Top 25 Things to Do in Del Mar (2019)
Posted by Gary Fenton on July 1, 2019
photo courtesy of DMTC
Del Mar 2019 is here - - - and let's be honest, we've never needed it more.
Before we get to the new and improved Top 25 list, a quick thank you. To the horsemen and horsewomen of the Southern California racing circuit. You know who you are. The ones who get up in the dark and dedicate your lives to the care and well being of our racehorses. We know these last few months have not been easy. On behalf of the more than 300 active partners in Little Red Feather...THANK YOU.
Coming off a Santa Anita meet that garnered 11 wins and over $1m in purses (ranking LRF 3rd in the owner standings), LRF is excited to send up to 40 runners to Del Mar this summer. Our partners are poised for our biggest meet ever. Obviously, then, we need something for them to do other than soaking in the sun setting on a Friday night over the grandstand.... So, without further adieu, enjoy our annual list of the Top 25 things to do this (and every) summer where the turf meets the surf.
1. Where to plant your flag. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar is not only the nicest hotel in San Diego, but all of California. It's 5 stars in every way imaginable. Even better, this year, LRF partners receive 40% off regular room rates. The pool is so fun, I suspect partners will pass on the free shuttle to the racetrack and just watch the races on TVG. Contact us for the special partner only reservations agent.
2. Speaking of TVG... The good folks not only provide great TV access to our races but they also give us a sweet app to gamble on our phones. More importantly, though, LRF partners can use that app this summer to receive DOUBLE ODDS on every LRF horse that runs at Del Mar. Receiving free money will always be a Top 25 item to do in Del Mar (or anywhere).
3. While Handles Homemade Ice Cream dropped to #3 this year... it will always be #1 in our hearts. This and every year. Alice Handel belongs with the all-time greats. And now with the new and improved line system, you don't have to wait an hour to get your favorite flavors. See you there. Often.
4. One Paseo. Two years in the making, this much needed mixed-use development will no doubt become one of the most popular spots this summer. If you like meats, don't walk, run to the Butchery. While we all have our memories from the Del Mar Highlands, let's face it, it's time to make some new ones.
5. LRF Cares Handicapping Contest. The first of its kind contest at Del Mar on July 20th where part of the takeout is used to fund thoroughbred aftercare programs. Win a $8,000 spot in the big Del Mar tournament the following week or TWO spots in the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. To sign up please click here.
6. Spend the morning at the barn. The backside is horse heaven. See how hard your trainer and their staff works and it will make you forget every article you read about horse racing this spring.
7. We love food. And BBQ. And two years ago we discovered the most authentic BBQ west of Texas. The Grand Ole BBQ in North Park serves it the Grand Ole way - - until they run out of food. Lines form starting at 6pm for dinner. Get there after 7:30pm and you might be eating at Chipotle.
8. Ken Sushi Workshop. Former chef at #1 spot Sushi Ota opened this small slice of heaven. North County folks now don't have to fight rush hour to Pacific Beach for great sush. Go Omakase and you'll forget they put this gem in a nondescript office building parking lot. Arigato.
9. DMTC Friday Concerts. You might be too old to know who the bands are...but trust us, you are still young enough to enjoy a concert after the races. Please click here for the concert schedule. LRF Partners receive VIP access and seats.
10. Herb & Wood. Racing's good friend Brian Malarkey opened this indoor/outdoor gem in Little Italy and the food is A-Mazing. He's opening a sister Herb & Sea in Encinitas in time for Del Mar Fall. Is it Del Mar Fall yet? Bencotto is another superb spot in one of our favorite quaint areas of the city.
(photo courtesy of Samuel Wells www.slowdowncookmore.com)
11. Solo - Solana Beach. I've never walked out of this home store without buying something. The entire Cedros Design District is a great way to spend the morning. If home stores are not your thing, grab a coffee and read the racing form at Lofty's Coffee. Win Win.
