One perfect day on San Diego's Solana Beach

Take a trip to this mellow beach town complete with fab shopping and a fresh farmers' market

Nina Elder

Alfresco succulents: In sunny Solana Beach, who needs walls and a roof? Not the folks a Chicweed, and open-air garden shop in the design district, where you can pick up drought-tolerant varieties. Bring in a favorite container and they'll plant it for you. 240 S. Cedros Ave.; 858/208-8083.

The bread winner: Carbs rule at Claire's on Cedros. Try the oat-and-multigrain pancakes, the slow-roasted lamb sandwich with feta--or anything that comes on the housemade bread. $; 246 N. Cedros Ave.; 858/259-8597.

Bring home the beach: A 1924 cottage is home base for beach-loving Bixby & Ball. This new kid on the block takes a chic approach to the coastal aesthetic. Check out the bold pillows and sea blue glass vases in the living room or tableware and cookbooks in the kitchen. 214 S. Cedros Ave.;

Botany brushup: We never get tired of wandering Cedros Gardens, 1.3 acres dedicated to organic plants of all kinds: succulents, fruit trees, natives, and veggies. Sign up for a free class on succulent containers, fruit trees, or composting taught by their experts. 330 S. Cedros Ave.;

Skipping the train? 3 worth-the-drive stops

4 miles north: Encinitas: What makes the pies at Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria worth the wait? An organic crust that takes three days to create, housemade fennel sausage, and a few magical minutes in an insanely hot wood-fired oven. $$; 897 S. Coast Hwy. 101; 760/634-7671.

3 miles north: Cardiff-by-the-sea: Locals lovingly dress up the 16-foot bronze surfer sculpture, dubbed the Cardiff Kook, for any and every occasion. The Kook’s been transformed into Cupid, threatened by a giant fake spider, and attacked by a papier-mâché shark. Chesterfield Dr. at South Coast Hwy. 101.

2.5 miles south: Del Mar: The nicest seaside digs nearby are at L’Auberge Del Mar. Get a spa treatment, walk down to the beach, or just take it all in from the terrace. Not staying over? Drop in for a cocktail by one of the firepits—and drink in that view. From $350; 1540 Camino Del Mar; 

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