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Thursday, December 24, 2009

59. Day Trip: Torrey Pines Hiking

Christmas Eve was a good day for hiking today in San Diego!
California is blessed with places, such as Torrey Pines State Park in the beautiful city of La Jolla (the "Jewel"). This is my first date idea outside of LA and OC! San Diego is usually a quick and easy day trip or weekend getaway, only 1-2 hours drive without traffic depending on where you live in So Cal.

Torrey Pines on Xmas Eve
Originally uploaded by 365 Cheap Dates

You can park for free along the coast on North Torrey Pines Road in the North Beach and South Beach areas (see my photo on right), but you will be competing with the surfers. Otherwise, the Park Reserve offers parking for $10 with 4 available lots, which provide convenient access to the hiking trails. The state park fee includes a free map guide showing the parking lots, trails, and overlook points.

The 6 trails range from 0.5 to 1.2 miles each. Most of the trails are fairly easy except for the two which descend 300 feet in steps to the beach level. If you like a challenge hiking uphill, park at the first lot near the park entrance. Otherwise, you can save your energy by parking at the last 2 lots at the top of the hill. By the way, no food is allowed in the reserve, but picnicking at the beach is ok. This means you can bring water bottles on the trails, but you can carry food to the beach (no eating on the way).

Torrey Pines State Park offers FREE nature walks on weekends and holidays at 10 AM and 2 PM. Park hours are 8 AM to sunset, which varies 4-8 PM (during winter right now it's before 5 PM). I suggest going early or later in the day, especially during summer when it can be hot. If you take Beach Trail or Broken Hill Trail, cool down down at the end of a hike by taking a dip in the ocean. Stick around to enjoy the sunset across a panoramic ocean view by sitting on a bench at one of the many overlook points.

Approximate cost of creative date idea = Free or $10 Parking.
Actual value of the cheap date idea = Priceless.
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