Horse racing enthusiasts will overtake this classic seaside town toward the end of this month. Even if that’s not your scene, Del Mar offers a delightful respite from everyday life with a chance to stroll along Camino del Mar at your own pace. Check out the public art, the darling library, gelato shops, plus many restaurants and boutiques. When it’s time to rest or bypass the crowds, a quick trip to the hills will yield resorts that you’ll never want to leave.
ABOVE THE FRAY
To enjoy a lovely spot above the bustle, head to Beeside Balcony. The patio tables offer a chance to relax under umbrellas yet still feel the ocean breeze while overlooking the street. Dive into the Mediterranean menu and feel virtuous with a Beeyoutiful Bowl: quinoa, edamame, green kale, purple Brussel sprouts, chopped basil and mint, and more topped with lemon vinaigrette ($16). Or try the Faroe Islands salmon with broccolini puree, baby carrots, lemon beurre blanc, and thyme ($26).
For a serious foodie experience, head to San Diego’s first and only two-star Michelin restaurant, Addison. Chef William Bradley presents a nine-course tasting menu ($298) atop a bluff at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. If your group contains eaters who need to know what they’re getting, try the resort’s other restaurant, Amaya, which will make accommodations for children. The outdoor patio overlooks the grand lawn and nearby hills. Luxuriate over delicious fresh oysters with delightful sea bean chimichurri ($22) and riso nero with prawns ($35).
MAKE TIME STOP
A short drive into the hills will place you in another world at Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Old-world elegance sings from every corner of this 15-star property—Forbes awards five stars to the resort, spa, and restaurant. A grand entryway leads to the sprawling pink building with marble and gold accents throughout. Guestrooms ($764 and up) appointed with marble showers and soaking tubs invite rest with blackout curtains and an analog clock: Forget time and let your body clock decide the schedule. Every room has a terrace or balcony to take in a portion of the property’s 400 acres—which include a golf course, four pools, an equestrian center, and adjoining nature preserve so you can hike all day or just for an hour. Play tennis or pickleball, or try one of the 24 fitness classes offered each week. You’ll earn the chance to relax in the idyllic library with a book or a cocktail and friendly conversation.
Summer home of the San Diego Symphony, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park has been open just a year. With terraced outdoor seating, everyone has a great view of performers, which in July include headliners such as Common, Megan Hilty, Michael Feinstein, and Joss Stone, plus Harry Potter movie soundtrack concerts.
Highly acclaimed Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa lures guests with exquisite attention to detail and nonstop pampering—befitting its Relais & Chateaux award status and five stars from Forbes Travel Guide. Staff guides you to one of the spacious Spanish-Colonial style casitas ($1,800 and up) where the indoor fireplace is glowing and warm to welcome you. There’s generous outdoor lounging space, and enormous bathrooms feature soaking tubs and some steam showers. The walk-in closet is stocked with plenty of extras: umbrella, shoehorns, tote bag, flashlight, and the softest robes imaginable, all the better to enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice delivered to your door every morning. Venture outdoors to walk through the lush gardens, play tennis or pickleball, experience a treatment at the glorious spa, and take one of the 37 fitness classes offered each week.
PONY UP TO THIS BAR
For the best place to see and be seen after the races, it’s hard to beat The After Pony Party at The Pony Room at Rancho Valencia, which sold out last summer. If relaxing in a quiet setting is more your speed, pick a weekday evening and try one of the eight margaritas on the spirits menu. A relaxed vibe surrounds guests as they sip the El Jefe, with Añejo tequila, Grand Marnier, lime, and agave ($22).
Mark your calendar: July 22. Opening Day at Del Mar includes a hat contest and spectators dressed to impress in addition to the races and the parties. dmtc.com
Tip from a local: “Monarch (Ocean Pub) has a great beach vibe. There’s a lot of cool stuff downtown and a local beach community.” Carolyn Inglis, service worker in Del Mar