We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

San Diego

Free Newsletter

Interested in San Diego?

We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for San Diego each week.

More Lists
Other recent lists by FreqTravelers
Lists you may be interested in:
Trip List by FreqTravelers

San Diego Area for Adventurists

Oct 25, 2007  Some San Diego Fun!
4.5 of 5 stars based on 10 votes

This list comes from a couple in their 30s that are always looking for things to do and rarely stay inside.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: San Diego, La Jolla
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Balboa Park
    Balboa Park, San Diego, California

    I love Balboa Park. You can go there and just walk around or visit the many museums. The San Diego Zoo is also located in the park, next to the museums.

    There are also a few venues where you can see shows, plays, musicals, etc. I've been to Starlight theatre a couple of times. It's very nice sitting outside to watch a musical, however, planes go by a lot in the sky. The park is in the pathway of the airplanes headed to the San Diego airport. Sometimes, the actors on stage freeze when a plane is going by so you don't miss out on their lines.

    The Old Globe Theatre is also a nice, intimate place to see shows. There are usually Shakespeare plays in the summer. If you are in San Diego around Christmas, be sure to go see How The Grinch Stole Christmas, it's a great show!

    Make sure to check out the calendar online, there are always things going on in the park.

    Phone: (619) 239-0512
    Address: 1549 El Prado
    Directions: North East of Downtown
    Website: http://www.balboapark.org

  • 2. Hornblower Cruises & Events
    Hornblower Cruises & Events, San Diego, California

    I've been on day cruises, dinner cruises, and special event cruises. I've always had a great time. The staff are very friendly. One piece of advice, bring a jacket, especially Sept-May. Even if it's nice on land, once you get out on the water and the wind picks up, it can turn a little chilly.

    For the day cruises, there's the option of a 1 or 2 hour cruise. The one hour just takes you to see the Bay and the sea lions or to see Coronado and the ships. If you get a 2 hour cruise ($5 more), you see it all. The sea lions are always the highlight. The ship pulls up next to some floating docks were the sea lions like to sun bathe and play around. You actually get a very close look at them.

    If you have time or desire to take a dinner cruise, the Hornblower has very nice options. The food is always great as is the service. There's usually an option of live music or a DJ. It's always beautiful to see the San Diego skyline at night from the ocean. Make sure to check out their calendar or ask for special events. The Parade of Lights is a good time to go on a dinner cruise, but it can be a little chilly if outside catching the sights.

    In the winter and early spring, you can go on whale watching cruises. This is the time of year the whales migrate past San Diego. The ships go out past the bay opening into the open water and look for the whales. Other ships and boats are out looking for them also, so you'll see everyone gather around when one is found. It is an awesome sight seeing the whales swimming in the ocean. We saw a couple on our cruise, but you don't really get super close. You don't want to disturb them. You will also probably see dolphins swimming next to the ship while out there too.

  • 3. Scuba/Snorkel

    The water in San Diego is on the colder side. Surface temps can be pretty warm in the middle of summer, but the temps at depth when diving tend to be 52-70 depending on how deep you go. You can even get in the 40s if you are a deep water diver. The viz is also unpredictable, it can be anywhere from 5-25 feet. The most desirable times for snorkeling and diving are June-Aug.

    Snorkel: La Jolla Cove is the most popular place to snorkel. It is a small cove and can get a little crowded in the dead of summer. Especially since this is an entry spot for divers and swimmers also. There is a lifeguard stand there. On a good day, you can see all the way to the bottom. Usual creatures include spiny lobster, bat rays, stingrays, garibaldi, kelp bass, and maybe seals if you get out a little ways.

    Diving: La Jolla is the most popular place to dive also. There's The Cove and The Shores. The Cove has seen Tope Sharks and Giant Sea Bass in addition to the usual creatures. The Shores' entrance is through surf. There are also several dive spots; kelp forest, wrecks, etc accessible by boat off Mission Bay and Point Loma. A charter service I recommend is Dive Connection (gottadive.com).

