San Diego is essentially a collection of “beach towns” and it’s one of the things we love about the place. Take a 30-mile drive along the coast and you’ll find a medley of little downtowns each with its’ own unique vibe and its’ own community. So you can go hang in free-lovin’ Ocean Beach, party with the college kids in Pacific Beach, or shop in style in up-market La Jolla. All the beaches are public so there’s access everywhere, and in low tide you’ll often have miles of open sand at your disposal.
But being us we like to be where the doggies go, so we stick to paw-friendly spots, and Del Mar is one of the ones we love. This little beach community is somewhere between laid-back and way up-scale. There’s a relaxed beach and excellent surf-break on the south end, backed by massive, $30-million+ dollar homes and beach restaurants along the side. Nothing is cheap on the beach so we don’t generally dine there but for a special occasion sunset appetizer and drink we like Jake’s Del Mar. The whole area is kinda like a southern Malibu, but with a much more private and quiet feel.
The northern end of the beach is where the doggies go and has ~1 mile off-leash access from Labor Day thro’ June 14th which spans both sides of the estuary. There’s paid parking at the “official” entrance to dog beach, but for those in the know you can drive across the bridge and park for free just south of there (local tip of the week, folks!). We go there to get wet, sandy and beautilisciously beachy. And after you’ve romped with pooch in the water you can hike into town for a meal (Pacific Breeze Cafe is a cute little spot with a dog-friendly patio) or take a trip to Dexter’s Deli for some special doggie snacks.
And then there are the Del Mar Fairgrounds. These massive grounds dominate the landscape just inside the estuary, and there is always something going on there. The biggest yearly event is the San Diego County Fair in June, but there are tons of in-between events ranging from music concerts to dog shows (the yearly Ugly Dog Contest is probably one of the most fun), wine and beer festivals and more. There’s even RV parking for $30/night…it’s pretty much a big parking lot, but it does get you close to the action.
In our case we just go to get wet and wonderful, which is BY FAR the most interesting and fun thing to do. And with doggie along for the ride, life really doesn’t get much better than that…don’t you agree?