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San Diego: From Palm Trees to Pine Trees

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

A view over the trees of mount Laguna by San Diego California

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 all of 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!). 

A lifeguard stand on a beach near Pacific Beach San Diego

  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.  If you want to learn more about Mission beach you can read this post here.

    Beginning with Mission Beach on the south end, which is home to more family-friendly ventures, you can continue north until you enter a distinctly more 'millennial' atmosphere, in Pacific Beach. With more bars and surfing, if you're looking for that classic southern California vacation of margaritas on the beach and watching the surfers, then this is the spot for you.

If you want to learn more about Pacific Beach you can read this post here.

The oceanside cliffs of Ocean Bach San Diego

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. 

If you want to learn more about this awesome neighborhood you can read all about it here.



Not Beaches

Laguna Mountains

The sunset over the Laguna Mountains near San Diego California

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 shrubland 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 is a multitude of natural spaces and wonders for you to come and check out. But I hope this brief overview of some of my favorite spots in this marvelous city has intrigued you to plan a trip of your own, or at least look into my other posts that are more in-depth looks into each area and even more amazing places to check out in San Diego. 

Feel free to comment below, email me, or DM me on Instagram with any questions or comments about San Diego!

Until Next Time,

Happy Trails!

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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!


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