In and Around the Track: A local’s guide to the Del Mar Races


Del Mar, a coastal community located twenty minutes north of downtown San Diego, teems with restaurants, beaches and activities beloved by residents who know where to be and when. On July 18, as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club opens racing season for its 77th historic year, the beach town comes alive for all who visit. This intimate guide to discovering Del Mar sheds insight on the best ways to discover the community and experience the races like the locals do.

1. Kick Of Parties: Race season is arguably Del Mar’s most buzzed about moment of the year. Both locals and visitors alike look forward to trying out their gambling hands and placing bets on the sport’s champion thoroughbreds. Whether taking a seat in the Turf Club or in the grand stands, the atmosphere swells with excitement, and a little competition. For added thrill, many local hotels, venues and restaurants host extravagant parties before and after the races in celebration of Opening Day. The event options are endless, but year after year locals favor the annual Opening Day After Party at L’Auberge Del Mar. Hosted after the races from 5 to 11 p.m., this elegant yet modern event features delicious tastes from Executive Chef Brandon Fortune of KITCHEN 1540, music by Southern California’s hottest DJ’s, handcrafted Mint Julep cocktails and stunning ocean views.

2. Park and Play: When thousands of guests head to Del Mar to bet on the local thoroughbreds, parking can become a tricky adventure. Rather than heading to the track right before the first run, San Diegans know it’s best to arrive early. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is less than a mile from the Village of Del Mar. Guests can park at the track, then enjoy ocean views, shopping and world-class dining before, during or after the races in the Village.

3. 4. The Del Mar Plaza: Ofering cobblestone streets, tiled fountains, ocean views and an open-air design reminiscent of a European marketplace, the Del Mar Plaza is an ideal spot to relax before or after the races. Featuring a mix of unique retailers, a gourmet food market, ocean-view restaurants and top of the line services, Del Mar Plaza draws locals and tourists from all over the country. Some recent additions to the Plaza include El Agave Restaurant and Tequileria, a renowned San Diego eatery, featuring nouveau-Mexican cuisine and a vast tequila tasting museum; Del Mar Chocolate Bar, a onestop shop for gourmet chocolates, cofee, pastries, retail wines and champagnes; and Erik Skoldberg Gallery, a contemporary art gallery featuring modern and colorful works by a local San Diego artist.

5. 6. Architecture and History: Integral to the community of Del Mar is its rich history and beautiful design. The racetrack itself was built in 1936 in a Spanish Colonial Revival style which recalled the grandeur of Southern Spain and paid homage to the beauty of the Arabian and Andalusian horses which would race there. With Bing Crosby as a founding member and president of the track, Del Mar quickly became a “playground of the stars.” Many structures in the area were influenced by the historic events of this time, and even modern businesses pay tribute to the track’s influence on developing today’s seaside community. A hidden local favorite is the murals and mosaic tiles surrounding the pool of the Hotel Indigo. Each step leading down to the pool names a famous horse that won the Del Mar races, including the legendary horse, Seabiscuit, who won in 1938.

7. 8. Award-Winning Cuisine: Enjoying front row seats to exquisite sunsets never goes out of style, and natives of Del Mar know this. Oceanfront dining is everywhere around the community, including Jake’s Del Mar, Poseidon Restaurant and many of the restaurants inside the Del Mar Plaza like Il Fornaio, El Agave and Pacifica Del Mar. Even more indulgent than the view, however, is the award-winning cuisine ofered at all of these eateries. Del Mar is a certifiable culinary destination and hotspot in San Diego’s burgeoning food scene, and there’s never a wrong time to enjoy a fine meal when attending the races.

9. Summer Concerts: In 2001, singer Jack Johnson put Del Mar on the musical map after his performance at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Since then, wellknown acts like Billy Idol and Jason Mraz have performed during the track’s Summer Concert Series. This year, ten bands are scheduled to perform on the Seaside Stage, including Weezer, Counting Crows, Steve Aoki and Ziggy Marley. The best part of the concert series is that guests of the races attend for free. The concerts are hosted every Friday night during racing season and begin after the day’s last race.

10. 11.Spas and Salons: Every Del mar gal knows that the races are an event to see and be seen at. Luckily, Del Mar ofers a variety of luxury spas and local salons, experienced in delivering a beautiful derby look. Spas like Spa L’Auberge at L’Auberge Del Mar and Spa Gregories near the race track are ofering specially packaged services to get your face and body race-season ready. Salons such as Bella Via Hair Studio in Del Mar Village and Haim Ltd. in the Del Mar Plaza will get your locks trimmed, colored and curled. Insiders suggest making a day out of your pre-race pampering by booking a special group party for you and your friends; experienced estheticians like the team at Spa Namara van take care of all your beauty needs.

12. 13.Wind Down at the Beach: The anchor of the Del Mar coastline is Powerhouse Park, which provides spectacular views, rolling grassy hills for picnics, and playgrounds for the little ones. Head here after the races to experience total peace and relaxation, away from crowds. For a more private excursion to the shore, make like a local and head to the sands near the right or left of the park. Here you can lay out your beach towel, soak up the rays, spot pods of dolphins and watch the surf in a Southern Californian oasis. Locals know that there isn’t a bad spot to hang out in Del Mar. Whether it’s shopping in the Village, dining al fresco, indulging your senses or experiencing history, Del Mar ofers something for everyone when you head to the races.

14.First Ever Fall Meet: Come back in the fall and enjoy 15 more days of racing before the end of the year. For the first time ever, Del Mar will host a fall meet, November 7-30, themed around the track’s Hollywood roots harkening back to its founder, Bing Crosby. About Del Mar Located 20 miles north of the San Diego airport, Del Mar ofers vintage California charm with its walkable, pet friendly village set along two miles of beautiful California coastline. Known for its world famous thoroughbred Del Mar Racetrack, popular surf breaks, walkable beaches, spas, ocean view dining and shopping, Del Mar is the perfect year-round destination. The historic and charming Del Mar Village offers a variety of accommodations from the luxury L’Auberge Del Mar to the eclectic Les Artistes Inn. For more information, visit: # # #