Just a short drive north from downtown San Diego, the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers an idea of what Southern California looked like before its coastlines were developed. Experience the area by taking a short walk from the parking lot to the bluffs overlooking the ocean, or hike a longer loop around the entire reserve. You can enjoy great views of La Jolla from here—sometimes you can even spot hang gliders or pods of dolphins swimming along the coastline. If you’re lucky, you might even see the peregrine falcons that keep a nest in the cliffs. Note: If you’re hanging out at the base of the cliffs by the ocean, heed the KEEP AWAY FROM CLIFF signs. They’re made of sandstone and do crumble.

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Beautiful park

One of the most wildly gorgeous areas within San Diego city limits, the 700-hectare (1,750-acre) reserve sits on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach and is dedicated to preserving the distinctive and native Torrey pine. Visitors can walk through pine forests and on windswept beaches (there’s even a scenic golf course), and can additionally hike popular trails such as Guy Fleming Trail, from which you can see all the way out to the Channel Islands on a clear day.

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