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North County Neighborhood Guide: Del Mar Mesa

Del Mar Mesa View

The North County community of Del Mar Mesa is located about five miles from the coast and is within the City of San Diego. This affluent area is home to several gated developments, most of which have just two or three dozen homes (or even fewer) within each of these smaller neighborhoods. It is also home to The Grand Del Mar, which is a world-class resort and private club rated the #1 Luxury Hotel in California by TripAdvisor.

Del Mar Mesa and the neighboring community of Pacific Highlands Ranch are often considered part of Carmel Valley, and Carmel Valley is often used interchangeably with the names of these communities.

This upscale community is just a short drive from equestrian centers, golf courses, country clubs, boutique shopping, fine dining, the beach and downtown San Diego, which makes it an ideal choice for families, retirees or professionals in search of luxury living close to all that San Diego County has to offer.


This area was historically inhabited by the La Jolla and Ipai people and was later used for agricultural purposes. In some areas, you can still see the eucalyptus trees planted in the 1800s that once lined farmsteads. The area continued to be primarily agricultural until only about 30 years ago, and there are still many horse ranches in the area.

Del Mar Mesa as we know it today began to come into existence when land began to be subdivided under the community development plan that was adopted in 1996.


When fully built out, the community plan for Del Mar Mesa includes a maximum of just 685 homes on the 2,042 acres of land that make up this neighborhood. These homes are mostly found in small enclaves of luxury estates and custom builds, such as the 32 homes located in the gated community of The Preserve or the 17 semi-custom homes found in the Whitehorse development. Other developments in Del Mar Mesa include Duck Pond Ranch, Three Canyons, Anderson Ridge, The Meadows, Silver Oaks Estates, Paso Fino, Valencia Collection, Bougainvillea and Alta Del Mar.

Lots ranging in size from 0.4 to 1.1 acres in the Alta Del Mar development have prices ranging from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, and estate homes start just under $2,000,000.

Other examples of real estate in this community include a handful of homes for sale in The Preserve, including:

  • A seven bedroom, seven bathroom, 8,579-square-foot 2009 estate on 1.24 acres listed at $6,500,000
  • A six bedroom, eight bathroom, 6,832-square-foot 2015 estate on the market for $3,995,000
  • A six bedroom, seven bathroom, 6,947-square-foot 2014 estate listed at $3,499,000

Del Mar Golf

Restaurants, Shopping & Entertainment

Del Mar Mesa is a residential community where residents enjoy a luxury, semi-rural lifestyle without strip malls or brightly colored fast food drive-thrus, but just about anything you need is easily within reach. Trader Joe’s, Panera Bread and more are minutes away along Village Center Loop Road.

Rite Aid Pharmacy, Vons, O’Reilly Auto Parts, CVS Pharmacy, PostalAnnex+, Jack in the Box and Smashburger are to the northeast off of Black Mountain Road.

And, of course, shoppers who prefer big-name stores or discount retailers will have no trouble wiling away an afternoon just a bit to the south in Mira Mesa where they will find Target, Big Lots, Babies “R” Us, Kohl’s, Marshall’s and Vons.

Upscale food and wine events can be found seasonally at The Grand Del Mar, and you can rely on the Pacific Highlands Certified Farmers Market for stocking up on local, organic produce and artisan-crafted goods.

Cathedral Catholic High School

Parks & Recreation

More than 900 acres of the land that makes up the Del Mar Mesa community is set aside to remain open space and will be conserved under the City of San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Program. This land is located in the eastern section of the neighborhood. The entire Del Mar Mesa area has a semi-rural feel and is surrounded by nature, including an area to the north called the Tunnels, where you can walk beneath old-growth oaks. If you walk through Tunnels far enough to reach the top of the mesa, you will also find many vernal pools, which are becoming increasingly rare in San Diego. There are plenty of trails to enjoy in and around the community, many of which can be found on the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail Map.

For those who prefer to spend the afternoon on manicured greens, The Grand Del Mar Golf Club offers a beautiful, private course designed by Tom Fazio. The club also offers seven acres of practice areas where you can perfect your game, club and putter fitting, private instruction with PGA-certified instructors and youth golf programs.

Other recreational opportunities available at this private club include four heated swimming pools, a fitness center, tennis courts and an equestrian center.

The Del Mar Mesa community will soon have a public park for residents and visitors to enjoy as well. The Del Mar Mesa Neighborhood Park, once completed, will be a four-acre space with a basketball court, playground, horse rest stop, parking lot and restrooms. There will also be a large grass area and mostly native landscaping.

Other nearby recreational areas include the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, the Torrey Pines State Reserve, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the Del Mar Racetrack and several beaches.

Canyon Crest Academy


Public school students living in Del Mar Mesa are served by the Del Mar Union School District and the San Dieguito Union High School District. The high-ranking schools serving most public school students in this neighborhood include Sycamore Ridge Elementary School, Carmel Valley Middle School, and Torrey Pines High School or Canyon Crest Academy.

Private schools serving this affluent community include Kinderhouse Montessori School, La Jolla Country Day School, Diegueno Country School, Horizon Prep, The Nativity School, Good Shepherd Catholic School, Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego Jewish Academy, Del Mar Pines School and Notre Dame Academy.


Del Mar Mesa is east of Carmel Valley, north of Los Peñasquitos Canyon, west of Rancho Peñasquitos and parts of Torrey Highlands, and south of parts of Torrey Highlands and Pacific Highlands Ranch.

Additional Information

Del Mar Mesa offers the tranquility of a semi-rural lifestyle without sacrificing the luxury of estate living or having city amenities within easy reach. If you are looking for an upscale home or want to build your dream home in a newer, affluent area of San Diego, talk to your Realtor about adding Del Mar Mesa to your list of neighborhoods to consider.

If you are interested in learning about nearby North County neighborhoods, check out these previous articles:



Photo Credits (in order of appearance): Friends of Del Mar Facebook Page; MorgueFile, taliesin; Wikimedia Commons/Anonymous; Wikimedia Commons/Docnavi

AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+