Thanks to its ideal climate, San Diego attracts over 30 million visitors annually and has long been one of the top destinations in the USA. According to localcollegeexplorer, the city offers a variety of activities and has so much to see that it is often difficult to decide what to do and what to see. The nice thing: almost all sights are in the open air and can therefore be visited free of charge. This includes the rough Pacific coast with its beautiful beaches.
Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks
If you want to experience something out of the ordinary and are vacationing in San Diego during the summer months, you should snorkel with leopard sharks off the La Jolla Shores! An incredible and at the same time harmless experience: leopard sharks look terrifying with a body length of one to two meters, but are harmless to humans. They feed mainly on small crustaceans and shrimp. The best chance of seeing the animals is in the summer months. Just go into the water with snorkeling equipment on the La Jolla Shores directly at the level of the “Marine Room” restaurant and you’re right in the middle of it. After just a few meters and at a water depth of less than 2 meters, you can observe the animals in their natural habitat.
Enjoy the downtown skyline
The relatively small Coronado Bayview Park is little known. It is ideally located for admiring the skyline of downtown San Diego’s high-rise buildings with the bay in the foreground. To get here, you can either drive to the Coronado Peninsula or take the ferry from downtown to the peninsula. The best view is just before sunset, when the last rays of daylight are reflected in the water and on the facades of the houses. You can easily combine a trip here with a visit to one of the most beautiful beaches in America, Coronado Beach.
Yoga on the Beach
For yoga fans there is a special treat in San Diego: yoga on the beach in the Pacific Beach district. For several years, this has been offered by a well-known yoga teacher – based on voluntary donations. Every weekend, the event attracts numerous yoga enthusiasts. The group gathers every Saturday morning at the green space where Law Street meets the beach.
Sunset at Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs is located on the southernmost tip of Ocean Beach, a beautiful area right on the Pacific Ocean with cliffs, surfers and a very idyllic atmosphere. There is ample parking along the cliffs. Stroll along one of the easy hiking trails to fully absorb the unique atmosphere. Here you can watch the surfers in the evening light or just relax a bit. The Sunset Cliffs are also worth a visit during the day, but the setting is at its most romantic at sunset.
Bike tour from Mission Beach to La Jolla Cove
Probably the best and cheapest way to get to know San Diego and its beaches is on a bike tour on one of the typical beach bikes (beach cruisers). It makes sense to rent a beach cruiser in the Mission Beach district and then drive north on the beach path. Along the way you will pass numerous places to dismount, such as the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. The bike path then leads through the affluent residential areas of the suburb of La Jolla. Here you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the coast and beaches. Another highlight awaits at the end: At La Jolla Cove you can snorkel with many colorful fish and even with sea lions, which often play right around you in the water.
Hiking in Torrey Pines Park
Located between the hamlets of La Jolla and Del Mar, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park is ideal for an easy-to-moderate hike. From here you have the best views of the Pacific coast. Depending on the time, it is advisable to try different hiking trails, there is no right or wrong here, each trail has its own charm. Most trails start at the summit and descend to the beach.
After the hike, a visit to the Torrey Pines Gliderport is recommended, preferably after for lunch or a snack. The restaurant is not exceptional, but you have a unique view of the hang-gliders and paragliders that take off there. There is enough seating, parking can sometimes be a bit tight. The Gliderport is perfect for 1-2 hours to recharge your batteries.
Culinary insider tips
These two restaurants will inspire you in different ways:
Draft is a restaurant located right on the boardwalk in Mission Beach. As part of Belmont Park with the well-known roller coaster and the many beachgoers, it is a very lively corner. Draft offers particularly delicious food. The restaurant has outdoor areas with tables and is very open in design. It also has what is arguably the largest television in all of San Diego, covering an entire wall and showing either sporting events or San Diego-owned videos. Perfect for a beach lunch. 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109; Tel: +1 858-228-9305
Caroline’s Seaside Cafe is not well known even in San Diego, although its location makes it arguably the best breakfast/brunch cafe in town. Located in the posh district of La Jolla, the spacious roof terrace overlooks the entire beach section of the La Jolla Shores – with the impressive cliffs in the background and the many surfers in the sea. The menu is typical “California style” – so many hearty American dishes for breakfast, but also many healthy alternatives, which the conscious residents of San Diego particularly love. 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037; Tel: +1 858-202-0569
About the author
This page is a guest contribution by Johannes Dietzel. The author has lived and worked in his adopted home of San Diego for more than seven years. After many years in “America’s Finest City,” he is passionate about sharing San Diego secrets, especially what he would recommend to friends and family when they visit. When he first came to San Diego in 2006, he immediately fell in love with the city and the lifestyle.
With Discover San Diego he has created a personal travel guide for anyone interested in San Diego.