Back to our guide to North County’s best beaches. This time it’s South Carlsbad State Beach, better known to locals as "Ponto." Just north of the La Costa Avenue boundary between Carlsbad and Encinitas, and across the Coast Highway from Batiquitos Lagoon, Ponto truly has it all: lots of clean white sand, great surf, lifeguard protection, a huge pay-parking lot, restrooms and showers. It’s such a good beach that the Carlsbad Junior Lifeguards train there, and Surfin’ Fire, North County’s best surf camp, operates just south. Two other points about this beach: 1) there’s an incredible lookout on the bluffs just south of the parking lot, accessible by a winding staircase; it’s one of North County’s most splendid photo ops, particularly at sunset time, but it’s almost always deserted because few people seem to know about it. And 2) Just south of the beach, along the Coast Highway, is a Roberto’s Mexican Food stand known far and wide — and favored by locals — for its gigantic burritos.
Carlsbad Boulevard at La Costa Avenue, Carlsbad
Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Company
It’s the homegrown pizzeria that spawned a chain, one of the best pizza joints in North County. I’m talking about the original Oggi’s, in Del Mar. Since 1991, it’s been serving incredible pizzas, with thick slabs of cheese and other toppings covering dough that could have come straight from heaven. The menu has since expanded to include salads, sandwiches (try the pot roast sandwich, with sautéed Portabella mushrooms), and even wraps. A microbrewery was added in the mid-’90s and today, Oggi’s Del Mar is a perfect storm of grub, suds and ambience. It’s one of the most delightful places imaginable to spend a Friday evening out with the boys, with the family or just out, period. 12840 Carmel Country Road, Del Mar
On the agenda
Head down to the classy old Sunshine Brooks Theatre in downtown Oceanside for a great taste of culture. The New Vision Theatre Company is presenting its fifth annual "Summer Shorts" film festival, with eight unpublished, 10-minute films. The films are screened Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through August 1. This year’s picks were chosen from more than 400 contenders, many by local playwrights — and featuring local cast members. Viewers vote for their favorite, and the overall winner will be announced at the festival’s conclusion. Among the shorts being screened this year are Rick Rubin’s How Nice of You to Ask, about a survey in a senior community with humorous consequences, and Frank Ritter’s Monsters, about a group of warriors coming face to face with an unbeatable foe. Tickets are $17, with discounts for seniors, military and kids.
Sunshine Brooks Theatre
217 North Coast Highway, Oceanside