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Top Outdoor Activities in San Diego

black's beach in La Jolla

San Diego is a city that offers something for everyone, but for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s a playground like no other. From the rugged coastline to the towering mountains and everything in between, San Diego is a mecca for outdoor adventures. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to plan your next adventure. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide for Outdoor Things to Do in San Diego.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the most exciting outdoor activities in San Diego! So whether you’re a local looking for a new weekend activity or a visitor wanting to make the most of your San Diego Itinerary – join us on a journey through the best of San Diego’s great outdoors.

Top Adventurous Outdoor Activities in San Diego

San Diego has it all – the ocean, stunning beaches, an island, a national park, and even stunning cliffs! It’s really an outdoor paradise.

From high-speed boat tours in the bay to exploring the wilderness on foot, there is something for everyone. 

Speed Boat Adventures

A couple in a small boat outdoors in the ocean in San Diego

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, why not captain your own speedboat on the San Diego Bay! These boats go up to 25 knots and you’ll love seeing the best views of America’s Finest City. 

Make your way past the Maritime Museum, greet the local seals (and no we don’t mean any attractive marines – we mean the big blubbery cute ones), and enjoy San Diego’s stunning  Skyline! This family-friendly San Diego activity will be the highlight of your weekend.

Location: San Diego Harbor


GoCar Tours

A GoCar Parked while a family activity is happening in San Diego

Explore the city streets with the unique and fun-filled San Diego little yellow car tour. The best part? This is a no-stress activity – as you drive, your GoCar will navigate, tell you San Diego’s history and stories, everything that makes this city so memorable. 

Stop where you want (you always get parking with these little wonders), go down narrow alleys that other cars can’t, flexi rent as long as you need them – there are lots of different tour packages. It’s the coolest way to explore the city!

Location: Old Town San Diego


Hot Air Balloon Rides

If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you to new heights, a hot air balloon ride is just the ticket. And let me tell you, it’s not just the altitude that’s going to take your breath away.

If you’re feeling brave, a hot air balloon ride is an experience you’ll never forget. Imagine floating high above the city, with panoramic views of the coastline, mountains, and skyline. It’s almost like being in your own private airplane- except without the turbulence and peanuts.

And the best part? You can do it at sunrise or sunset, when the light is just right for some seriously Instagram-worthy photos.

Location: Soar over the San Diego coastline and Temecula Wine Valley


La Jolla Kayak Adventure

The sun at high noon shines directing on to La Jolla Cove in San Diego

The La Jolla Coves are quickly becoming one of San Diego’s must see attractions. The natural beauty of La Jolla, with its towering sea cliffs and hidden coves is like nothing else. But the real adventure starts when you reach the La Jolla Sea Caves. Most of these stunning natural wonders can only be explored by kayak, making the kayak experience a must if you want to beat the crowds.

But don’t worry, this isn’t the type of adventure that requires a ton of experience or athleticism. The kayaks are stable and easy to maneuver, so even if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride. And with a knowledgeable guide leading the way, you’ll learn all about the history and ecology of this unique coastline.

Just remember to bring your sense of adventure (and maybe a waterproof camera, if you want to capture those sea lion selfies).

Location: La Jolla

GoRide Fat Tire Scooter

a man riding an electric scooter on a city street in San Diego

Rent an electric scooter and explore San Diego at your own pace. With a variety of rental options available, you can customize your tour to fit your schedule and interests. No license needed, just hop on and start exploring!

Location: San Diego Harbor, Waterfront, Coronado, Balboa Park, Downtown and Old Town.

Paragliding in Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines is a world-renowned spot for paragliding. Take a tandem flight with a licensed instructor and enjoy spectacular views of the coastline and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Location: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

ATV Riding in San Diego

Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area is a desert park that offers ATV riding for thrill-seekers. The park has miles of trails, sand dunes, and open spaces where you can ride ATVs and explore the desert landscape.

Location: Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area


Hiking, Biking and Outdoor Activities in San Diego

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Hike through one of San Diego’s most scenic parks and enjoy stunning ocean views. With miles of trails to explore, you can hike along the cliffs or venture down to the beach.

