Start your day with some carbo-loading at the Potato Shack in Encinitas, 120 W. I St. (tel. 760/436-1282;, or at other local hangouts such as Swami's Caf, also in Encinitas, 1163 S. Coast Hwy. 101 (tel. 760/944-0612;, and the Beach Grass Café, which also serves a great dinner. There are two Beach Grass locations: the original at 159 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Solana Beach (tel. 858/509-0632;, and the less stylish Encinitas branch at 1476 Encinitas Blvd. (tel. 760/942-2741). Claire's on Cedros, 246 N. Cedros Ave. (tel. 858/259-8597;, is another Solana Beach crowd-pleaser, serving breakfast and lunch.

Always packed is Fidel's Little Mexico, known for reliably tasty Mexican food and kickin' margaritas; the restaurant is in Solana Beach at 607 Valley Ave. (tel. 858/755-5292; In Encinitas, pizza lovers can't go wrong with Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria, at the Lumberyard shopping center, 897 S. Coast Hwy. 101 (tel. 760/634-7671; www.blueribbonpizzeria), where you can even get a gluten-free crust; or the skillful Japanese food and sushi available at Yu Me Ya Sake House, 1246 N. Coast Hwy. 101 (tel. 760/633-4288). There's more Asian fare at Siamese Basil, 527 S. Coast Hwy. 101 (tel. 760/753-3940), where you can choose your spice quotient, from toddler-safe 1 to fire-alarm 10.

Chocoholics must make a pilgrimage to Chuao Chocolatier (, one of the top artisan chocolate makers in the country. You'll find creative confections including dark chocolate bonbons laced with strawberry pulp and balsamic vinegar. Chuao has several locations, including the Lumberyard Shopping Center, 937 S. Coast Hwy., Encinitas (tel. 760/635-1444), and the Del Mar Heights shopping center, 3485 Del Mar Heights Rd., Del Mar (tel. 858/755-0770).

In Carlsbad, the town's architectural centerpiece is Ocean House, 300 Carlsbad Village Dr. (tel. 760/729-4131;, a restored Victorian mansion complete with turrets and cupolas. It's open daily for lunch and dinner, and there's a huge Sunday brunch, but it's more notable as a nightspot where you can dance to live music and DJs. For a fine dinner with Franco-Californian flare, try Paon Restaurant and Wine Bar, 2975 Roosevelt St. (tel. 760/729-7377;

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.