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Guide to San Diego Outdoors

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There's a reason why many people consider San Diego to be the ideal place to live. Year-round mild weather with plentiful sunshine and comfortable temperatures make the city particularly appealing, but even those who can't call San Diego home are welcome to visit any time of year to take advantage of all the outdoor activities the area has to offer.

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker

10 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

San Diego Zoo

Zoos

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails

Balboa Park

Playgrounds, Gardens, Parks

Mission Bay Park

Beaches

La Jolla Cove

Beaches, Parks

Mission Beach Boardwalk

Historic Walking Areas, Jogging Paths & Tracks, Biking Trails

Point Loma

Historic Walking Areas, Geologic Formations

Mission Trails Regional Park

Parks

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

State Parks, Historic Walking Areas

Seaport Village

Piers & Boardwalks, Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks

JoAnna H's City Tips

  • If you have your eyes set on a specific tour, especially at a popular tourist attraction, make advance reservations.
  • San Diego's public transportation system isn't as thorough as those offered in some major cities, but it is reliable.
  • During rush hour, the interstate often comes to a stand still. Opt for a trolley ride during these times.
  • San Diego is a very casual city. If you're headed to a nice restaurant, check the guidelines regarding dress, but for the most part shorts, a sundress, and sandals are appropriate.
  • San Diego Zoo
    Zoos
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    The San Diego Zoo is among the most famous in the world, and if the weather is agreeable, it is an excellent use of a free day during your vacation. The park, while large, is walkable and very family friendly, with lots of places to stop and rest, if needed. If you happen to come across a bit of inclement weather, pop into one of the indoor exhibits until the sun reappears.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Though there are lots of places to grab a meal within the San Diego Zoo footprint, feel free to pack your own snacks or picnic lunch to save a few dollars.
    • Arrive early to avoid long lines at the most popular exhibits. As soon as you enter the zoo, head straight toward those animals you want to see most to ensure you fit them in.
    • If you'll be visiting several San Diego attractions on your trip, check to see if there are any bundled package deals that will save money on zoo entrance fees.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Day Out 14/10/2018
    • Amazing zoo - it’s a must-do in San Diego 14/10/2018
    • San Diego Zoo
    Address:
    2929 Zoo Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone:
    +1 619-231-0249
    Price range:
    US$52 - US$52
    Other:
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks, Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    With eight miles of trails and guided nature walks, the Torrey Pines State Reserve feels like it could be a thousand miles away from the busy, bustling activity of San Diego. With lots of pine trees and unspoiled beaches, this park is popular with both locals and visitors coming in from out of town.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The Torrey Pines State Reserve web site is a good source for up-to-date travel information about the park including road and trail updates and closures.
    • Alcohol is not permitted on the beaches within the state park.
    • There free docent-led tours within the park on the weekends. Check in at the visitors center for details.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Hike on a rainy day 14/10/2018
    • Terrific Views, Beachcombers Dream 14/10/2018
    • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
    Address:
    12600 N Torrey Pines Rd
    San Diego, CA 92037
    Phone:
    +1 858-755-2063
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:15 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Balboa Park
    Playgrounds, Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    Home to more than a dozen museums, an array of gardens, several performing arts venues and other attractions, you could set up shop in Balboa Park and have a thorough experience just in this one location. With a good mix of indoor and outdoor entertainment, this massive park is wonderful place to spend a couple hours or an entire day in San Diego.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Entrance fees for Balboa Park's attractions vary, but if you know what you'd like to visit, consider buying a one- or multi-day pass to help defray costs.
    • Parking is free but traffic can get a bit congested, especially on weekends and over holidays. Once you've found a spot, get around on foot or via the free tram.
    • Consider starting your trip in the park with a visit to the visitors center, which is packed with maps, brochures, audio tours and staff that can help you devise a plan.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Park! 14/10/2018
    • Best 14/10/2018
    • Balboa Park
    Address:
    1549 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101-1660
    Phone:
    +1 619-239-0512
    Price range:
    US$46 - US$46
    Other:
  • Mission Bay Park
    Beaches
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    Anyone who loves the water should make a trip to the 4,200-acre Mission Bay Park, which contains approximately 27 miles of shoreline. On any given day, you'll find people surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, boogie boarding and kite boarding ... as well as just enjoying a walk along the beach.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you don't have your own gear, there are a variety of places to rent sailboats, kayaks and other water-related gear.
    • Self-guided hikes provide context for the park. Take the trail to Kandall-Frost Reserve to view nesting sites of the light-footed clapper, which is endangered.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #38 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A nice place to kick back 02/10/2018
    • Wow 29/09/2018
    • Mission Bay Park
    Address:
    2688 E Mission Bay Dr
    San Diego, CA 92109-6802
    Phone:
    +1 619-221-8900
    Other:
  • La Jolla Cove
    Beaches, Parks
