10 Field Trips

San Diego (and SoCal in general) has fun year round! If you’re looking for ideas, here’s a variety of activities with something to please everyone in your group.

La Jolla Shores (Beach)

La Jolla Shores Park is perfect for a picnic and stroll on the beach!

La Jolla Shores is a beautiful, family-friendly, mile-long stretch of beach with plenty to see and do. On the north end of the beach, see sea life up close as you explore tide pools. Take an iconic sunset photo under the thousand-foot-long Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier, which lines up with the sun dipping into the Pacific in mid-May and Mid-August. Snorkling and diving are hugely popular activities just offshore in the 6,000 acre Underwater Marine Park preserve, where you can also book a kayaking tour (rain or shine). There are plenty of fire pits for night time gatherings, and and a park that offers lots of grass and picnic benches. Dogs are welcome (on leash) on the grass and sidewalks, but not on the beach.

At the south end of the beach, be wowed by the huge Spindrift Drive Mansion, built by William Kesling in 1947. And when the King Tides are flowing, The Marine Room offers seating with waves crashing up against the window.

Seaport Village (Attraction) San Diego Waterfront

Lunching at the 40-year-old (but now closed) Harbor House Restaurant at Seaport Village.
“Malibu Farms” is now in its place.

Right in the heart of downtown San Diego, Seaport Village can be touristy, but it offers plenty of dining and shopping. Take a long stroll along the waterfront and enjoy views of San Diego Bay, Navy and cruise ships, the Coronado bridge, and noisy sea lions. There is an historic carousel for the kids, and Old Town trolley tours for land lubbers. Or go all in with a San Diego SEAL tour From Land and Sea Adventures, a 100 minute tour that departs from Seaport Village and takes you on a ride through downtown San Diego, then splashes into the water for a full tour of the San Diego Bay. Is it a bus or a boat? It’s both! Or just chill out at Seaport Village and enjoy live music on the weekends from noon to 3 pm.

Encinitas Holiday Parade (Event)

The Encinitas Christmas Parade draws thousands of partiers and about a hundred entries, from bands to low riders to floats!

There is so much to do in Encinitas all year round! Check out our posts on Moonlight Beach, Cruise Nights, and the Wavecrest Woodies Meet. Hungry? See our series, “Dining Up And Down 101.” If you’re escaping winter and visiting during the holidays, check out the Encinitas Holiday Parade. This 60-year-old tradition is the first Saturday of December, starting at D Street at 5:30 pm and marching south. Get there early and make dining reservations in advance, because this festive family event gets crowded! Also make time to enjoy the tree-lightings at Moonlight Beach and The Lumberyard.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is beautiful from Heisler Park. The Candelabra Aloe in the foreground blooms from December to February.

About an hour and a half drive north from San Diego, Laguna Beach is an artsy beach community with tons of things to do. There are art galleries, shopping, dining, and beaches. Check out our post, Off The Chain In Laguna Beach.

In the summer enjoy the Sawdust Art Festival for hand-crafted local art pieces and gifts. Beachcombing with (or without) the kids is always fun. At low tide, there are miles of tide pools and coves to explore. Visit Victoria Beach and check out the Pirate Tower, actually a 60-foot enclosed staircase attached to the cliff, built in 1926. At the north end of Laguna, enjoy the lush Heisler Park overlooking ocean with jaw-dropping views and easy access to tide pools. Enjoy the views and grab a cocktail or meal at Las Brisas, with plenty of outdoor seating.

Make sure to drop into to The Chocolate Soldier. This jewel box, artisan, hand-crafted sweets and gift shop is right in the middle of town. Just look for the Greeter Statue, and it’s right inside, along with several other interesting shops.

Danza Del Sol Winery (Wine tasting)

Live music in the cool of the evening on the patio at Danza del Sol Winery in Temecula.

Heading out to the desert, Danza Del Sol is in Temecula on the De Portola Wine Trail, about 75 minutes north of San Diego. This beautiful winery offers tours, tastings, and a wine club. We highly recommend booking the tour! The tasting room is spacious and air conditioned. The staff is friendly and knowlegible, even offering food and wine-pairing suggestions. It’s obvious they enjoy their job. On the patio, bring a picnic basket and get a table under the misters while local musicians play live music.

