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A Weekend In Del Mar
This month we move up the coast to the seaside town where the turf meets the surf. August is the perfect month to spend a weekend in Del Mar as summer is in full swing and the races at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are underway.
As you contemplate hotels for your staycation in Del Mar, be sure to consider the area’s top two resorts — The Grand Del Mar and L’Auberge Del Mar.
The Grand Del Mar boasts San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa, and the award-winning Addison restaurant. This summer, the resort is offering myriad value-oriented packages to suit any taste.
If a seaside escape is more your style, L’Auberge Del Mar is steps away from the beach, with amenities including two lighted championship tennis courts, swanky cabanas throughout the resort, Spa L’Auberge, and Kitchen 1540 featuring the cuisine of executive chef Paul McCabe.
Don’t wait until the evening to get the weekend started — the 70th season of horseracing is in full stride, and this year its popular Friday late-card theme has been changed from Four O’Clock to Three O’Clock Fridays. So don your best turf club attire and place some winning bets. And for a dose of culture, stick around after the last race for a live music concert. Featured August performers include The Airborne Toxic Event on August 7, Common Sense on August 14, Pinback on August 21, and Super Diamond on August 28.
If the band doesn’t suit your fancy, migrate to one of the nearby restaurants — Red Tracton’s has been a post-track staple for over half a century, The Fish Market’s fresh catches and oyster bar have been luring people in since 1981, and Pamplemousse Grille is repeatedly voted Best San Diego Restaurant by Zagat Survey. Also nearby are Blanca Restaurant (featured on this month’s cover) and Market Restaurant + Bar. Or you could head back to your hotel for an award-winning meal. L’Auberge features lives music Friday and Saturday nights.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in bed or head out for a delectable day-starter at Americana with its newly renovated sidewalk dining area, or the charming Café Secret on Camino Del Mar.
If you have children, enjoy a round of mini-golf at Pelly’s, followed by a stop at Freeflight to see the beautiful exotic birds.
If the spa is calling your name, a multitude of options abound. Spa L’Auberge is offering 20 percent off of all facials through August. Consider the SPF: Skin Perfecting Facial, which helps prevent photo-aging while providing up to eight times the skin’s natural protection from UV rays.
Or escape for an entire day of rejuvenation at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar. Its Grand Day Spa Retreat package includes a 60-minute Swedish massage and a facial, alfresco lunch at the Relaxation Pool, access to The Spa’s fully-equipped fitness center, and more — all for $385.
Other luxurious local spas include Spa Gregorie’s, which just opened in Flower Hill Promenade (see page 34 for more info), and Mirabella Mansori on 101 in Solana Beach, which offers weekly specials throughout the summer.
Once you’ve worked up a healthy appetite, grab a slice at Del Mar Pizza on 15th Street, or enjoy lunch outside at Sbicca Bistro. There’s also the sizzling fajita platters at En Fuego, whose roots date back to 1930 when the original restaurant, La Tienda, hosted Del Mar Race Track elites and Hollywood movie stars such as Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien. At the Del Mar Plaza, Del Mar Rendevous serves up modern Chinese and Asian fusion cuisine.
After dining, shop among the many upscale boutiques housed within Del Mar Plaza and along Camino Del Mar. Art aficionados should head to Susan Street Fine Art Gallery on Cedros Avenue. Its current group exhibition is titled Dog ‘n’ Pony. Ten artists approach the depiction of dogs and horses to illuminate the social and cultural concerns of their world, often using these animals as a metaphor for the human condition.
While on Cedros, stroll around to check out the many unique boutiques including Cedros Soles, Glow Bungalow, Hot Rock Jewelry, Leaping Lotus, Milk & Honey, Rebecca Norman, and more.
There’s no better place for sunset cocktails than atop Del Mar Plaza, but to reach even greater heights, consider a Champagne sunset hot air balloon ride — it’s a rush unlike anything else.
You can’t visit the city by the sea without sampling some spectacular seafood. With outdoor seating areas and ocean views, you can’t go wrong dining al fresco at Poseidon, Jake’s Del Mar, Pacifica Del Mar, or Sunset Bar & Grill, a new addition to Del Mar Plaza.
