Torrey Pines State Beach is accessed from I-5 via Carmel Valley Road; take a left on McGonigle Road to a large parking area to the south. For Del Mar State Beach, take 15th Street west to Seagrove Park, where you can usually find volleyballs and Frisbees in flight. Just past this cliff-side park is the sand; be aware parking spaces here are in short supply on weekends and any day in summer. There are free concerts at adjacent Powerhouse Park during the summer; for information, call tel. 858/635-1363, or go to www.delmarfoundation.org. This grassy expanse extends right to the shore and gets its name from the distinctive building at its north end -- a power plant built in 1928. It's now a community center with restrooms, showers, meeting space, and lovely verandas. Note: Del Mar's beaches and parks are smoke-free.
Beyond the surf and the turf is Del Mar Plaza, a multistory structure at the corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street. This is one stylish shopping center; its collection of restaurants and shops, coupled with the ocean views, make it a great place to while away an afternoon. Also check out the Del Mar Library, 1309 Camino del Mar (tel. 858/755-1666; www.sdcl.org), built in 1914 as St. James Catholic Church and restored in the 1990s by the city.
Most evenings near dusk, brightly colored hot-air balloons punctuate the skies just east of the racetrack; they're easily enjoyed from the racetrack area (and by traffic-jammed drivers on I-5).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.