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Hikers, bikers, and yogis rejoice. Whether you’re trying to stay in shape during your vacation or just in the mood to try something new, in a fitness-focused town like San Diego, there’s surely something for everyone.
1. SUP Yoga
Get out of the studio and try SUP yoga. Short for stand-up paddleboard, SUP combines two of our favorite low-impact workouts, and you can’t beat that ocean breeze. Anchor your board and focus on balance, or get comfortable with getting wet. Stoked Yogi offers classes in Mission Bay and Carlsbad Lagoon, which you can book in advance. Near Mission Beach? Sign up for a Bliss Paddle Yoga class. Or set up a SUP Yoga workshop in San Diego or Mission bays with Paddle into Fitness.
Running is the perfect vacation workout. Get your heart pumping and enjoy some of San Diego’s best scenery along the way. And really, all you need to pack is a pair of sneakers. So lace up those running shoes and hit the road. Check out these popular routes:
Check out relics from the city’s long maritime history, cruise ships, and yachts as you jog along San Diego Bay and perhaps take a detour through Waterfront Park or Seaport Village.
This flat, nearly 12-mile loop takes you past stretches of gorgeous shoreline, Fiesta Island Park, the Bahia Resort, and two wildlife preserves.
Sunset Cliffs offers some of the best ocean views in town. This path will take you along the rocky cliffs from Ocean Beach to Sunset Cliffs Park. Not tired yet? Continue along the looping trails of Sunset Cliffs Park.
Take this flat trail in La Mesa around the reservoir to the dam gate, then turn around and head back for a roughly 6-mile run.
Pacific Beach Boardwalk
Navigate your way through walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers on this paved oceanfront run. Or wait for low tide and run along the sand above the crashing waves.
San Diego is the birthplace of the modern triathlon, so if you’re up for the grueling run-swim-bike race, sign up for one of the many held at various locations around town. Check out what’s coming up in the San Diego Triathlon Series and others around San Diego County online.
So many trails, so little time. Whether you’re seeking an adventure in the rolling mountains of East County or a cliff-side excursion high above the Pacific Ocean, trails in San Diego range from family-friendly beginner to expert-level terrain for the seasoned pro. Here are some of our San Diego favorites:
Cowles Mountain, Mission Trails Regional Park
The highest peak in San Diego
3 miles, moderate
Torrey Pines State Beach, La Jolla
Accessible off Torrey Pines Road
3 miles, moderate
65 miles of trails, easy
Mount Woodson Trail, Poway
Accessible via state Route 67 and Mount Woodson Road. Get an Instagram shot at Potato Chip Rock!
6.4 miles, difficult
Pacific Crest Trail segment, Mount Laguna
Accessible via Sunrise Highway
4 miles, moderate
Palomar Observatory Trail, Cleveland National Forest
Off Canfield Road
4 miles, easy
The Slot, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
2 miles, easy
Stonewall Peak, Julian
Off state Route 79
4 miles, moderate
Three Sisters Falls, Cleveland National Forest
Accessible via Boulder Creek Road
4 miles, difficult
Whether on a mountain bike or beach cruiser, alone or in a group, there’s a ride here for you. With over 260 days of sunshine and hundreds of miles of trails, there’s no reason not to go for a spin. Rent a bike from SoCal Bike (328 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside), Pedego San Diego (900 Bayfront Court, downtown), or cruise around on a DecoBike, which can be picked up and returned to more than 180 stations around town. Look for green bike lanes throughout San Diego for a safe, protected lane for riding.
Tone those guns and explore San Diego’s waters while you’re at it. Kayaks are available for rent at various locations along the coast. Kayak tours are also a great way to sneak in a workout while you take in scenic ocean views. Book a tour at La Jolla Kayak (2199 Avenida de la Playa), or rent a kayak from the Mission Bay Aquatic Center (1001 Santa Clara Place).
San Diego is crazy for paddle sports, and Standup Paddleboarding or SUP is the latest local craze. Kayakers and surfers have combined the best of both sports to create a fun and energetic new way for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the water anywhere they go.
As the name implies, in SUP, you stand upright on a surfboard and use a paddle to power yourself around. Today, experienced SUP surfers are riding waves at virtually the same performance level as traditional surfers, while recreational enthusiasts are using them for leisurely tours of flatwater lakes and bays. There are open ocean SUP races, SUP yoga classes, even adventurous athletes who are using SUP boards to challenge whitewater rapids and make long-distance expeditions.
