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Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

Minneapolis...
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Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

We are spending 5 days in SanDiego in mid-October to celebrate my young teenage son's golden birthday. He LOVES to boogie board, so after spending 2 busy days in SD proper, we're thinking about heading a bit north to a smaller beach town to have a few quieter days with walkable boutique shopping, restaurants and good surf. I'm thinking Carlsbad (no LegoLand, but closer to the the Safari Park) or Solana Beach. Any other suggestions or which one of those 2? We are flying out of SD so don't want to go too far north. Thanks!

Anaheim, California
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1. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

Oceanside is just north of Carlsbad (many folks treat both cities as the same area). The Oceanside Pier is well known for surfing

http://www.visitoceanside.org/

www.visitcarlsbad.com

La Jolla, California
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2. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

Solana Beach, Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas & Carlsbad are all really nice beach towns to be in. Solana Beach will be closer the airport than Carlsbad & Oceanside will be the most northern part of San Diego. If you stay in Solana Beach, there's the Cedros District for shopping & dining. Encinitas will have a lot of boutique shopping.

If you're staying for 5 days, beach camping is really fun if that's something you're into. San Elijo Campgrounds & Carlsbad campgrounds are both really nice.

Edited: 12:46 am, September 15, 2013
Corona del Mar, CA
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3. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

Think in nights not days, because days overlap.

If you have 2 nights in San Diego proper and two other nights I think Carlsbad is probably your best bet for hotels on/near the water.

While I love Solona Beach, Encinitas and Cardiff you have more limited options in hotels by the water, most of the accommodations in those areas by the water are condos and most have longer minimum stay. If you can find condos in those areas that allow two night stays, I'd consider those areas too.

For Carlsbad, map the location of the hotels carefully, there are some hotels that are too far to be walkable to the Village area and you definitely want to be walkable to the Village.

Manhattan Beach...
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4. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

We spent 3 nights in Carlsbad last month, and really enjoyed the town, with all the shops, restaurants and surf. Your son should enjoy spending his birthday there.

Dallas, Texas
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5. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

We like Encinitas. He might also like checking out the local surf shops like Hansen's. Fish 101 in Leucadia is a nice place to eat and feels festive at night -- I see families with children of all ages there.

But truly you can't go wrong and it's easy to hit up all the North County beach towns!

La Jolla, California
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6. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

I agree with scottca that the village of Carlsbad would be your best bet for 2 nights for the reason that Encinitas and Solana Beach have fewer accommodations near the beach.

I personally prefer Encinitas for its more laid-back surfer vibe, funky stores and interesting restaurants along hwy 101, and might chose Best Western Encinitas Inn & Suites which is close to Moonlight Beach (0.3 miles). Days Inn Encinitas and Quality Inn & Suites are about a 10 minute walk (about 0.5 mile).

San Francisco...
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7. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

Is avoid Oceanside, the other suggestions are spot on.

I've got to ask what is a golden birthday? I've never heard that term before.

8. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

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San Diego...
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9. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

I agree that Oceanside is too far north since you are flying out of San Diego.

There are hotels within walking distance of Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. (Sorry, I think Elle already said that.)

http://goo.gl/maps/ZRsxf

I, too, don't know what <<my young teenage son's golden birthday>> is. :) It sounds like a special bday - so, 16 ?

San Francisco...
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10. Re: Best North County Beach Town for surf/shopping/restaurants??

<<<Ignore the Oceanside comment above, check it out for yourself, it is a popular location between the Harbor area and the Pier area, lots of Hotels/Motels/TimeShares/VRBO's for good reason...>>>

I agree with about 1% of what Darkbeer writes on these forums. He likes Chain restaurants, motels in old town and hotel circle and is an adult (Ill assume) that hangs out at amusement parks, things I dont like. He even once suggested that Hooters has good food.

Everyone has an opinion so there really cant be right or wrong, but like a food critic or movie critic over time you discover if their likes/dislikes are in tune with yours. He and I cant be further apart on our likes/dislikes, but with that said I think there is good reason why he is the only person to suggest Oceanside so far in this thread. We have 75 of so miles of coast line in SD County and since you are only asking about North maybe County 30 miles. Id guess a huge majority of people that live here would say Oceanside would be the last spot of all the North County beaches that they would suggest. While right at the area near the pier may be ok, the city of Oceanside has some real issues, some of its worst areas are not too far from that pier. For that reason given the other great spots in North County Id suggest looking at those before you look at Oceanside.

One other thing, If you are open to not going North, looking for a quaint quieter beach town, Id look at Coronado.

Edited: 7:15 pm, September 16, 2013