12. Beaming Juice - Del Mar. Go ahead and laugh. This isn't for week one. This is week four when you don't know if you can make it to Labor Day. 3 day juice cleanse. Just shut it down. You will lose the weight gained and rejuvenate your tired body. It’s a marathon not sprint everyone.
13. Chino Family Farms. "That shack" at the end of a long dirt road is a hidden treasure. You will feel like you're in Tijuana, but bring your wallet. You're actually on the Rodeo Drive of vegetable stands.
14. Tumbles - Encinitas. This is the perfect place to take the kids. Coach Scotty is a child zen master. Other fun family spots are the Botanic Gardens, The New Children’s Museum and obviously the world famous San Diego Zoo.
15. Watch the Grunion Run. When is "Spawning on the beach" ever a bad thing? Night activities at the beach have a 100% chance of being inclredibly fun. Click here for this summer's Grunion Run Schedule.
16. Humphrey's by the Bay. Huey Lewis once asked the freeloading concert goers who rolled up in their kayaks to drop money in a tin cup. This 1,000 seat outdoor venue is the coolest place I've ever been for a live concert. And yes, we like Huey Lewis. Deal with it.
17. Pamplemousse & The Market. Pamplemousse owner Jeffrey Strauss and Market's Carl Schroeder will blow your culinary mind away. The Pamplemousse is a must stop, if nothing more than to see Mike Smith holding court in the bar. Then it's off to our all-time favorite restaurant, The Market. Every menu item is an an out of this world experience. You will never enjoy a better skirt steak or rib eye cap. Sushi only in the bar when you just feel like something different. It's unbelievable that neither one of these restaurants received a Michelin star.
18. Balboa Park. Whether for a run in the morning or a visit to the over 10 amazing museums, this is Central Park of San Diego. It's impossible to hit all the attractions like the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Fleet Science Center, but you can certainly have fun trying!
19. Old Globe. Speaking of Balboa Park, every year this playhouse puts on an outdoor Shakespearean play that is "a spectacle under the stars". This year is Romeo and Juliet. Also, on the calendar is a new play by legendary comedian Steve Martin called The Underpants. Put down DRF for just one day. You can do it.
20. Private Tour of the Del Mar Racetrack. It's back! DMTC's Mac McBride walks LRF Partners through the iconic racetrack with the best Del Mar stories you ever heard. Trust us. You will never forget this special 90 minute tour. Email us for details.
21. Mission Cafe. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and while this spot is technically outside of North County, the banana pancakes are well worth the drive. Other good (and local) breakfast spots include The Naked Cafe, Claire's, Americana and of course, Uncle Milty's (Milton's).
22. Crust Pizzeria Solana Beach. Billy Koch gets one slot every year and every year he chooses this restaurant. Likely cause he owns part of it. Maybe cause he also likes it. Either way, you can't eat at Del Mar Pizza seven nights a week. If you like pizza or just Billy, give it a try. BTW, if Billy ever got two slots, he'd likely pick Saddle Bar so you had a place to unwind afterwards.
22. U.S.S. Midway. Step aboard and transport yourself into a World War II movie. There would be no Del Mar, if not in part, for the men and women who lived on this war ship and you'll experience it first hand. Always a must stop during the summer.
23. Turf & Surf BBQ Championship. There is only one thing better than horse racing and BBQ.... it's horse racing and BBQ at the same time!! Pitmasters from around the country compete in this official KC Barbecue event during the races on August 18th. The front side never smelled better.
24. Board n Brew. After a morning at the beach, head here on your way home for award winning sandwiches. Order online or you'll be waiting in big lines with a bunch of college kids in bikinis. Or don't order online.
25. Attend the Hoedown for Horses Carma Cares Charity Event in the Paddock at Del Mar this year after the races on Sunday July 21, 2019. Support CARMA and the aftercare of our equine athletes in a great setting where you can mingle with the industry's elite. This party is always a nice kickoff to the meet.
Topics: Opinion Piece