Carlsbad Flower Fields (attraction)

Springtime is alive with color at the Carlsbad Flower Fields, just west of Legoland.

When Spring is in the air pack up the family and head to the Carlsbad Flower Fields. You have to buy tickets in advance, and only online. But then you have the freedom to roam their 55-acre field filled with brightly colored Giant Tecelote Ranunculus. The Photo ops are endless. Check out the sweet pea maze and the artists’ garden. Kids will love “mining” for polished gem stones and the tractor ride. Check the website before you go to find out the current bloom status.

Spooner’s Mesa and Boarder Field Park. (hike)

The view of San Diego from atop Spooner’s Mesa. Turn 180° and see Tijuana and Rosarito Beach just south of “America’s Finest City.”

Spend the day on the edge of the country, hiking the US-Mexico Border. Spooner’s Mesa is a moderate loop hike with about 400 feet elevation. Once at the top, you get 360° views that take in Downtown San Diego and Coronado to the north, Tijuana to the south, the Pacific ocean west, and Mount Miguel to the east. On our hike, with the exception of a cyclist and a roadrunner, we had the mesa all to ourselves. Off in the distance we could hear the music from a party on the Mexico side of the fence. And although we appear to be hiking alone, we did get the feeling of being watched. Security cameras and lights are on poles everywhere.

After you enjoy the mesa take the easy 5.3 mile out and back walk along the Tijuana Estuary down to the Imperial Beach at Border Field State Park. This trail is lined with beautiful flowers like Sea Lavender and Nasturtiums. Butterflies are everywhere! Keep your eyes out for the Snowy Plover, which likes to nest in the sand. Once on the beach, enjoy a picnic lunch, go beachcombing, watch occasional horseback riders, and get a view of Rosarito Beach and even the Bull Fighting ring just south of the border.

Serrano’s Street Tacos & Bar (dining)

Serrano’s Street Tacos & Bar in San Diego’s Gaslamp District has excellent food, drinks, and people-watching!

Serrano’s Street Tacos & Bar is in the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego. This lively taqueria is our favorite restaurant to hit before attending a live show. It’s walking distance to the American Comedy Club and the Balboa Theater. The place has great energy, friendly service, and excellent people-watching with their al fresco patio. The a la carte tacos, chips and salsa, and of the course cocktails are fabulous. Drop in at Happy Hour (3-6pm) for $5 Mexican beer, $8 Margaritas, and 50% off some of their appetizers.

Old Town San Diego (attraction)

This 1929 building with stunning views of San Diego houses the Father Junipero Serra Museum.

Get a taste of history in San Diego’s oldest neighborhood, Old Town San Diego. This was the first European settlement in California. You can tour historic sites and museums. Shop the Bazaar Del Mundo and Fiesta de Reyes. There are many great Mexican restaurants to choose from, but our favorite is Casa Guadalajara just steps away from the Bazaar Del Mundo. Head up the hill to Presidio Park and tour the Junipero Serra Museum, or just relax on the grass and enjoy views of the bay.

Rancho La Costa Preserve (hike)

Views from Rancho La Costa Preserve go all the way to the Pacific, but there are plenty of trails in the hills where you can’t see any signs humanity.

Take your dog on a nice three-mile, moderate, hilly hike, with about 600 feet of elevation at Rancho La Costa Preserve. It’s just minutes from everything in North Count San Diego. It’s also known as the Copper Creek Trail, and while it’s sometimes described as “heavily trafficked,” obviously who ever wrote that has never hiked the Pacific Northwest where all the hiking trails are crowded! Once again, we had the trail mostly to ourselves on a spring Saturday. At the highest point you have amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Batiquitos lagoon, and can see as far south as La Jolla. What makes this hike special is the stone ruins of an early-1900’s copper mine. The Encinitas Copper Mining Company was one of the largest copper mines in World War I, playing a huge role in the war effort. You can still see evidence of the mine, including chunks of copper left behind and a dam used by the miners to wash their loads before the were hauled out.