Solana Beach is more than just the beach

By Kyana Miller
Baltimore Watchdog Contributor

Take a walk through a luscious park covered in large trees and observe the people laying out and enjoying the beautiful day. Just a few steps further and there is nothing but sand and surf. People melt their troubles away in the sun and catch waves on a surfboards or paddle boards. Less than ten minutes away, locals wander through shops where artists’ and designers’ one-of-a-kind work is displayed.

This paradise is the small town of Solana Beach, California. Nestled in between Del Mar and Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the small coastal stretch that is Solana Beach contains everything you would want in a beach town.

The four-mile radius that contains the town is sometimes known as the “Solana Bubble.” It was nicknamed this because of how easy it is to thrive without ever leaving its borders. Filled with hundreds of unique shops and restaurants, there are many qualities that make Solana Beach worth visiting. However, one of the most appealing factors is the people that make up the town.

Newly settled in Solana Beach resident Jordan Rausch, 25, moved to town just six months ago. Originally from Arizona, Rausch had always thought about living in San Diego but wasn’t sure which area until he visited Solana Beach on a family vacation.

“After I graduated college I was ready to find somewhere new to get my life started,” Rausch said. “Solana Beach has everything you could want. I feel really lucky to be living here”

cedros1There is no place where this is better displayed than the Cedros Design District. With over 85 boutiques, galleries and places to eat, this street is two and a half blocks of pure joy and energy. Though it is tucked away, it houses some of the most iconic parts of the town such as the Leaping Lotus.

This shop appears to tower over the rest of the quaint looking street. With an exterior of beautiful glass that lets the sunlight stream in daily, this building hosts clusters of smaller commissioned booths filled with miscellaneous collections of clothes, books, and decorations. Those in need of inspiration could spend a whole day wandering the aisles of this wonderland.

Be sure to also stop by one of the many locally owned eateries. The Orange Blossom Cafe is a must to start off a lazy morning. As you walk in the door, you are immediately transported to another world where the unique quirks of a small beach town meet the nostalgic feel of Paris. A wall of floor-to-ceiling chalkboard boasts of sweet and savory crepes bursting with irresistible flavor. While the food is being made directly in front of you with fresh local ingredients, sit at one of the colorful tables and sip at the namesake Orange Blossom Mocha. Made with rich chocolate, flavorful orange espresso and sprinkled with orange zest, this unique drink lives up to the hype.

“I go to Orange Blossom all the time,” said Madison Lawson, 32, lifelong Solana Beach resident. “Whether for a quick coffee in the morning or to relax and catch up with friends. The people who work there are quick to start up a conversation and always seem to be happy to be there.”

This positive and infectious atmosphere is not just a one time thing. Every Sunday, Cedros hosts a farmer’s market, well-known throughout San Diego. The two blocks seems to grow in size weekly from 1 to 5 p.m. to hold the many booths that include goods such as certified organic produce and meats, as well as unique crafts including handmade jewelry.

Though it does get crowded later in the day, be sure to take the time to stop at the food court. The smell of sizzling handmade street tacos is temptation enough and refreshing coconut water straight from the source helps to cool off while walking in the sunshine between the booths. Stop for a break on the north end to enjoy the live music that fills every corner of the street.

Once the sun sets, the nightlife is not much different. Located right in the center of the street is the iconic Belly Up Tavern. With reasonably priced shows nearly every day of the week, the Belly Up is consistently filled with not only new and upcoming artists but established bands as well. The Rolling Stones have even played there as recently as June for a secret show. The venue has a 600 person capacity and yet is still able to maintain an intimate feel. Though the bar was originally named for its potential to go “belly up” at any moment, the friendly atmosphere is still alive and kicking more than 40 years later.

Though Solana Beach generally runs at a slower pace, those who are looking for adventure will still have plenty to do. Within walking distance is Fletcher’s Cove, the local beach. Take advantage of the free parking and then take in the view. At the top of a small slope that leads down to the beach is a recently renovated park complete with a playground for the kids and a basketball court that overlooks the water. The palm tree lined park is the perfect place to spend the day.

This beautiful stretch of sand is perfect the perfect local spot for a surf session. Fletcher’s Cove has calm waves for those paddling out for the first time and a large enough expanse of ocean that it is not uncommon to see pro’s out past the shorebreak working on their moves. Both groups can enjoy these waves on a daily basis. Test out the waters by renting a board at one of the many surf shops that can be found on nearly every corner.

Another popular activity is renting a bicycle and riding up and down Highway 101. Also known as Pacific Coast Highway, this is the road that runs from one end of California to the other. Known for its never-ending ocean views, every moment along the coast is one of breathtaking beauty. Solana Beach is considered to be one of the beautiful spots to stop along the way, but can also be a great jumping off point to head north into Encinitas or south towards Torrey Pines.

“We get locals along with the tourists coming in to rent bikes for the day,” said Bruce Hardy, an employee at San Diego Electric Bike Company. “We’re a very bike-friendly city and honestly, why wouldn’t you want to explore as much of this place as possible? There’s no place that I know of that’s anything like it.”

So, whether looking for a place to get away for a couple days or a new place to call home, endless summer awaits in Solana Beach.

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