Gay San Diego – Solana Beach

Author: , December 30th, 2014

Solana Beach - Cedros Design District

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictWe lucked into the Cedros Design District (Solana Beach, by accident – we were attending a wedding reception in Solana Beach and had a few hours to kill before it started, and we wound up here. You’re gonna love this place.

To get here, take the 5 Freeway north from San Diego about half an hour. Exit at Lomas Santa Fe Dr., turning west toward the beach at the base of the exit. About half a mile down, you’ll reach South Cedros Avenue, just before the railroad tracks and Old Highway 101. Turn left and you’re here!

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictThis place is amazing – filled with unique boutiques, galleries, little restaurants and outdoor cafes, and more cool shopping than you can shake a stick at (believe me, we tried, and the stick broke halfway through).

The district was once a cabinet making and woodworking center, filled with industrial buildings, and began its transition to a funky, hip, upscale design, art and shopping center in the ’90’s with the arrival of a West Hollywood developer, Sean MacLeod, who articulated the new vision for the district. He opened the Cedros Trading Company, a consignment mall, which nurtured a number of vendors who eventualy moved into their own shops in the district. Buildings were renovated and painted, and the District continued to grow and thrive.

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictThe Belly Up Tavern (, which has brought in a wildly varied group of entertainers since the ’70’s, was renovated, and MacLeod opened up the Wild Note Cafe next door in 1997.

We ate at the Wild Note Cafe ( for lunch – the food was really good, and the funky jazz atmosphere enjoyable.

Menu items for lunch include sandwiches, burgers, seafood, quesadillas, and more, with entrees running from $7-12. Dinner includes seafood, steak and chicken, with entrees running from $15-23.

 style="margin: 6px;"There’s no Starbucks or Peets Coffee here (I know, shocking) – but for a quick drink and snack, check out Zinc Cafe (, a super-cute cafe with an ivy-covered outdoor patio to relax in under the trees and a large umbrella (see below, right)

It’s truly a pleasure to walk down South Cedros – the whole district is just a couple blocks long on a single street, but take a look at a small sample of what’s packed into these blocks – there’s lots of street art and art that happens to be on the street.

Here are a few of our favorite stores and shops along South Cedros:

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictLeaping Lotus ( – ever been to one of those converted old warehouses that’s been broken up into a bunch of little antique stores, each individually rented by someone to show off their wares, usually dusty old things no one really wants?

Leaping Lotus is like that, but much, much better – think antique mall on steroids – instead of old dusty lamps and soda bottles, it’s filled floor to ceiling (actually, two floors to ceiling) with interesting arts and crafts.

We found all kinds of interesting things here, from oil paintings to masks, from wooden Hawaiian gods to woven baskets and hand-made candles. And yes, there were even lamps here.

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictTimeless Furnishings ( was another cool home store (with locations both in Hillcrest and in Solana Beach) with exotic imports – kind of a local Pier 1).

There’s also a Farmer’s Market ( on Sundays from 1-5 PM.

The Cedros Design District in Solana Beach was far and away the best shopping place we found during our recent visits to San Diego – a great place to spend an afternoon.

San Diego Gay Travel Resources

Gay San Diego – The Shopping

Author: , December 18th, 2014

We did a bit of shopping while we were in San Diego, including a mall, some LGBT sotres, and a really cool and funky place where you can find all kinds of unique stuff for your house. Here are our favorites:

Architectural SalvageArchitectural Salvage
Little Italy
Architectural Salvage is like Restoration Hardware on acid.

With salvaged gems (door knobs, whole doors, windows, and all sorts of other things) on display from around the world, you can find that perfect piece here to give your house a little needed funkiness.

It’s fun just to wander through the store and gape at all the bric-a-brac.

Filled with cool things for your house and for gifts, this home and lifestyle store has some furniture, but is mostly filled with lots of great, colorful knick-knacks. Well worth a look when you’re in Hillcrest.

Horton PlazaHorton Plaza
Right in the center of the downtown core is a great outdoor mall – Horton Plaza, a multi-level, outdoor mall.

Horton Plaza also provides free wheelchairs, perfect for folks who need a little assistance getting around this large, multi-level mall. This is a great mall to roam on a sunny day, filled with fanciful architecture and a great mix of shops. The mall is on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, a cute shopping, dining and entertainment district with many bars (mostly if not all straight/mainstream).

Hot Rod Garage SaleHot Rod Garage Sale
North Park
You gotta make an appointment to see this place (we know friends of the artist), but it’s a really cool stop for your San Diego trip. Brian bent is an internationally respected artist who specializes in cool urban funk. Give him a call and check out his iconic arty while you’re in town.

Hotel Del CoronadoHotel Del Coronado
Coronado Island
The Hotel Del is an iconic destination – the scene of the film Some Like it Hot.

It has a small shopping gallery, the hi-light of which, for us, was the toy store there.

I found the perfect Christmas gift for my mom – an adorable hedgehog (yes, she collects them).

Mankind is a little farther down the street – it’s basically an underwear place – if you want to look good in your skivvies (or at least as good as possible given your anatomy LOL…) check out Mankind.

If you’ve ever been to a Spencers. you’ll love Obelisk – it’s a gay version of the novelty shop. Headlined as a Men’s Clothing Store, you’ll also find gifts, cards and accessories, and huge bonus points for the neon Hillcrest sign in the middle of the store.

North Park
This is a really cool corner store up in North Park, the next neighborhood over from Hillcrest. Filled with really cool gift items, from candles to children’s books. And extra points for carrying Go the Fuck to Sleep.

Seaport VillageSeaport Village
Downtown Waterfront
This little center is an adorable collection of brick buildings and walkways along the waterfront, strewn with fountains and beautiful trees – fun to stroll through.

And check out the Headquarters next door, a former historic San Diego Police Headquarters complex, now restored and turned into an outdoor shopping center with a central plaza for events.

Torreon ImportersTorreon Importers Hillcrest
Torreon Importers has one of the best selections of framed mirrors we’ve ever seen under one roof. Stop in and see yourself reflected hundreds of times in this store – the perfect place for the closet narcissist.

Little Italy
This is a cool, funky little store with a serious asian influence on the edge of Little Italy – Japanese incense, decorations, mugs and lots of other cool, gifty stuff.

There are so many other great places to shop in San Diego – you might also want to check out Solana Beach along South Cedros Ave – it’s an artist colony with some amazing shops and restaurants which we visited on our last trip to San Diego – also check out our Old Town section there.

San Diego Gay Travel Resources