Del Mar is a beautiful coastal city located 18 miles north of downtown San Diego and 16 miles south of Carlsbad Village. Well known for its annual racing season, Del Mar Race Track has had the distinction of being North America’s Number One track in terms of attendance and handles for more than a decade. This year, Del Mar Race Track is celebrating its 75th annual racing season from July 18th through September 5th.
If you plan to head out for a day at the races in Del Mar, one of San Diego's most exciting and popular events, here are a few tips that will help you to enjoy this incredible experience.
Tips for betting on the ponies.
Interested in placing a bet on your favorite horse this year? It’s a great feeling when you pick the winning horse, and though it may put some extra cash in your pocket, betting can be risky, too. Below is a little horse-sense to help you pick a winner. Del Mar Race Results are available shortly after each race is run, so part of the excitement is winning instantly. Good luck!
- Look at the horses before the race. A horse that looks good warming up and has a shiny coat is likely to run a better race.
- Do your homework- check the horses, jockeys and trainers’ past performances to see how well they have run.
- Start with a simple bet. Pick a horse to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. If the horse you chose comes in the exact position that you picked, YOU WIN!!! You can also choose to Box your bet by picking 2 or 3 horses, but not their exact finish position, and as long as your 2 horses come in 1st and 2nd place in either order, YOU WIN!!!
Check for more tips in the Del Mar Race schedule, and other helpful information for a day at the races at Del Mar Scene .
Del Mar Race Track Events
- Del Mar Race Opening Day (July 18)
Many San Diegans and travelers talk about this one day all year long and wouldn't miss it. Some highlights of Opening Day day are: large purse races, race fans dressed to relive the 1940’s, great music, big bets, fast horses and much more.
- The One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest (July 18)
Although fancy hats are a theme throughout the summer race season, Opening Day gives everyone an excuse to throw on their fanciest hat and be seen. Sign up between 11:30 am and 3:00 pm in the Plaza de Mexico located just inside the Stretch Run entrance gates, and be sure not to miss the Hats Parade at 3:00 pm.
The contest has five categories:
Best Racing Theme
Funniest or Most Outrageous Hat
Prizes for the Winners of this unique and fabulous contest:
Grand Prize: Two Round-Trip Airline Vouchers to anywhere in the U.S. aboard American Airlines
(some restrictions apply)
- 1st place in each category: $300
- 2nd place in each category: $200
- 3rd place in each category $100
Del Mar Race Track Concerts /The 2012 Summer Concert Series at Del Mar
This year, there are going to be 12 concerts at Del Mar Race Track, more than any year in Del Mar Race Track history. The concerts were once held only on Friday nights but this year the schedule has expanded into Saturday and Sunday shows, following the last race of the day. All concerts will be held at the Seaside Stage. It’s a non-smoking venue. People under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Saturday shows are for patrons 18 years old and up only. Concert price is $20.
7/27: Dashboard Confessional
7/29: Tucanes De Tijuana
8/3: Steel Pulse
8/10: The Offspring
8/17: Michael Franti & Spearhead
8/18: Ben Harper
8/24: Jimmy Cliff
9/1: REGGAE FESTIVAL FEATURING ZIGGY MARLEY PLUS BEER FEST
9/5: Party in the Paddock w/ TBD
There are no reserved seats, and it’s a standing room only so get there early!
-75th Anniversary Celebration (July 21)
As a thank you to all Del Mar Racetrack fans, every 75th person through the admission gates will receive $75!!!
- Free and Easy Wednesdays (All Wednesdays)
Every Wednesday, receive free stretch admission, free program and free seat along with half price beer (domestic drafts), regular soda and hot dog.
- Family Weekends (every Saturday and Sunday)
Join the party in the infield with fun activities for the whole family. Some of the free activities feature: Inflatable rides and games, pony rides, magic shows, face painting, and much more. Children receive free admission and adults are only $6.
- Beer Fest (August 4)
Sample over 40 different flavors of cold brews during the fest. It starts at 1:00 pm at the Seaside Cabana and Concert Area. The price is $17 and includes 5 tastings.
For more information about Del Mar Race Track events, check out the Events calendar
- Free Shuttle
To cut back on traffic and reduce the amount of driving during your vacation, the Del Mar Race Track has set up a free bus shuttle from the Solana Beach train station, which is only 2 miles away from the racetrack. The shuttle will drop you off next to the entrance.
On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday:
- The shuttle service begins at 9:31 am with Train # 564.
- The shuttle returns back to the Solana Beach Station 15 minutes after each race.
- Last shuttle leaves the racetrack 45 minutes after the end of the last race. On Saturdays that the Racetrack hosts free concerts, shuttle service ends at 10:00 pm.
The shuttle service begins at 11:49 am with Train #768.
Last shuttle leaves the racetrack at 10:00 pm.
If you’re from San Diego or you’re coming from downtown San Diego, take the Coaster from any of the following stations: Santa Fe Depot, Old Town and Sorrento Valley to the Solana Beach stop. These stations will be perfect if you’re staying at a vacation rental in downtown San Diego (The Sofia Hotel), Coronado (Coronado Beach Resort, and El Cordova Hotel) or in La Jolla at Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa and the Pantai Inn.
If you are coming from Carlsbad or Oceanside, take the Coaster from any of the following stations: Encinitas, Carlsbad Poinsettia, Carlsbad Village and Oceanside Transit Center. These stations will make your trip a snap if you’re staying at the Carlsbad Inn, Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, Four Seasons Club Aviara, Grand Pacific Palisades, Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Mabrisa, Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, Southern California Beach Club, or the Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort.
If you’re coming from Los Angeles and Orange County, take the Amtrak directly to Solana Beach Station, and then take the free shuttle.
Free parking is available at most stations for passengers, and there is also street parking.
You may decide to drive to the racetrack; however, because of the popularity of the event, you might find traffic and crowed streets, so be sure to take these factors into consideration and plan your time wisely.
Del Mar is located just west of I-5 at the Via de la Valle exit, exit Via de la Valle and head west to the Racetrack which is visible from the freeway.
Enjoy a beautiful scenic coastal view from the Hwy 101, and then head west to Via de la Valle. Note there are some areas of this Highway with only 1 car lane and some sign stops.
Restaurants and Bars in Del Mar
There are so many other things to do in Del Mar. Take a break and relax by the beach, or walk through downtown Del Mar and visit the elegant shops, restaurants and bars of the area. It’s an area worth taking the time to explore a bit and take in some spectacular views!
Here are some local restaurants and bars you may want to visit:
- Smashburgers: the place for burgers lovers
- Del Mar Rendezvous: voted Best Chinese and Best Gluten-Free
- Enoteca Del Fornaio: Italian wine bar and café
- The Poseidon On The Beach: sea food restaurant with seating right on the beach
- Pacifica Del Mar: restaurant with a spectacular ocean view
- En Fuego Cantina: Mexican restaurant and cantina
- The Belly Up Tavern: live music venue and bar
Accommodations in Del Mar
Villa L'Auberge: Luxurious one bedroom condos located in the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in the village of Del Mar. Villa L'Auberge offers stunning views of the ocean and natural hillsides. It’s perfect for a family vacation, a romantic weekend or a gateway with friends.