Enjoy the beach then explore the quaint community
With stunning views from historic coast Highway 101, wildlife reserves, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and coastal bluffs, picture perfect oceanfront parks and plenty of shopping and dining, Del Mar is considered among the finest communities in San Diego. There’s a quaint yet upscale charm to this seaside village in San Diego’s North Coastal region that seems the perfect complement to Del Mar’s two miles of beautiful coastline. The area offers both family- and dog-friendly beaches where you can kick-off your flip-flops, pack a picnic from the local shops and do some serious relaxing.
Del Mar is also known for a popular activity beyond the beach, “where the surf meets the turf.” The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is woven into the fabric of San Diego history, hosting the finest horse racing every year since 1937, when Bing Crosby welcomed the track’s first guests. The beautiful facility is located on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, home to yet another popular summer tradition, the San Diego County Fair.
WHERE TO GO
- Across from the race track, where the San Dieguito River meets the sea and (as they say in Del Mar) the turf meets the surf. Also known as Dog Beach, The River Mouth is a broad wedge of beach with lots of room for volleyball games and a gathering place for dogs. The swimming here isn’t too good, due to the shallow sandbars and unpredictable currents, but it’s well protected from wind and surf – a perfect spot to introduce small children to the sea or help them build their first sand castle.
- The northern half of Del Mar City Beach, from 15th Street to The River Mouth, is arguably San Diego’s finest, with good swimming, intermediate surf and easy access at every block. Two coastal parks, Powerhouse and Seagrove are located here, providing excellent spots for picnics. If only there were more parking, there’d be no argument at all.
- South of 15th Street, bluffs line Del Mar City Beach, though they are neither as high nor as steep as elsewhere in North County. At all but the highest tides, the beach is totally passable all the way to Torrey Pines, and there are a number of sketchy, unsanctioned trails down from the cliffs. A dirt path paralleling the train track on the bluff is a favorite of walkers and joggers, who can go for miles without encountering a car or crossing a road.
- Parking can be a challenge, especially during the busy spring and summer months. Street parking in commercial and residential neighborhoods are your best bet.
- Select parking lots available in downtown Del Mar’s shopping district, but be watchful of signs for spots reserved for patrons of restaurants and shops.
- Metered parking is also available, so be sure to bring plenty of quarters.
BATHROOMS & SHOWERS
- Restrooms and shower facilities are available around the main lifeguard tower on 17th street.
- The main lifeguard tower is located on 17th Street, and is the main dispatch zone for lifeguards that patrol up and down the Del Mar coast.
- Good surfing conditions at most Del Mar Beaches. Swimming is good in certain spots, like River Mouth and 15th street.
- Jogging and bicycling along the coast, south of 15th Street.
- Volleyball at River Mouth.
- Sun bathing at beaches around 17th street.
DIRECTIONS TO DEL MAR BEACHES
- From freeway 5 exit Del Mar Heights Road or Via De La Valle and head west. Del Mar Heights leads to the south end of Del Mar at Pacific Coast Hwy and 4th Street; Via De La Valle meets Pacific Coast Hwy on the extreme north end of Del Mar at the Rivermouth. To find the main beach area, follow the Coast Highway to the intersection of 15th Street and Coast Boulevard, midway between these two points. All of Del Mar’s beaches are named after its numbered streets, so finding any specific spot referred to here is as simple as locating the same street.
WHAT TO LOVE
- The fairgrounds and racetrack offer open-air concerts during the summer.
- Hot air balloon rides along the coast.
- Watch for dolphins in the surf, frequently spotted just past the waves in Del Mar.
- A steep, wooden staircase leads up to Scripps Bluff Preserve on 80-foot bluffs affording great views of the coastline.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Even though dogs are permitted, they must remain on leash at Dog Beach.
- It is not advisable to use any of the cliff trails here as they can be unstable.
- Remember to bring sandals or flip flops as you may have a long walk from your car, and the sand can be hot.
“A SANDY STRETCH OF PARADISE ALONG HISTORIC COAST HIGHWAY 101”, San Diego, SanDiego.org.