Top 25 Things to Do in Del Mar – 2021 Edition

photo courtesy of DMTC

Del Mar 2021 is here….and welcome home. For many it’s been two years since you last visited the iconic racetrack. While we can’t get back what we lost – – we certainly can try to make up for it.
We used to say it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but we’re throwing that out the window. Remember the roaring 20s….it occured after the 1918-1920 Flu Pandemic. It’s been a long year+ and you’ve earned a few Del Margaritas.
The season kicks off Friday July 16, 2021 with eight glorious weekends of the best racing in America. Yeah, we said it Saratoga. The average field size at Del Mar has exceeded Saratoga the last five summers. The Del Mar weather has also exceeded Saratoga’s the last 83 summers.
But, we digress. Both places are great. This isn’t a comparison blog, it’s a welcome back to the world one. So without further adieu, the Top 25 things to do in Del Mar – 2021 Edition.
1. Get the Vaccine. Science tells us if you want to enjoy the 24 other things to do in Del Mar this summer, you should be vaccinated against Covid-19. Unless you’re smarter than science and doctors, this shouldn’t be much of a debate.
2. Pamplemousse. Indoors or in a tent, we assume you haven’t gone out for dinner much. Break out in style at one of the best restaurants in San Diego. The lobster grilled cheese will melt in your mouth, the service is fantastic and the proprietors are long time horse owners. That’s a winning trifecta.
3. Torrey Pines State Reserve. Just on the other side of the Southern Del Mar border are hiking trails sent from heaven…. to work off the Lobster Grilled Cheese.Torrey Pines
4. Mornings at Del Mar. You can’t get tips from trainers like George Papaprodromou unless you get up early and watch workouts. You’re in the locker room with the entire industry. The stories are endless, even if half of them are untrue.
5. Barefoot RoastersWe know you have your coffee spot. This is ours and we’re not alone. No app. Call ahead and speak to a live human and have it waiting for you.  
6. Where to Stay? The Fairmont Grand Del Mar is 5 stars in every way imaginable, including the price to LRF Partners. This year, a too good to be true, over 50% off the listed online price. You can (almost) buy a share in a racehorse from the savings. Contact us for the special partner only reservations agent. 

Gran Del Mar

7. LRF Cares Handicapping Contest. The second “annual” contest is July 24th. Part of the takeout is used to fund thoroughbred aftercare. Two chanes to win $5,000 spots in the big Del Mar tournament the following week or the 2022 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. To sign up please click here.  
8. Ken Sushi Workshop. Makes the list every year cause it’s the best sushi around. Go Omakase or ask for everything that “Bill Strauss orders”. Watch out for Ken’s sake though. You will love it, but the price will scare you. Arigato.
9. Pony Room. The Rancho Valencia Hotel is spectacular, and a hidden jewel. If you don’t want to shell out for a room, you can have a drink or dinner with the guests at the hotel bar instead. The tacos are amazing.  
10. TVG…on the beach. Christina Blacker is the best ‘capper in the biz. When LRF partners listen to her on Friday’s, they DOUBLE THEIR WINNINGS ($200 max payout). Receiving free money will always be a Top 25 item to do in Del Mar (or anywhere). 
11. Milton’s Cafe. After morning workouts, head to this bagel heaven. There is even a special Del Mar room where you can watch “subpar” east coast racing. One of the only spots left that sells the DRF. Do people still buy printed newspapers? 
12. Children’s Pool Beach. In the 1930’s La Jolla residents built a sea wall to make the water calmer for kids. Seals loved it as well. Kids and seals, what could go wrong? Seriously, the wildlife phenomenon has turned the beach into a must-see tourist attraction.
13. Private Tour of the Del Mar Racetrack. It’s back! DMTC’s Mac McBride walks LRF Partners through the iconic racetrack with the best stories you ever heard. Trust us. You will never forget this special 90 minute tour. Please see #1 and email us for details.
14. The Mission Cafe. Do you like pancakes? Is that a dumb question? The entire menu is so diverse and delicious you could eat there every day of the meet.  
15. Swami’s Beach. You’ve passed it 100 times. Tucked away, private (until now) and magic hour lighting like you’ve never seen before.   
Swamis Beach
16. Cardiff Crack at Seaside Market. We made it through Covid-19 because of this tri-tip. Be prepared. If you serve this at your next BBQ, they will ask you to host them all summer. The meat elevates you to instant celebrity chef status. 
17. Bencotto. Venture out of the Del Mar bubble to Little Italy. There are a few excellent choices, and this was always our favorite spot with Barry Abrams. We go every year now and toast him. 
18. Petco Park. We dare you to take your eyes off Fernando Tatis Jr. when he’s on the field. You can stay downtown after the game and head to the bars if you’re under 35 years old.
19. The Brigantine. Best. Fish. Tacos. Ever. 
20. Crust Pizza. Good spot to hang and watch games after the races. If you can find it. Head to Carl’s Jr. and turn around. You can’t eat at Del Mar Pizza seven nights a week people (well maybe you can).
21. Solana Sumptuous Cookies. After Crust, walk next door and enter cookie euphoria. If you have kids we suggest using the dry cleaner next door too since this will become a regular stop for you.
Unlce Biffs
22. Cedros Avenue. Between Solo, Bixby & Ball, the Farmer’s Market and the Belly Up, you could spend all day and night there. Something for everyone. A must stop.
23. Botanic Garden. Fun for all ages, this Zen spot is ideal for a nice walk (4 miles of trails) or a playground for the kiddos. You can’t spend the entire summer reading DRF.

24. Sunset Cliffs. At the tip of Point Loma and covering 68 acres, the park hosts beautifully carved coastal bluffs and arches, along with sea caves and is an excellent spot to view the sunset.


25. Board n Brew. Last, but certainly not least, we can’t wait to step inside this beach sandwich shop again. Order ahead, and skip the LONG line. Nothing better than the first bite of a Turkado sitting on the beach.