warehouses. There's a whole lot of ground to cover at SoLo, an interior design and modern lifestyle super-store. Intended to give visitors multiple boutique experiences under one roof, each of eight living room enclaves represents the all-female lineup of designers who contribute at this powerhouse collective. Besides being a place where exquisite, handmade gifts appeal to all budgets, SoLo is simply a source of great inspiration for your living space and beyond with its extensive selection of gorgeous coffee table books on topics ranging from how to be a modern nomad to transforming your outdoor space into a garden sanctuary. There's also a whole section devoted to quirky paper products that appeal to creative types. 309 S. Cedros Ave., 858-794-9016 or solocedros.com.
A relative newcomer to the Cedros stretch is Suzan's Silver & Boutique, which boasts a wide variety of elegant garments made in Nepal. Each of the colorful pieces are versatile in that you could wear a shawl by the pool as an exotic cover-up, or as an accessory to an evening gown. Along with silver jewelry, Suzan is also stocked up on elaborate hats for women, just in time for Opening Day of the races at nearby Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. 130 S. Cedros Ave., Suite 130, 858- 736-5544.
Top it off with a drink
Cap your lazy day in downtown Solana Beach off with an adult beverage at Culture Brewing Co. (111 S. Cedros Ave., Suite 200, culturebrewingco.com); or, maybe a visit to Carruth Cellars Winery on Cedros (320 S. Cedros Ave., Suite 400, carruthcellars.com) is more your speed. There really is something for everyone in Solana Beach, from music lovers to surfers, the design savvy to window shoppers and even bargain hunters feel welcome here.
More neighborhoods to explore
Anza Borrego, Balboa Park, Coronado, Del Mar, East Village, Encinitas, Fiesta Island, Golden Hill, Hillcrest, La Jolla, Linda Vista, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, North Park: Part 1, North Park: Part 2, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, San Carlos, South Park, University Heights