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    La Jolla's coastline varies from rocky outcroppings to smooth sand beaches, and it's known as one of the best places to catch a sunset in Southern California. The sheltered cove is ideal for swimming and the snorkeling is particularly spectacular, though surfboards, rafts and boogie boards are not allowed.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Parking can be a challenge, so arrive early in the day to secure a spot, especially during the summer.
    • There are lifeguards at La Jolla Cove year-round from 9am to dusk.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 79 things to do in La Jolla
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sea lions and ocean views, fun with kids! 14/10/2018
    • Grandpa, Grandkids and Friends 14/10/2018
    • La Jolla Cove
    Address:
    1100 Coast Blvd
    La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-3600
  • Mission Beach Boardwalk
    Historic Walking Areas, Jogging Paths & Tracks, Biking Trails
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    Combining the beach life with an old-school boardwalk vibe found almost exclusively on the East Coast, the Mission Beach Boardwalk is sometimes rowdy and crowded, but it's also a worthwhile stop, especially for those who have never been to a boardwalk before. Lots of people just find a place on the beach, but you can also wander through the small amusement park or rent a bike to ride along the beach.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Beach Goer
    • Family
    Tips
    • Parking by the Mission Beach Boardwalk can be a difficult. Your best bet is to check the public lots near Belmont Park, Santa Clara Point and South Mission Beach Park.
    • If you plan to ride more than a few rides at Belmont Park, home of the amusement park rides, consider buying an unlimited ride wristband.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #49 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The smells of the beach seemed different 06/10/2018
    • Great place to relax and people watch 02/10/2018
    • Mission Beach Boardwalk
    Hours:
    Sun
    08:30 - 20:00
    Mon - Thu
    09:00 - 20:00
    Fri
    09:30 - 21:00
    Sat
    08:30 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Point Loma
    Historic Walking Areas, Geologic Formations
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    Though Point Loma isn't suggested for swimming, it is a great place to enjoy the coastline's natural, rugged beauty. Tide pools teem with marine life, and Sunset Cliffs is the place to go for – you guessed it – catching a brilliant sunset.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Locals frequent Point Loma for its surfing, though the waves aren't for beginners.
    • The sea cliffs are in constant flux, so mind posted warnings and don't climb on them. Big swells and breaks close to the rocks can make this a dangerous area for the careless.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth the trip 09/10/2018
    • Such a beautiful view to the sea.. Loved the place.. 07/10/2018
    • Point Loma
    Phone:
    +1 619-553-9381
    Other:
  • Mission Trails Regional Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    Only eight miles from downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States at 5,800 acres. The San Diego River meanders through the park, and there are two lakes along with lots of bird life. Hikers will enjoy the 40 miles of trails throughout Mission Trails, and several camping spots mean visitors don't have to vacate the grounds at dusk.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • A number of educational talks and guided walks are available in the park. Stop by the visitors center or check online for an events schedule.
    • There are several introductory films playing in the visitors center that provide context for a park visit. Stop by and see one if you have the time.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #64 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great place for a wedding 07/10/2018
    • A little gem! 06/09/2018
    • Mission Trails Regional Park
    Address:
    1 Father Junipero Serra Trl
    San Diego, CA 92119-1008
    Phone:
    +1 619-668-3281
    Other:
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
    State Parks, Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    This park marks the site of the first West Coast Spanish settlement and features several museums, shops and sites that reflect its historic theme. It's easy to walk around, popping in and out of storefronts selling handicrafts and wares. If the weather is ideal (as it often is in San Diego), consider enjoying a meal outdoors, and stay for live music entertainment.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • A couple days a week, the park has reenactments that help illustrate what life would have been like in the 1800s. Check the park's website for details on scheduled events.
    • The Old Town trolley stop is just across the street from the park.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #67 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Food in OId Town 14/10/2018
    • touristy 12/10/2018
    • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
    Address:
    4002 Wallace St
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Phone:
    +1 619-220-5422
    Hours:
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 - 16:00
    Fri - Sun
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Seaport Village
    Piers & Boardwalks, Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    JoAnna H Says:

    This open-air, waterfront shopping area has more than 50 shops, a dozen eateries and lots of room to spread out without tripping over other visitors. Beyond shopping, there are free concerts on most weekends and sometimes during the week as well, and the walk along the shore has great views of Coronado Island.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Go in the morning for smaller crowds.
    • Grab a brochure, which has an events schedule as well as coupons for shops and restaurants.
    • To avoid traffic and parking, consider taking the trolley to Seaport Village.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #79 of 473 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Grandpa, Grandkids and Friends visiting from Italy, Serbia and various states. 14/10/2018
    • La Jolla Kayak 14/10/2018
    • Seaport Village
    Address:
    849 W Harbor Dr
    Downtown
    San Diego, CA 92101-7744
    Phone:
    +1 619-235-4014
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 - 20:00
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 - 21:00
    Other:
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