12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd • 858 755 2063 • Open 7:15am–sunset daily • Parking fee $12–$20
This stretch of California’s wild coast offers a glimpse into an ancient ecosystem. Wildflowers bloom along hiking trails that lead past rare Torrey pines and 300 other endangered species. Viewing areas overlook sandstone cliffs to the beach. Spot quail, mule deer, and coyotes.
This landmark destination (see Balboa Park) and heart of San Diego offers an array of superb activities. Visit its gardens and museums for inspiration, to play sports, or to watch a concert. Although crowded, Sundays are good days to experience the community at leisure.
Named after John D. Spreckels, who donated the land, the park hosts Sunday concerts during the summer as well as art and garden shows. An old-fashioned bandstand, shady trees, green lawns, and picnic tables complete the picture of a small-town community center.
1 Father Junípero Serra Trail
At one of the country’s largest urban parks, hiking and biking trails wind along rugged hills and valleys. The San Diego River bisects the park, and a popular trail leads to the Old Mission Dam. The energetic can hike up Cowles Mountain, San Diego’s highest peak at 1,591 ft (485 m).
12020 Black Mountain Rd
Archeologists discovered artifacts of the prehistoric La Jolla culture in this ancient canyon. You can also explore the adobe home of San Diego’s first Mexican land grant family. Between two large coastal canyons, trails lead past woodland, oak trees, chaparral, and a waterfall.
5115 Soledad Rd, Pacific Beach
Named in honor of the mother of Balboa Park, this peaceful spot, with a terrific view of Mission Bay, is a popular area for picnics. Take advantage of the ocean breezes to rediscover kite flying. Walking trails extend 2 miles (3 km) through a canyon lined with native coastal sage.
2688 E. Mission Bay Dr
This aquatic wonderland (see Mission Bay Park) offers every watersport conceivable. You can also bicycle, play volleyball, jog, or nap on the grass. Excellent park facilities include boat rentals, playgrounds, fire rings, and picnic tables.
Broad lawns shaded by palms and Monterey cypress trees stretch along the cliffs from La Jolla Cove to Children’s Pool. Promenades offer stunning views of the cliffs and beach.
Marina Park Way
Join the downtown workers for some fresh air and sunshine. Wide grassy areas and benches give you solitude to enjoy the sweeping views of the harbor. During summer, concerts are held on the lawn.
301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach
Serene hiking paths wind through fields of wildflowers and plants. More than 300 species of migratory birds stop by at different times of the year. A visitor center offers information to enhance your visit.
Coronado, downtown, and San Diego harbor sparkle both day and night.
The breathtaking view from the peninsula’s end (see Point Loma) takes in the city, harbor and Pacific Ocean.
San Diego’s most glorious view takes in Coronado, Point Loma, downtown, the valleys, and Mission Bay.
Planes on approach to Lindbergh Field make dining here a visual affair.
The 40th-floor lounge offers views of San Diego Bay and Coronado.
The view down the wind-eroded cliffs and across the Pacific is magnificent.
Every table here has water views, but the best spot is the upstairs patio with live jazz.
You can almost see what people are having for dinner as you fly in directly over downtown San Diego.
A panoramic view extends from the freeways in Mission Valley below to Mission Bay and the Pacific.
On a sunny day, nothing beats a ferry ride on the harbor, gazing at the white sailboats against a blue sky.