    If you are planning a dive while in San Diego, visit divebums.com and sign up for the newsletter. You'll get daily reports from local divers, so you'll know what to expect during your trip. There are locals that give snorkel reports also occasionally.

  • 4. OE Express Kayak

    Kayaking in La Jolla is a lot of fun. You can rent your equipment at several shops within walking distance of the La Jolla Shores. We usually use OEX. You can kayak on your own or with a guide. Having a guide is technically the only way you can penetrate the caves.

    You'll go down to the boat ramp to launch through the surf. This can be a little tough during high surf, but it's fun. You'll be able to kayak out and over to the La Jolla caves enjoying the nice cliffside homes along the way.

    You might be interested in taking along a snorkel mask to jump in and do a little snorkeling also. The area in front of the Marine Room may have leopard sharks as they come to the shore to spawn every year.

  • 5. Wine Bank

    Located at 5th and J in the Gaslamp is this small store with a large selection of wine. Every Friday 5-7pm and Saturday 3-5pm, you can taste wines for $20. If you live in the area or know you are coming to town, sign up for emails and they sometimes give out "buy one get one free" tasting coupons in the winter months.

    I attented a charity event at The Wine Bank in the past, where you could get tastings and appetizers. There was enough wine served. At this event, people started taking 2 cups at a time up to the table.

  • 6. Seaforth Landing Seafishing

    Especially on a nice, sunny, mid-70s day, sea fishing is a great way to spend an afternoon. We booked a 1/2 day trip through Seaforth Landing's website. You have to pay 1/2 for a deposit when booking in advance.

    There are 2 1/2 day trips, ours was the 1230-530pm one. We arrived at about 1145am to stand in line and pay the rest of the fees and get our fishing poles. You are charged for tackle and a day fishing license if you don't have either.
    Once on board, we went to the back of the boat to have our poles assembled. Once assembled, we noted the number on the bottom of our poles, placed them in a holder along the side of the boat and headed for a seat on top.

    The dock is close to Mission Bay and we were going to fish in La Jolla waters. The ride to our first stop was about 45 minutes.

    There is someone downstairs that cooks food for charge. Hamburgers and hotdogs on our trip. You just place your order when you get hungry and go back in 10 minutes or so. We had 2 cheeseburgers and a coke for $10. Beer for $2.50 each. Cash Only.

    We had a full boat, so we had to do a rotation to be at the back of the boat in groups of 20. 75+ people also made it somewhat interesting trying to find a spot on the side. There ended up being several tangled lines, but everyone was in good spirits about it. We fished in about 4-5 different spots, including a couple of bottom fishing areas. It seemed we stayed in each spot for quite a while, long enough to realize there wasn't much to catch. Lots of sea lions were circling the boat trying to steal bait and catches. If you do catch something and don't want to take the fish off yourself, place the fish on the deck and the deck hands will take the fish off and put it in your bag for you. They will also filet your fish for a small charge if needed also.

    There were a few decent catches on board, but it was overall a slow trip. I still had a lot of fun and want to go again soon, probably a 3/4 day trip.

  • 7. Torrey Pines State Reserve
    Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

    One of the places I like to go when nothing else is going on is Torrey Pines State Reserve. This Reserve is located in between La Jolla and Del Mar along the Coast Highway 101. You can park free along the road or pay $8 fee to park in the lot at the bottom of the hill or drive to the top to park.

    The Reserve is located at the top of a hill and has lots of scenic trails. If we've gotten a lot of rain in the Winter, the flowers are in full bloom in the Spring and it is so beautiful there. Click on the link to the park above to see some of my photos from Spring 08.

    The trails are in great shape and most are suitable for easy walking. There is a trail that goes down to the beach and it can be a little more difficult if coming up that trail from the beach as it's on an incline.

