San Diego, California is a huge draw for travelers to CA for a reason — it has beaches, deep history and surfers galore. But, there’s a hidden gem located just 30 minutes north of San Diego which, though lesser known, really should be on everyone’s radar. We’re talking about the idyllic, coastal town of Del Mar.
Its beaches have been rated some of the best in the country, there are top notch restaurants (both fancy and low key) and surfers and millionaires mingling and chilling. Check out why Del Mar should be one of the stops on your next SoCal trip.
What to See:
This spot is filled with pieces of history you can take home. It boasts a collection of fossils, jade jewelry, padre beads, hand carved Chinese cinnabar boxes, stones and other works of historic and artistic relevance. Even if you don’t end up walking out of this store with a piece, you will, without a doubt, receive an amazing history lesson.
Del Mar Art Center Gallery at the Del Mar Plaza
You don’t need to go to Los Angeles to check out an art scene in California. The Del Mar Art Center’s goal is to increase public exposure to quality art as well as provide a space for local artists to exhibit their work. The DMAC Gallery is a non-profit organization that continues to promote art appreciation and hosts a couple of major events per year including an annual auction. (So you can support the arts and redecorate your house!)
Seagrove or Powerhouse Park
Some of the best attractions aren’t really attractions at all. The landscape and scenery is so beautiful it’s worth a visit alone. Seagrove Park is a lovely tranquil location that you can hang out in for a few hours and enjoy the beautiful sea air while the kids run around in the grass. There are picnic tables to set up for a nice lunch all while looking at endless views of the Pacific. Powerhouse Park is just as nice and is a prime spot to snap that quintessential sunset pic.
Southern California is all about embracing nature, and this hands-on bird sanctuary lets you do that in a contained setting. Inside, there are a variety of beautiful birds and for 50 cents you can feed the friendly flocks of macaws, cockatoos and parrots.
Where to Dine:
It’s everything you’d ever want in a restaurant: There’s a quiet patio, indoor dining options, a fire pit and great food. With a range of menu options and a full bar, there are options for everyone. The best part? After your meal, you can walk to the beach for a sunset stroll.
Whether it’s margarita Monday or taco Tuesday, this Mexican restaurant is all about the fiesta. The happy hour is spot on and there’s even an open air dance floor downstairs for those who want to get a little wild after dark.
This Del Mar staple has been around forever. There are two menus at this place – Real Chinese food and American style Chinese food. If you ask for the Chinese menu, you’ll get great, authentic Sichuanese/Shanghai style food. Don’t miss the Saturday Chinese breakfast menu which offers fried donuts, Shanghai steamed dumplings, and a Chinese green onion pancake.
What to Do:
When in California! If you never surfed before, this is the perfect place to do it. Rusty’s Del Mar Surf Shop offers lessons where their skilled instructors will have you riding waves like a pro in no time. Or, if you already know how to surf, the staff can help you improve your skills. You’ll likely head to the less crowded Powerhouse Park, so not many people will see you fall off if it’s your first time. Once you are done surfing, there’s a large grassy area where you can relax and get your tan on.
Yoga On The Beach
If there is one thing that makes you a certified Del Mar resident, it’s the fact that you do a boat-load of yoga. Lots of studios in the area offer sunrise sessions on the sand, which poses an extra challenge while trying to balance. This is the perfect way to wake up. The Del Mar Beach yoga group meets every Sunday from 10am-11am on the sand between the 18th and 19th Street beach entrances and every Wednesday evening at 5:30pm in Powerhouse Park for a one hour donation-based Vinyasa Flow Yoga class.
Forget the Kentucky Derby — Del Mar has one of the best racing tracks in the country. Watch and bet on different horses while enjoying the great weather and food, just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Everyone gets really into the race and dresses up in their Sunday best. They also have concerts on Fridays through race season. (And if you get there before the last race, you pay $6 and can stay for the concert.)
San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
Believe it or not, Del Mar is home to the largest county fair in the United States. Whether you want to eat fried food or go on rides, this fair has plenty of ways to make your head dizzy and your stomach full. There’s also live music and last year they had the International Beer Festival, Monster Trucks, Flower Exhibit and The Music of ABBA. Quite eclectic, huh? There’s obviously your traditional petting zoo and the funnel cake will not leave you disappointed. The fun starts in June and runs into July.