Part of the appeal of SUP is that it feels more natural to stand than lay prone on your belly, and that you spend more time high and dry and cover more ground. Fitness fanatics can get a great all-around workout. Paddling uses the arms and upper body, while the demands of balancing the board exercise the legs and core.
SUP equipment can be purchased and rented at surf shops and watersports facilities throughout San Diego’s beaches and bays. First timers can sign up for instructional sessions, but the sport is intuitive enough that many people choose to figure it out for themselves. A few basic pointers should get you up and riding in no time:
- Start on your knees, holding the paddle in both hands, and standup in a smooth, even motion.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet slightly apart. Use small corrections of your hips and knees to keep your center of gravity directly over the board.
- Momentum is your friend. It’s far easier to balance and maneuver when your board is moving through the water.
Learning to Standup Paddleboarding is a lot like learning to ride a bike: once you get the hang of it, you never forget.
Rarely is there a full week without sunshine in San Diego. The balmy, year round weather makes “America’s Finest City” ideal to visit. Hand in hand with the warm climate, the main attraction is of course the beaches. With so many gorgeous seashores to choose from, my picks are particular when it comes to choosing a family friendly place to lay your towels.
Here are my top 5 picks for taking the kids to the beach in San Diego.
Located in Encinitas, hands down this locals’ spot is my absolute favorite for families. With recently updated bathrooms and a snack shack, Moonlight lets you spend a whole day in the sand with everything you need to keep kids happy. To top it off, there’s a play structure and park for those that want a little extra entertainment. Though it tends to get very crowded in the on-season, try venturing over to the far north as there tends to be a little more space.
Seaside in Cardiff
Though this destination charges a daily parking fee, it’s a favorite because you can park the car right next to the sand, making carrying all your snacks, buckets and shovels a little more convenient. It’s a great place to swim and complete with bathrooms in the lot just in case. During summer months, food trucks have been known to sell food for a convenient lunch.
Fletcher Cove Solana Beach
My favorite way to make an entire day of the beach is to start with an ocean view breakfast at the delicious Naked Café across from Fletcher Cover. After filling up on coffee and pancakes, make your way down the ramp to the water, noting the convenient bathroom locations along with a park for a few rides on the swing. Once you’ve had your fill of sun and swimming in the white water waves, finish off the day at family friendly Pizza Port, a short walk up the street.
La Jolla Shores
Undoubtedly one of the most break taking spots in all of San Diego is La Jolla, known as “The Crown Jewel.” Though many of the beaches have a dangerous “shore break”, the Shores is a gentle, bay like destination that is ideal for smaller children. Also equipped with bathrooms and a play structure, sandwich and ice cream shops are a short block or two away.
Coronado Silver Strand
With gorgeous white sands to choose from, my top pick for fewer crowds during peak season is to head to the stretch of the Silver Strand just before the Coronado Cays. Gorgeous beaches await as does a “tunnel” that will lead you to the Loews Coronado Bay Resort to pick up a picnic lunch from their Market to Go cafe.
With more than 70 miles of coastline in San Diego, finding a restaurant with a spectacular waterfront view is hardly a challenge. This is especially true around San Diego Bay, where breathtaking views can be found at local eateries serving everything from casual fish sandwiches to farm-to-table French fare. But for the ultimate in waterfront dining, arriving by car simply won’t do. That’s why 14 restaurants around San Diego Bay offer “Dock and Dine.” No need for a car, just dock your boat directly behind one of these restaurants for a uniquely San Diego dining experience:
Island Prime/C Level Lounge
Known equally for steaks and seafood, Island Prime and the adjoining C Level Lounge along the water’s edge of Harbor Island offer panoramic views of the downtown skyline. Island Prime provides an elegant and upscale dining experience, while C Level Lounge has a casual, laid-back atmosphere.
Slip at Sunroad Marina: One at 60 linear ft.
Where: 880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Island Prime/C Level Lounge
Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the Bay
Dock at Anthony’s Fish Grotto along downtown’s Embarcadero and choose between two restaurant experiences. Anthony’s Fish Grotto serves quality seafood in a home-style environment, while Anthony’s Fishette offers fast, casual meals for visitors on the go. Dockside services also include assistance in cleaning and prepping visitors’ “catch-of-the day.”
Slips: Two at 60 linear ft.
Where: 1360 Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the Bay
Coronado Ferry Landing
Can’t get everyone onboard to pick a place to eat? Sail on over to Coronado Ferry Landing for everything from burgers to barbecue to gyros. Savor dishes inspired by the sea along with a spectacular view of Downtown San Diego at Peohe’s.
