Opening Day at Del Mar Racetrack

Labor Day not only marks the end of summer, but the end of the Summer Del Mar Racing Season. The season kicks off annually in July, with a huge Opening Day celebration (big hats are the fashion du jour) and ends with a Closing Day party in September. Today, Triple Crown champ American Pharoah is parading through the paddock to bid farewell to the racetrack where his career began, and then Weezer is performing in concert after the last race. Tomorrow, there’s a party in the paddock for Closing Day, with a concert featuring an 80s cover band.

A day at the track is a quintessential San Diego to-do, even if you don’t bid on any horses. There’s fair-style food, overpriced drinks, lots of fashion- and- people-watching, and folks losing their minds while screaming in the grandstands for “their” horse. Some people do intensive research on the horses before placing their bets, while others bet on the most creative pony names—but either way—it’s unquestionably more fun if you have some skin in the game. There are typically between seven and 11 races per day, so you can expect a race about every 30 minutes.

Once you’ve trekked back to your car following the last race and/or concert, head over to Flower Hill Promenade for something to eat. Cucina Enoteca (sister restaurant of popular Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill) is an amazing Italian restaurant anchoring this modern shopping center. The design is beautiful, the wine list offers only good options, and my dinner favorites include Brussels sprouts, fried squash blossoms, short rib pappardelle, and any of the pizzas. This is one place I always save room for dessert (go for the zeppole or budino) because it never disappoints. If you’re looking for something more fast-casual at Flower Hill, check out Cafe Cantata (open for breakfast and lunch), known for its slow drip cold brew coffee.