    Since the trails are on a hill or bluff, you have great views of the ocean. The trails are also filled with some great vegetation. There are free guided nature walks on weekends and holidays.

    If you want to get out and enjoy the air and ocean view, definitely visit this Reserve.

  • 8. La Jolla
    La Jolla, San Diego

    1. Have breakfast at The Cottage.

    2. Seal Watching: Children's Pool (aka Seal Beach to others) used to be a place where kids could swim in the ocean without a lot of surf. The city council is still trying to decide if it's going to be changed back to a public beach or left as a place for seals to inhabit. If the beach is converted back to a suitable swimming beach, you can still see seals along the shoreline from the beach to the cove. They are usually basking in the sun on the large rocks off shore. In the spring, there are usually a few to several pups in sight.

    3. Walk along the shoreline: I love to go to La Jolla just to get out in the sun and walk from Children's Pool (Seal Beach) to the Cove. It's such a beautiful coastline there. There are usually lots of people around. There are some great green grass areas for picnics and frisbee throwing.
    In the summer, from end of June to Labor Day weekend, there are free concerts on Sundays from 2pm - 4pm. It's a great time to listen to the music, have some refreshments offered at great prices ($1 for cokes and hotdogs), and swim in the cove as well. Make sure to bring chairs, umbrellas, blankets, and picnic food!

  • 9. South Carlsbad State Beach Camping
    South Carlsbad State Beach, San Diego, California

    This park has tons of camping sites with access to the beach. The sites on the ocean side are $10 more a night ($30 vs $20), but you can watch the waves while sitting next to your campfire or having coffee in the morning. Each site is very big in size, big enough for 2 RVs or 3 cars. There is a picnic table at each site.

    Each site has a place for a fire. Because fires have to be well contained in California, the fire has to be inside a small barrel that's about 2 ft tall. There is a small rack on the side to allow for pans or coffee pots to be heated by the fire.

    Based on our one night stay, the park is very well maintained. The bathrooms were pretty clean and stocked with plenty of toliet paper. There is no soap or paper towels, so plan for that if necessary.

    Check in is at 2pm and check out is at 12pm. There is a camp store on site, but I would check their hours before arriving. We planned on getting wood there, but had to run to a grocery store to get some after finding out the store was closed. Ask the attendant for the closest grocery store or go to the 7 eleven on the 101, south of the park entrance.

    A great place to camp if you are wanting to experience beach side camping in Southern California. The sites here fill up fast in the summer, so book in advance!!

  • 10. Bernardo Mountain, San Dieguito River Park

    Want to climb a mountain while in the San Diego area? This mountain is located off the 15 outside of Escondido next to Lake Hodges. The mountain is 1150 feet, about 7.5 miles roundtrip, and considered a medium difficulty hike. Currently, the area is making a comeback from the October 07 wildfires, but there are some areas and vegetation that have not recovered yet.

    To get to the mountain, take I-15 N to Escondido. Exit at Via Rancho Parkway and turn right. Turn right at next stoplight, Sunset Dr, and follow to end of road with a parking lot on the right. Enter trail adjacent to parking lot and follow trail next to the 15 for a little ways until going under bridge to other side. Trail will continue along the lake and to a creek, Felicity Creek, crossing. The trail will start to go uphill and look for the turn off to the right to start climbing the mountain. The trail will go to the back side of the mountain and zig zag up.

    You'll be rewarded with wonderful views of Lake Hodges and on clear days, the ocean, Mexico , and the Laguna Mountains.

    Make sure you find the log book in the mailbox and sign your name.

  • 11. San Diego Symphony Summer Pops
    San Diego Symphony, San Diego, California

    In the summer from the end of June to Labor Day weekend, the symphony plays their Summer Pops series. We go to at least 2 or 3 shows every year. We love sitting in the lawn. You can bring in food, but no alcohol. We have a little picnic before the show and enjoy the fireworks from the lawn by the water's edge.