A city by the sea: A Del Mar travel guide

flickr/Creative Commons
Flickr/Creative Commons

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Del Mar is one of my favorite places in California. It has everything: beautiful beaches, amazing shopping and endless restaurant options. I’ve been traveling there every summer for as long as I can remember, so I’ve gotten to know the place pretty well. Here’s a master list of the best spots around Del Mar to make your travel planning a little easier.

When it comes to beaches, Del Mar beach is pretty high up on my list. While many other beaches in Southern California tend to be overcrowded, Del Mar beach never gives you that feeling. When you arrive at the beach, you’re greeted with a large grassy area overlooking the water. This area provides more space to lie down in the sun, grilling and playing outdoor games, keeping the beach area itself much less crowded! This is also the best spot to have a picnic, as you can still have that beach experience without getting sand everywhere. If you head down from the elevated grassy area, you’ll find smooth sand and beautiful midsize waves. If you head up from the grassy area, you’ll find the beach town that spans along Camino Del Mar.

On this long street above the beach, there’s an endless amount of boutiques and food spots. The boutiques are one of a kind, making whatever you buy a lot more special. While shopping is fun, the restaurants are what really make this my favorite beach town. If you liked the idea of having a picnic on the grassy area above the beach, definitely stop by Board & Brew for some of the best sandwiches in town. Its secret special sauce is out of this world — in fact, my family thinks it’s so good that we always buy a bottle to keep at home!

Sbicca, a small Californian bistro, is a small, cozy spot that overlooks the water. The menu consists of classic dishes and a whole list of seasonal specialties — you really can’t go wrong with either. If you’re looking for some highly sought-after Southern Californian Mexican food, En Fuego Cantina and Grill is a lively spot that you should check out. The restaurant is colorful and bursting with life; it’s an outdoor spot, so it’s perfect for enjoying that beach breeze. And we can’t forget about the most important meal of the day: brunch! Stratford Court Cafe is a go-to for Del Mar locals, offering a plethora of scrambles, breakfast burritos, croissant breakfast sandwiches and even a Bagel Board where you can find classic and innovative bagel combinations. As if this spot couldn’t get any better, don’t forget to check out the Waffle of the Week too!

But the good food in Del Mar doesn’t stop there! There are tons of great food spots farther into the town. A Del Mar staple is Milton’s, located in an upscale shopping plaza. Milton’s has all the deli classics you could ever want from sandwiches piled high with fresh meats to the endless selection of baked goods. On the opposite side of Del Mar, one of the best sushi restaurants is tucked away in a business plaza. Ken Sushi Workshop is a low-key and modern sushi restaurant that boasts some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. Not to mention, the gyoza is to die for! In central Del Mar, Bushfire Kitchen is a hot local spot. With a wide selection of different American Californian combination plates and a laid-back Californian vibe, it’s no secret why this spot is so popular.

Besides all the amazing food places Del Mar has to offer, its best feature by far is its proximity to so many other locations in San Diego. You can pretty much reach anywhere you want to go in just about 20 minutes. One of my favorite places to go is La Jolla, about 15 minutes from Del Mar. The La Jolla shore offers even more upscale boutiques and restaurants, plus a stunning view. La Jolla also has amazing hikes that are near the water, making it perfect for the beautiful San Diego weather. One of my favorite places to visit is the Westfield UTC mall near La Jolla. Recently renovated, this mall is all outdoors and is the perfect spot to hang out and shop! If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend activity, head up to Solana Beach for the awesome farmers market. If you’re looking for a livelier scene, Downtown San Diego is only 20 minutes from Del Mar (not during rush hour unfortunately). Craving Italian food? Stop by Little Italy for a nice mix of Californian and authentic Italian food. Looking for a fun night out on the town? Nightlife is at its peak in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown! Catch a show, hit the clubs or experience the incredible restaurants that line the gaslamp-lit streets! Whatever you’re looking to do, Del Mar is close to almost everything, so your options are basically endless.

Del Mar is a great home base when traveling in San Diego — it really has it all! There’s so much to explore, and it offers something for every type of traveler to enjoy. No matter what you choose to do, we hope you enjoy all that Del Mar has to offer!

Contact Jackie Amendola at [email protected].