Carmel Valley

Get away from the fast-paced lifestyle in Carmel Valley. Wander through the picturesque parks and go birdwatching while enjoying the California sunshine. Experience unique shopping boutiques and taste the local cuisine at the sidewalk cafés. Take a day trip to nearby Torrey Pines for the beaches, views and golf.
Carmel Valley
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Popular Activities
Del Mar
Torrey Pines
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Carmel Valley
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Hiking
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Charming Parks & Beautiful Birds in Carmel Valley

Go Hiking at Black Mountain Miners Ridge Loop TrailKids Love This Water Feature at This Outdoor Mall in Carmel Valley

San Diego encompasses more than 350 square miles in southern California, including an expansive area in the North County of San Diego. The laid-back California vibe blends with an upscale lifestyle that flourishes along the rugged coastline and adjacent interior. Carmel Valley has attractions and activities for everyone, making it an ideal vacation destination or a quick escape from the city’s bustling energy.

Carmel Valley was known as North City West until the 1990s. The newly renamed community is located approximately 20 miles north of downtown San Diego, just off the I-5. This scenic, affluent neighborhood exudes old-world charm and has conveniently placed modern amenities that make it an attractive location to visitors and residents.

Activities abound in North County. Del Mar is adjacent to this neighborhood, hugging the shoreline. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve shares borders with them both, tucked along the coast to the south. If you are planning day trips and exploring the area, Carmel Valley’s central location, making it the perfect jumping-off point. You’ll be able to spend more time experiencing the area’s amazing landscape and landmarks, with less time in traffic.

Highway 56 runs east/west, making the center of town as well as the northern section easily accessible. It has everything you need for your stay, from shopping centers and movie theaters to healthcare providers.

A short drive along El Camino Real brings you to restaurants, retail stores and local events in the parks and community center. Golf courses, beaches, hiking trails, equestrian centers and country clubs are nearby.

From the very beginning, the community was designed to take advantage of the magnificent natural beauty of the area. Development was carefully confined to the mesas, allowing the canyon to remain untouched. An extensive trail system, open space and parks provide plenty of opportunities for you to get out and enjoy the unique characteristics of the valley.

Whether you’re looking for affordable lodging, luxury accommodations or something in-between, you’ve come to the right place. Stay just off the freeway for convenient on/off access to the rest of San Diego county. Resorts with golf courses, spas and other upscale amenities are a few miles away.

The San Diego Marriott Del Mar is the perfect place to relax with its well-appointed rooms and amenities. Located just off the I-5 freeway, visitors have easy access to not only downtown San Diego but the rest of North County San Diego.

Carmel Valley
Why you'll love Carmel Valley
Take a trip to Torrey Pines or relax in Carmel Valley. Spend some time in the parks, go birdwatching, shopping, and visit the charming sidewalk cafés.

Enjoy a Brew with Go Pass

Pure Brewing Tasting (3 locations)
Pure Brewing Tasting Tour
Grab your Go Pass and head down to one of the three Pure Brewing locations that San Diego has to offer. Choose from a variety of brews for your sampling while you relax in comfort. Locations are in Miramar, Bankers Hill and Carlsbad.
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Local Tips
What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Things to Do

Things to Do in Carmel Valley

Hiking

Trails in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve help you get back to nature with 4,000 acres of open space. Visitors can enjoy beautiful waterfalls, canyons and wildlife. Some trails allow leashed dogs and bikes.

Black Mountain Open Space Park consists of more than 1,200 acres of hiking trails, parks and other open spaces. It surrounds Black Mountain, which offers a 360-degree view from its peak.

Golfing

Several valley golf courses provide a variety of challenges for enthusiasts of all skill levels. The Grand Del Mar Golf Club is near the center of town. The Farms Golf Club, Lomas Santa Fe Country Club, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and Morgan Run Club and Resort are also nearby.

Local Tips
Have a Sweet Tooth?
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee is a unique and funky donut shop that features items like the Huckleberry donut or the Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Donut. Sidecar is located at the popular Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is a popular activity in Carmel Valley. Carmel Creek Ranch and South Coast Equestrian are among the nearly 20 equestrian centers in the area. There is also a dressage ring and jumping stadium. Many locations offer lessons and events.

Historic U.S. Route 101

Known as the Coast Highway 101, this route hugs the coast, stretching from San Diego to Oregon’s southern border. It was the primary travel route up the coast, beginning in the late 1700s. However, once Interstate 5 was completed in the 1960s, most of the traffic and meteoric population growth bypassed the villages and small towns.

Today, these towns are the epitome of hip, vintage California. Driving from San Diego’s city center up the coast is an experience not to be missed. Historic towns, award-winning cuisine and elegant shops greet you around every corner. The rocky shore and beautiful beaches provide a scenic backdrop and surf-culture vibe.

Del Mar

Del Mar is a vibrant seaside village, located along the coast, attracts people from around the globe. It first gained notoriety as a haven for celebrities during Hollywood’s golden era. Pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, ocean views and peaceful atmosphere continue to captivate residents and visitors alike.

Nestled between I-5 and the Pacific Ocean, boutique hotels, restaurants and beaches are conveniently close without feeling crowded. Explore the village on foot or rent a bicycle and cruise along the shore or to the fairgrounds and racetrack.

Lodging

Whether you prefer big-name hotel chains, luxurious boutique accommodations or a charming bed and breakfast, there is a wide variety of lodging to choose from. Posh resorts offer wellness spas and in-room dining. Upscale chic vies with beachy casual for a sophisticated atmosphere.

