San Diego is one of the nation’s most popular vacation destinations–and for a good reason. With beautiful weather throughout much of the year, as well as hundreds of places to explore, this city should be a number one vacation destination for any outdoor enthusiast. With over seventy miles of beaches and open spaces, this sunny city offers something for everybody,  whether a local or a tourist, to enjoy.

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Beach and Park are one of the least developed spots in the state, offering visitors a wild place to enjoy hiking, boating, swimming, and more. This park contains eight miles of trails and bluffs and is also home to the Torrey pine tree, a species found in only two places on earth. 

The park is open daily for roughly all of the daylight hours and offers a sandy beach with lifeguards and fully equipped bathrooms. In addition to trails, a staffed nature center and information station are also available to visitors. Torrey Pines Gliderport, with a city-owned glider airport, and Torrey Pines Golf Course are also nearby.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a much-loved destination that is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Offering jaw-dropping sunsets, unique wildlife encounters, and exciting water recreation opportunities, this spot is a must-see. You can snorkel in the 6,000 acres La Jolla Underwater Park, giving you a chance to see wildlife like seals, barracuda, and giant sea bass, or try your hand at open water swimming or snorkeling. Kayaking, bicycling, and stand-up paddle boarding are also favorite activities here.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park contains over eighty-five different cultural, recreational, and outdoor-based activities. This park includes a Visitor’s Center and, with the purchase of a passport, visitors can access all of the park's fifteen museums, cultural centers, lawn bowling, railroad attractions, and carousels. The park is also home to the San Diego Zoo, a fascination all of its own with over 4,000 different animals residing on 100 acres.

The park is also a great place to check out some of San Diego’s local flora and fauna. The city is home to dozens of unique native plants, and Balboa houses many of them, like desert mallow and the San Diego sunflower,  in its exhibits and landscaping features.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is home to one of the state’s most famous and liveliest boardwalks, giving visitors over two miles of oceanfront access. The boardwalk features rental shops, an amusement park, and a famous beach. Check out this spot to experience biking, scuba diving, sports fishing, and even whale watching.

Point Loma

Even though there are no actual beaches on Point Loma, this is one of the best places in San Diego to watch the waves come crashing in. Point Loma features tidepools with rocky reefs, a great spot to view marine wildlife, as well as the Cabrillo National Monument. The monument is home to the Point Loma Lighthouse and gives you access to activities like daily sports fishing, whale watching, and waterfront entertainment.

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs were dedicated in 1983 and remain one of the most breathtaking areas to explore in San Diego. It consists of a 68-acre regional park that spans a mile and a half along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline. The cliffs are a spectacular place to view the ocean and unique cliff formations, as well as to spot wildlife in the coastal sage scrub habitat.

Presidio Park

Presidio Park has a rich history, dating all the way back to 1776. This park is designated a National Historic Landmark and offers visitors a chance to both get outside and to experience the abundant natural and cultural history of San Diego. You can explore this park by foot and includes landmarks like the old Hospital Complex, the Main Post, and the National Cemetery. There are also some significant shoreline areas and trails to check out, too, so bring your walking shoes.

About the Author: John Williams is an outdoor living expert and explorer. When he’s not traveling to nature’s most well known beauty spots, he tends to the greenery surrounding his home.