For some nightlife, Arterra’s poolside lounge features a live DJ, or catch a show at the Belly Up, one of S.D.’s best music venues.
Champagne brunch at The Brigantine is a must on Sunday morning — no ifs, ands, or buts.
For some physical activity, hike the trails in San Dieguito River Park. If you’ve opted to stay at The Grand Del Mar, you can also bike the scenic paved trails located next to the resort, or enjoy the more than 37 miles of mountain biking trails located in the adjacent Los Peñasquitos Canyon. Or better yet, explore its scenic terrain and unique landmarks, including a restored Adobe Ranch House originally built in the early 1800s, on a guided 2.5-hour horseback adventure.
For lunch, Pasta Pronto is a hidden gem off Via De La Valle, or refuel at Milton’s in Flower Hill Promenade. Treat the kiddos to self-serve frozen yogurt at Del Mar Swirls.
Enjoy Sunday shopping at Flower Hill Promenade among classics like Book Works and Thinker Things (perfect for the kids), The Rare Earth, Fairen Del, Dig, Crimson, Morrison Hotel Gallery, and more.
Or, simply relax at the beach.
For an afternoon snack/early dinner and to stock up on goodies for the week, head to the Cedros Avenue Farmers’ Market, which operates from 2-5pm. Its dozens of vendors offer everything from fresh ceviche, homemade tamales, quality produce, and just-baked bread to one-of-a-kind jewelry, artwork, and unique gifts. MIA STEFANKO & RINA VAN ORDEN
L’Auberge Del Mar (858/793-6460, www.laubergedelmar.com)
The Grand Del Mar (858/314-2030, www.thegranddelmar.com)
Americana (858/794-6838, www.americanarestaurant.com)
Café Secret (858/792-0821)
The Brigantine (858/481-1166, www.brigantine.com)
Del Mar Pizza (858/481-8088, www.delmarpizza.net)
Sbicca Bistro (858/481-1001, www.sbiccabistro.com)
En Fuego (858/792-6551, www.enfuegocantina.com)
Del Mar Rendezvous (858/755-2669, www.delmarrendezvous.com)
Pasta Pronto (858/481-6017, www.pastaprontodelmar.com)
Del Mar Swirls (858/755-5564, www.delmarswirls.com)
Red Tracton’s (858/755-6600, www.redtractonssteakhouse.com)
The Fish Market (858/755-2277, www.thefishmarket.com)
Pamplemousse Grille (858/792-9090, www.pgrille.com)
Blanca Restaurant (858/792-0072, www.dineblanca.com)
Market Restaurant + Bar (858/523-0007, www.marketdelmar.com)
Kitchen 1540 (858/793-6460, www.laubergedelmar.com)
Addison (858/314-1900, www.addisondelmar.com)
The piano bar at Red Tracton’s (858/755-6600, www.redtractonssteakhouse.com)
Arterra (858/369-6032, www.arterrarestaurant.com)
The Belly Up (858/481-8140, www.bellyup.com)
Susan Street Fine Art Gallery (858/793-4442, www.susanstreetfineart.com)
Weekend concerts at the Del Mar Race Track (www.delmarscene.com)
The Belly Up (858/481-8140, www.bellyup.com)
Three O’Clock Fridays at the Del Mar Race Track (www.dmtc.com)
Pelly’s Mini Golf (858/481-0363, www.pellysminigolf.com)
Freeflight (858/481-3148, www.freeflightbirds.com)
Spa L’Auberge (858/793-6460, www.laubergedelmar.com)
The Spa at The Grand Del Mar (858/314-2020, www.thegranddelmar.com)
Spa Gregorie’s (858/481-6672, www.spagregories.com)
Mirabella Mansori (858/720-1832, www.mirabellamansori.com)
Hike the trails in the San Dieguito River Park (www.sdrp.org)
Biking or horseback riding near The Grand Del Mar (858/314-2030, www.thegranddelmar.com)
Relaxing at the beach
Hot air ballooning (www.delmarmainstreet.com)
Shopping at Flower Hill Promenade (858/481-7131, www.flowerhill.com)
Shopping along Cedros Avenue (www.cedrosdesigndistrict.net)
Cedros Avenue Farmers’ Market (www.cedrosdesigndistrict.net)