Del Mar Beach Destinations, Torrey Pines State Beach
Del Mar beach areas are broad and people-friendly. To the northern end, start with River Mouth Beach, across from the San Diego County Fairgrounds, where the San Deiguito River meets the ocean.
Vast and sandy, this stretch -- along with its southerly extension down to Seagrove Park -- is arguably one of the best general-use beaches in Southern California, with a lawn area, volleyball courts, picnic areas, and depending on the season and time of day, a dog-friendly beach.
Sandbars and changing currents make this a less-than-ideal beach for swimming, but just south of the river mouth, the coast is perfect for swimming and also popular with experienced surfers. This stretch down to Seagrove Park and 15th Street is flanked by high-end beach houses that provide a backdrop of architectural eye-candy.
BLUFFS, TRAIN TRACKS AND BEACH
Below Seagrove Park, the railroad tracks meet the sea and run along the tops of the gentle bluffs. Trails cross the tracks and amble down the bluffs to the beach below, which is narrower here, especially at high tide. Offshore reefs at the southern end make this a surfer hang-out.
TORREY PINES STATE BEACH
To the south of the city, Torrey Pines State Beach takes over, fringing the coast below the red sandstone cliffs of
Torrey Pines State Preserve.
The state beach stretches more than four miles and is popular with swimmers, surfers and fishermen. A picnic area and parking are available near the entrance, at North Torrey Pines Road.
What are "Torrey" pines? One of the rarest pine species, They're named after a nineteenth-century botanist. The trees once flourished in a huge woodland along the Southern California coast. Today they only thrive naturally in this reserve and on Santa Rosa Island.
The Spanish used to call the area "Punto de los Arboles" or "Point of the Trees" and used it as a landmark for navigation purposes. Scant rain falls on these sandstones cliffs, but coastal fogs roll in during June and July, often lasting all day, giving the trees the moisture they need to survive.