• Hannah Smentkowski

San Diego: From Palm Trees to Pine Trees

According to my highly-esteemed sources (myself and my friends residing there), San Diego is one of the best cities in the United States! Not only does this oasis have amazing beaches, it also holds some of the most diverse natural areas in the country. While sand and surf are pretty freakin' awesome on their own, it's even more marvelous to have the option to get away from the city and chill in the mountains whenever you want. My entire goal this week is to give you an overview of some of my favorite natural beauties in San Diego in the hopes that it's inspirational enough to get you to start planning a visit of your own. 


How could I talk about San Diego without talking about beaches? The options for beaches in San Diego are vast and scattered across many different neighborhoods, so you kind of have to have an idea of what you're looking for. I love the beaches of San Diego, so I'll be going into more depth on these beaches in a future blog, but for now I just have to tell you about my two favorite areas to soak up some sun (and margaritas!). 

1. Pacific Beach/Mission Bay

  This beach area has something for basically everyone. With tons of bars, a roller-coaster and an arcade, the options for shenanigans are almost limitless. If that's not really your scene, there's also a 3.2 mile boardwalk where you can enjoy walking, biking, roller skating, long-boarding, or riding one of those crazy-ass electric scooters. 

    Beginning with Mission Beach on the south end, which is home to more family-friendly ventures, as you continue north you'll enter a distinctly more 'millennial' atmosphere, with more bars and surfing available. If you're looking for that classic southern California feeling, this is the places for you. 

2. Ocean Beach/Sunset Cliffs

This is the more hippie side of San Diego, with not-so-legal street vendors, acai bowls on literally every corner, and dazed-out surfer stereotypes. This beach (and surrounding neighborhood) are stuffed to the brim with character (and, if we're being honest, a lot more my flavor.) If you're looking for some choice waves & chill vibes, this is definitely the area for you. This part of town also extends south into Sunset Cliffs, an iconic cliff-side with beautiful coves and one of the best views for an ocean sunset. 

Not Beaches

Laguna Mountains

The Laguna Mountain range is a part of the Cleveland National Forest and is full of hiking opportunities, backpacking trails, and dispersed camping areas. This natural area is particularly interesting because of its diverse and complex ecosystems. At one point you're in a complete desert, then before you can blink you're in a shrub-land full of yuccas and boulders, and in another breath you've traveled yet again to a dense, coniferous forest - all in the same mountain range. It's a refreshing change of pace from the traditional beach scene, and one of the most beautiful spots to catch a San Diego sunset (besides over the ocean, of course.) 


Torrey Pines

This beautiful natural area is in the northern part of San Diego, in the neighborhood of La Jolla. It's situated on seaside cliffs, and home to the beautiful Torrey pine tree. There are so many wondrous miles of hiking trails on the cliffs here, some of which will lead you down to a secluded beach. This is also one of my favorite natural settings for ocean sunset viewing. 

So, it suffices to say that San Diego is by far one of my favorite places, and there are a multitude of natural spaces and wonders I haven't even mentioned here. But I hope this brief overview of some of my favorite spots in this marvelous city have intrigued you to plan a trip of your own, or at least to watch out for more blogs with in-depth looks into each area and even more amazing places to check out in San Diego. 

Until then, Happy Travels!

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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm an adventure travel photographer and a huge plant nerd! 

Here, I share my traveling, camping, and hiking adventures in hopes of inspiring other anxious introverts to go outside and explore.

Even introverts are social sometimes...

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