Thirty-five miles north of San Diego you’ll find the laid back beach town of Carlsbad. Walk in the sand, go for a surf, eat a fish taco and drink a micro-brew. Relax, you’re in SoCal.

7:00 a.m.

Rise early to greet the Pacific. At the corner of Pine Avenue and the 101, you’ll find a tiny park squished between the highway and the ocean. (Technically it’s not a park; it’s just a patch of grass. Even so, it’s a popular gathering spot.) Here the pet-lovers socialize their pups, the limber practice yoga, and the coordinated play Hacky Sack. On the weekends, the parrot guy shows off his flock to tourists. Grab a bench and watch the town wake up.

8:00 a.m.

Eat breakfast at the Daily News Cafe. Ask for a table on the patio under the orange umbrellas. Order the Huevos Rancheros and watch the pedestrians make their way through the busy intersection of Carlsbad Village Dr and Carlsbad Blvd (the 101). Smile when you spot the visitors from out east wearing shorts and flip-flops in the 55 degree overcast weather. But it’s always sunny in SoCal, isn’t it? Not so. May Gray, June Gloom, baby. And, often the anti-summer lasts through July.

9:30 a.m.

Brave the morning chill and tackle the waves. Don’t feel like getting bashed by the ocean? Rent a paddleboard or kayak and glide your way across the peaceful Agua Hedionda lagoon. Not into getting wet? Rent a cruiser and take in the coastal views as you pedal along the 101.

12:30 p.m.

Dry off and head over to Pizza Port, a micro-brewery popular with locals and tourists. Surfboards decorate the walls and hang from the ceilings; rows of picnic tables fill the floor space. Take advantage of the lunch special: a slice, salad and soda for $4.95 (or make it a beer for $1 more). Try the crisp and refreshing Carlsbad Cream ale or the originally brewed with hemp seeds (not anymore, but just as tasty) Carlsbad Chronic amber ale.

1:30 p.m.

Stroll down State Street in the heart of the old Village and explore the boutiques. Check out the rock n’ roll inspired apparel on the racks at Beat Clothing or buy a postcard for your mom at Paradise Cottage. Not into shopping? Belly up at the Village Pub, the town’s best hole in the wall bar. Catch a ‘train beer’ — a $2.50 draft special, poured whenever a Coaster or Surfliner train whistles by.

2:15 p.m.

One block west, on the upper level of the Village Faire outdoor shopping center, is Vinaka Cafe. It’s a favorite local hangout for laptop jockeys, chatty teens and chess players. Order an expresso drink or a scoop of ice cream, or both. Grab an outdoor table with a view of the courtyard below, or sit inside and soak up the eclectic atmosphere.

2:45 p.m.

Walk to the beach. Head north to check out the fancy vacation rentals and seaside resorts. Head south to watch the surfers rip it up at Tamarack, a popular local surf break. Find a soft spot in the sand and plop down. Reapply sunscreen.

3:30 p.m.

From the beach, take the steps up the bluff to street-level for a birds-eye view of the ocean. As the afternoon sun moves further west, more and more pelicans take to the sky in flying V’s, riding the air currents up and down the coast. Occasionally one pelican will abandon its V and take off towards the open water to fish. Keep watching, he’ll give you an entertaining display of dive-bomb maneuvers.

4:00 p.m.

It’s happy hour at Dini’s — one of the few restaurants in Carlsbad with an ocean view. (It’s affordable, too.) Stake out a spot on the small patio and drink a Stone Pale Ale as the sun sets. Bring another layer to throw on; it will cool off.

7:00 p.m.

Is it Tuesday? Perfect. House margaritas, Dos Equis lagers (I know, it’s not a micro-brew, but it’s almost local) and all tacos are on special at Coyote Bar & Grill for “Taco Tuesday.” Two tacos and two drinks won’t set you back more than $10. Bonus: karaoke will be rocking around the fire pits outside. Want to join? A few margaritas won’t hurt. The dancing starts early.

9:00 p.m.

Don’t care for karaoke? Cozy up with a glass of zinfandel or a pint of porter at Relm, a wine bar and bistro. Sit at the wooden bar, gather around a wine barrel table or sink into a love seat. Feel the exhaustion settling into your muscles. Slowly sip to the bottom of your glass. ☼


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