The slow pace and small-town pleasures of Fallbrook, Calif. — best known for its avocados and festival celebrating the green fruit — can't match the glitz of, well, glitzier destinations. That lack of flash is what's most appealing about this rural outpost in north San Diego County. The ancient oaks of Live Oak Park are waiting to provide shade for a picnic, nurseries that dot the hills are filled with colorful plants to take home, and there are some bright new restaurants known only to locals. C'mon down, sit a spell.
My husband and I stayed at the Pala Mesa Resort (2001 Old Highway 395;  722-4700, http://www.palamesa.com; weekend rates start at $149-$165). This 1960s-era hotel, on 205 acres, overlooks a golf course. The lobby and restaurant are in front; rooms are at the rear of the property. Guest rooms are basic yet pleasant; some have balconies or patios with nice views. Try to get an executive king, which has more amenities and space. Bridezilla alert: The resort's lovely gardens, waterfalls and gazebos are a magnet for weddings.
Aqua Terra, overlooking the Pala Mesa Resort golf course, is a cool place for drinks and appetizers. We chose sushi and a baked avocado and topped it off with chocolate martinis. Far funkier was Oink and Moo Burgers and BBQ (121 N. Pico Ave.;  451-6005, http://www.oinkandmoo.com), which recently opened downtown. We ate on the patio, a converted garage, and made, well, pigs out of ourselves. Hand-ground burgers and pulled pork were a messy treat.