The Best Outdoor Activities in San Diego
Southern California is often referred to as the land of the beautiful people, and with San Diego playing host to so many sandy spaces, you’d better believe that most of its inhabitants keep their bodies beach-ready at all times.
With the glorious sunshine and abundance of outdoor space, there is no shortage of activities for fitness fanatics and active individuals throughout this amazing city.
University of San Diego
The first place that you should investigate is the celebrated University of San Diego, home of numerous classes in keep fit, yoga, water sports and just about anything else that you can imagine. With many of the students at the college studying the art of fitness training, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself at a fraction of the price of a trained professional while still enjoying the benefits of an enthusiastic coach.
Of course, if you’re more interested in staying in shape under your own steam, it’s worth looking into riding the waves of the surf – thanks to its proximity to Coronado Beach, San Diego is a city of sea-worshippers.
If you’re already experienced in balancing your body on a surfboard you can hire one and hit the water at a moment’s notice, or you can take professional lessons from one of the many qualified trainers in the city; surf schools in San Diego are almost omnipresent when you gravitate toward the beach. Don’t feel restricted to surfing, either – snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, jet-skiing and speed boating are all an option, as is shark diving if you’re brave enough. La Jolla Cove and Coronado are the best locations for open water swimming.
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, however, San Diego is also a haven for runners. If you’re a beginner or new to the city, Balboa Park is the perfect place to start. This huge open space is gloriously scenic, and offers over sixty miles of different running trails, starting small and with 1.5 mile circles and steadily increasing until you work up quite the sweat. If you like the idea of a coastal run check out the La Jolla district, which is comparatively flat but allows you to fill your nose with fresh ocean air and calm your mind with the sights and sounds of the sea as you enjoy your cardio workout, or the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines nature reserve, which provides a stunning ocean backdrop.
Alternatively, if you’re an experienced runner, you may be ready to brave ‘The Coaster’, which involves driving to Encinitas and taking the train to the beach, and jog the fifteen miles back to where you left your vehicle. It’s not easy going and inadvisable to anyone who may be faint of heart, but it’s a way of keeping trim while also seeing some of the beautiful parts of San Diego on the run. As a popular pastime in San Diego, you’ll find no shortage of sporting goods stores and specialist running suppliers that will ensure you are kitted out appropriately in no time at all, whatever your needs and experience level.
If walking is more your speed, then it’s well worth looking into the possibilities of hiking throughout San Diego. Torrey Pines hosts a State Park with some breathtaking views of the ocean, while if you’re prepared to risk a snake crossing your path you owe it to yourself to investigate Cowles Mountain, a popular hiking spot that leads to the highest point in the entire city. Daredevils will also get a real kick out of Three Sisters Falls Trails; it’s only four miles in length, the peaks and drops are steep and some experience in climbing is also highly recommended before tackling such a challenge.
If you are a climber, also be sure to check out Mission Trails Regional Park for some the satisfaction of scaling a cliff face. Other worthy sites for the ‘not so experienced but enthusiastic climbers’ are the hidden gems of Jasper Boulders (over 400 different boulder experiences) or Santee Boulders, where you can also experience unusual climbing in this semi-desert location. Many of the rock-climbing experiences also include abseiling or rappelling, for those of you who are thrill seekers and want to get you adrenalin going.
While San Diego isn’t as awkward for drivers as many American cities, it’s still a very cycle-friendly city. Cuyamaca Rancho state park, Noble Canyon, Balboa Park and Escondido all boast small, dedicated cycle tracks. Road riders are advised to check out the public cycle group known as the Saturday Swami’s, which commence at Solana Beach and run for around 40 miles, taking in all kind of sights throughout the city. Tours and cycle hire is abundant throughout the entire city, whether it be in green or sandy spaces.
Outdoor activities are not limited to exercise, however. San Diego boasts a great number of public tennis courts and golf courses that cater to any handicap (some of which can be found in such tourist hotspots as the aforementioned Balboa Park), and even the fabled zoo covers 100 acres – plenty of opportunity for a long walk with the family. Torrey Pines is a great spot for hang-gliding and paragliding, and with a great many farms and ranches in the city, you could take horse riding lessons and gallop your way through the fields and beaches.
As a keen sailor, you will undoubtedly enjoy the many excursions available out to sea or close to the shore to get a better view of the San Diego sites. Experienced sailors can hire boats for a half or full day, but there are plenty of more leisurely sailing activities where you allow a master to take the helm, be it a daytime trip or a romantic sunset cruise. Love to fish – there is some marvelous fishing off the coast, and you can use some of those muscles reeling the ‘big fellas’ in – you are more than likely to catch small sharks, tuna, mahi-mahi and marlin off the coast and some trips even include cooking your fish for lunch.
Whether you like skating on ice or using some roller wheels or blades, San Diego is abound with skate parks and a superb ice rink. Skate World is probably the most well-known, and whilst pretty inauspicious to look at, nonetheless it is popular, with its disco music and glitter balls. If you have children, they can easily enjoy themselves for a few hours here.
For small and ‘big kids’ alike (adults are seriously welcome) Rockin’ Jump is the place to go as the best trampoline park for fitness and fun. The arena has dodgeball, open jump arenas, slam dunk zone and more, even though a lot of it is inside, it is a fun activity session for all the family. Special day passes for families are available, which also include the outdoor experiences surrounding the arena. Close by is a swimming pool open to the public, so you can clean off the kids afterwards! .
With a climate that encourages outdoor activity all year around and enough different activities to satisfy any energy level, there is never any need to hunker down and hide inside while in San Diego. Check it out for yourself – a wide variety of adventures await for the entire family.