By Cora Mitchell
San Diego is surrounded by beach towns that can make anyone forget they are only a few miles away from an urban city. If tall buildings, people, and traffic are not for you, San Diego is surrounded by beach towns, each with their own unique attractions and personalities, making it easy to find total relaxation in the town of one's desire.
With wide sandy beaches, gentle surf, and a charming city center, Coronado is an easily accessible beach town with just about everything a vacationer could need. Just across the bridge from downtown San Diego, the beach town resembles an island paradise. Take a stroll or rent a bike to cruise down the beachfront boardwalk and soak up the spectacular views and quaint shops. On a hot day, Nado Gelato will hit the spot with its italian gelato, unique flavors, and colorful decor. Despite its oxymoron of a name, the black vanilla flavor is heavenly.
Nado Gelato: 10am-9pm Sun-Thurs, 10am-10pm Fri-Sat
1017 C Ave, Coronado, CA 92118-3413
For those who seek luxury and high end living, Del Mar will make you feel right at home (or maybe more like your dream home). It is no wonder that this quaint beach town attracts people from all over the country; it is is home to some of the most beautiful hikes and landscapes of southern California.. If you choose to keep embracing your more luxurious side, head over to The Del Mar Plaza and immerse yourself in upscale shopping, gourmet food, and sumptuous views.
Occupying 7 miles of breathtaking coastline, this town is often referred to as the “jewel of the west”, a statement I personally would not argue. A step up from the luxury of Del Mar, La Jolla offers beautiful versions of just about everything:houses, beaches, cuisine, and even people. Surfers, swimmers, kayakers, and loungers alike will have to be convinced to leave the stunning beaches and coves of La Jolla Shores, the Cove, and Windansea. For those artistically inclined, the old town’s galleries and museums make it an art-lover's paradise.
No town embodies 60s-style surf towns quite like Encinitas. With its laid back atmosphere, dominant surf culture, meditation gardens, and thriving yoga scene, a trip here will put you in a dufer state of mind (even if your body remains on land). Surfing or not, Swami’s beach is a must, located below a large bluff; getting there involves steep stairs but it's worth the trip!
For those looking to embrace the surf with both body and mind, Leucadia Surf School offers amazing lessons and camps for all levels. Surfers must like to eat and drink because this surf town is full of delicious eateries, wineries, and craft beer. A trip to Swami’s Cafe will leave you full, satisfied, and feeling like a local. If later in the day you find yourself thirsty, The Beer Garden is full of local craft beers and arguably one of the best Bloody Marys you will ever consume.
Swami’s Cafe: 7am-4pm Mon-Fri, 7am-5pm Sat & Sun
1506 Encinitas Blvd Encinitas, CA
The Beer Garden: 11am-11:30pm Mon-Fri, 10 am-11:30pm Sat & Sun
641 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA
Just north of Encientits, Carlsbad has managed to maintain uncongested beaches and its small town charm. With seven miles of gorgeous pacific ocean coastline, and relatively low cliffs, the town is full of unobstructed ocean views and beach access. With the world at your fingertips and toes in the sand, Carlsbad has something for everyone, including Legoland, a favorite among youngsters, and Carlsbad State Beach for those who prefer seclusion and shoreline camping.
If you are lucky enough to visit from early arch through early may, you can take a stroll through the fifty acres of breathtaking ranunculus flowers, a magical and colorful field that will put any flower garden to shame.
It’s no surprise that this beach town is also full of good eats from fine dining to fast casual. Campfire, a new restaurant that is steadily rising to local fame, is highly recommended. Living up to its name, the restaurant connects customers to the origins of cooking and hospitality, cooking most of the menu over an open fire so that customers can gather and soak in the experience. And yes, don't you worry, there are s'mores.
Campfire: Sunday, Tues-Thurs 11:30am - 11:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:30 am-1:00 am, Mon 5:00pm-11:00pm
2725 State St., Carlsbad, CA 92008