San Diego walks will certainly be part of your itinerary in this city. Skies are so often sunny, temperatures are moderate year-round, and you can happily be out in nature and enjoy the fresh air. With beaches, mountains, and miles and miles of trails, San Diego welcomes you to take in coastal views and tree-filled, peaceful places as you amble along.
Sometimes you will be looking for a short, easy walk on fairly flat terrain. Longer, steeper trails may be for another day. While the choices for walks are endless, I have a few favorites to recommend. I am fortunate to call this city my home, so I’m out and about often. Here are San Diego walks I recommend in a variety of settings.
Coronado Beachside Walk
Coronado is my first choice for a getaway from everyday life. This island is just a few minutes’ drive from downtown San Diego over a curving bridge. Its flat streets lined with gentrified homes and lovely gardens whisk you away to a relaxing world.The gem of Coronado is the fabled Hotel Del Coronado, which has hosted visiting dignitaries through the decades. Presidents Taft, FDR, Ford, and Carter were here. Famous folk such as Charlie Chaplin and Charles Lindbergh are in the visitors list. Marilyn Monroe filmed “Some Like It Hot” here in 1958. Author L. Frank Baum lived at the hotel while he wrote some of the Wizard of Oz books.
Park at the Hotel Del Coronado or nearby on side streets. Walk around to the beach side of the hotel and start your walk on the paved path. Head north and soon you’ll be walking on the sandy shore of the wide beach.
If you want to stroll along for about a half hour, you’ll arrive at Coronado Dog Beach. Smile at the pups dancing in the waves. And of course, if you are with your own dog, you will love this place. A fountain with a hose will help wash the sand off your pooch. If you start your walk here and go toward the hotel, park on the nearby streets.
A fun secret about this walk is that the dunes just north of the hotel spell out “Coronado.” It’s hard to see when you are on the ground, but if you know to look, you’ll get it.
Seaport Village and San Diego Bay
Downtown San Diego borders San Diego Bay. For a bayside walk with views of the Coronado Bridge and the island of Coronado, walk along the water in Seaport Village. Sailboats and kayaks glide by, and the Harbor Cruise chugs back and forth in these waters.
This waterside village also makes a fun place to walk around. Stores offer kites, hammocks, and homemade fudge. A historic carousel fills the air with music. And the most popular place on a warm day is the ice cream shop.
For a longer walk, continue north along the waterfront of the Embarcadero. Sights include the USS Midway aircraft carrier, the Maritime Museum with the iconic Star of India sailing ship, and the World War II statue of The Kiss.
The Embarcadero also includes the San Diego County Waterfront Park. If young ones are in your group, they can romp on the creative playground and cool off in the splash fountains.
Torrey Pines State Beach
This is one of the San Diego walks that will take your breath away with panoramic views of the ocean from atop the cliffs of Torrey Pines.If you drive up the wide hill from the beach parking lots, you can use the parking lots at the top and keep your walk easy.
Five trails give you options for how long and how strenuous your walk will be. The Guy Fleming Trail is a loop that’s just two-thirds of a mile and features two scenic overlooks. Wildflowers, ferns, and Torrey pines line the trail.
The fascinating fragile cliffs look lacy. Be sure to stay on the trails because the land is unstable. Check out this website for more information on each trail.
Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma
If you are a fan of lighthouses, like me, you will love the Bayside Trail at the Cabrillo National Monument.
Visitors flock here to see the lighthouse and museum, and many don’t know that there is also a short hike with spectacular vistas. Look for signage on the bay side of peninsula in front of the lighthouse and start walking down the hill toward the water. The elevation gain is just 400 feet, so it’s easy to walk back up the hill from the bottom. Views feature Coronado and downtown San Diego. This peninsula was used as a lookout during World War II, so you will find a bunker here and a searchlight shelter. The trail is two miles long.This area is part of the National Park system, so you can enter with a pass or buy a day-use ticket for a small fee.
Mission Trails Regional Park
Enter Mission Trails Regional Park and you will immediately leave behind all the noise and busyness of urban life. This park contains more than 7,000 acres of land that includes hills, valleys, and the San Diego River. It’s just eight miles from downtown on the freeway, so it’s easy to drive here and spend an hour or a day out in nature.
Run by the San Diego Park System, Mission Trails is crisscrossed by more than six miles of trails. Some trails are steep and long, but if you’re looking for an easy, pleasant walk, you have a couple of wonderful options. The loop trail from the visitor center can easily be walked in about an hour. You’ll see parts of the river, and the trail is flat.
The walk I most often choose is along the road out of the visitor center to the Old Mission Dam. The road is blocked to traffic on one side, so you can walk without watching for cars. Look for desert plants as well as trees and brush, as this area is essentially desert. The Old Mission Dam was built to store water for the Mission in San Diego.
This area was home to the Kumeyaay, and you can see their grinding rocks along the river. Imagine living outside here in a community. Exhibits at the visitor center show what life here was like long ago.