With miles of sparkling coastline, countless outdoor offerings and unique beach neighborhoods, it’s easy for visitors to enjoy San Diego’s North Coastal region while still following safe social distancing habits.
Whether you’re looking to escape a crowded city or just a monotonous day, here are 7 places to enjoy some coastal distancing and unwind while basking under the San Diego sun.
1. Wide Open North Coastal Beaches
San Diego’s northern coastline is renowned for wide open sandy beaches, gorgeous cliffs and great surfing. Enjoy a walk along the expansive sandy stretches of Torrey Pines State Beach and Oceanside. Explore the tide pools at Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Bring the family, including the dog, to the beautiful beaches of Del Mar. Catch a few waves or relax on the beach and watch local professionals at Encinitas and Leucadia beaches. Or spend the day on the water at the beaches and lagoons of Carlsbad.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, is a 1,750-acre reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife. A coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyons, the park has 8 miles of well-kept trails that wind along the cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. With both easy, family-friendly paths and more advanced trails, the park provides a great hiking experience for all levels.
The San Diego Botanic Garden is a beautiful urban retreat nestled on 37 acres in Encinitas. Visitors can enjoy nearly 5,000 plant species from around the world including flowering trees, majestic palms and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. The garden’s diverse topography provides a wide variety of microclimates and experiences, from strolling through a tropical rainforest to hiking in the high desert. There are 29 uniquely themed gardens including the acclaimed Hamilton Children’s Garden, the largest interactive children’s garden in the West.
Bordered by North County San Diego gems – Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Rancho Santa Fe – the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve offers easy-to-moderate trails. For the more adventurous, hike the quarter-mile, moderate-to-strenuous Annie’s Canyon Trail. Trails connect wetland habitats of coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater/brackish marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral. Kids will enjoy TRACK Trails, a nature-themed scavenger hunt to win prizes online.
If you drive along the I-5 freeway near Carlsbad, you might notice a large coastal wetland. This series of lagoons just off the road is perfect for recreational water activities. The easy access and friendly parking make the lagoons even more attractive. Agua Hedionda Lagoon delivers a quiet atmosphere. The 400-acre lagoon is an important ecosystem blessed with rich flora and fauna. Take in nature’s beauty while getting out on the water aboard a variety of rental watercraft. Make a day of it and rent a deck or private lounging area.
Located just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Del Mar, the North Coastal San Dieguito County Park offers a variety of recreational activities including 5 miles of hiking trails. Discover picturesque views from Activity Hill. Look out over the coast and miles of North County communities. See large open lawns lined with mature trees and two tranquil duck ponds.
7. World-Famous North Coastal Golf Courses
The golf courses along the North County coast boast cool sea breezes, which typically comes into play by mid to late morning. These are flatter courses that can also feature elevation changes to make club selection a real puzzle to any player. Book a tee time at Torrey Pines Golf Course and The Crossings at Carlsbad and enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean at virtually every hole. Or tee off at The Fairmont Grand Del Mar and challenge yourself to a luxurious par-72 course designed by Tom Fazio.