There are two main north-south freeways in San Diego area:
I-5 (San Diego Fwy) goes closer to the ocean and passes San Diego downtown.
I-805 (Inland Fwy) a few miles inland passes numerous residential areas.
These freeways join just before Mexican border south of San Diego and north of San Diego just a few miles before Del Mar.
DIRECTIONS from San Diego:
A. Take either I-5 North or I-805 North and drive till they join (= where I-805 ends),
B. continue drive north (I-5) and take one of the 3 next exits, always west:
1. exit south of Del Mar: Carmel Valley Rd (West), drive straight and turn right at its end to S-21 (Camino Del Mar, old Highway 101) to Del Mar
2. exit directly to Del Mar: Del Mar Heights Road (west)
3. exit north of Del Mar: Via de la Valle = S-6 (west) to S-21 (Camino Del Mar, old Highway 101), to city of Del Mar turn left (south).
Is it clear? Hehe.
DRIVING TIME (22 miles = 35 km) from San Diego downtown: from 40-50 min. till... hmm... 1 hour or even much more, I suppose. Depends on traffic and your luck :-).
ALTERNATIVE (TOURIST) ROUTE:
If you have more time and want to visit other (not so pretty but quite nice as well) beach towns on the way drive along the coast via:
- Point Loma,
- Sunset Cliffs,
- Ocean Beach,
- Mission Beach,
- La Jolla.
Enough for the whole day, I suppose hehe.
Drive south of Los Angeles, direction San Diego. Don't ask me which way - there are many hehe (the less difficult is driving just I-5 all the time but I am not sure whether it's fastest).
But finally take freeway I-5 south or US Coast Highway 1 which is called S-21 south of Oceanside (old Highway 101). You will drive along the coast via San Clemente, Oceanside (my first large VT-meeting place, very nice place to stop), Carldbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach.
From I-5 take one of the exits mentioned in the previous tip.
S-21 passes through Del Mar and it is called Camino del Mar there.
DRIVING TIME: unpredictable, depends on traffic, maybe 2 hours, maybe 3 hours or more.
From the park's gate at Pacific Coast Highway, it's less than 2 miles (uphill) to the Visitor Center. The roads in Torrey Pines State Park are well paved. And the scenary is great -- you are surrounded by the rare Torrey Pine trees and sandstone cliffs with Pacific Ocean as backdrop, as seen in photo.
As in most Californian cities, the best way of getting to and getting around Del Mar is by car.
The compact "village" section of Del Mar with it's many hotels, restaurants and shops is just a block from the beach. However, this is just a small part of Del Mar and staying within these boundries will be more expensive than staying in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Navigating through those other areas are more convenient if you have the use of a car. Not to mention that running through Del Mar is the "Historic, Highway 101" a coastal route reminiscent of days past as well as offering charming views.
Driving around Del Mar I noticed maybe not very many but quite many luxury vehicles: convertibles among them. No wonder, this is an upscale town. Am I wrong?