There are things about every town that make it unique, and Del Mar has no shortage. From its historical roots and the massive Del Mar Fairgrounds to quaint B&Bs and its pristine beaches, there is much to celebrate about Del Mar. MIASTEFANKO
1 In 1880, a group of San Diegans organized an agricultural fair to bring county farmers together to share ideas, see who had the best citrus fruit, who baked the best pie, and who had the fastest horse. After that first fair, the county fair was held annually with a few exceptions in various county locations until 1936, when it moved to its present Del Mar home. After being suspended during World War II, it has been held annually since 1946. 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The fair is commemorating this milestone with special exhibits and merchandise — deep-fried Kool-Aid or Girl Scout cookies, anyone? Or how about some Australian battered potatoes? But hurry — the last day of the fair is July 4! (www.sdfair.com)
2 After about a two-week siesta, the fairgrounds then welcome the 2011 horseracing season (July 20 through September 7), which boasts a schedule packed with fun and affordable events for guests of all ages. In addition to the musical lineup (see page 48), Del Mar will again offer Family Sundays and Free and Easy Wednesdays. Be sure to savor the first-ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival (August 20), and mark your calendars for the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic (August 28). Racing at Del Mar happens Wednesday through Sunday, with first race post time at 2pm on most days. On Fridays first post is at 4pm. (www.dmtc.com)
3 Movie buffs rejoice! The former UltraStar 8 in Del Mar Highlands Town Center (technically in Carmel Valley) will soon open as Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, a boutique theater with luxury and comfort in mind. Eight auditoriums with state-of-the-art and 3-D technologies and high-back reclining chairs will welcome guests with perks including HD movie screening previews, reserved seating options, a full bar, in-seat food ordering, and gourmet and classic movie fare.
And there more: The new Cinepolis is part of a major $20 million renovation that began in 2010 at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. The revamped upscale neighborhood hub will offer high-quality dining and entertainment, including seven new restaurants, a variety of shopping, improved parking, and outdoor gathering spaces for seasonal performances and private or community events. The lineup of restaurants will include Burlap, Mia Francesca and Davanti Enoteca, Rimel Rotisserie, Sammy Woodfired Pizza, Taverna Blue, The Counter, Urban Plate, and Champagne French Bakery Café. (www.delmarhighlandstowncenter.com)
4 Daniella and Bratzo Basagoitia, owners and operators of the delightful Café Secret on Camino
Del Mar, bring their Peruvian roots to the menu with a variety of delectable tapas, seafood dishes including Ceviche Peruvian Style, quiche, salads, espresso drinks, and more. Desserts including alfajores (a classic Latin American treat) and key lime mango pie are made fresh daily at the restaurant. What more, the enchanting sidewalk café is connected to the Secret Garden Inn, a four-room bed and breakfast. (858/792-0821, www.cafesecret.com)