Why go in summer: Mellow beaches, artsy shopping--and a blissful break from your car.
Main drag: Much of the action--fab stores, good eats, and a Sunday farmers' market--centers on Cedros Avenue. Start in the design district, known for its furniture and housewares shops, on the street's south end.
Blow out the candles: Solana Beach celebrates 25 years as a city on July 1 (solanabeachchamber.com for events).
Local hangout: Pizza Port ($; 135 N. Hwy. 101; 858/481-7332), where handcrafted suds are king.
The money view on the Fourth: Head to Solana Circle West, a residential street perched high above Cedros. The vista is even more aah-inspiring when fireworks explode up and down the coast.
A beach day made better: A parking lot-free day by the ocean? Beautiful. Fletcher Cove (111 S. Sierra Ave.), Solana Beach's main strand, is just a couple of blocks from the train station. The small, protected inlet is great for swimming or surfing, and the kids will dig the park just up the hill from the water. For more secluded sunning, unroll a towel at nearby Del Mar Shores, Seascape Surf, or Tide Beach Park. solanabeachchamber.com