MUST SEE, DO
With plenty of room for jogging, bicycling, boating, kite flying and countless other activities, this 4,600-acre aquatic and land park is centrally located along I-5 near the wildly popular communities of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach. Some areas have fire rings, playgrounds or picnic areas, while others are best for watercraft and swimming. Cruise along Mission Bay Drive for an overview and keep an eye out for crowds, as boat races, charity runs and other events are common.
» Mission Bay Park La Jolla
This upscale Mediterranean-style community lives up to its name (“The Jewel” in Spanish), with a postcard-ready setting, white sands, turquoise waters, sea caves (including Sunny Jim Cave, California’s only known land-access sea cave) and an Underwater Park teeming with pinnipeds, rays, scuttling lobsters and countless fish. It’s not just another pretty face, though; it hosts the Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Murals of La Jolla and the Birch Aquarium—while also offering the “Rodeo Drive of San Diego,” named for Prospect Street’s stellar shops, galleries and restaurants.
There aren’t many places where you can drive from the beach to the mountains and on to the desert in less than a day. San Diego County encompasses all three, including California’s largest state park. Traffic reaches rush-hour proportions during the spring cactus bloom, when the vast brown explodes with color. The park is fascinating any time of year, as is the town of Borrego Springs.
» Anza-borrego Desert State Park Balboa Park
The country’s largest urban cultural park is a rambling landscape of museums, theaters, artists’ studios and gardens. The tiled California Tower, with its unobstructed 360-degree view of the park and city, has become a treasured landmark, reopened after an 80-year closure for the park’s centennial in 2015.
» Cabrillo National Monument
High above the tip of Point Loma, this sprawling park commemorates Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and San Diego’s early history. It’s most popular for the panoramas of the boat-filled bay and sea, the mountains to the east and the hills of Tijuana to the south. It’s a great place to look for whales spouting offshore in winter.
› nps.gov/cabr/index.htm 2018