Most people associate the beach with summer, and Southern California's coastal gem, Del Mar, is no exception. Summer is when the crowds come: school's out, the Del Mar Fair starts in mid-June and shortly after the fair ends, the horses run at the world-famous Del Mar Racetrack. The thoroughbred horse racing season begins in mid July and goes through early September.
The hotels and motels are sold out, beach rentals are scarce and expensive, the restaurants have one hour-plus waits, and the beach and roads are crowded. There is a bit of a hectic pace during the summer in this normally laid back town, located just north of La Jolla.
However, the locals are patient. They know that after the race track closes, the tourists, students and race fans leave, the town returns to that kicked-back pace. But they also know that some of the best beach weather of the year begins then.
Fall in Del Mar is the perfect time to vacation - whether for a week at a beach rental, or a long, luxurious weekend at one of the many nearby resorts in Del Mar or La Jolla. The days are still long and warm, the water temperature is still in the high low 70's or high 60's, and the they have the beach practically to themselves.
Surfers eagerly await the fall because the swells arrive from the south, often generated by storms and hurricanes thousands of miles away. When they arrive, the waves are large and exceptional for surfing.
For the vacationer, beach rentals are a bit easier to find and certainly less pricey, although students from nearby UCSD snap up long term rentals for the school year, if they can afford the pricey Del Mar rents. The hotels and motels have plenty of vacancies and of course the restaurants are eager to show off their cuisine with short waits for tables.
The fall is Del Mar is about the best time for a quiet vacation or a quick getaway.
Getting there is pretty easy. Del Mar is just about 90 minutes south of Los Angeles by car, and about 20 minutes north of San Diego. It is also served by Amtrak and the Coaster, a local rail service from Oceanside to San Diego. San Diego International Airport is also just minutes south.
Resorts such as L'Auberge in Del Mar and The Lodge at Torrey Pines will pamper you in style. Excellent restaurants are minutes away. Jake's, which is the only Del Mar restaurant on the beach in Del Mar, is one of the favorites. Others include the Pacifica Grill in the Del Mar Plaza on 15th Street, and for a latin cuisine, Epazote's is nearby.
Speaking of the Plaza, some of the best shopping around can be found here at the center of Del Mar.
JP McDermott spent most of his youth in Del Mar and plans on returning once his daughter is off to college. For more information on vacationing in Del Mar, check out www.del-mar-guide.com .