There was a span of about 10 years in my life where the Summer Solstice was cause for a major celebration.
That usually took the form of an afternoon-into-the-evening-event featuring a stage in my yard, bands, theater groups performing, amazing food and large groups friends celebrating the longest day of the year.
It got to a point where we had a solar company sponsoring it and crowds of 100-plus people celebrating this pagan holiday.
The late Bob Nanninga, community activist and former Coast News columnist also threw a big shindig around the solstice and we eventually coordinated so our gigs would not fall on the same weekend — as we both enjoyed hosting and attending each other’s event.
Well, fast-forward to the present and the thought of pulling together an event of that magnitude seems a bit daunting these days.
I’ve always celebrated the whole solstice week, so in lieu of one big event, I’ve put together a list of 21 ways to enjoy the longest days of the year — June 21.
The Del Mar Village Association is doing it right with a Summer Solstice 2016 event June 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. They will be featuring the delectable culinary creations from 21 of Del Mar´s highly regarded restaurants along with selections from 25 of California’s best wineries, breweries, meaderies and cideries.
Live music is essential and will be provided by The Second Cousins.
With amazing front-row sunset views, balmy ocean breezes and live music this is the way Del Mar celebrates the arrival of summer!
The event is held outside in Del Mar’s Powerhouse Park right on the beach. The lifeguards do a tiki-torch paddle out at sunset to welcome the season and the event is a fundraiser for the Del Mar Village Association whose mission is to enhance and revitalize the Del Mar Village.
OK so that leaves us with 20 more ways to enjoy solstice week in coastal North County.
Prior to the eater type activities, I will make it a point to get into the ocean daily for a surf or just a frolic in the warmish water — warmish being relative of course.
I will not step foot in a gym during solstice week as this all about outdoor activities.
Stone Steps is my go-to staircase for a killer stair workout and there will be several of those during the week — we have to offset the eating right?
Now on to the eating options, and there are many that have a summer vibe to them.
A happy hour at Fish 101, consuming mass quantities of oysters and Albarino is a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon and will definitely be part of my week.
Another strong possibility would be an Uber chauffeured restaurant pub-crawl up Coast Highway from Encinitas to Oceanside.
Let’s start at Union, and then mozy up to Bier Garden, pop in to Shelter (I think I’m cool enough for this place now), fuel up with some Pho at Birdseye Kitchen in their beauty of a dining room that opens up on to Coast Highway, relax on the outdoor seating at Pandora Pizza, a glass of wine and some apps at Solterra, live music at Le Papagayo and poke bowls at Lanai would wrap up the Encinitas portion of the tour.
The Carlsbad portion of the excursion would have to include Chandler’s at the Cape Rey Hilton Resort and their beautiful outdoor dining and drinking area. Moving up the coast, the Coyote in Carlsbad Village is a good place to stop and get your outdoor dance on for sure.
I’d wrap up the solstice crawl in Oceanside, which has a plethora of options for open and airy eating and drinking. Masters Kitchen & Cocktails has that going on for sure along with Local Tap House, Bagby Beer, and of course Hello Betty that has a rooftop deck perfect for catching a killer sunset to close out your solstice journey up the coast.
Of course there are many more options for outdoor eating and drinking but I’ll wrap it up with three of my favorite grab-and-go options.
Anything from Juanita’s in Leucadia and then a short walk up to Stone Steps or Beacons to find a perch on the stairs to devour your Mexican goodness.
Step it up a notch and stop by the deli counter at Seaside Market where the options are bountiful and make for a perfect beach or picnic in the park.
Whatever you do during solstice week, just make sure a good portion of it is done outside and enjoy this special time of year.
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.