SOLANA BEACH — With more than 85 businesses, including clothing boutiques, home apparel shops, salons, cafes, art galleries, a craft brewery, a winery and a live music venue, Cedros Avenue is proof that good things come in small packages.
Although the North County design district encompasses only two-and-a-half blocks, it has such a variety of activities that one could spend the day there and never experience all it has to offer.
With buildings dating back more than six decades, the area also has an interesting history.
Cedros’ Quonset huts were built in the 1950s by a defense contractor named Bill Jack.
Jack used the Quonset huts to house his Scientific Instrument Co., making helmets, motors and aerial-reconnaissance equipment in buildings that are now used as nightclubs and retail stores.
But Cedros Avenue didn’t attract much attention until 1974, when Dave Hodges decided to open a nightclub on the street. His friends called him a fool and said the business would go belly up.
Determined to prove them wrong, Hodges applied that name to the venue that now, 40 years later, features frequently sold-out concerts by local bands and internationally known musicians.
The latest addition to the street is just a few doors down.
Culture Brewing Company, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, opened in a building that was once home to Culligan Water.
“After all these years it turned out the plumbing was perfect for Culture’s needs,” Cindy Cruz, head of the Cedros Avenue Merchant’s Association, said.
Culture, one of the area’s newest microbreweries, makes all its beers onsite and features a tasting room with about 10 to 20 styles on tap at any given time.
For those who prefer grapes to hops, Carruth Cellars is a short walk south. The “urban winery,” started by Carlsbad High School graduate Adam Carruth, gets its grapes from Northern California but presses them onsite to produce about 4,000 cases of wine annually.
Selections include two whites and a variety of reds, one of which is the Surfing Madonna blend, named for the controversial Encinitas mosaic.
The barrel room is available for private functions.
Some of Solana Beach’s oldest buildings can also be found on Cedros. One of these buildings is a 1924 cottage that is now home to Bixby and Ball interior furnishings.
Another is the Antique Warehouse, which features more than just vintage home goods, magazines and jewelry.
A closer look reveals areas of wood floor — evidence of the old roller-skating rink once housed in the building.
And the history does not just stop with the exterior of the buildings; antiques and antique experts can be found right and left within many Cedros stores.
Antiques on Cedros recently had Jeff Smith, a curator at the Museum of Man, on hand one day to share his “lifetime of antiquities” with shoppers.
Nearly all businesses along Cedros Avenue are family owned and many come with a story. Mabel’s and Baby Mabel’s are both owned by three sisters who named the shops after their grandmother.
The mother-and-daughter team of Barbara Forest and Stephanie Stock own Cedros Soles.
And Carol and Jack Temple have run Carol and Jack Temple in 1992 Solana Beach Art and Frame since 1992.
Their Corgi, Emmy, is at the shop daily to greet clients.
Pets are welcome at many businesses along Cedros and even have a store dedicated to their needs. Muttropolis carries everything from leashes and lounge chairs to costumes and cookies for dogs and cats.
Yet another one-of-a-kind store on Cedros, Leaping Lotus is the ultimate marketplace, with 21,000 square feet of building and rooftop parking.
This 14-year-old business can accommodate up to 130 different merchants whose wares include furniture, home décor accessories, jewelry, artwork and more.
Cedros also has several cafes where visitors can dine in or take food to go to eat while being entertained by local musicians providing entertainment along the avenue.
From noon to 5 p.m. every Sunday, the Solana Beach farmers market features locally grown organic fruits, vegetables, flowers and more.
And to top off a visit to Cedros, stop by Jill Courtemanche Millinery — especially as the Del Mar horse racing season approaches. A graduate of New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Courtemanche has been creating hats for about 20 years but only recently brought her atelier to Solana Beach.
Her fedoras have been featured on Yoko Ono, Donatella Versace and Princess Mary of Denmark. Courtemanche also teaches hat-making courses.
The website, shopcedros.com, which is not yet active will be available for more information on the street.