For a while, San Diego was able to stay under the radar. Despite having the best weather in the country, lovely beaches, and a more laidback lifestyle, it was often considered a vacation destination because of its beaches and attractions.
But, that’s not the case anymore. In recent years, more and more people have been moving into the city. Downtown San Diego has experienced a growth in businesses, employees, and residents. In part, the transformation has been fueled by tech startups which have found a home in the downtown area. As a result, this once sleepy town is getting more crowded.
Like all metropolitan areas, the presence of more people and businesses can make it harder to get away from the urban lifestyle and the stress that comes with it. While you can practice some stress management and relaxationtechniques at home, you’ll be happy to know that there are still some safe havens where you can find peace and quiet within the city.
La Jolla Cove
Besides its amazing weather and white sand beaches, San Diego is known for itsbeautiful coastline. These areas are both breathtaking and great for getting away from the urban environment. At the top of our list is La Jolla Cove. The cove is a protected reserve that’s surrounded by the cliffs in La Jolla. It has a small beach where you can relax and get away from city life.
But what makes it unique is the peace, tranquility and beautiful scenery. The cove offers an abundance of marine life, tide pools, and sea lions. Do be careful with the latter though. They’re lovely to take pictures of but you may want to cover your nose as you approach them. They’re smelly. You can likewise trek along the cliffs, swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the calm waters. However, you won’t be able to surf, kayak or use any other type of board or inflatables within the cove. Whatever you do, make sure to follow the rules. There are lifeguards around who enforce the rules to make sure the cove stays well preserved.
One must see attraction when you’re in San Diego is Balboa Park. Unlike other parks, Balboa Park is an all-in-one cultural location where you’ve got everything for kids and adults alike. The park sits on a huge 1,200-acre lot and houses 16 museums, multiple theaters, gardens and other attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. The park itself is beautiful, calm and peaceful. And, you’ll be able to enjoy both nature and culture all in one place. If you’re a San Diego resident, do take advantage of the “free Tuesday” offerings which come on a rolling basis. That is, on different Tuesdays of the month, certain locations at the park are free, just make sure to bring your ID for proof.
If you want to avoid crowds, you may want to skip the weekends. Tuesdays are quiet and have fewer visitors. On the other hand, weekends, especially Sundays can get crowded. But, they’re also when special events and activities happen, so you may still want to give them a try. While walking around Balboa Park, you’ll notice a lot of historical buildings. Many of these structures were built for the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition. While they were initially planned for temporary use, most have been preserved after the fair. Thus, leaving you with some beautiful cultural architecture and designs to enjoy. If you prefer the indoors, there are lots to do as well. You’ll see all sorts of museums within the park. These include the Air and Space Museum, Automotive Museum, Spanish Village Art Center and Natural History Museum.
As far as places to relax go, the gardens and trails are your best bets. Depending on what area of the park you’re in, you’ll see lovely gardens housing different types of plants and flowers. One such section is the Rose Garden which has more than 100 varieties of roses. Meanwhile, the Zoro Garden is a large sunken garden that is full of character. Here are a few other notable areas within Balboa Park where you can relax.
Botanical Building & Lily Pond
If you want to sit and enjoy the view around you, the Botanical Building the Lily Pond are perfect places to do so. You can sit and relax on the grassy areas and enjoy the beautiful weather. This is likewise a great place to lay back, read or make entries on your journal. It’s very calm and quiet, especially during weekdays, allowing you to get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Speaking of getting away from the crowds, the Japanese Friendship Garden is another section to do so. It is very serene and peaceful. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the lovely manicured garden paths. Like all the gardens in the park, this one has its own unique theme. It gives you a glimpse into what traditional Japanese gardens look like, including all the bonsai and cherry trees. There are also small ponds with koi fishes and footbridges that will let you pass over them.
Balboa Park Sculpture Garden
Should you prefer a lot of space to sit and relax or let the kids run around and play, try the Sculpture Garden instead. This garden is one of the most tranquil spaces in the park. It’s great for kids and adults who want to be able to just relax in a calm environment and do nothing.
San Diego Zoo
For animal lovers, don’t forget to stop by the zoo which is conveniently located inside Balboa Park. While there are many different attractions here, make sure not to miss the Panda Trek, which lets you get up close to these beautiful furry creatures. Another must-see section of the zoo is the Polar Bear Plunge. Here, you’ll not only see the bears moving up and about on the ground but can also see them dive into and swim in the chilly water when the weather gets hot. Finally, there’s Elephant Odyssey which lets you experience the largest land creatures on earth live.
Little Italy is a great place to enjoy delicious food in peace and quiet. It has a charm of its own, which makes many people like to live here. As you would expect, the neighborhood is predominantly Italian. And because of that, it’ a great destination for food and drink. You’ll find many restaurants serving authentic Italian dishes. And, don’t forget to sample the wines and craft beers as well.
Little Italy is the perfect place if you’re looking for somewhere to spend a nice, calm afternoon while in the company of great food and drink.
Park at The Park
Aptly named, this park is located right outside the outfield fence of Petco Park where Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres play. The Park at the Park is a large 2.7-acre grassy area where you can pick a spot, set up your picnic basket and relax. It’s perfect for both grown-ups and kids because you can do whatever you want. If you’re a baseball fan, you can watch the game. Kids can also play catch or other outdoor games there. On Fridays, there are special events dubbed as “Party at the Park”. Food and drink specials, as well as live music, happen during this time.
Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension
If you like spending time in nature and enjoy hiking, Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension is a good place to do it. It is a lot less crowded than the more popular main reserve, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This lets you enjoy a more peaceful trek with no crowds or people talking to bother you. It’s worth noting that the extension isn’t as well-maintained as the main reserve. But parking is free which does make up for it. So, do expect a few rougher sections in some parts of the trek. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to get some exercise and let your mind soak in nature. You can spend about an hour hiking the trail, which lets you get away from your worries and stresses.
San Diego is well known for its beautiful beaches. However, visiting popular beaches isn’t always the way to go because of all the crowds they draw. Lots of people often mean more noise and less peace and quiet. It can also mean not getting the spot you want on the sand. If you prefer a beach that’s tranquil and clean, Breakers Beach is a good option. It offers a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. And, you can stay for the sunset to enjoy the wonderful scenery. Before you go, a few things you may want to know about Breakers Beach is that pets are not allowed. But, you can drink there.
Scripps Beach and Pier
Another quiet beach to relax and unwind is Scripps Beach, which is located right beside the UCSD Institution of Oceanography. The area is a long strip of coastline that’s a lot less populated compared to other beaches, including La Jolla Shores Beach. If you like to surf, kayak or swim, you’ll also be able to do so without having to deal with a lot of people. Do know that there are different areas designated for each of these activities. So, you’ll have to find the one you want to do. One of the main landmarks of the beach is its super long concrete pier. Unfortunately, the pier isn’t open to the public. So, you can’t go to the end and enjoy the view from there. That said, the pier provides great scenery for photographers. If you can catch the Pacific sunset, you’ll want to have a good HD phone or camera with you.
About the Author
Emma Lymn is the editor of Health Grinder, a health and nutrition blog. She is passionate about helping others learn to eat healthy and lose weight. A proud mom of two kids and a very spoiled dog, she enjoys traveling and volunteering in her spare time.