Del Mar, A Top Destination for Pet-Friendly Travel

Del Mar, A Top Destination for Pet-Friendly Travel
The coastal community has long been known as a destination for upscale shopping, fine dining, and beautiful beaches, but the city also has one-of-a-kind animal attractions. Fido and Whiskers will feel right at home running wild at Del Mar Dog Beach, shopping with their parents at the Del Mar Plaza, or noshing on treats at one of the city's pet-friendly restaurants. In this guide to navigating dog-friendly Del Mar, you'll learn where to shop, dine, and exercise with your beloved companion.

Doggy Dining

Del Mar is the perfect place to spend the day with your pooch. It's a win-win situation for all. Owners get to experience award-winning cuisine at some of the city's best restaurants, pets get to feast on snacks, and both get to enjoy coastal breezes, ocean views, and friendly atmospheres.

At Shimbashi Izakaya, customers can indulge in Japanese eats in the company of their pets on the restaurant's open-air, ocean-view patio. One of the restaurant's regulars is Abbie, the Guinness World Record holder for top professional surfing dog. Abbie celebrates her surfing victories by ordering her favorite meal at Shimbashi, the Tekka-maki tuna roll. For those who love to unwind with a glass of wine, head to Il Fornaio's Enoteca, a wine bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The pet-friendly patio offers Happy Hour specials and food services for patrons, plus shade and water for pets. Del Mar Rendezvous, known for delicious Chinese and vegetarian dishes, invites pets onto their outdoor patio, where small and large dog bowls are available. The restaurant also offers year-round heaters for cooler nights. To eat like a local, visit Smashburger, where you can order a “Fido Style” burger off the Secret Menu. The dog-friendly patty is made with an unseasoned 1/4 pound, 100% fresh, never frozen, certified Angus beef. It is served in convenient, bite-sized pieces on a Fido-friendly plate. To order the item, customers simply need to request a Smashburger, “Fido Style,” at the price of $2. Dogs and their owners can then enjoy their meals together on the restaurant's patio. A few blocks south, Zel's Del Mar lures pets to their patio with complimentary cookies and bones from nearby Dexter's Deli, a gourmet pet store.

Bark-Friendly Boutiques

White House Black Market is an upscale women's fashion boutique located at the Del Mar Plaza. The store welcomes dogs of all sizes and breeds, so shoppers can browse the racks with their pets by their sides. White House Black Market also puts out fresh water and treats for their four-legged friends. Dexter's Deli is the neighborhood's premiere pet boutique, known for specialty, natural foods, and designer apparel and accessories. Owners can stop by the deli to order flavored, novelty treats as rewards, or Puppy Party Cakes for celebrating special occasions. After a day of activities, treat your pooch to a bath at The Currycomb, which provides pet care and grooming services in a comfortable, loving environment. Your dog can even freshen his breathe with a teeth cleaning after dinner.

Dog-Lovers Lodging

Unlike other pet-friendly hotels that place a cap on a pet's weight, Hotel Indigo opens its doors for all creatures, great or small. Furry family members can feel as pampered as their parents at this ocean-view boutique hotel. At L'Auberge Del Mar, petite pooches weighing fifteen pounds or less can check in with their owners for a relaxing retreat. Pups can play with the hotel's mascot, a toy poodle named Sofie, while owners can call the concierge for pet-friendly recommendations, from grooming to dog sitting to favorite, local pet places.

Canine Playgrounds

Del Mar boasts over two miles of coastline, and for nine months out of the year, dogs are welcome to exercise on a leash along the entire stretch of beach. For a canines-only experience, walk north to Dog Beach, where aquatic animals will love romping in the waves, digging in the sand, or socializing with a variety of breeds. Pets are permitted to run leash-free between Labor Day and June 14, when Dog Beach becomes an all-out pet palooza. Frisbee-catching, stick-fetching types will revel at Del Mar's pet-friendly Del Mar Shores Park. Dogs are allowed off-leash every morning from 6:00-8:30 am, and from 4:00 pm – dusk on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Just For Pets

Dog Beach, located between 29th Street and the border of Solana Beach, is also the site of Del Mar's annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon. Each September, pups and their owners compete in a surf competition and costume contest to raise money for Helen Woodward Animal Center. Participants who want to sharpen their skills prior to the fundraiser can sign up for a Surf Dog Lesson between June and August. Learning to surf with your dog is a terrific way to enjoy San Diego summers and to create lasting memories. Beginners start in the GromMUTT class to introduce dogs to the water. Pooch life vests are provided, and dogs of all sizes and breeds are welcome.

Located a short distance from the heart of Del Mar Village is the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where various pet and family friendly events are hosted throughout the year. In January, pets and their owners can race for a cause in Petco's 5K9 Walk Run. February's Silver Bay Kennel Club Dog Show unites the most agile and beautiful of breeds to vie for the title of “Best in Show.” Less athletic, and attractive, mutts can enter the Del Mar Kiwanis Ugly Dog Contest, held in March. Homely dogs are judged in categories like “People's Choice,” “Most Unusual Markings,” and “Pet Who Looks Most Like Its Owner.” Proceeds from the event benefit multiple animal-related causes. Pug lovers will flock to May's Day Long Pug Party, a celebration of the cute and feisty breed. 2013's theme is “Pugo de Mayo.”

Located 20 miles north of the San Diego airport, Del Mar offers vintage California charm with its walkable, pet friendly village set along two miles of beautiful California coastline. Known for its world famous thoroughbred Del Mar Racetrack, popular surf breaks, walkable beaches, spas, ocean view dining and shopping, Del Mar is the perfect year-round destination. The historic and charming Del Mar Village offers a variety of accommodations from the luxury L'Auberge Del Mar to the eclectic Les Artistes Inn. For more information, visit: