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The cool ‘So Cal’ hangout of Solana Beach is perfect for the beachgoer, with its barrelling surf, sublime weather and galleries and boutiques. Its positioning between Los Angeles and San Diego makes it a good base for exploring Orange County, mountains and parklands and for forays into neighbouring Mexico.
Who to Book With
San Diego International Airport is blessed with car rental firms, such as Ace, E-Z, Payless, Budget, National, and many of the other big companies. There are also offices right at Solana Beach between Highway 101 and Sierra Avenue, though it is best to pre-book with a comparator site for the ease and best value.
Best Time to Go
Solana Beach has an almost year-round Mediterranean-like climate with warm temperatures and very low rainfall. It tends to get cloudy here in summer and really heats up in August-September, though spring is more pleasant. Rates are lower for hotels and cars from October through to May, but the roads remain busy year-round.
Need to Know Essentials
When you pick up car hire, be sure to have the following documents ready:
- A United Kingdom driver’s licence (with photo) and International Driving Permit
- A passport
- The credit card you used for the booking
- The confirmed reservation
For more info read our FAQs.
Solana Beach is only a couple of miles across and is easy to navigate by car. Interstate 5 provides fast access to the beaches and San Diego International Airport, the latter of which is a 20-mile drive away, about 30 minutes. Be aware that many car rental firms require drivers to be over 25 and you should always have your license and passport with you.
Our Guide to the Unites States contains more detailed driving information.
Though it is small, it’s definitely worth having a vehicle when visiting Solana Beach as other beaches and attractions are best reached with your own transport. This whole region is driver country and roads are well laid-out. There is a public bus network and taxis are on hand 24 hours, but it’s far more practical to drive.
Amtrak runs services right through Solana Beach en-route to San Diego from Los Angeles, vice versa. The train station is in the centre of town, not far from Lomas Santa Fe Drive, and receives both the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and San Diego Coaster. Other than getting in and out, rail travel is not a means of getting about here.
For getting around by bus, Breeze serves Solana Beach and surrounds. It’s operated by North County Transit District and you can buy singles or reasonably priced day passes. For getting about Solana Beach extensively, however, it is best to use a taxi or car.
It may be tough to hail a taxi during busy times, with the de facto method to pre-book by phone or to head for a taxi stand. These are usually near the larger hotels and at shopping malls. Both Solana Beach Taxi and Del Mar Taxi operate metered services for trips in and around Solana Beach.
Solana Beach is in a great spot for exploring, sandwiched as it is between San Diego and Los Angeles and with a stunning coastline and countryside. In addition, Mexico is less than an hour’s drive away, so it pays to have car hire to get the most out of the area.
San Diego – San Diego is an easy half hour drive to the south and has a huge number of attractions the whole family can enjoy. SeaWorld, Balboa Park and Old Town State Historic Park each make for a good daytrip from Solana Beach, plus there is a huge military presence in town (including the Pacific Fleet).
San Diego Zoo & Safari Park– Situated off to the east of Solana Beach in the hills of Escondido is this unique and fun animal park. Several landscapes are wonderfully recreated at San Diego Zoo that you get around by flatbed truck or monorail. The zoo has thousands of animals, including rhinos, impressive lions and huge giraffes.
Orange County – This busy county lies an hour or so north of Solana Beach and is one of beaches and popular towns. Huntington Beach is a top surf spot, while Santa Ana and Anaheim are both happening towns. Two must-see attractions for kids are Knott's Berry Farm and the unforgettable Disneyland. Los Angeles and Long Beach are not much further.
Tijuana – The border Mexican city is less than an hour’s drive down the I-5 from Solana Beach. You can park at the border and walk across into Tijuana town, which is known today for its clean streets and eclectic shops and restaurants. Avenida Revolucion in the centre is the main place for tourists to have a wander.