The Land of Summer

Have a Lazy or Lively Day in the Town Down the Coast

Paul Wellman

With a name like Summerland, this hilly beach town has staycation written all over it. It’s already one of the South Coast’s finest destinations for casual fare, namely the consistently delicious comfort food (and a full bar) at The Nugget (2318 Lillie Ave.,, plus dog-friendly breakfasts and burgers at Summerland Beach Café (2294 Lillie Ave., But there’s a whole lot more. Summerland’s main drag stretches more than a mile, from Ortega Hill to Overview Park. Here are some highlights along the way:

Start Movin’

If your idea of a staycation involves more movement than lounging, explore a week of unlimited yoga classes for $30 (new students only) at Evolation Yoga (108 Pierpont Ave.,, which has been under new management since February. If you’ve kids in tow, the studio offers child care. Or sign ’em up for a weeklong kids’ camp, starting June 26, July 10, and August 7. In addition to ocean views, the studio offers mats, towels, and private showers.

Sip This

Believe it or not, Summerland had gone nearly two years without a proper coffeehouse until Red Kettle Coffee (2275 Ortega Hill Rd., Ste. A, opened its doors in December. Since then, owner Megan Tingstrom (daughter of Richard Tingstrom, who owns Tinker’s Burgers two doors down) has welcomed locals and passersby alike with carefully brewed beverages seven days a week, plus house-made cronuts (deep-fried croissant dough) on weekends. Show up on a bicycle and get 10 percent off any large drink. And this Saturday, June 24, the shop’s on track to open its all-new back patio.

Stop ‘N’ Shop

A short walk from Red Kettle, there’s Bonita Summerland (2330 Lillie Ave., and Bōtaník (2329 Lillie Ave.,, upscale boutiques that have recently started hosting a monthly pop-up called #GatherShopShare for area artists, crafters, and purveyors of cool stuff. There’s one this Saturday, June 24. If history repeats itself, it’ll be a popular stop for lunching locals and wine-tasting travelers. Interested vendors should email lupe@bonitasummer.

Get Grilled

If it’s a long outdoor lunch you’re craving, on Saturdays the Summerland Market & Deli (2580 Lillie Ave., 969-5893) and grillmaster Roberto Chegue serve up mesquite-barbecued chicken, ribs, tri-tip, sausage, corn, and kabobs, the lovely waft of which, when the breeze is just right, is known to lure motorists from the highway. Grab a seat under an eave or at a picnic table ’neath the sycamores. Inside, it’s a well-stocked grocery store, with fresh fare at the deli, plus local beer and wine.

Giddy Up

Last, but certainly not least, the Greenwell Preserve parking lot (corner of Greenwell Ave. and Asegra Rd.) serves as a staging area for horseback riding on the beach, led by Los Padres Outfitters (, 331-5961). Head honcho Graham Goodfield and his team, including reservations wrangler Marilyn Campbell, typically handles groups of 2-10 riders for two-hour morning and afternoon excursions along a nearby trail before heading to the sand via the public access trail at Loon Point. During summer and early fall, horses aren’t allowed on the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., so plan your adventure accordingly. As for which day is best? Says Campbell: “Oh, gosh, we’re here seven days a week.”


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