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Guide to San Diego North County Hotels near the Del Mar Race Track

Gear up for Del Mar's horse racing season

In a time when iPhones and Droids keep us in constant connection, it’s nice to escape and spend a day steeped in good, old-fashioned fun. Del Mar Race Track is such a place. The 74-year-old icon administers to the young-at-heart. Opening day in 1937 had Bing Crosby greeting 7,500 fans at the gate. Del Mar proved to be a positive diversion for those reeling from the Depression. A few cents would elicit hoots and hollers from hopeful winners. Fast forward seven decades and the current recession is taking a similar toll on the American public. But for a pair of dollar bills, attendees can cheer on their chosen pony as the pack rounds the final bend of the track. The horse world allows us to massage our alter ego - the side that wants to swim with the sharks, hobnob with the unpredictable and maybe hit the mother lode. North County hotels embrace the race season with the fervor of an adolescent stallion. Following are a few within five miles of the action.

Hilton San Diego Del Mar
15575 Jimmy Durante Boulevard
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 792-5200
Their trifecta of opening day amenities is revealed in the above video. Jockeys and their feisty equines live directly across the road for seven weeks each summer. No need to drive to the track, a complimentary Hilton shuttle runs in a continuous loop the first day of the season. The low-rise hotel’s Polo Lounge mixes pre and post race “Del Margaritas,” enjoyed by the heated pool or patio firepit. (Room rates start at $269 per night.)

Cardiff-By-The-Sea Lodge
142 Chesterfield Drive
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
(760) 944-6474
Spending the afternoon at the track with 44,000 people necessitates an evening of serenity. The 17-room Cardiff B&B four miles north specializes in ocean views from the rooftop garden terrace. Whimsical themed accommodations are swaddled in floral wallpaper, filled with tropical motif, or more staid with monochromatic earth tones. An extended continental breakfast and repartee among fellow guests each morning fuel patrons for a full day of betting on the ponies. (Room rates start at $174 per night.)

The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe
5951 Linea Del Cielo
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 756-1131
Superstition is pervasive in horseracing. No matter how much salt you throw over your shoulder, the pendulum of emotions during each race spans from elation to disappointment; it just depends whether it’s your day or not. But a stay in rural Rancho Santa Fe at this inn is always a winner. Five miles from where the turf meets the surf, 87 cottage style buildings with Spanish-tiled roofs dot the grounds. Explore the area's rolling hills on horseback among the miles of surrounding bridle trails as guests have been doing since the hotels’ inception in 1924. (Room rates start at $249 per night.)

Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
10950 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 558-1500
“Four O’Clock Fridays” at Del Mar has become the highlight of the season. Thoroughbreds start running at twilight and a free concert follows for fans attending the races. The tracks 2011 lineup starts July 22, with 128 concerts already under their belt over the past 17 years. Most notable appearance this summer will be DEVO on August 19. They join a past roster of Billy Idol, ZZ Top and Violent Femmes. After the rockin’ party head to Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines a few exits south off the I-5 freeway. Their Del Mar Race Package includes two general admission tickets for any of the track's 37 racing days and one night in a Torrey Pines room with two queen beds. The Four Diamond property’s PGA Golf courses are a perfect alternative on dark Mondays at the fairgrounds. (Del Mar Race Package starts at $239 per night. A la carte room rate sans tickets $239, as well.)

Courtyard By Marriott Solana Beach
717 South Highway 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
(858) 792-8200
With just one and a half miles between this beach town hotel and the most talented ponies on the circuit, race fans can hoof it to the track. A usual 2 p.m. post time permits a leisurely stroll down scenic 101 Historic Highway passed Cedros shopping district, onto the beach for a quick feel of the sand in your toes, and through the turn style into the Turf Club for lunch and wagering. The return walk will be rewarded with a soak in the Courtyard’s jacuzzi and drinks by the outdoor fireplace. (Room rates start at $189 per night.)