Solana Beach: Food and Fun for Families or Couples


Solana Beach is cute little beach community in North San Diego County nestled between Del Mar, Cardiff by the Sea (Encinitas) and Rancho Santa Fe. 

It is easily accessible by freeway, bus, Amtrak or Coaster and offers much to do for a family on a day trip or a couple on an evening or day out. Even a Mom’s day away too! {Check out our San Diego Series for more places to visit in San Diego!}

Solana Beach Coastal Rail Trail
Coastal Rail Trail head at Via De La Valle and Coast Highway 101

I grew up in Solana Beach and, although I was not born there, I consider it my hometown. My mom still lives there, so I am often bopping around town hitting up my favorite places. 

I love Solana Beach and all it offers and I hope you will too. It is my pleasure to share with you…

Some Things to Do and Places to Eat in Solana Beach

This is absolutely the SHORT LIST, because there is sooooooooo much more to explore and experience!

Parks and Entertainment

San Dieguito Park

Great park for a family day or planned event with tot lots, playing fields, covered picnic tables and plenty of places to hike and explore.

The Belly Up

This place has not changed in YEARS and hosts some of the best music acts, both new and old. 

solana beach
Affectionately called ‘The BUT’ by locals.

Located in the Cedros Design District, it is the perfect end to a couples afternoon spent browsing the local shops. Tickets for popular events sell out, so plan ahead!

solana beach
Design District begins at corner of Lomas Santa Fe and Cedros Ave.

Coastal Rail Trail (aka Linear Park)

An easy walk alongside the train tracks makes for a great stroller walk or family walk with lots to see and hear including art, vegetation, trains, bridges, and more! The Coastal Rail Trail head is at Via De La Valle and Coast Highway 101.

Fletcher Cove Beach Park

A tot lot, picnic tables, and a sandy beach to set up your family camp for the day makes Fletcher Cove the ultimate family beach!!! Older locals know this beach as “Pill Box”. (See why in the link above.)

Fletcher Cove Tot Lot
Fletcher Cove Pill Box
Fletcher Cove Picnic

Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course

A Public golf course with cool ocean breezes and a casual attitude… sooooo, Solana Beach!!!

Breakfast Places

Beach Grass Cafe

Tops my list of favorite breakfast places in North County. It can get busy, so if you can go during off times that is the best strategy to avoid waiting.

The Naked Cafe

Lots of choices for the health-conscious and vegetarian breakfast crowd! Located across from Fletcher Cove Beach.

Claire’s on Cedros

A great way to start the day in the Cedros Design District and an easy walk from the Solana Beach Train Station.

Sit-down Mexican Food

In Solana Beach, either you are a Fidel’s Family or a Tony’s family. I have never found a single local who could or would go either way! 

Two distinct styles of Mexican cooking, so try each one and decide which camp you belong in!

Fidel’s Little Mexico

I went to school with a couple of Fidel’s kids and remember delicious-smelling hot lunches being lovingly dropped off by their mom each and every day. How could I not be a Fidel’s gal?!?

The margaritas at Fidel’s are a MUST DO! And, they serve them by the PITCHER!!!

Fidels Litlle Mexico
Always and Forever… Team Fidel’s!

Tony’s Jacal

No dis’ on Tony’s, because some of my best Sol Beach buds are Tony’s peeps. We all get along… except when it is time to choose Mexican food. HA!

Fast Food

Rudy’s Taco Shop

Locals know Rudy’s is where to go for a quick Mexican meal. 

Bongiorno’s Pizza

Located near Rudy’s, so you can satisfy the picky adults in your party with two choices from a tiny strip mall in the middle of town.


Nothing beats Roberto’s to pick up some quick food to take to the beach at either Fletcher Cove or Seaside. 

What locals call Seaside, is not technically Solana Beach, but about as close as you can get! It is the southern tip of Cardiff State Beach in Cardiff by the Sea.

Fish District

My family’s new favorite in town. Quick and healthy seafood… I am IN!

Lunch and Dinner

Samurai Japanese

This place is a Solana Beach locals’ staple for dozens of years. I think they make the best Dynamite Roll anywhere! 

You can find it in the same strip mall as the North Coast Repertory Theatre. Dinner and a Show makes for a great date night!

The Fish Market Del Mar

My mom loves to tell the story of how her and her friend and fisher-woman once sat down at The Fish Market for lunch (many years ago) and ordered a specific fish. The server informed them they did not have that fish on the menu. They both laughed and told her to check again as they had just made a delivery of said fish. 

Fish Market Del Mar

My mom and her friend personally knew Mr. Duckett, who was one of the original Fish Market founders.  Today, The Fish Market is our goto place for a big pot of shellfish, called a ‘Duckett’s Bucket’, and a hearty-size seafood salad.

Chiefs Burgers and Brew

A good choice for standard American fare and a beer. Across the street from the train station.

Similan Thai

Fresh and delicious… one of the best we have found and right in town!!!!  The Tom Ka Hot pot is our favorite.  They do it spicy here, so make sure to ask for light or no spice if that is what you prefer.

Happy Hour

The Brigantine

Taco Tuesday. Spinach Salad. Brig Margarita. Spectacular View… Heaven.  That. Is. All. 

Brigantine Del Mar
View from the Brigantine Del Mar – Spectacular!

Not really, there is an extensive menu both for lunch and dinner and happy hour.  The views of the Del Mar Racetrack, lagoon and ocean make this place one of my all time favorites to spend an afternoon or evening.

Craft Beer

Culture Brewing

Cute little family-friendly brewery in the Cedros Design District.  They even have some gluten-reduced beers on their board!

Culture Brewing
Pinky toast to gluten-reduced beer!

Pizza Port

An old family favorite and a short walk from the train station or Fletcher Cove. Craft beer, pizza, salads, wings, surf movies, community seating, and a friendly coastal vibe.


Lofty Coffee

At some point on your day or evening in Solana Beach, you may find yourself in need of a pick me up.   Lofty Coffee satisfies!

Farmer’s Market

Sunday Farmer’s Market

Located in the middle of the Cedros Design District, exploring the Farmer’s Market makes for a fun and productive family Sunday.

Seriously, I could go on and on….

But, I would rather hear from you and all you other Solana Beach locals. 

What are your favorites or new-found favorites in Solana Beach???

Share in the comments!

Transportation to Solana Beach Train Station

Solana Beach Train Station
Solana Beach Train Station

Amtrak – Train (from San Diego or Oceanside)

Coaster – Commuter Train (from San Diego or Oceanside and stops in between)

Breeze – Bus (from Escondido)

Sprinter – (from Escondido and other stops with transfer to Coaster in Oceanside)

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