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See the Sights by Sea and Land

Take a hike, take a tour, and celebrate the great outdoors

By Reannan Last

Spring has sprung here in sunny San Diego! While it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between seasons here in Southern California, there’s no denying that electric sense of springtime excitement. With so many activities and so much to do, we’ve taken on the overwhelming task of determining the best ways to get the most out of the city this season. Remember, April showers bring May flowers, so don’t let fickle weather stop you from taking it all in!

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Tours

San Diego SEAL Tours
A SEAL Tour combines the best of land and sea into one unique experience. This amphibious vehicle features a fully narrated tour for your entertainment and roams the streets in Seaport Village before splashing into the San Diego Harbor. With this up-close look, you can observe sea lions and other wildlife friends in their natural habitat. You’ll also see the sights at Point Loma and Shelter Island. While water-bound, learn the history of our lovely port city, from the tuna industry to the city’s naval presence. Reservations are required; go to sealtours.com to schedule your tour.

Old Town Trolley Tours
The Trolley Tour is a fun and convenient way to explore the city. The tour has hop-on/hop-off privileges at 10 different points of interest throughout town. Starting in Old Town, you can begin your ride with a stroll through the streets, stopping by the Old Town State Historic Park or Casa de Aguirre, a classic Old Town landmark. The tour continues to the Embarcadero Marina, Seaport Village and the Marriott Marquis and Marina. Hop off here and take the kids to the Children’s Museum (you might rediscover your inner child, too!). Afterwards, it’s on to Horton Plaza for some shopping in the colorful Escheresque mall we San Diegans hold so dear. The next stop is in the Gaslamp Quarter—if it’s Saturday, you can hop off for a walking tour of this historic part of town. Keep the fun going and cruise through the Hilton Bayfront and the Hotel del Coronado. Then it’s on to Balboa Park to stroll through the gardens and take in the majesty of this park unlike any other. Finishing up in Little Italy is the cherry on top of this tour and a perfect way to end this appetite-inducing exploration. If it seems like too much to do in one day, you can choose the two-day ticket to spread out the fun!

La Jolla and San Diego Beaches Tour
So many beaches, so little time! San Diego has much to offer in terms of beaches and amazing views. An extension of the Old Town Trolley Tour, the Day Tripper Tour explores the popular beach spots in La Jolla and San Diego. The tour boards and begins in Old Town before making its way to the top of Mt. Soledad. From the peak, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of San Diego from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans! The tour then winds down the mountain to the world famous La Jolla cove. The tour stops here for you to enjoy an afternoon at “The Jewel” of San Diego. Later, you’ll be picked up and continue your beach tour, exploring Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. You’ll also see Windansea Beach, the famous Belmont Park and the SkyTower at Sea World. Before returning to your point of embarkation in Old Town, you can observe and appreciate the surf and the scenery all from the comfort of your trolley and take in the lovely lifestyle of our favorite beach towns.

For more information about Old Town Trolley Tours, including the Day Tripper Beach Excursion, visit trolleytours.com and select San Diego.

hiking

Hiking

Torrey Pines State Reserve
Torrey Pines State Reserve offers a number of options for hikers with trails ranging in both difficulty and distance. For an easier hike, head to the Guy Fleming trail, a 2/3-mile loop with stunning panoramic views. The High Point and Beach trails are much steeper and include some steps, but if you time it just right, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning beach sunset. The parking fee may deter some, but if you arrive early, there is plenty of street parking. Go to torreypine.org to plan your adventure.

Cabrillo National Monument
The Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument is a great place to take in the wide variety of native plants and wildflowers of San Diego. The nearly 360-degree view at the monument itself allows you to appreciate the dynamic scenery of the city with its stunning combination of ocean and mountains. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is especially striking in the spring, with yellow flowers dotting the surrounding fields. While you’re there, you can explore the tide pools—just remember to check the tide first! Check for weather and updates at nps.gov and select “Cabrillo.”

The Coast-to-Crest Trail
This growing trail is currently 45 miles long, with another 25 still to come! This trail starts at the ocean in Del Mar and extends east toward Julian’s Volcan Mountain, the source of the San Dieguito River. The main trail has several offshoots for the curious hiker, all part of the greater San Dieguito River Park. For trail maps, take a look at sdrp.org.

festivals

Festivals

Old Town Cinco de Mayo
Old Town’s Cinco de Mayo event May 5–7 has something for everyone: live music, historical presentations and even a car show! As one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods, Old Town’s fiesta is definitely the place to be. Check out oldtownsandiegoguide.com for all the details on this family-friendly event.

Del Mar National Horse Show
The Del Mar National Horse Show is just the place for equestrian enthusiasts. The American Quarter Horse Association, the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association, and the National Reining Horse Association headline Western Week; Dressage Week features the International Dressage Competition; and Hunter/Jumper Week hosts as many as 65 horses and riders competing for the $100,000 prize. The 72nd Annual Del Mar National Horse Show runs from April 18–May 7. Get your tickets now at delmarnational.com.

San Diego Festival of the Arts
What better way to kickstart your summer than with a healthy, hearty dose of artistic medicine? This 2-day event features critically acclaimed artists and offers some of the best dining in Southern California. Set along the beautiful bay at Waterfront Park, it truly is an experience in itself. Mark your calendars for June 10–11, then head to sdfestivalofthearts.com to check out past events and get your tickets!