California has no shortage of iconic cities, that’s for sure, and the state offers a certain ideal not found elsewhere in the states; one of sunshine, surfing, sand and good times. Though San Diego doesn’t always command the same attention as state sharing friends up the Highway 101, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as the second largest city in its state, and with a laid back yet cosmopolitan charm, it’s definitely a destination worthy of a place on your itinerary.
This west coast city has more than 70 miles of shorelines, more than 250 days of sunshine, and favourable year-round temperatures. All of this adds up to a destination which makes the most of the outdoors, which a huge variety of al fresco activities on offer for visitors. With that in mind, here are 6 IDEAL outdoor day trips in San Diego, California.
SAN DIEGO BEACHES
If you’re after some fun in the sun (hey, who isn’t?) then you’re in luck; San Diego has 6 dedicated beach regions, each with a diverse setting and different offering for you to recline on. Whether you want to relax on the sand in secluded, low-key style, or you’re interested in a more upbeat vibe with watersports, vendors, outdoor events, and family-friendly entertainment, there’s a beach here to meet your needs.
Coronado Municipal Beach, accessible via the San Diego to Coronado bridge, is one of the best, offering incredible views of the vast city across the water. Pacific Beach (PB to locals) is another favourite, with a two mile stretch of sand ideally suited to family walks.
SAN DIEGO ZOO
Are you a lover of animals? Inspired to learn more about nature by David Attenborough’s latest Seven Worlds One Planet? If so, you’ll relish a trip to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, and one of the best of its kind in the world; San Diego Zoo.
Not just for kids, this zoo is home to more than 650 different species and a heavy emphasis on conservation and sustainable practices (they have led the way worldwide with their cageless exhibits designed to replicate an animal’s natural habitat). Sadly, the zoo’s most famous residents, two giant pandas named Bai-Yun and Xiao Liwu, this year left San Diego to return to China, a culmination of a decade long program of conservation and education. That the zoo continues with such efforts is reason enough to visit, we think.
SAN DIEGO BAY
If you love the open water, there’s no better place to visit on your vacation than the San Diego Bay. Here, you can learn about US history by visiting the USS Midway or Maritime Museum of San Diego. Looking for something good to eat or a great place to shop? Look no further than Seaport Village, which boasts 50 boutique shops and 13 little eateries. Our favourite? Don’t make us choose! But if you were to twist our arm, you’d find a freshly shucked oyster in our grasp, from the Harbor House, an amazing fish restaurant within the village.
And if you want to experience the bay up close and personal, then consider a boat rental at SD Adventures. You can take a 6-9 passenger speed boat out and explore the waters and surrounding attractions; just blissful when that Californian sun is shining down on you.
If you happen to be in the downtown area of San Diego (let’s face it, at some point, you will be) then you’ll most certainly want to check out Balboa Park. Spanning 1200 acres, this park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors at its finest. There are several beautiful gardens for you to take a walk, ride a bike, or even have a picnic in. You’ll also appreciate the beautiful Spanish-Renaissance architecture throughout. It’s not just gardens here, though; Balboa Park is also home to some groundbreaking, world famous museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art and the Fleet Science Center.
This ‘Jewel of Southern California’ is a quaint beach town located just a few minutes from downtown San Diego. The Mediterranean vibes of La Jolla call to mind a slower, more simple pace to life found in Italy or southern Spain, which may be a welcome relief from the usual ‘go big or go home’ feel of the States. While here, be sure to check out La Jolla Cove where you’ll see seals and sea lions roaming about. Stay for some of the finest food in the city from establishments like the Grande Colonial Hotel or Nine-Ten Restaurant. And before you leave, don’t forget to explore some of Dr. Seuss’ artwork collections at the Legends Gallery.
If San Diego Zoo didn’t slake your thirst for all things natural world, then SeaWorld may just finish you off. In the best possible way, of course. Here, you’ll get to see all types of creatures, including otters, sea turtles, fish, dolphins, sea lions, whales, and so much more, all perform live. The adventure park also has plenty of rides to raise the adrenaline, too, if that’s your thing. Some of the most popular include the Manta Ray rollercoaster, Journey to Atlantis, and Shipwreck Rapids. But perhaps even more likely to set the pulse racing are the exhibits, which include a penguin habitat, the arctic exhibit, and underwater shark tunnel.