Living amidst a sea of transplants, I am proud to be a real San Diego native. While these days I rarely have reason to leave my downtown bubble, I grew up in Encinitas and spent the majority of my youth sprawled out on the sand and dancing in the waves at Moonlight Beach, before exploring excitement at the Fairgrounds until curfew called.
Before the revitalization of the Gaslamp Quarter, I had little reason to ever venture south of Del Mar, and I was as content as could be. Nowadays, there is more downtown entertainment than I can ever find proper time to enjoy, oftentimes casting a shadow over my old northern stomping grounds. But as soon as summer arrives, I am instantly drawn back to where the turf meets the surf, and I’m not the only one.
Del Mar Lifestyle: June kicks off the annual return of two summer entertainment staples, the San Diego County Fair four-week run and the San Diego Polo Club four-month season. As soon as the carnies hit the road in July, Del Mar Fairgrounds is quickly transformed for Del Mar Thoroughbred Racing, which carries us through Labor Day.
San Diego County Fair at Del Mar Fairgrounds
Friday, June 10 – Monday, July 4
A local tradition since 1880, the County Fair is now the largest annual event in San Diego, bringing in more than a million guests each year. Famous for carnival rides, interactive games, competitive fine art and livestock exhibits, live concerts across multiples stages, and a never ending supply of deep fried food, this year the “Race to the Fair” theme offers a celebration of modern and historic automobiles with daily car shows and special high speed events. Featured concerts include Pat Benatar, Bruno Mars, Weird Al Yankovic, The Beach Boys, and Joan Jett, as well as tributes to Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson. This year’s can’t-miss special events are the International Beer Festival and Fourth of July Hometown Heroes parade and fireworks show. Get more details here.
San Diego Polo Club at The Polo Fields in Del Mar
Sunday, June 12 – Sunday, October 2
One of the oldest recorded team sports in history, Polo now maintains its sophistication in contemporary culture, offering an exciting and dangerous viewing experience while attracting an elite fan base of high society. Starting June 12, the San Diego Polo Club presents live matches every Sunday at The Polo Fields throughout summer, located on the cusp of Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. Every week spectators can enjoy matches, music, cocktails and the traditional Champagne Divot Stomp. This year’s can’t-miss special events include the Rancho Santa Fe Cup, Surf Cup, and Willis Allen Memorial Cup. Get more details here.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Racing at Del Mar Fairgrounds
Wednesday, July 20 – Wednesday, September 7
The iconic Del Mar Thoroughbred Racing season transforms the Fairgrounds into an epicenter of high fashion, fast horses, and nonstop partying. The Fairgrounds attracts an average of 17,000 visitors every day during racing season, including many celebrity guests. In addition to admiring Thoroughbreds in the Paddock and putting money down on your best bets, guests can soak up racing season’s incredible fashion, catch free live concerts Fridays and Saturdays after the last race, and throw back the track’s signature Del Margarita cocktails. Featured concerts include G Love & Special Sauce, The Bravery, Ziggy Marley, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Devo, and Ben Harper. This year’s can’t-miss special events include Opening Day & Fabulous Hat Contest, the Miss Cougar Del Mar Contest, the Gourmet Food Truck Festival, and the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic. Get more details here.
See for Yourself: View our photo gallery of Del Mar Racing Opening Day.
From Padres parties at PETCO Park to celebrity performances at Gaslamp nightclubs and cultural festivals within Balboa Park, there is never a shortage of entertainment in downtown San Diego. But as soon as summer arrives, I encourage you to embrace Del Mar lifestyle and experience where the turf meets the surf with the San Diego County Fair, San Diego Polo, and Del Mar Thoroughbred Racing.
Discover more San Diego entertainment ideas and follow our San Diego summer lifestyle blog.