Slips: Twelve at 40 linear ft. protected by wave attenuation; one at 150 linear ft. unprotected
Where: 1201 First St, Coronado, CA 92118
> Find out more about Coronado Ferry Landing
Vessel Restaurant at Kona Kai
After you dock, make sure to request a patio seat and enjoy views of the marina while you dine on the catch of the day. Even inside you will be treated to amazing harbor views from either a table or the 360º center bar.
Slips: Two at 70 linear ft.
Where: 1551 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Kona Kai Resort
Bali Hai Restaurant
When opened in 1953, the landmark Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island was a paragon of mid-century American tiki culture where the exotic atmosphere drew a swinging crowd. The tiki flare remains, as do the amazing harbor views and a mai tai that will really knock the wind out of your sails.
Slip: One at 90 linear ft.
Where: 2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Bali Hai Restaurant
With 14 to choose from, where will you set sail to?
One of my earlier experiences fishing for catfish at night actually was at the Colorado River. We tied up to some tule branches along the shore and fished from a pontoon boat. We used goldfish on heavy gear and I caught a flathead catfish that was longer than my leg and weighed over 35 pounds.
Some San Diego Lakes have similar-sized catfish, making it a very interesting place to fish at night for catfish. Largemouth bass also are known to bite at night, so there’s that option, too. Instead of using a chunk of stinkbait or mackerel dipped in stinkbait, which is done for catfish, anglers throw large plastic worms and baits to try to fool bass. There’s nothing like the explosion of a fish jumping in the darkness during a night fishing adventure.
Unfortunately, the San Diego lakes that have turned out blue catfish over 100 pounds don’t offer night fishing, except for special tournaments. But there are plenty of other options in the county to catch catfish at night.
Jennings is another good lake for night fishing. It’s open every Friday and Saturday night in the summer to night fishing. The lake is stocked periodically in the summer with channel catfish. And there are lots of holdovers, particularly some giant blue catfish that might make things interesting if your line starts peeling off your reel. You just might catch a giant blue catfish as long as your leg.
Lake Jennings’ Night Fishing is open Friday 4:00 PM to midnight and Saturday, 6:00 AM to midnight. There are boat rentals and you do need a California fishing license here.
Where: 10108 Bass Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: Friday & Saturday – May 22 – September 7, 2015
Time: Friday – 6:00 PM to Midnight. Saturday: 6:00 AM to Midnight
> Find out more about Lake Jennings
For a fishing-friendly atmosphere, quality fishing and easy access, I have to go with Santee Lakes in Santee as the top spot to fish for catfish at night. There are seven lakes, and Lakes 6 and 7 are open year-round to night fishing provided you camp there. And it’s a great place to camp. It’s on the edge of suburban Santee, but it’s secluded enough that anglers and campers get a great experience there. Santee’s other lakes, 1 through 4, have special nights during the summer when they’re open to insomniacs. Fishing is permitted from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM on Lakes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Anglers must have a lantern. It’s shoreline fishing only here, and you don’t need a state fishing license at Santee, only a lake permit.
Where: 9310 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071
When: June 4 & 18, July 16 & 30, August 13 & 27
Time: 5:00 to 11:30 PM
> Find out more about Santee Lakes
Dixon Lake in Escondido is my next best bet for night fishing. No fishing license is required here, either, just a lake permit. The lake’s night fishing program starts late July following a stocking of 1,000 pounds of channel catfish. Night fishing will be offered every Thursday and Friday night. Boat rentals start at 5:00 PM and must be back to the dock by 10:45 PM. Shoreline fishing is available until 11:45 PM. Call the ranger station for more details at (760) 839-4680.
Where: 1700 La Honda Dr, Escondido, CA 92027
When: Thursday & Friday Late July through Late August
Time: Boats: 5:00 to 10:45 PM. Shoreline until 11:45 PM
> Find out more about Lake Dixon
Lake Poway is another catfish option in the summer months. The lake’s night fishing program starts June 19 and will be permitted every Friday-Saturday night through August 15. There are boat rentals and plenty of good shoreline to fish. The lake’s popular Adventure Series Family Campouts includes overnight camping for a family and the family’s choice of a rental boat for night fishing or a guided hike with a ranger around the Lake’s Loop Trail. No fishing license required here, but fishing permits necessary.
Where: 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064
When: Friday & Saturday – June 19 – August 15, 2015
Time: Boats – 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Shore Fishing: 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM
> Find out more Lake Poway
Farther north at the base of Palomar Mountain, Lake Henshaw offers night fishing every Friday and Saturday night until 10:00 PM. It’s a bit of a drive, but chances are you’ll have an area of shoreline to yourself here and all the catfish you can fry.
