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Del Mar Romantic Getaway

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Del Mar, located along San Diego County's northern coast, offers an upscale, yet laid-back vibe perfect for a romantic getaway. When the San Diego Marriott Del Mar invited me and one guest to stay at their hotel last weekend, I thought, “Oh, I could never leave my kids for a whole weekend of romance.” Nah. Really, I was all, “Woo-hoo! Sweet freedom!” My husband and I left our darling children at home with our trusted babysitter while we indulged in a couple of gloriously child-free days during a Del Mar romantic getaway.

Del Mar Romantic Getaway

Attractions and Activities

With beautiful beaches, plentiful boutique stores, and numerous options for delectable dining, Del Mar makes a great spot for a romantic weekend retreat. Del Mar is located between La Jolla (known for its upscale art galleries, village-feel and the seals lazing on its shores) and Carlsbad (of LEGOLAND fame).

For nature walks and beaching, drive just a few minutes west from the Marriott Del Mar to Torrey Pines State Reserve and Beach. Numerous hiking trails for all activity levels are available, as well as a long stretch of beach populated mostly by locals instead of the crush of tourists at more well-known southern San Diego spots.

Head south from the reserve to reach La Jolla Cove where you can embark on an ocean cave kayak adventure with La Jolla Bike & Kayak  Tours. During our two-hour tour we learned about the local landscape and sea life from our trusty guides. We saw firsthand a bat ray, numerous garibaldi (the bright orange California state fish), and got within a few feet of many sea lions sunning themselves on ocean rocks. Or, you could opt for a leopard shark snorkel tour or rent bicycles to explore the area on two wheels.

Take a stroll through La Jolla Cove's shops and galleries, then make your way to the Children's Pool, a man-made cove that was originally built to create a safe place for young children to swim, but which has become home to fat, mellow seals over the years.Visit the Sunny Jim Cave Store for a walk down 175 steps of history to an open ocean cave, once used as a bootleg booze reception site during Prohibition.

If visiting during the summer, be sure to visit the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Racetrack for circus games, thrill rides, and my favorite grilled ears of corn served with crema Mexicana, spices and lime juice. Or, if your vacation coincides with the Del Mar Races, by all means head to the track to bet on the gray (or brown or paint) horse.

Del Mar is about a half hour drive from most of San Diego’s plentiful attractions, like the San Diego ZooBalboa ParkSeaWorld San Diego and more.

The Americana's Green Eggs and Ham

Americana's Green Eggs and Ham with Cheesy Grits and other breakfast goodness

Downtown Del Mar

Drive a wee bit north from the hotel into Del Mar's mini downtown for upscale shopping and dining options. At the Del Mar Plaza, Pacifica is the place to go for fine-dining seafood with an ocean view. I highly recommend their signature dish, the Sugar-Spiced Salmon with its sweet, slightly crunchy glaze.

For dessert, head to the Chocolate Bar for a tempting selection of sweets like homemade marshmallows hand-dipped in chocolate. We got a couple of these as treats to bring home to our kiddos and they were received with squeals of approval.

Across the street is the Americana Restaurant, which you will love for breakfast  items like Cheesy Grits, Green Eggs and Ham, and the world's best Huevos Rancheros. Be prepared to wait, though, this place is known for its home-style cooking, not speedy service.

Afterwards, walk off your calories with a stroll along Powerhouse Beach, which is home to a delightful playground, handy if you're traveling with children.

Bruschetta at Davanti Enoteca at the Del Mar Highlands

Bruschetta at Davanti Enoteca at the Del Mar Highlands

Torrey Highlands Center

Closer to the Marriott Del Mar, you'll find boutique shops and restaurant options aplenty at the Torrey Highlands Center, mere minutes away. This outdoor shopping center was recently remodeled and now feels less like a strip mall and more like a village square with a central fountain and comfy couches arranged around fire pits where couples and families congregate on weekends.

Mia Francesca is a must for those who crave Italian cuisine; the flavorful Pollo Arrosto alla Romano (a roasted chicken with garlic, shallots, rosemary, lemon and olive oil) cannot be removed from the menu lest they upset regulars. Next door, Davanti Enoteca serves tasty tapas Italian-style and an extensive wine menu.

