Beach Getaway – Treat Yourself to Del Mar!
Del Mar is one of our favorite beach city destinations in Southern California. It has great shopping, great dining,beautiful views of the ocean, and fantastic beaches. This is a walking city, and I highly recommend you allow yourself plenty of time to stroll the streets and discover everything Del Mar has to offer. And if your travel companion is of the four-legged variety, Del Mar is just the place to include your dog for your getaway.
Besides being a dog-friendly city, Del Mar is also a great destination for bicycle enthusiasts. Wide bike lanes line the streets and everyone seems to be on the lookout for them. The bike routes bring riders right through downtown and then along sprawling stretches with uninterrupted ocean views.
Visit Del Mar Beaches
Del Mar has several beaches to choose from, including a dedicated Dog Beach! Every one of the beaches is gorgeous and picturesque. Cliffs descend down to wide, flat beaches allowing for panoramic views from the clifftops, and long, expansive, dramatic shorelines. Leashed dogs are allowed on all the beaches during the off season (which is now), but there is a dedicated dog beach on the north end of town if you want to allow your pet to frolic freely and play off leash with other dogs year round.
Because the beach here is expansive and extends for more than 2 miles, there is plenty of walking and lots to see. This is a great place to watch surfers, fishermen and fisherwomen thigh-deep in the waves casting to sea, seals frolicking, sailboats skimming along the horizon, families building sandcastles and chasing the water as it washes over the sand.
Dog Beach/The River Mouth Beach
The Del Mar Dog Beach is one of the few beaches in southern California open year round to dogs, and we’ve taken all of our dogs to this beach over the years. Unike many dog-friendly beaches, dogs are actually allowed to roam free off-leash as long as they are well behaved. This is a fantastic spot with lots of places to explore and plenty of long expanses of sand to camp out with your dog when not playing in the water or running along the beach. I suggest you bring an umbrella or pop-up to protect your dog from the sun and provide a cool place to rest when not playing. Up close to the shoreline, the terrain under the water is sandy, but further out it does get rocky and can be a bit tricky to walk on so be careful. The water does stay fairly shallow for quite some way out, which is nice.
Del Mar City Beach
Del Mar City Beach is a long expanse of gorgeous sand with grassy parks and walkways overlooking the ocean from the parks above it. It can be a bit tricky getting down to the beach as there are cliffs along much of the beach and the Sprinter rail line runs between the beach and parks, but there are multiple access points available.
Even though the Sprinter line is near the beach, don’t let this deter from enjoying this fantastic seaside city. The Sprinter does not come by too often, and as you can see from the photos, it does not mar the view. Lots of people enjoy the trail that runs parallel to the rail bed for the miles of mostly uninterrupted walking and running and the gorgeous views.
The parks overlooking the City Beach are fantastic for a picnic lunch, relaxing in the shade, yoga in a beautiful setting, games on the grass, or to just watch the people and dogs go by. These are the some of the largest seaside parks we’ve found along the southern California coast, with plenty of room for many families to spread out on the grass without feeling crowded. And like all of Del Mar, dogs are welcomed in most areas of the parks and biking is encouraged. Please note – dogs are not allowed on this main beach in Del Mar, though they are allowed on the trails above the beach.
Beach South of 15th Street
In the summer months, this area is great for swimming, surfing, and splashing in the waves, and but the real beauty of this beach is in the autumn, winter, and spring months. During the winter months, this is one of my favorite beaches to explore with the long stretches of sand, shallow water, and cliffs that run south of 15th street in Del Mar. When the tide is low, long expanses are visible exposing the rocky seafloor below the shallow waters. This area is great for exploring in the pools of water cupped in the rocks for sea-life, or for long walks of endless shoreline and magnificent vistas with high cliffs to the east and rolling ocean waves to the west.
Shopping in Del Mar
Visit Del Mar for it’s plethora of shops, including upscale boutiques, art studios, gift shops, and unique specialty stores. If you are looking for great finds on vintage clothing or high-end designer consignment clothing, you will find a trove of treasures in Del Mar, including Carolyn’s Designer Resale. There are boutique shops for pets, eclectic shops of unique home decor and gift items, and fabulous displays of art.
This town is made for browsing. The main street is only a handful of blocks long with shops and boutiques interspersed with coffee shops and restaurants. The sidewalk areas are filled with trees, flowers, benches, alcoves and hidden rest spots in the shade that are perfect for taking a little break between stores. Or if you have a husband like mine who would much prefer to relax in the shade with a cool drink from one of the many sidewalk cafes while I shop, then everyone will be happy with the visit to Del Mar.
Restaurants in Del Mar
There is a restaurant for every taste in Del Mar, from high-end to eclectic to quick and easy. Just walk along main street to see everything available to you, including many options for beach front dining and street-side seating. I recommend you be adventurous and ask for a table at the first eatery you see that grabs your attention, whether it’s because of the beautiful view, the delicious aroma, or the inviting atmosphere. We’ve yet to have a bad meal anywhere in Del Mar, so I don’t think you can go wrong with any place you choose.
If you love quaint, eclectic and delicious, don’t miss my current favorite – the Stratford Court Cafe tucked into 13th street a block or two off the main street. This is a dog-friendly garden cafe that serves breakfast all day, along with sandwiches, soups and salads. Personally, I think their breakfasts are amazing, and love that they offer cold entrees as well as hot breakfasts. If you want a hearty and tasty breakfast, definitely go for the Stratford Scramble topped with fresh avocado. Any restaurant that offers fresh-brewed and unsweetened ice tea with refills scores high with me, but the Stratford completey won my heart with their passion fruit ice tea. Most passion fruit teas are herbal and overwhelmingly tart, but this is a perfect blend of black tea and passion fruit.
Where to Stay in Del Mar
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If you are looking for a high-end, seaside getaway, I recommend L’Auberge Del Mar. This gorgeous resort includes a restaurant, spa, pool, and beautiful sunset views of the ocean. This hotel has been recommended by Conde Nast as one of the country’s best luxury resorts, and you will not be disappointed with your experience.
If you still want ocean views but prefer a more budget friendly option, check out the Del Mar Motel on the Beach. This quaint hotel offers ocean views and beachfront sun decks for lounging. This is a great option for a weekend getaway with easy access to the beach and lots of restaurants within walking distance.
Click here for an extended list of hotel options in the Del Mar area, including family friendly accommodations, beach front hotels, and seaside resorts.