Where: Lake Henshaw Resort – 26439 Highway 76, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
When: Friday-Saturday starting June 5, 2015
> Find out more about Lake Henshaw
Night Fishing Gear Recommendations
In terms of gear, you don’t have to get fancy for catfish. Best bet for catfish is to use a medium-action 6- to 7-foot rod with a spinning reel loaded with 8- to 10-pound test line and a sliding sinker to keep the catfish from detecting the weight when it picks up the bait. Best baits include cut mackerel or sardines or anchovies, and the more stink bait you rub on the bait the better. Catfish can detect smelly baits and will gobble them up in a hurry. But be sure to let them run with the bait before setting the hook. Give them time to ingest the bait and then hook them.
One of the great things about catching catfish is eating them later. They taste great in a beer batter.
One of the best parts about being in San Diego is enjoying all its beauty. With great weather and scenic views, hiking with your family is yet another way to appreciate America’s finest city. When it comes to adventures on foot with the kids, check out some of the top happening hiking spots compiled from suggestions of local moms.
It would nearly be a crime not mention this spot first! In fact, when gathering as much hiking intel as I could from other parents, this was the one place always mentioned. Sandwiched between Del Mar and La Jolla, the wild flowers can be enjoyed with one of the world’s most breathtaking ocean views. With three of the popular hike options being short ones, choose to walk to the water or get up close to the famous Torrey Pines! If you want to get your kids excited about hikes, start at this 1,750 acre seaside reserve. (12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, California 92037.)
This 915 acre reserve is nestled neatly in North County with sprawling ocean views. Known for its bird watching, there’s also lots of unique plants to check out, too. In fact, you may even spot a fish or two in the lagoon on one of the eight trails to choose from! (2710 Manchester Avenue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.)
Beginners should start here. And by that, I especially mean those with the age 3 and under set that just want to get a nice walk in with a view of the water. Enjoy ocean and lagoon scenery with an easy walk for all ages. (7380 Gabbiano Ln, Carlsbad, CA 92011)
Got older kids? Get ready to hike to the highest point in San Diego! Savor the 360 degree views of San Diego and a healthy 3 mile round trip workout, too. With the shorter distance, kids may not notice that the hike is a bit more of a challenge. And bragging rights of reaching the “top of San Diego” (and the view!) will make it all worth while. (At the corner of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road.)
For fun with finding shells along the dam, this hike is another great place to enjoy with children while collecting wild flowers along the way. With easy trails, the historical landmark is also great for bird watching. (1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119)
Known for its cool rock formations that look like potato chips hanging in the sky, this hiking trail is thought of as moderate in terms of difficulty but worth the effort for the photos sitting on the edge of the rocks. With great views, round trip will be just about 8 miles so make sure the kids are up for a true adventure if you go for the whole route. (Mt Woodson Trail, Poway, CA.)
Kid friendly walking (read: easy trails) can lead to the excitement of a waterfall! One of the best options leaves from the Canyonside Rec center with a path that will guide you along the creek to the main waterfall event. For a very different hike, be sure to check out the West Entrance as well. Either way, bring your swimsuits on a hot day and enjoy a little dip in the water to cool off! (12122 Canyonside Park Drive, San Diego, CA 92129.)
For the over 5 years old crowd, get ready for some steep hills that will guide you to awesome views overlooking North County all the way to the ocean on a clear day! Reaching the top of the summit of Black Mountain, catch the views to downtown San Diego, too! (12115 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92129)
Remember, with so much beauty to explore in this city, be sure to get the kids outside and enjoying all the atmosphere that one of these family hikes in San Diego has to offer.
San Diego is a paradise of parks. The Trust for Public Land named San Diego one of the 10 best U.S. cities based on access to and size of our parks, which comprises close to a quarter of the city’s total area. But ratings aside, the best facet of San Diego’s many parks is the diversity. From water to grass, from culture to desert, San Diego has it all.
Known as the Smithsonian of the West, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States and a must-stop on any San Diego vacation. Housing 14 museums including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Air & Space Museum as well as the Old Globe theater, Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego. The park is also home to the San Diego Zoo, Spanish Village Art Center and wonderful gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Botanical Building and Lily Pond. The park – which celebrates its centennial in 2015 – features a host of seasonal events and celebrations where you can mix and mingle with the locals.
Cabrillo National Monument
The only National Park in San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument celebrates the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who landed at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 and was the first European explorer to set foot on the west coast of the United States. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a San Diego icon since 1854, where visitors can enjoy spectacular views of San Diego Bay and skyline. The park features a visitor center and just below the park at the shoreline, some of the best tide pools in San Diego.
