When you think of San Diego there are a few neighborhoods that immediately pop into your head; among them is Del Mar. Who doesn’t play the famous ditty “when the turf meets the surf at Del Mar” in their head? This iconic neighborhood has catered to the rich and famous since its inception, so it’s no wonder their beaches are among the top tourist destinations. With the 2.5 miles of coastline you are sure to find a beach that is just right for you in Del Mar. Stretching from The River Mouth also known as Dog Beach to the surfer’s paradise of 15th Street and beyond, you get a little bit of everything among these beaches.
The Del Mar beaches are part of a continuous beach that runs from La Jolla Shores to the Oceanside Harbor. In Del Mar, this section of the coastline is split into three sections allowing you to choose which one will best fit your beach needs. Families, swimmers, surfers, sunbathers, and dogs can all find a place to enjoy here.
The River Mouth, also known as Dog Beach, is the northernmost beach in Del Mar just across from the racetrack where the San Dieguito River meets the ocean. This is a larger area of beach with plenty of room for volleyball or hanging out with your dog. It is not an ideal beach for swimming due to the unpredictable currents and shallow sandbars. It is, however, a great place to sunbathe, make sandcastles, and introduce your small children to the water since it’s protected from the surf and wind.
The main beach and one of San Diego’s finest is from The River Mouth to 15th Street, it has entrances from almost every block, making it easy to access, and provides a good range of water activities. It’s the ideal beach for swimming and offers average surf for those who want to get out and ride the waves. It is also where the two coastal parks in this area, Powerhouse and Seagrove, are located. Both are ideal for picnics with the family.
Everything south of 15th Street to Torrey Pines is the third section of Del Mar Beach. Here, bluffs line the beach, and during low tides you can walk along the shoreline easily all the way to Torrey Pines. It’s the idyllic long walk on the beach. For those looking for a little exercise while enjoying picturesque views of the ocean, jogging and bicycling along the coast south of 15th Street are popular. This is also a great section for surfing, however many of the dirt paths heading down from the bluffs to the sand can be sketchy making this beach more suitable for adults. During high tide there is beach to be seen, and it is not walkable. Check tidal charts each day before you head out.
Note: Dogs are welcome at The River Mouth, but must be leashed at all times.
Near to the Beach
When you’re not at Del Mar’s beautiful beaches, check out the surrounding area. One of the most notable is the Del Mar Racetrack, located across the road from The River Mouth Beach. It’s a great place to dress up and try your luck betting on the best thoroughbreds in the country. It is also a venue for concerts during the summer. The racetrack is on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, so If you plan a trip during the summer be sure to attend this popular fair with delicious food, awesome exhibits, crazy rides, and live shows.
Adventure seekers check out the hot air balloon rides that float along the coast; they’re exciting to experience and beautiful to watch. Dolphin watching is a favorite pastime on the Del Mar beaches; keep your eyes trained on the water just past the waves. You can also witness the Gray Whale migration twice a year from the Del Mar shoreline, an absolutely amazing thing to see. If you have a chance, make your way to the Scripps Bluff Preserve where you’ll find a wooden staircase leading 80 feet up to astounding views of the coastline.
Planning to stay overnight in Del Mar? Check out the Del Mar Motel, a quaint little hotel located right on the beach. Their newly renovated sun deck offers spectacular views, and barbecue areas are great for picnicking. For a truly unique overnight experience, book your stay at Les Artistes Inn where each room is designed around a famous artist. If you’re looking for a place to eat, go to where the locals hang out at Jake’s Del Mar. You’ll enjoy delicious food and drinks, and you can mingle with other beach-goers in the know. Jake’s is located just north of 15th Street in front of Powerhouse Park.
Del Mar Beach Essentials
Parking near any section of the beach in Del Mar can be difficult; it’s mostly street or paid parking with only a few free areas. There is a pay parking lot across the street from Powerhouse Park, and a few metered spots on Coast Boulevard north of 15th Street. North of Powerhouse Park, you can find free parking along the side streets, as well as most of the cross streets. The Del Mar Plaza, which is about five blocks from the beach, offers underground parking. You can get two hours of free parking there if you have a receipt from one of the stores. It’s best to head to the beach early for a parking space, or plan for a little bit of a walk before you finally hit the beach.
You will find restrooms located at the Community Powerhouse building, and at the lifeguard station at 17th Street. During the summer months restrooms are open at the lifeguard tower at 25th Street. The main lifeguard station is at 17th Street. It’s best to check there to learn which parts of the beach have lifeguard supervision, since many of the lifeguard stations are seasonal. The only permanent towers are at 29th Street, 25th Street, and 20th Street.
Do not use the cliff trails in Del Mar, because many of them are unstable. Visitors should note there are no fires, glass, camping, or alcohol. Launching water-crafts at any of the beaches is not allowed. Dogs are also not allowed on the beach between 17th and 29th Streets. Those who wish to barbecue must bring their own small charcoal grills, and must clean up after themselves.
Del Mar Beach – It’s a Wrap
Del Mar is an upscale area that has one of the most pristine beaches in the city. The surrounding neighborhood offers great restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. There is a beach that caters to almost everyone’s preferences along this coastline, and there are two popular parks nearby. When visiting here, you’ll get amazing views from the bluffs above the beach. There is a long stretch of shoreline from The River Mouth to Torrey Pines to take a casual stroll during low-tide. You can enjoy the glitz and glamour the racetrack provides and soar through the sky via a hot air balloon. Spend time dining at the finest restaurants and shop at the best boutiques, then head to one of their lively night spots for a cocktail as the sun sets. Del Mar is the perfect place to enjoy the beach life in style.