“For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Torrey Pines State Reserve is a naturally beautiful 2,000 acre area located between La Jolla and Del Mar, California. Of the 279 units in the California State Park system, only 16 have reserve status, and Torrey Pines is one of them. The reserve includes eight miles of hiking trails, spectacular view lookouts, Torrey Pines State Beach, rare Torrey pine trees, and spectacular sandstone formations. When visiting the reserve, it is important to know where to park. The address on the web site is not it! You should park at the Torrey Pines State Beach parking, which we’ve mapped on this article, or at the end of the parking lot for the Torrey Pines Golf Course, down by the driving range. Parking is not always available by the golf course since there is occasionally a guard making sure you’re playing golf to park in that lot.
Torrey pine trees used to cover a much larger part of California, but they now only grow at the Torrey Pines State Reserve and on Santa Rosa Island. San Diegans come from all over the county to see these trees growing in their natural location. This natural reserve should be near the top of your to-do list, as it is one of the most fascinating places in the entire city.
Here are the top five reasons we love Torrey Pines State Reserve:
#1: Hiking Trails
There are eight miles of hiking trails and they range from handicap accessible to advanced trails. When my fiance first visited the reserve, she thought “High Point Trail,” the smaller hike down the steps with an ocean view, was one of the best hiking trails she has ever been on. The air is clean and crisp and the views are spectacular on these hiking trails. This is true all year round. We usually like to hike the longer, hill trails and then we head over to The Lodge at Torrey Pines for breakfast or lunch after.
#2: Spectacular Ocean Views
You just can’t beat the views at Torrey Pines. It is a favorite spot for photographers, especially for San Diego’s famed sunsets. We’ve taken our camera up to some of the trail heads with an ocean view and watched the sun sink into the water numerous times. It is a breathtaking sight that never gets old.
#3: The Los Penasquitos Lagoon
The Los Peñasquitos Lagoon is one of the few remaining native salt marsh lagoons in all of southern California. It is home to several migratory birds and other unique wildlife. There is an interpretive museum on-site also, so it is a great place for kids and the whole family to visit. (Check out this link for more information about parking and access points.)
#4: The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course
The Lodge is a great place to stay and to eat. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and there are several places to have lunch or dinner. My two favorite restaurants are A.R. Valentine and The Grille, located just adjacent to the First Tee of the South Golf Course.
A.R. Valentien is an award -winning restaurant with praise from food critics and your average foodie alike. The deck has a great view of the pool and the golf course. This is our favorite area to request when we come to dine.
The Grille is a more casual restaurant that has one of the best burgers in San Diego that you can grab quickly before or after a round of golf. (Read more about it here.) The golf course boasts panoramic coastline views and classic championship golf holes that are always booked out days, if not weeks, in advance.
Overall, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a wonderful resort to spend a few nights in town, and Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course is a must-play for golfers of any level.
#5: Can’t Beat the Price!
If you just want to hike, the State Reserve is free. Parking prices range from $10-$15. The lodge, restaurants and golf are extra, but walking down paths surrounded by San Diego’s beauty is free, priceless, and completely worth it. Some locals come here to walk almost every day! It is really one of the best deals in San Diego!
Have you been to Torrey Pines State Reserve lately? What do you like about it most? Let us know why you keep coming back!