in San Diego, CA

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There’s nothing better than breathing fresh air and getting in touch with nature. State parks, botanical gardens, trails, lakes, and farms are exactly the place to do it – and this area is full of them.

Take a look at all the options within driving distance – you’ll be surprised at how close your next adventure is. We provide the driving directions, but the sunscreen’s on you!
Balboa Park
Balboa Park

(619) 239-0512

1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101   Directions Website

While the San Diego Zoo resides within the confines of Balboa Park, the park itself is worthy of a visit in its own right, as it offers an impressive set of attractions. As well as featuring the zoo, Balboa Park is also home to Mingei International Museum, the Natural History Museum and Aerospace Museum as well.

The park is expansive, with its lush grass and scenery perfect for laying out on a blanket or just sitting on a bench and people watching as the afternoon unfolds. If you need to take a breather, there's no better place than Balboa Park!

Belmont Park
Belmont Park

(858) 228-9283

3146 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109   Directions Website

Belmont Park truly has a little something for everyone. It has the distinction of being the only beach-side amusement park in southern California and its biggest draw is the Giant Dipper which is an original wooden rollercoaster.

Another popular attraction is the Plunge, a 175-foot-deep indoor heated pool, the largest in the state. There's also Pirate's Cove which is literally a 7,000-square-foot indoor playground. Plenty of places to shop and dine can be found here, too, so make plans to head to Belmont Park and leave happy.

Cleveland National Forest
Cleveland National Forest

(858) 673-6180

10845 Rancho Bernardo Rd
San Diego, CA 92127   Directions Website

The Cleveland National Forest offers you a chance to take in amazingly breathtaking views of the desert from a cliff and other picturesque outdoor terrain.

This area is an unusual forest as it features long stretches of shrubs and scrub oak over the slopes and hills. It is a sprawling 460,000 acres and offers 356 miles of trails while still being near to major metropolitan centers. This is a textbook example of natural beauty unusually sandwiched among the San Diego landscape.

Desert Garden
Desert Garden

(619) 525-8213

2525 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104   Directions Website

Desert Garden is located within the confines of Balboa Park, but its beauty and serene charm make it well worth finding.

More specifically, the garden is located on the side of a cliff on the perimeter of Balboa Park, not to be confused with the Old Cactus Garden on the other side of the park. Featuring awesome outdoor views and indigenous plants like various cactus flower and such, visiting the Desert Garden is like being transported to a different world entirely.

Japanese Friendship Garden
Japanese Friendship Garden

(619) 232-2721

2215 Pan American Rd E
San Diego, CA 92101   Directions Website

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a beautiful bond of nature between San Diego and Yokohama as the two cultures unite in this beautiful garden to create a truly unique experience in the great outdoors.

The garden is designed according to the original principals of a Japanese garden that incorporates both the landscape and climate. The overall goal of this alluring place is to develop people's respect for the environment and cultural arts. Let the garden's winding path take you on a private journey of your own.

Mission Beach
Mission Beach

(619) 236-5555

Mission Beach Park
San Diego, CA 92109   Directions Website

There's nothing quite as romantic as a walk along the beach with your special someone, but when the two of you explore Mission Beach, you'll discover that this is no ordinary section of the shore!

There is a great selection of quaint shops that have such interesting window displays that you won't resist the temptation to stop in and browse. Enjoy a coffee or cold beverage from one of the cafes as you stroll along Ocean Front Walk which spans the area between Mission and Pacific Beaches. In addition to the natural beauty of the ocean, you can also sit and people-watch, as the walk is always busy with rollerblades, runners, cyclists, artists and beach-goers out enjoying the day (or night).

Palomar Mountain State Park
Palomar Mountain State Park

(760) 742-3462

19952 State Park Rd
Palomar Mountain, CA 92060   Directions Website

If you love a great view that's above all else, then the high vantage point of Palomar Mountain State Park will take your breath away!

The park offers spectacular views of the Pacific, as well as great campgrounds, spacious picnic areas, rugged hiking trails and some fine fishing in Doane Pond. Palomar Mountain State Park raises the bar when it comes to enjoying some of the area's outdoor beauty.

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

(619) 231-1515

2920 Zoo Dr
San Diego, CA 92101   Directions Website

Don't just take the kids to the zoo; take them to the best zoo in the country! Widely regarded as the best zoo in the United States, the San Diego Zoo takes pride in their state-of-the-art habitat attractions that often house more than one species of animal in a single exhibit.

And since the zoo has been recognized as having a highly successful breeding program, you'll likely see baby koalas, pandas, monkeys, elephants and tigers cohabitating with their moms and dads. Plus, don't miss the aviaries and the reptile houses that offer even more wildlife that is just as interesting as it is entertaining.

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