a weekend outdoors in san diego
With over 180 craft breweries, tacos around every corner, beautiful beaches and people, you won’t have any trouble filling your time in San Diego. To help you get around town, I've put together some of my favorite outdoor spots around town that are worth making time for.
Relax: Windansea Beach
Windansea Beach is hands down my favorite beach to hang out or explore around. It’s small and tucked away in a La Jolla neighborhood, but that’s part of the allure if you’re not looking to fight the crowds. This beach has a great mix of sand and large rocks, the water is some of the clearest in town, and the hut always makes for great photos. It’s an amazing place to catch a sunset, so get there early for a parking spot and stake out your spot with a beach blanket.
Tip: bring along burritos and beverages for the sunset. I recommend the Taco Stand, Lucha Libra, or Oscar’s.
Low Key Hike: Ho Chi Minh Trail
One of my favorite places to take visitors, Ho Chi Minh Trail has it all and won’t take too much time out of your day. Finding the trailhead is tricky. It’s situated between two (giant) houses in a beautiful La Jolla neighborhood near UCSD on La Jolla Farms Road. Try searching it in your maps and it should come up. Once you find the narrow passageway that leads to the trail, you’ll be met with vast views of cliffs and ocean. Here you’ll see how the trail forks near the bottom, one to the overlook and one to the water. I recommend heading to the right towards the overlook first.Make the short hike up and enjoy looking down at the waves and up to the sky filled with paragliders. Next, retrace your steps back down and take the left path. You’ll forage through foliage and a mini slot canyon until you hit the beach. Just a heads up, this is one of the largest nude beaches in the United States, so if you’re looking for a family-friendly option, I would stick to the overlook.
Tip: Wear tennis shoes or go barefoot here. the footing isn’t great for sandals.
Exploring: Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs is the wild west coastline at it’s finest. The vibe is laid back: local surfers, runners with dogs, yoga on the cliffs overlooking the ocean….There’s more than meets the eye here, as most visitors simply park their car and walk around. Plan around low tide, be prepared to scale down rocks and you’ll find another world. There are a handful of beaches, some only accessible by climbing down ropes, and some of the raddest sea caves you’ll ever find. Catch a sunset here.
Tip: The main sea cave is very hard to find but worth it. Try starting around Hill St and Sunset Cliffs Blvd or message me @johnonelio
Get Your Workout In: Potato Chip Rock
One of the most popular hikes in the area, Potato Chip Rock is known for hikers lining up at the top for their chance to snap a photo on the ‘potato chip’ looking rock. For that reason, I would recommend only going at sunset. You’ll avoid the crowds and it gives you a completely different view. It’s a great workout—eight miles roundtrip—with plenty of photo-worthy stops along the way.
Tip: The gates to the parking lot will close before sunset so make sure to park along the street. It will add a little bit of time, so plan ahead.
Paddle Boarding: La Jolla Shores
Head to Mission Bay if you want calmer waters. But if you’re looking for a challenge and to paddle or swim among more marine life, La Jolla Shores is the spot. There are plenty of rentals in the area. The guides are knowledgeable and will be able to help you out with any questions. A great place to end up is La Jolla Cove. You can actually paddle through sea caves and get within arms reach of sea lions flying through the water.
Tip: Check the surf conditions each day. Ideally, you’ll want to go when visibility is best.
To follow along on John's adventures, follow him on Instagram: @johnonelio