San Diego is home to fabulous outdoor adventures for all ages. Here are a few of my family’s favorite activities to enjoy in this sunny coastal paradise.
With an average year-round temperature of 72 degrees, San Diego is the ideal place to enjoy the outdoors in any season. Most months boast sunny days more than 70 percent of the time, making the weather in this SoCal city nearly perfect.
That’s one of many reasons my family returns to San Diego time and time again. We love its wealth of activities that appeal to both parents and kids — plus plentiful outdoor things to do that leave absolutely no excuse to stay indoors with a device in hand!
San Diego Beaches
San Diego has 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, providing ample opportunity to enjoy various water sports. You’ll find dozens of scenic surf spots for all skill levels. Beginners can take a lesson at one of the area’s surf schools and practice catching a wave at the laid-back, family-friendly Pacific Beach.
For further exploration, kids will love splashing around the coast’s abundant tide pools full of interesting sea creatures. You may even enjoy close encounters with seals and sea lions for the ultimate out-of-the-zoo wildlife experience.
If you’d prefer to spend time simply relaxing on the sand, you’ll have plenty of choices. Some of my family’s favorite beaches in the area include the beautiful Coronado Island, often ranked as America’s number one beach, as well as La Jolla, a quiet upscale town north of the city.
Kayaking & Snorkeling
My family loves kayaking the ocean off of La Jolla, where there are a handful of sea caves. We’ve also spotted small leopard sharks and sea lions in the waters around us. Hop in a kayak with a company like Everyday California to navigate these amazing formations with the help of a guide.
The area is also a popular place to snorkel, particularly natural wonders like La Jolla Submarine Canyon and the La Jolla Ecological Reserve.
If you visit between July and September, you can witness the largest annual aggregation of leopard sharks in the world off the coast of La Jolla.
Boating San Diego
I love to view a city from the water, as it gives you a completely different perspective than you get on land. A great way to see San Diego is by renting a boat and cruising San Diego Bay.
Along the way, you’ll sail under bridges and past many a sea lion sunning on a buoy. Plus, enjoy a fabulous perspective of the downtown skyline, as well as an up-close look at the massive USS Midway aircraft carrier museum and the Star of India tall ship at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. You can also take a lesson in sailing or hop on a sailboat tour of the bay.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
This hikers’ escape north of San Diego also happens to be home to Torrey Pines Golf Course, a course on the PGA tour. The Reserve encompasses 15 acres of land along the Pacific coast and offers jaw-dropping ocean views.
When we visited, we embarked on an afternoon hike from the top of the Reserve on a trail that leads down to the beach. As we trekked, we marveled at the large ocean waves lapping at the coastal cliffs.
Additional scenic hiking options include Cabrillo National Monument, where you can spot California grey whales, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which gives you a taste of the California desert.
A visit to San Diego wouldn’t be complete without a stop at this downtown jewel. The largest urban cultural park in North America, Balboa Park is a collection of green spaces, museums and attractions. Highlights include the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego History Center and the famous San Diego Zoo.
You could spend days seeing it all, but we particularly enjoyed exploring the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Botanical Building and its lovely lily pond and several museums. Don’t miss the park’s carousel, the giant fig tree and the lovely California tower.
Because Balboa Park is so large, you’ll quickly wear yourself out if you try to walk everywhere. Instead, catch a ride on the Park Tram; it will take you within a 10-minute walk to most of the park’s top attractions.