Location: La Jolla


Cowles Mountain

This challenging hike is perfect for experienced hikers looking for a workout. With an elevation gain of over 1,500 feet, the summit offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Location: San Carlos


Mission Trails Regional Park

With over 60 miles of trails, this park offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you can explore the natural beauty of San Diego with a variety of trail options.

Location: San Carlos


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Take a day trip to this desert oasis and explore the rugged landscape. With miles of trails, you can hike to hidden waterfalls, climb through slot canyons, and stargaze under the desert sky.

Location: Colorado Desert 


Visit Balboa Park

This 1,200-acre park is home to numerous museums, gardens, and cultural attractions. You can explore the park’s trails, gardens, and architecture, or take a guided tour to learn about Balboa park’s history and culture.

Location: In the heart of San Diego lies Balboa Park


San Diego Electric Bike Rentals

Take a guided electric bike tour of San Diego’s beautiful beaches, parks, and historic sites. These high-tech bikes provide an effortless ride, allowing you to cover more ground while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Location: Little Italy, Maritime museum, U.S.S. Midway, Seaport Village, Horton Plaza, Historic Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, Bankers Hill, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Fort Stockton, Presidio Park, Old Town


Beach Activities in San Diego

a rocky beach next to a body of water with La Jolla Cove in the background

Surfing in La Jolla Cove

Take a surf lesson and catch some waves in the crystal clear waters of La Jolla Cove. With experienced instructors and a variety of rental options available, you can enjoy this iconic San Diego activity at any skill level.

Location: La Jolla Cove


Stand-up Paddleboarding in Mission Bay

Paddle through the calm waters of Mission Bay and enjoy the sunshine and beautiful scenery. With rental options available, you can explore the bay at your own pace or take a guided tour to learn about the local ecosystem.

Location: Mission Bay

Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove

a person standing on a rocky beach

Dive into the crystal clear waters of La Jolla Cove and explore the kelp forests and underwater caves. With guided tours and rental options available, you can experience the beauty of San Diego’s underwater world.  For ages 6+, it’s a great family activity.

Location: Avenida de la Playa La Jolla


Watching the Sunset at Ocean Beach Pier

Enjoy a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the iconic Ocean Beach Pier. You can stroll along the pier, take in the ocean views, and watch the surfers catch their last waves of the day.

Location: Ocean Beach Pier

Other Outdoor Activities in San Diego

Balboa Park Segway Tours

Explore the beauty of Balboa Park while gliding on a Segway with a guide to show you around the park. Balboa Park is home to many gardens, museums, theaters, and other attractions and a guided tour is the best way to see it.

Location: Balboa Park


Rock Climbing at Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park offers some of the best rock climbing in San Diego. The park has several routes for climbers of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced climbers.

Location: San Carlos


Horseback Riding at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

Explore the picturesque trails of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on horseback. The preserve has miles of scenic trails, and you can enjoy the natural beauty of the area while riding a horse.

Location: Mira Mesa


Visit the Little Italy Farmers’ Market

a group of people at a fruit stand

The Little Italy Farmers’ Market is the perfect place to get outside and enjoy a day out of the house. 

What’s to love? This market supports over 40 Californian farmers by giving them a space to sell their fresh, locally produced fruits and vegetables, herbs, flowers, artisanal cheese, pastured eggs, chickens, and meat. 

There is also an open-air dining experience, Al Fresco, that is not to be missed!

Location: Downtown San Diego


Go Golfing at Torrey Pines Golf Course

a close up of a hillside next to a body of water with Torrey Pines Golf Course in the background

Photo Credit: Yuki Shimazu

As far as outdoor things to do in San Diego go, it doesn’t get any better than this. Imagine playing a round of golf with the clean ocean breeze around you and the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the iconic towering San Diego cliffs. Golf courses are open in San Diego, with some special requirements to keep everyone safe.

Location: Torrey Pines

Visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields

50 acres of never-ending flower fields is the perfect place to spend the day outdoors in San Diego, CA. The peak flowering season starts in March, but you can still enjoy a picnic, walk through the artist gardens, or view the Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse. If you’ve got green fingers, this has to be on your “Things to do in San Diego” list.

Location: Carlsbad

Ready for your best summer yet in San Diego? We are!

San Diego is gearing up for it’s best summer yet, and if you’re visiting or looking for fun family activities to make the most of the sun and summery weather, our list of Top Outdoor Things to Do in San Diego is sure to help!