Lazy days at the beach, cannonballs and daydreams by the pool, surfing until sundown and another epic road trip to memorialize the dog days of summer … there are countless reasons why so many of us live for the summer season. It’s the time of the year we collectively let out a gigantic sigh of relief and allow ourselves to unwind mentally and physically. Even with the grueling sun beating down upon us, everything we do takes on a more mellow rhythm – it’s a rhythm of ease and relaxation that spring was preparing us for.
As the summer fun winds down and we transition into fall, many are preparing for the first day of school and their easy states of mind are suddenly making room for to-do lists. However, before you put away your summer gear, Design Institute of San Diego has put together a list of local retreats – true gems of nature – that anyone can make a trip to for at least one last summertime adventure. These locations offer majestic, calming views that are certain to make transitioning into fall a painless experience.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
A hiker’s dream, Anza-Borrego Desert is located about 80 miles northeast of the City of San Diego and spans 600,000 acres, boasting over 500 dirt roads. The hardest part about planning a trip out to Anza Borrego is figuring out which part of the park you want to explore. Divided into sections known as Anza Borrego North, Anza Borrego Central and Anza Borrego South, you’ll have a field day exploring various hiking trails, spotting wildflowers and birds, and learning about the unique geology of the region.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
With over 100 years of flying history, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is the most historic aviation site in North America. Located just north of the city of La Jolla, the Gliderport not only offers breathtaking views, but world-class flight lessons, certifications, tandem flights, and many other services. It may very well be the only site worldwide where all forms of non-powered flight take place.
Marian Bear Memorial Park
Marian Bear Memorial Park lies in San Clemente Canyon, stretching between Interstates 5 and 805. Boasting 467 acres of dedicated natural parkland, hikers can enjoy over three miles of mainly flat trails along the canyon, with more advanced climbs found in several of the finger trails leading up to the mesa tops. The public can also ride bikes along the maintenance roads.
Kate O. Sessions Park
Named after the mother of Balboa Park, this favorite San Diego destination is located right off Soledad Road and is home to two generous grassy sections. One section is flatter and offers a playground for the young crowd. However, Kate Sessions is probably best known for the other section which is rich with slopes and breathtaking views to the south.
Often compared to the East Coast’s Atlantic City or Coney Island, Mission Beach is nestled between Pacific Beach on the north and Belmont Park on the south and offers a wide variety of activities. At Belmont Park, the public can ride the historic Great Dipper wooden roller coaster or rent rollerblades to cruise around the boardwalk. Various shops and restaurants can be found on the way north to Pacific Beach, while South Mission Beach offers a slower pace with great fishing spots.
Broken Hill Loop
A favorite spot to enjoy our San Diego sunsets, Broken Hill Loop is located at the southernmost point of the main portion of the popular Torrey Pines State Reserve. It is an easy trail suitable for hikers of all levels, allowing visitors to focus on the immaculate views of both the reserve and the ocean.
Nestled between two sandy beaches, Centennial Park is a highlight of beautiful Coronado Island. The focal point is across the water, where the views of the downtown San Diego skyline are hard to beat. Also home to the Coronado Ferry Landing Pier and many quaint shops and restaurants, it’s a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Take the scenic route out of San Diego and drive for about 45 minutes on CA-79N, where you’ll hit Julian, CA, a small town made famous for its apple pies. Also known for their bed and breakfast spots and clear skies perfect for star gazing, Julian is the perfect place to escape to when you need to get away from the busy life in the city. During the winter time, it’s the closest place for San Diegans to make a snowman or a snow angel.
Located halfway in between San Diego and Los Angeles is the beautiful seaside city of Dana Point. Boasting seven miles of coastal bluffs, tourists from around the globe flock to Dana Point to enjoy activities such as whale watching, golfing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, paddle boarding, and so much more. It’s a breathtaking destination that can be enjoyed by all as accommodations range from budget motels to five-star resorts, while various dining and shopping stops give visitors both affordable and luxurious options to choose from.
One portion of the famous California Highway 1, Cabrillo Highway is a must for those who enjoy scenic road travel. Passing through California’s Monterrey, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, as well as the famous surfer’s mecca of Pacifica, the two-lane highway will take you up to San Francisco, where you can spot the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and the city’s famed Presidio National Park. The most difficult thing about traveling on Cabrillo Highway is keeping your eyes on the road thanks to the gorgeous ocean views along the way.
Even if you don’t get to experience these great travel destinations within the last weeks of your summer break, the beauty about living in a city that is the envy of the rest of the country is that it’s easy to fill up your calendar not only for the summer, but all year round. The weather is unmatched, the sights are breathtaking and the people have acquired the same easy-going rhythm of the waves that crash onto our beaches. Though it’s hard to say goodbye to summer, being in San Diego guarantees that once the Earth makes another full journey around the sun, we’ll have another amazing summer to bask in, and the rest of the year take in all the sights we didn’t get to during the summer break.