One of thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international events, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships bolts to San Diego for the first time on Nov. 3-4, 2017, held at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, “where the turf meets the surf.” The best horses, trainers and owners from around the world will gather in the charming seaside town of Del Mar for the $26 million competition.
For visitors with a taste for fast horses, beautiful beaches and scrumptious cuisine, San Diego’s upscale north coastal community of Del Mar is the destination of choice.
In addition to betting on the ponies, there’s much more to explore in Del Mar during the Breeders’ Cup, from the downtown European-style village brimming with shops and restaurants to a bounty of beaches and natural wonders. The following are some best bets for shopping, dining, sightseeing and more.
- The Dish: Foodies can indulge in a wide array of options in Del Mar, from fine dining classics like Arterra, Pacifica Del Mar and Jake’s Del Mar (featuring sensational ocean views) to new American eateries like Prepkitchen Del Mar, Kitchen 1540 and Market Restaurant + Bar, focused on seasonal, market-fresh cuisine.
- Beach Bliss: Del Mar features a two-mile, sandy stretch of paradise along Highway 101 to surf, sunbathe or just wiggle your toes in the sand. Across from the racetrack, the shallow sandbars of North Beach, also known as Dog Beach/The River Mouth, cater to four-legged friends and families with children, as it’s well protected from wind and high surf. One of San Diego’s top-rated beaches, Del Mar City Beach is great for swimming and intermediate surfing.
- Del Mar is known for its excellent surf breaks. For visitors who want to learn how to hang ten, Fulcrum Surf, based in Del Mar, offers a complete range of surf instruction from beginning to advanced coaching.
- Brew Hop: Experience San Diego’s famous craft beer scene and raise a (pint) glass to Del Mar’s premier brewery, Viewpoint Brewing Co., situated on the San Dieguito Lagoon. Sample a flight of seven unique house-made beers on draft (like the citrus-infused Mandarina Pale Ale), paired with gastropub fare in an expansive industrial-chic setting.
- Flights of Fancy: Soar with the seagulls and enjoy birds-eye views of the Del Mar racetrack and coastline while hot air ballooning with California Dreamin’. Due to favorable wind conditions and unique geography, Del Mar is one of the few places in the world where a hot air balloon can fly both at sunrise and sunset.
- Go Wild: Framed by scenic salt water lagoons, coastal bluffs and the sparkling Pacific, Del Mar is a coastal sanctuary teeming with wildlife and nature trails. Visitors can trek the scenic San Dieguito Lagoon, a stopover for many migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway, for fantastic bird watching and photo opportunities. The Riverpath Del Mar features a flat quarter-mile path along the San Dieguito riverbank, and a hike to the top of the Scripps Bluff Preserveoffers a stunning vantage point to catch a sunset.
- Power Lunch: Pack a picnic lunch from Milton’s Restaurant, famous for its breads and New York-style deli favorites, and head to Powerhouse Park, just a two-minute drive from the racetrack. This sprawling grassy knoll is a prime spot to dine al fresco at one of several picnic tables overlooking the ocean. The Tot Lot playground area is perfect for families with kids.
- Power Play: During Breeders’ Cup week (Oct. 28 – Nov. 4), Powerhouse Park will add a 7,000-square-foot, temporary tented venue called The Barn at the Beach. This seaside hangout will host several public events, including a kickoff 5K Jake’s Beach Fun Run (Oct. 28), Post-Position Draw Party (Oct. 30), Bluegrass Concert and Bourbon Tasting (Nov. 1) and a Best of the Barn Culinary Event (Nov. 2).
- Shop Around: For chic shopping, stroll through Del Mar Village along Camino Del Mar, the city's main street, between 9th and 15th Streets, lined with a variety of specialty boutiques from jewelry and fashion finds to fine art and décor. Downtown’s Del Mar Plaza is also a shopper’s delight, as is the Flower Hill Promenade.
- Get Artsy: Located in Del Mar Plaza, the non-profit Del Mar Art Center Gallerydisplays works of more than three dozen local San Diego artists, including painters, photographers and sculptors. Founded by Del Mar resident, artist and architect Herbert B. Turner, the Herbert B. Turner Gallery also exhibits local artists’ creations and provides gallery space dedicated to the Del Mar Historical Society and its exhibitions of art and memorabilia.
- Horsing Around: To celebrate the first-ever running of the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, the Host Committee commissioned 20 local artists to design vibrant, life-sized artistic reproductions of the Torrie Horse depicted on the Breeders’ Cup Trophy. The Art of the Horse sculptures will be displayed throughout San Diego’s north coastal area, including a dozen Del Mar locations.
- Make History: Discover Del Mar’s rich history on a historic walking tour of the village, a leisurely way to soak in some sun and sights. Visitors can look for silver QR-coded plaques installed on several historic buildings downtown and scan the code with a smartphone or tablet to view details on the buildings’ colorful past and early residents who settled in the seaside enclave. Must-see stops include the English-style Stratford Square, one of the most distinctive buildings in the village.
- Fore! Families: For affordable family fun, Pelly’s Mini Golf at the Del Mar Golf Center – located across the street from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club – features two whimsically-themed courses: the Ocean Adventure and Surfin’ Safari.
Happiness is calling in San Diego. For more information on Del Mar, including exciting attractions, activities and accommodations, gallop over to the San Diego Tourism Authority's website.