You’ll enjoy discovering Del Mar, a delightful seaside resort town with a population of less than 5,000 residents. It’s only 18.5 miles north of downtown San Diego via Interstate 5. Del Mar’s village-by-the-sea ambiance is an invitation to come and explore its beautiful wooded hillsides, magnificent beach, wonderful restaurants, fascinating shops and beautiful homes.
Del Mar is the only town in the county with a thoroughbred horse racing track. This year, the Summer Season runs from Friday, July 19th–Monday September 4th. Additionally, this is the third year of the Bing Crosby Meet, with dates from Wednesday, November 1st–Sunday, November 26th. The horses will run at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (2) (858-755-1141). Plus, the Surfside Race Place at Del Mar (858-755-1167), which is at the fairgrounds, offers offtrack wagering. The fairgrounds are located on Jimmy Durante Boulevard. See Sports & Recreation.
The Del Mar Fairgrounds is also home to many annual events including the San Diego County Fair (2), which this year will be held June 2–July 4. However, it will be closed Mondays July 3 and first three Tuesdays. Popular events include horse shows, livestock judging, art exhibits, flower shows, live concerts, carnival rides and more. Don’t miss the fair!
Across from the track, on the corner of Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard, is where you should dine. It’s The Fish Market Restaurant (1) (858-755-2277). There isn’t a finer seafood restaurant in North County. More than 100 menu selections are featured. The restaurant also has an oyster bar, cocktail lounge and retail market. So drop by the retail market to take home and cook fresh seafood yourself. They also have a second location in downtown San Diego at the Embarcadero, overlooking romantic San Diego Bay. See Restaurants. Their stunning San Diego Bay location has also recently remodeled their Top of the Market dining room.
After discovering Del Mar’s dining venues near the racetrack, continue south on Jimmy Durante Boulevard until you come to 15th Street and Camino del Mar (see map). This short trip by car will bring you to the heart of romantic Del Mar.
SHOPPING & DINING IN DEL MAR
Shopping and dining take on a whole new perspective at the Del Mar Plaza (4) (858-792-1555), which is at the corner of Camino del Mar and 15th Street (see map). Breathtaking ocean views and more than 30 fine shops, boutiques and restaurants combine for one of the best shopping experiences in San Diego. Del Mar Plaza offers three shopping levels with spectacular views. Convenient underground parking via 15th Street or Camino del Mar is provided.
A trip to Del Mar Plaza would not be complete without dining at one of its award-winning restaurants. Il Fornaio (4) (858-755-8876) serves fine gourmet Italian cuisine. Their classy outdoor bar offers a panoramic view of the ocean and Del Mar proper. Also visit their Coronado location. See Restaurants.
At the southwest corner of Camino del Mar and 15th Street is Stratford Square (5) (see map). This landmark Tudor-style building is home to great restaurants and charming village shops.
For contemporary American cuisine at its best, visit Sbicca Bistro (5) at 215 15th St. (858-481-1001). This charming American bistro and bar has a welcoming atmosphere, and the food is great. Ask for table 301 on the terrace for a beautiful ocean view.
The landmark restaurant with a 46-year tradition in family dining is Bully’s Del Mar (5) at 1404 Camino del Mar (858-755-1660). Highlighting the menu are sizzling steaks, freshly caught seafood and memorable prime rib.
A block farther down 15th Street to the west is the ocean. You will pass the post office and a nice grassy park that overlooks the beach. Just across the railroad tracks is Del Mar’s beautiful beach. Paid parking is available adjacent to the old Amtrak station.
Two legendary restaurants at the beach are The Poseidon Restaurant (6) at 1670 Coast Blvd. (858-755-9345) and Jakes Del Mar at 1600 Coast Blvd. (858-755-2002).
East of Interstate 5 and Del Mar proper is the upscale suburb of Carmel Valley. It’s home to hundreds of luxurious new homes, condos and apartments. It includes the areas of Torrey Hills and Torrey Highlands.
The options for shopping, dining and living here are numerous. Carmel Valley’s largest shopping complex is the newly renovated Del Mar Highlands Town Center (8) at Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. The anchor store is a Ralphs supermarket, which is complemented by dozens of retailers. The shopping center’s newest sensation is Cinépolis Luxury Cinema (858-794-4045). To purchase tickets online go to [cinepolisusa.com]. Movie goers not only sit in plush leather seats with foot rests, but they are served food and beverages including mixed drinks, wine and beer (at select theaters) while they watch their favorite movie. See Welcome.
At the corner of Valley Center Drive and Carmel Creek Road is Piazza Carmel Shopping Center (12). It’s home to a very busy and popular Vons supermarket and lots of excellent restaurants.
The other shopping center is the well-established Flower Hill Promenade at the corner of Via de la Valle and the Interstate 5 Freeway.
RANCHO SANTA FE
Rancho Santa Fe is an inland community that rivals the beauty of the coast. Tucked away in the hills only seven miles from the ocean, this plush yet tranquil village is a perfect setting for the more relaxed side of the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Among the scant 5,000 residents are such celebrities as former professional major league baseball player Rick Aguilera, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Janet Jackson, and even a movie star or two. These are but a few of the many notable people who enjoy privacy and anonymity in this extraordinary community.
Rancho Santa Fe is also a wonderful place to discover a memorable meal and a weekend getaway. It’s home to an enchanting little shopping district where you’ll find several delightful shops and romantic restaurants.
The easiest way to get to Rancho Santa Fe is via Interstate 5. Take the Lomas Santa Fe exit and drive east. Lomas Santa Fe feeds into Linea del Cielo, and you will notice that the road begins to meander, forcing you to slow down. The roads throughout the Ranch (as it is known to locals) were engineered for this very purpose, so take your time and enjoy the scenery and the scent of citrus and eucalyptus groves.
WHERE TO DINE
One of the many enjoyable things to do here is to join the local tradition of lunch or Sunday brunch at any of the fine restaurants at the Ranch.
A highly-acclaimed restaurant is Mille Fleurs, which is at 6009 Paseo Delicias in the heart of the Village (858-756-3085). They feature French California cuisine.
At the corner of San Dieguito Road and Rancho Diegueno Road in the Del Rayo Village Shopping Center, is the Ranch’s most popular casual restaurant. It’s Leucadia Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant (7) at 16085 San Dieguito Rd. (858-759-2222). You’ll just rave about the cuisine! They serve more than 20 tantalizing pastas and sensational pizzas with up to 50 toppings. You can dine in, pick up or they’ll deliver. Plus, they are well-known as one of the top caterers.
Rancho Santa Fe is where many of the rich and famous live. Their attraction to the rural charm and cosmopolitan atmosphere is reason enough for you to discover this place as well. A single visit is usually the beginning of a long love affair with charming Rancho Santa Fe.