Between us we have called San Diego home for over 20 years. Within this colorful and vast city, our go-to adventure spot is the Torrey Pines State Park. It’s a hotbed of outdoor activities, many of which are absolutely free. So lace up your trainers, pack a bathing suit and sunscreen–let’s head out for an adventure!
Torrey Pines State Park is located between two of San Diego’s ritziest neighborhoods, La Jolla and Del Mar. These are some of Southern California’s most prime real estate, and lucky for us this area has been designated a natural preserve so that generations can continue to enjoy. There is something for everyone in this wonderland, and we can’t recommend enough.
Here are just a few reasons why you may also love this park.
A Hiker’s Paradise
Torrey Pines boasts a plethora of awesome hiking trails, some of which will get your blood pumping as they lead you into ravines and down rugged cliffsides. Others are casual and scenic, offering a perfect spot for a Sunday stroll. Whichever trail you select, you are sure to have the most picturesque views and experience some of the most unique geographical formations. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a dolphin or whale!
Some of the best hiking trails are accessible near the Visitor’s Center at the southern point of the Park.
Use this address to get here: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA, 92037, USA
If traveling by car, you’ll need to arrive early to secure a parking spot. After paying the entrance fee, you can either park at the bottom for a grueling trek to the top, or drive up the winding road to access the Visitor’s Center where the various hikes begin.
Be sure to check out Trail Guy, to access a great interactive trail map and detailed step by step guide!
A few of the trails wind down to the beach, so be sure to pack your bathing suit!
Nothing like dipping your toes in after a sweaty hike!
Or if you’re like this guy, cannonballing straight in…
The Best Photo Op in Town
If you want to explore a unique spot that’s less well known, head further north, closer to Del Mar. We recently stumbled upon a trail that’s tucked between the ocean and rail road tracks, just north of the Torrey Pines Bridge.
While this area is gorgeous year round, the best may be in the Spring, when the purple flowers are in full bloom.
If you explore at the right time you may also be lost in a sea of purple.
So how do you access this trail?
If you are at the Visitor’s Center located in the southern portion of the park, return to Torrey Pines Road and drive north, passing the beach area.
There are two parking options. Either park along Torrey Pines Road, just as you begin to enter Del Mar. A two hour parking permit is $3 USD. (see below for additional parking options — the roadside can easily fill up!).
Once parked along Torrey Pines Road, walk towards the cliffs until you see the sand trails. You’ll know your in the right spot when you pass the eagle statue.
Head south on the trails and make your way towards the bridge. Before reaching the bridge, veer right and you’ll find yourself passing over the train tracks to find the cliffside trails.
Additional Parking Option: If a roadside spot is unavailable, from Torrey Pines Road turn onto Carmel Valley. Quickly turn onto McGonigel Road where you’ll find the North Beach Parking Lot.
Once parked walk north towards the Torrey Pines bridge, where you’ll see the trail head. Continue on the dirt trail above the beach.
Not only will you experience a beautiful hike, but you may also see the California Coastal Train whiz past.
Southern California’s famed Pacific Surfliner train hugs the coastline and will deliver you to a number of beachside communities including Oceanside, Dana Point, Santa Barbara or the last stop–San Luis Obispo. Can you imagine sitting back and taking in these views?
But, that is a story for another time!
A Cyclists Paradise
A bike ride along the coast is one of our favorite things to do in San Diego, and Torrey Pines is often our destination. The cool breeze and coastal views just can’t be beat.
According to Strava, our favorite workout app, we’ve raced up the Torrey Pines Hill over 47 times. And although it’s a steep climb, there are large and well marked bike paths.
If you’d like a cycling guide please feel free to reach out to us and if we’re free, we’d love to join! Another great option is to check out Bike Ride San Diego, who offers coastal bike tours.
Torrey Pines is not only about hiking and sun bathing, you can also get your blood racing and jump off one of these ragged cliffs. Can you imagine the rush?!
We haven’t tried yet– but it’s high on our bucket list. Check out the Torrey Pines Gliderport for details and to book your next adventure.
After all your adventuring you have to have built up an appetite. We can’t visit Torrey Pines without grabbing our favorite sandwiches at the nearby Board and Brew. It’s just north of the State Park, in Del Mar. It’s incredibly delicious and reasonably priced. The best sandwiches in town range between $6.50 – $9.00.
Like we said, you really can’t go wrong in exploring this park! Please reach out if you have any questions.
Hugs and Acorns,