If easy beach access is a big deal in your apartment search at Solana Beach, you need to know that developments that look like they're a 2-minute walk to the sands on a map actually perch 70 feet or more above the shore. In fact, coastal properties in the city sit on cliffs, requiring treks down several flights of outdoor stairs to reach the water. About the only area that doesn't is Fletcher Cove Beach Park, which offers a gradual descent to the beach. Look for inland apartment rentals near this park if you want an easy walk to the waves.
The descent to the water may be a time-consuming challenge but ultimately rewards you with fewer throngs than you'll encounter on flatter stretches of sand. Your chances of finding secluded spots increase the further you walk away from the public stairways. Locals hang at Seascape Beach, which can be difficult to find because the entrance is hidden by condos, or at Del Mar Beach, which is technically in Del Mar, at the mouth of the San Dieguito River.
Everyone else enters the water for swimming and surfing at Fletcher Cove, aka Pillbox. Restrooms and showers provide aprs-beach cleanup. Shoot a few hoops at the basketball court or spread out your lunch at the picnic areas. The lifeguards here work year round and seasonally at other locations.
The primary rule when dealing with lifeguards is to pay attention to them at all times. They're not just bronzed and buff tourist attractions. Their first job is to keep you safe and that may mean ordering you from the water under certain conditions. They also enforce beach ordinances, such as no dogs allowed, and rescue you when you're in trouble. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. They'll know where you can go for your favorite seaside activity.
They'll recommend visiting Tide Beach if you like to admire life in a tide pool. An added bonus here is the usual lack of people. For some of the best surfing in Southern California, catch the breaks in the northern part, at Seaside Reef and Tabletop. More good breaks are near 18th, 23rd and 25th Streets.
When you're out in the ocean, you may get caught in a rip current, which pulls you from the shallows out to sea. Do not try to swim against it because you can't. You'll just tire out and ultimately drown. Instead, catch the attention of nearby swimmers or lifeguards by waving your arms above your head. They'll know what's going on and effect a rescue. In the meantime, stay calm and swim parallel to the beach until you're out of the currents. Then, if you haven't been pulled out of the water yet, swim back to shore.
Located in Southern California, Solana Beach lies about 20 miles north of San Diego. To the north is San Elijo Lagoon and Cardiff, to the east is the unincorporated Rancho Santa Fe, to the south is Del Mar and to the West is the Pacific Ocean.
Interstate 5 acts as the primary multi-lane north-south divider between the beach vibe on the west and the more suburban plots on the hillsides and canyons. As with any coastal community, the closer you get to the water, then higher you pay for houses to rent.
Eden Gardens, which is also called "La Colonia," is one of the city's older sections. It was created during the 1920s by farmers working for nearby ranches. Centered around La Colonia Park, the community still has a strong neighborhood feel as well as smaller homes and apartments.
In contrast, the newer Cedros Avenue Design District is, strictly speaking, exclusively retail. It boasts more than 85 boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. But you'll find places to rent about a block west and east that you should snag if you want to be next to the trendy action.
Typical of the newer developments that hug the hillsides is Loma Del Cielo West. You'll only find house rentals here, usually with three bedrooms or more, and multiple baths. Pools are not uncommon. A homeowners association keeps things neat and tidy behind the gates. One issue you may face on the hills is an encounter or two with a coyote. They avoid humans but may approach pets. Your best defense is to keep Fido or kitty indoors, and any outdoor food waste completely sealed. Conventional fences at least 5.5 feet high or electric fences also work in barring the arroyo foxes. If you see one nearby, contact the County of San Diego's Wildlife Services for information and removal.
Homes near the water range from massive estates with multiple floors or condo complexes. Small beach cottages and apartment complexes don't exist at these premium locations. However, the difference between apartments and condos may be in name only. Condos typically have "Beach Club" in the title, but many are otherwise indistinguishable from ordinary multi-family dwellings.
The quickest way to go south to San Diego or north to Encinitas is by car on I-5, when it's not a parking lot during rush hour. Otherwise, the San Diego Coaster provides faster commuter access and Amtrak carries you in air-conditioned comfort to both San Diego and Los Angeles.
Most people use their cars to tool around town. Parking is adequate at businesses, residences and on the street. However, the closer you get to the beach during sunny days, the less likely it is you'll find a place for your wheels. The city has no pay parking lots or garages.
County-wide bus service comes from the Breeze and San Diego Metropolitan Transit. The British Bus Company also offer continuous service on Wednesdays through Sundays from the Solana Beach train station to the Del Mar Racetrack. Students, faculty and staff of University of California San Diego can catch the UCSD bus to hit the La Jolla campus. The Solana Beach Transit Center provides a central location for catching both buses and trains.
Most stores, surf shops and restaurants line Highway 101 and there are some scattered shopping plazas further inland. Other good shopping is in the previously mentioned Cedros Design District. Because of the cliffs, you won't find any buying or selling at the beach itself.
If you prefer manicured greens to white sands for your outdoor activity, head for the Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course. Golf Range Magazine voted it one of the top short courses for two years because of its multi-level greens with 29 bunkers and two water hazards.
The big chance to rub elbows with the locals is during the Fiesta del Sol, which brings together live music, games, craft booths and food. The tunes go on during summer evenings with Concerts at the Cove featuring everything from the rousing marches of the US Marine Corps Band to the soothing songs of jazz soloists.