L'Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa has distinctive amenities, ocean views and one bedroom suites that reflect the well-storied and rich history of the area. Enjoy a poolside cocktail while listening to the surf while you stay in one-of-a-kind, artistic rooms.

Golf

Municipal and resort courses abound in Del Mar. Using the unique topographic and environmental conditions and featuring a range of terrain, there are challenges for golfers of all skill levels. Take a lesson or practice on the driving range while enjoying the ocean breezes.

Horse Racetrack

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has been attracting enthusiasts of the sport since Bing Crosby greeted the first fan in 1937, establishing itself as a playground for the rich and famous. Since then, dynasties have been built and fallen. Thoroughbred horses and their jockeys have made their names here, and the thrill continues during the Summer and Fall racing season, culminating in the November Breeder’s Cup each year.

Dining

From celebrity chefs in chic dining rooms to mom and pop beachfront cafes and everything in between Del Mar’s dining scene offers sustainable products, eclectic flavors and farm-to-table menus. Experience brunch at its finest on a covered patio with live music or happy hour watching a stunning sunset.

The farmer’s market attracts area residents and visitors with its seasonal fruits and vegetables, herbs, locally made products and fresh-caught seafood. Pick up your favorites and prepare a quiet meal for two or bring your appetite and sample everything from baked goods to international cuisine.

Health and Wellness

Relax and rejuvenate with a massage, facial or other body treatment. Spa services are offered within area resorts, handcrafted bungalows and nearby salons. Med spas cater to the medical tourism industry, offering beauty and wellness procedures, surgical and non-surgical.

Activities

Del Mar’s North Beach is also affectionately known as Dog Beach is one of several dog-friendly locations in Del Mar, stretching a half-mile from the mouth of the San Dieguito River along a coastal bluff.

Scripps Bluff Preserve’s steep climb up a wooden staircase from North Beach provides a 360-degree view of the inland lagoons and coastline. Not only do you get an unparalleled view of the setting sun, but also of the hot air balloons at certain times of the year.

Powerhouse Park at Del Mar City Beach features a tot lot, with playground equipment children can climb on, slide down and swing. Grassy knolls and picnic tables overlook the beach, making it perfect for a casual meal. Bask in the sun, take a dip in the Pacific Ocean and enjoy the slower SoCal pace.

Del Mar Plaza features specialty shopping, art galleries and award-winning restaurants in an open-air design. Fountains, sculptures and mixed medium architecture provide an elegant atmosphere with a European influence. The upper deck overlooks the ocean, while the back deck has a garden, open to the public.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds host events throughout the year, from the County Fair during the summer, an expansive haunted house in October for Halloween and National Horse Show each Spring. Concerts and live events provide entertainment for the entire family.

Featured Activity

Front of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Located in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum provides history of aircraft built in California. The museum includes over 60 exhibits with restored aircraft and tours of the carrier.
Learn More

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines is located just south of Del Mar and west of Carmel Valley. Over half of the community’s 2,600 acres is protected land.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, located within San Diego city limits, is the wildest stretch of land along the coast. It remains as it did before the arrival of settlers. The lagoon still provides a vital habitat for migrating birds and beaches are unspoiled.

Trails across the peaceful terrain, spectacular overlooks and unique geological formations attract locals and visitors from all over the world. This area is among the few where Torrey Pine Trees flourish and the maritime chaparral supports plant species with special status, such as Marin manzanita and mountain mahogany.

Torrey Pines State Beach is one of many pristine areas accessible along Coast Highway 101, just north of La Jolla. It’s a haven for swimming and sunbathing. Blacks Beach is known for its world class waves, attracting surfers from around the globe. Free and paid parking is available throughout the area.

The famous Torrey Pines Golf Course is renowned for its craggy coastal views from atop towering cliffs. This municipal course takes advantage of the bluffs and ravines for a one-of-a-kind golfing experience.

Featured Hotel
San Diego Marriott Del Mar
Exterior view of San Diego Marriott Del Mar
Families
Families
Near Beach
Near Beach
Shopping
Shopping
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Stay in one of California’s favorite beach communities when you visit San Diego Marriott Del Mar. This hotel offers comfortable rooms & exceptional quality.
Prices Starting at $179
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Know Before You Go & Tips

Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping

Best Time to Visit

The mild climate and sunny days make San Diego a popular destination year-round. The time of year that’s perfect for you depends on the activities you plan. For a beach vacation, the summer months are recommended, with August and September being the best.

If you prefer a slower pace without the crowds, October, November, January and February may be the ideal time for you to visit, and since it's off-peak, you may also be able to take advantage of lower rates. Although most areas have a casual dress code, some locations may require appropriate attire. It's recommended that you plan ahead and pack accordingly, no matter when you visit.

Carmel Valley
is Famous For:
Hiking
Hiking
Parks
Parks
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Sunshine
Sunshine
Known For:
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
This Month's Forecast
62℉ / 76℉
Partly Cloudy in June
Jul
66℉ / 81℉
Sunny in July
Aug
68℉ / 83℉
Sunny in August
Sep
66℉ / 82℉
Sunny in September

Stay

DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego - Del Mar
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Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Del Mar
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Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Del Mar
from $148 / night
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Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego - Del Mar
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Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego - Del Mar
from $140 / night
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Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Del Mar
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3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
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from $161 / night
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Hampton Inn San Diego Del Mar
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from $118 / night
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