Want to spy on rich divorcees and aging bachelors while they shell out big bucks for cocktails and Asian cowboy cuisine? Stop into Burlap, one of Top Chef's Brian Malarkey's many successful San Diego restaurants. This is THE spot for nightlife among the rich, 30- to 50-something residents of Del Mar. Better yet, belly up to the bar for lunch and order a Tandoori Buffalo Chicken Sandwich for some tangy, spicy buttery goodness you won't soon forget.

If you're looking for dessert, order a cupcake or a giant cookie from the Towne Bakery or stop into Urban Plates for delectable options like the Hummingbird Cake, a sinful concoction of pineapple and banana batter topped with silky cream cheese frosting.

There is a Cinepolis luxury movie theater here too, where you can lean back in reclining chairs whilst munching appetizers, sipping cocktails and watching the latest flicks.  (Only theaters marked 21+ serve alcohol.)

Boutique stores abound, so men should be forewarned that you may need to wait while your honey tries on frocks and shoes.

Happy Hour at Arterra

Happy Hour at Arterra

Arterra

At Marriott Del Mar, Arterra's sushi bar, happy hour specials, and a swanky outdoor pool with heat lamps and cushy couches draw a happening crowd on Thursday and Friday nights. Saturdays are decidedly more serene.

Once upon a time, Arterra was my favorite restaurant in all of San Diego. The menu, however, has been altered to accommodate (slightly) less expensive budgets due to the downturn in the economy. It's still not cheap, though, so bring your credit card and be prepared to splurge (dinners ranging from $16-39). My husband and I split the Grilled Beef Fillet with roasted mushroom potato gratin and meritage jus, which was perfectly cooked. We had to send back our Zucchini and Ricotta Layers vegetarian entree, which I remember being delicious during our previous visit; this time it was served too cold and had to be returned to the kitchen to be reheated. By the time the steaming version made its way on to our table, it no longer seemed appealing and we had only a bite or two. When we asked that the item be removed from the check, they were happy to do so.

Flowers in the Marriott Del Mar Lobby

Flowers in the Marriott Del Mar Lobby

Marriott Del Mar
The Marriott Del Mar boasts a pleasant modern feel and decor. Our room was fairly small but with so much to do in Del Mar and San Diego, you probably won't be spending much time your room anyway.

View from the Marriott Del Mar fitness center

View from the Marriott Del Mar fitness center

I am very proud to say that the hubs and I actually made use of the hotel's fitness center during our stay. It offers lots of modern equipment with a fabulous view of the pool area, which makes those minutes on the exercise bike or treadmill seem to go a little faster.

The pool area at Marriott Del Mar provides an oasis of tranquility. Unfortunately, it was overcast throughout our stay. We did, however, make time for some hot-tubbing one night. We chatted with several other hotel guests, one of whom was passing around a bottle of rum. (Surprisingly, I declined).

Hot-tubbing at the Marriott Del Mar

Hot-tubbing at the Marriott Del Mar

We didn't need to go far to escape the hectic pace of our daily lives and the lovable, yet relentless demands of our two children. Acting as tourists in our own town helped me to see Del Mar and San Diego as visitors do…a beautiful area with so much to see, do and taste.

Want to escape to Del Mar? Enter to win the San Diego Marriott Del Mar's Mother's Day Giveaway now!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My husband and I were hosted by the San Diego Marriott Del Mar for our romantic getaway and we received a gift certificate that covered some of the cost of our meal at Arterra. We have spent plenty of money at Arterra over the years, though, believe me! We didn't get any other discounts or freebies related to this post.

All photos by Colleen Lanin.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. So much to do, so little time!

  2. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Ellen (Mama) – So true, so true!

  3. What a great opportunity to get away for a romantic staycation. Looks like a lovely place and the food sounds divine!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      This is my neck of the woods so I know these restaurants VERY well. It was fun to write about some of my favorite places!

  4. wanderingeducators says:

    looks amazing!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Jessie – Del Mar is pretty dang amazing. I’m lucky to live near such a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Hooray for romantic getaways! They are good for the whole family.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Allison – So true! Children are happier when their parents are happy. And a little romantic getaway is SO good for a marriage!

  6. Amber's The Mile High Mama says:

    One word: LOVELY. #AddingToBucketList

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Amber – Del Mar is a great addition to anyone’s bucket list! Of course, if you make it here, you must let me take you out to dinner one night!

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