Topping many "It Lists" of late, San Diego has shed its beach bum reputation and emerged a youthful, energetic city filled with an outdoor-loving population, pursuing their own happiness and hoping you'll come along for the ride.
You always have a friend with a boat in San Diego
While lying on the beach may be good enough for some, we've got a few other ways to enjoy the coast. Consider sailing along the stunning coast until the sun slinks on one of the many charter sailboats around Shelter Island. Or find out why San Diego was named No.1 sport fishing city in America by booking a sport fishing excursion that can take you through the Coronado Islands or even into Baja.
Experience the magic of the water in a kayak off La Jolla's rugged coast-line. Enjoy close encounters with sea lions, explore sea caves, or be humbled by a glimpse of a giant grey whale.
Looking for your favorite new sport? Explore the calm waters of Mission Bay on a stand up paddle board. Glide across the water standing on a huge surfboard, paddle in hand. Lessons are fun and affordable.
Happiness is a pair of sneakers
With mountains, valleys, deserts and lagoons it's no wonder San Diego is one of the top marathon cities in the country and the birthplace of the famous Rock-n-Roll marathon.
For water views and coastal eco-culture, you can't beat Torrey Pines State Reserve with its rare pines, other worldly sandstone formations, canopied trails, lagoons and million dollar ocean views. Spanning over 2,000 acres, it preserves its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Among the eight miles of trails, guests can encounter native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. The reserve also includes a visitor center and hosts guided nature walks on weekends and holidays to view points overlooking Peñasquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.
Aptly named Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is another local gem with 68 acres of bluffs and walking paths high above the Pacific Ocean. This large sandy beach also offering surfing, swimming, volleyball and other recreational activities, perfect for getting your heart pumping while surrounded by panoramic ocean views.
Looking for something completely different? Head two hours east to the dramatic desert landscape and brilliant wildflowers of Anza Borrego State Park. Anzo Borrego is the largest state park in California with over 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and numerous hiking trails. Amid the untouched wilderness, guests encounter soothing warm desert breezes and a beautiful barren land teeming with wildlife like roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, and bighorn sheep.
Find your Zip-a-dee-doo-dah
Sure we ride waves, but San Diegans are also very attached to their bikes. Whether on a mountain bike or a beach cruiser, a bike tour is a great way to experience this city - from La Jolla to Mission Bay to Coronado Island. San Diego Hike Bike Kayak Sports, Inc. featured "La Jolla Plunge Tour" starts with panoramic views of San Diego atop Mt. Soledad and zips you down a 3.5 mile descent to the ocean.
Want another way to explore the eclectic neighborhoods and burrows of the city? Hop on a segway and zoom along for a guided tour. Or grab a helmet and rent a bright yellow GoCar for a custom-narrated, GPS-guided tour of The Gaslamp, Balboa Park, Little Italy or even the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Urban Explorers: A Spotlight on 7 Neighborhoods in San Diego
A charming waterfront area with fantastic Italian restaurants and delis, authentic gelatarias, upscale boutiques, a Saturday farmer's market and a lively dinner scene.
This up-and-coming hipster neighborhood bustles with independent boutiques, imaginative restaurants, cozy coffee shops, sophisticated beer bars and local watering holes.
La Jolla & Del Mar
Two seaside enclaves boasting beautiful parks and walkable, waterfront downtowns with upscale shopping, galleries and fashionable eateries.
The original site of the 1935 World's Fair, this beautiful urban park is considered the cultural heart of the city packed with Spanish architecture, fountains, gardens, over a dozen museums and the Old Globe theatre.
University Heights & Hillcrest
Considered particularly gay-friendly, these adjoining neighborhoods have quaint breakfast spots, independent movie theatres, unpretentious wine bars and good vintage, secondhand and vintage shopping.
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