Mission Bay Aquatic Park
The largest park of its kind in the world, the Mission Bay Aquatic Park is a 4,600 acre aquatic playground. Around the bay, 27 miles of shoreline is lined with grass playgrounds, picnic areas and fire pits, bike paths, boat launches and resorts. Bikes, boat and equipment rentals are readily available including sailing, waterskiing, wave runners and paddle boards. Mission Bay is one of the main hubs for San Diego sport fishing offering day and overnight trips as well as whale watching excursions. It is also home to SeaWorld San Diego and a host of great events including the annual Crew Classic.
Five hundred miles of dirt roads and 12 wilderness areas compose Anza Borrego, the largest state park in California. The park offers miles of hiking trails, including a leg of the Pacific Crest Trail, and camping can also be enjoyed with a quick stop by the visitor center. Yearly temperatures can range from near freezing to as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and you might spy wildlife including roadrunners, kit foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, iguanas, rattlesnakes, hawks and golden eagles. Each spring, the park transforms in a blaze of color when the desert wildflowers bloom. There are also a number of outstanding Native American cultural preserves including archaeological sites, pictographs and rock formations.
Mission Trails Regional Park
Mission Trails Regional Park comprises nearly 5,800 acres and offers over 40 miles of trails, including the popular Cowles Mountain, whose summit is the highest in the city of San Diego. Beyond hiking, activities in the park include camping, mountain biking, boating and horseback riding. Mostly covered in chaparral, oak woodlands and sage scrub, it’s hard to imagine that you can get this deep into nature just an hour from downtown. The park features a great visitor and interpretive center offering nature walks and low cost children’s education classes on local wildlife including butterflies, hawks, owls, deer and coyotes.
Which of these San Diego parks will you visit next? Let us know in the comments below.
Children sporting mittens, teenagers whizzing by on hockey skates, couples arm in arm as they glide across the ice under a starry sky…is that not what you’d expect to see in sunny San Diego? Despite temperatures that often reach into the 70s, winter in San Diego ushers in outdoor ice rinks around the county. So grab a (light) sweater and head to one of these seasonal San Diego outdoor ice skating rinks before winter’s end:
San Diego Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks – Updated for 2016 Holidays
Fantasy on Ice – Point Loma Peninsula
Welcome to the Outdoor Rink at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station! Want to experience San Diego outdoor ice skating in the heart of America’s Finest City all while benefiting a great cause? Come to ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station and join us in a benefit for the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. “Make sure to dress warm and bring a pair of mittens/gloves. During the daytime the ice can be a little wet, so bring an extra pair of socks.”
Where: ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station – 2640 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
When: November 17, 2016 – January 8, 2017 (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days)
- Monday-Thursday – 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
- Friday-Sunday – 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Night Session)
- Christmas Eve and New Years Eve – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
> Find out more about Fantasy on Ice
Skate by the Bay – Holiday by the Bay
Hilton San Diego Bayfront is excited to host our first Holiday By The Bay celebration. Get ready to ice skate by the San Diego Bay, watch holiday movies under the stars, eat breakfast with Santa, and more!
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront – 1 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 10, 2016 – January 2, 2017
- Monday-Saturday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
- Sundays: 10:00 AM to 7 PM
Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado
One of San Diego’s most breathtaking winter experiences, the oceanfront Windsor Lawn at the Hotel del Coronado is transformed into a spectacular ice rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Where else in the world can you ice skate with a white sandy beach just steps away?
A portion of the skating proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego.
Location: Hotel del Coronado – 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA, 92118 (map)
Dates: November 24, 2016 – January 2, 2017
Times: Hours Vary. Check website for details
> Find out more about Skating by the Sea
Southern California’s Largest Outdoor Ice Rink – Viejas Outlet Center
This expansive San Diego outdoor ice skating rink at East County’s Viejas Outlet Center is the perfect way to spend the day with your family. After some bargain holiday shopping at the center’s variety of outlet stores, grab a cup of cocoa or slice of pizza from the ice rink’s snack shack, then lace up your skates for some wintery fun.
Where: Viejas Outlet Center – 5000 Willow Road, Alpine, CA 91901 (map)
When: October 29, 2016 – January 29, 2017
- Monday-Friday – 5:00 to 10:00 PM
- Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
> Learn more about Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink
Make Your Holidays Bright in San Diego
Choose sand and sun this holiday season with colorful light displays, merry festivals, outdoor activities and more.