What to do and see in San Diego, California (CA): The Best Nature & Wildlife Areas

September 15, 2021 Brain Ambrose

San Diego embodies laid-back California culture, complete with a Boardwalk, surfing communities, and outstanding Mexican food. Breathe in the fresh ocean air at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, then gobble down a fresh fish taco at a La Jolla seafood joint. The naval aircrafts at the USS Midway Museum will have you standing at attention. A free Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is the perfect way to unwind after a Saturday night bar-hop in the thumping Gaslamp Quarter.
Restaurants in San Diego

1. Children's Nature Retreat

5178 Japatul Spur Alpine, San Diego, CA 91901-3481 +1 619-320-4942 [email protected] http://childrensnatureretreat.org/
Excellent
92%
Good
3%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 36 reviews

Children's Nature Retreat

The Children’s Nature Retreat welcomes visitors of all ages, allowing everyone to enjoy and explore the beautiful and tranquil surroundings at their leisure. This magical and serene ranch-style retreat, with its 20-acres of terrain, is a safe haven to over 130 domesticated livestock and exotic animals from around the world. The retreat is specifically designed to help children develop a sense of wonder for nature and its inhabitants through unstructured exploration and learning. Fun and educational `interactive encounters’ are available for everyone to learn and foster an appreciation for animals, nature, sustainable farming and the ecosystem. Our Vision in our increasingly digital-dependent and urbanized world, we are loosing touch with nature. With this in mind, we believe the Children’s Nature Retreat offers a rich connection to the earth, its plants and animals. We allow guests to step away from their fast pace life, reduce stress levels and find their balance in nature.

2. Famosa Slough State Marine Conservation Area

4275-4283 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110-5637
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 2 reviews

Famosa Slough State Marine Conservation Area

3. Civita Park

7960 Civita Blvd, San Diego, CA 92108
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 3 reviews

Civita Park

Reviewed By tonysP1863LC - Santee, United States

Sprawling beautiful park in the center of SD and middle of beautiful community! Was invited to a child's B-Day party pre Covid-19. Was amazed at this hidden gem. Fountains and water park for kids, basketball and sports areas, picnic tables with happy families enjoying this oasis in middle of Mission Valley. Plenty of well maintained grass to lounge on, as well as park benches to relax or converse. Plenty of parking - even on a Saturday while 7-8 large parties-gatherings were occurring. Very safe. No homeless people hanging around. Bathrooms were surprisingly immaculate. Park allowed a catering truck to offer tasty & hot carne asada too. My 3 year old and I had a great time.

4. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, San Diego, CA 92037 +1 858-755-2063 [email protected] https://torreypine.org/
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3,745 reviews

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Although this park is located within San Diego's city limits, it remains one of the wildest landscapes along the Southern California coast, with miles of unspoiled beaches, chaparral, elegant Torrey Pine trees and a lagoon vital to many species of migrating birds.

Reviewed By MKTBE - Topeka, United States

Torrey Pines State Beach Park is an amazing place to spend a beautiful, sunny Spring afternoon in San Diego. There is a $15 parking fee if you drive in, but we parked on nearby Torrey Pines Road and enjoyed the area at no cost. Though the sun was bright, the cool ocean breezes made it perfect for an afternoon adventure.The hiking trails are heavily trafficked, moderate hikes with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Seaside Cliffs, and surrounding foliage. After taking numerous gorgeous photos, there are beach stairs to access the beach and a pleasant beach stroll back to the parking area. During these crazy COVID-19 times, we can regain our sanity enjoying the beauties of this glorious world we live in!

5. Shell Beach Tide Pools

Coast Highway Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-3638 http://www.sandiegocoastlife.com/attractions/san-diego-coast/tide-pools-shell-beach.html
Excellent
63%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 170 reviews

Shell Beach Tide Pools

Reviewed By katieblue1112 - Lancaster, United States

It was invigorating to all the senses to discover the various types of sea critters! I didn't know about the little black snail shells, but they are among my favorites. I can't wait to come back soon~I love this place.

6. Scripps Institute of Oceanography Coastal Reserve

Whitecliff Dr, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093-0001 http://nrs.ucsd.edu/reserves/scripps.html
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 47 reviews

Scripps Institute of Oceanography Coastal Reserve

Reviewed By JDZatSF - San Francisco, United States

Scripps is a top-notch grad school (part of UCSD) doing important scientific research with a great aquarium (and gift shop) and, possibly, the most beautiful campus there is with the most amazing views.

7. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

12115 Black Mountain Rd # A, San Diego, CA 92129-3600 +1 619-525-8213 https://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/osp/lospenasquitos/
Excellent
43%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.0 based on 51 reviews

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Reviewed By Computernana - West Bloomfield, United States

I wrote about this canyon back in 2017 when I discovered the trail to the hidden water fall. That trail leads to a hidden gem. I notice others have written about "easy hike for beginners" or "dog friendly" This preserve has trails and surprises for everyone. I have done in-depth hiking on many of the different trails now. Tunnel trail, Cardiac hill, waterfall, pond, etc etc. I see walkers, bikers, dogs, wildlife. Wildlife usually includes snakes and cayotes, but, recently there was a mountain lion in the area. Keep your children and pets near you and you wont have any problems. Some walks are flat, others have slight to steep hills. So pick you challenge level and enjoy the area. I love the area. There are a few posted maps of the trails. But once you are walking signage is not so good. I often have to ask a biker or other hiker for help. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. I guess I have gotten to know the area a little better, because, I was able to help some walkers recently. There are many trail heads. Make sure you look at some markings where you park and enter the trail. I often enter at one area and leave by another. I love loops rather than back tracking and have found I can do different loops in this preserve. You can do a couple of miles or many miles in this preserve. I have walked as short as and hour and as long as 4-5 hours. Just enjoy. I have walked with family, friends, the dog, and solo. Wear appropriate walking apparrel. Have fun be safe.

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