Adventures in the San Diego Sunshine
The afternoon sunlight slanting into the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve gilds the California oaks and sycamores that whisper in the slight breeze. It feels like a pastoral paradise, far from an urban center. You are only steps away from Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego's premier resort and the #1 luxury hotel in the U.S., according to TripAdvisor reviewers.
The resort offers guests plenty of outdoor possibilities, from the four swimming pools, one with underwater speakers, to the pro-style tennis courts. But if you choose to wander farther afield for fun in the San Diego sunshine, here are a few don't-miss options.
Swinging on the Greens
Golf and glory are at your fingertips when you stay at Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Whether you are taking your first putt or ready to play with the masters, the Grand Golf Club will thrill you. The premier golf resort's 18-hole course, designed by Tom Fazio, skillfully and organically incorporates the sweeping hillsides and steep slopes of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon. As a resort guest, you can take private lessons from PGA-certified professionals to learn the basics or to perfect a problem swing. Guests love the forecaddie program, a tradition no longer found at many golf courses, where experienced caddies assist golfers with personalized course strategy.
Cooling Off in Coronado
The beach is the beating heart of Southern California outdoor fun. Make your seashore outing a memorable adventure by taking a nostalgic, 15-minute ferry ride from downtown across the bay to Coronado Island. The Coronado Municipal Beach is rated one of the finest beaches in the nation. Stroll the wide island beach where the sands glitter bewitchingly or swim and splash in the calm blue waters. You can also rent a bike to explore the island and enjoy its eclectic eateries, shops and attractions.
Calming Down in Palm Canyon
You know it as Balboa Park, but San Diego insiders call the 1,200-acre enclave "the Smithsonian of the West" for its multitude of museums, theaters and performing arts venues. It is famously home to the city's exciting, expansive zoo, but locals love the 65 miles of hiking/biking trails. Trek into lush Palm Canyon for a serene afternoon adventure. Take the meandering footpaths, past whispering ferns and stately, century-old Mexican palms. Follow the narrow trails to the Old Cactus Garden to ogle a mind-boggling display of enormous succulents. Then cross the wooden footbridge to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion where you can catch a free, open-air organ concert and take tea at the nearby Japanese Tea Pavilion.
Soaring Above the Pacific
Sandstone cliffs rise straight up from the blue Pacific at the wild and wonderful Torrey Pines State Reserve. This may be the ultimate San Diego outdoor adventure: gliding from the Torrey Pines Gliderport, one of the best paragliding schools in America. Take a lesson, glide tandem with an expert or get the thrills without the chills by watching others take the plunge. You can enjoy a land-based view of the area by taking the Beach Trail that winds down to Black's Beach below (bathing suit optional), or choose the Razor Point Trail offering views of the weather-sculpted cliffs. If you do decide to glide, you're in good company. Aviation legend Charles Lindbergh took his maiden flight along these very cliffs in 1930. Fairmont Grand Del Mar's Concierge team is happy to book reservations for you.
Having a Whale of a Time
Think you have a long commute? California gray whales trek from icy Alaskan oceans to warmer water near Baja California each year in winter. San Diego is one of the best places to spot this marine mammal parade. Landlubbers should head out with binoculars to Torrey Pines State Preserve, the Birch Aquarium at The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla or the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. You'll get closer to the impressive mammals if you sign you up for a three-hour whale-watching cruise. More daring adventurers can rent kayaks in La Jolla Bay and paddle out for a whale of a time.
Pedaling the Pacific Coast Highway
Think of the Pacific Coast Highway as the Yellow Brick Road of California, winding its way up the wave-washed coast with adventure possibilities on either side. Given San Diego's perpetually smiling skies, biking is big here. Ask the Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Concierge team to arrange a rental. You can use pedal power to trek a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Historic 101, gasping as you go at the fantastic ocean views. Locals love the challenging side trip up landmark Soledad Mountain in lovely La Jolla, with its controversial cross and 360-degree panoramic views.
Exploring the Cove's Caves
If you've never heard of an underwater park, welcome to La Jolla Cove. This unforgettable, secluded gem of a beach is part of a marine refuge area, the La Jolla Underwater Park. No surfing or boogie boarding allowed, out of respect for the fish, but locals love snorkeling here in the deep blue water. The sandstone sea cliffs flanking the smile of sandy beach protect the water here, and the water is so clear that divers can spot the bright orange Garibaldi fish on the ocean floor. For a cutting-edge snorkeling adventure, explore the La Jolla Caves, seven sea caves cut into an ancient sandstone sea cliff.
Travel writer Teo Spengler splits her time between San Francisco and France’s Basque Country, and travels extensively in Europe. Her work focuses on the best luxury hotels, resorts and travel experiences on both continents. She has published thousands of articles for such publications as USA Today and SF Gate and for brands including InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels, JetBlue and United Airlines.
California Coast by Raulhudson1986
Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California by SamAntonioPhotography
Balboa park in San Diego California by irina88w
Botanical Garden at Balboa Park, San Diego by jillwellerphoto
Humpback whale breaching by rmchb
Paragliders over Black’s Beach in Early Summer by SDBEST
La Jolla Cove by CtrlAltE133t