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Best Outdoor Activities in San Diego

, 8 Options Found

The United States' largest urban cultural park is also one of the world's most scenic, with a dazzling array of museums, entertainment venues, botanical gardens and architectural landmarks. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is just one of the many treasures nestled within the verdant expanse of this 1,200-acre (490-hectare) park, set aside as a reserve for public use as early as 1835. The 1915-16 Panama-California Expo and the 1935–36 California Pacific International Expo left behind a wealth of architectural jewels strewn across the park, including the California Building fashioned after the typical design of a Spanish Colonial Church and now home to the San Diego Museum of Man. Fifteen museums, award-winning theaters, an antique carousel, a miniature railroad and the Spanish Village Arts Center come together at Balboa Park to celebrate the cultural diversity of the state and its inspiring natural landscape.

The centerpiece of the blissful Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is a prolific destination for adults and children alike. Spread over 98.84 acres (40 hectares) of diverse landscapes, the zoo is home to an excess of 3,500 fauna that belongs to 650 species or subspecies. Established in the year 1916, it is one of the few non-profit wildlife conservation zones to nurture the highly-endangered Giant Panda. Laden with man-made habitats that emulate various topographies from around the globe, the park's most-visited exhibits includes the Monkey Trails, the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, Tiger River, Koalafornia and the Panda Trek. Virtually every nook and corner of the zoo is made conveniently accessible by the beloved Skyfari, a gondola system that spans across nearly 75 percent of the property.

Near the man-made islands of Mission Bay, this beach runs along Mission Boulevard and boasts a fabulous boardwalk. One of the best places in San Diego to soak up the city's beach lifestyle, this is an unsurpassed area for people watching or building sandcastles. For a faster pace, rent a bike or in-line roller skates or better yet, take a ride on Belmont Park's world-famous wooden roller coaster. Whatever attraction you choose, be prepared for large crowds and limited parking at Mission Beach.

Aqua Adventures is a full service kayak facility in San Diego offering waterfront kayak rentals. Aside from rentals, quality kayak lessons are provided by ACA and BCU certified instructors. Visitors can take part in fun and instructional local tours, adventurous guided multi-day kayaking trips, and visit their beautiful retail shop staffed by paddlers.

The sunny San Diego weather allows for many outdoor adventures, and here you'll find a variety. This park is spread over 5,200 acres (2,105 hectares) and has a visitor station open daily. You'll also find Lake Murray and the Cowles and Fortuna mountains here. You can select numerous hiking trails scattered throughout the park, all offering scenic views. The visitor center is architecturally outstanding and worth a visit for the dramatic views.

Having played host to more than 130 million visitors since its inauguration in 1964, it is safe to say that not only is SeaWorld San Diego’s leading tourist attraction, but also one of the most well-appreciated marine-life park in the world. A real-life underwater realm, this 189-acre (76 hectares) facility is home to nearly 26 diverse ecosystems that host a succession of themed entertainment programs. Riddled with interesting features, the Bayside Skyride, the Journey to Atlantis, Dolphin Point, Turtle Beach, Shark encounter and Wild Arctic are some of SeaWorld's most prominent attractions. The establishment stands by its founding principles of education, entertainment, research, and conservation and hence helps preserve highly endangered marine fauna such as Pacific walruses, Emperor penguins, Beluga whales, and Guadalupe fur seals through their acclaimed guardianship programmes.

Located in San Diego, this scenic beach features a shimmering sandy expanse which makes for rejuvenating outdoor excursions. Home to diverse marine and birdlife, Torrey Pines State Beach is defined by a rugged coastline carved by the sea, inviting visitors to bask in the serene beauty of its environs. Unwind at the designated picnic spot, wade into the sun-dappled waters, or ride the pristine waves which lap against the shore among other recreational activities.

This expansive state park, which teems with diverse flora and fauna, features a diverse topography comprised of undulating meadows, forested woodlands and bubbling streams. Owing to its varied terrain, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is conducive to numerous outdoor activities including hiking through picturesque oak forests, biking along scenic trails and camping amid refreshing wilderness. Apart from the eponymous peak, the park is also home to waterfalls and other serene locales.

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