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La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is about a half hour north of the San Diego airport/downtown (drive time can vary greatly due to traffic). There is some free street parking if you’re lucky or willing to walk a little, but pay attention to the signs/time restrictions. Of course there are lots of places close to the cove where you can pay to park also. There are lots of shops and restaurants on Prospect Street and you can easily spend a lot of time walking up and down all the nearby streets. There is easy access to the beach if you want to go swimming or snorkeling, and make sure to go to the furthest point where it’s all rocks and no sand. This is where the seals and sea lions hang out and you can get within feet of them to take pictures and watch them. Be smart though and don’t get too close or try to touch them. You can also walk uphill (heading east) towards the Coast Walk Trail to see La Jolla Cave. The whole area is very nice, lots of families and people of all ages having a picnic, walking around, and playing Frisbee or catch on the grass.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
About 25 minutes north of La Jolla Cove (30 mins from downtown San Diego if going straight there) is Torrey Pines State Reserve. There are several places to park, and if you have to pay I would recommend the South Beach Lot. There was a $20 fee per car (in 2017), which I thought was a bit ridiculous, so I went back to my nearby hotel and ran there. The price to park varies based on time and day of week, and $20 is the highest price so it could be cheaper. There is also a lot of parking right on the beach just north of the South Beach Lot.
There are several trails and lookout points, and I think the best are Razor Point (2/3 mile one-way), Guy Fleming Trail (2/3 mile loop), and the Broken Hill Trail and Overlook (1.3 miles one-way). The North Fork and Broken Hill Trail were closed in 2017 but the South Fork and Broken Hill Overlook were accessible. There is some parking at the top of the hill where most of the trails start, but you may have to walk up if they’re full. It’s not that far and all the trails are pretty short so I wouldn’t be deterred.
I only had time to go to Razor Point, but I feel like I chose wisely. The end where the cliffs meet the sea reminded me of both the Na Pali Coast and Bryce Canyon, on a much smaller scale. I use “reminded me of” pretty loosely; it’s not nearly as awesome as either of those places, but some similarities in the way the wind and water has carved up the landscape.
Weather was pretty nice in November, averages in the upper 60s. Even though it was in the low 60s when I was at La Jolla Cove, there were lots of people swimming and snorkeling.
Traveled in November 2017
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