Winters in Canada can be… cold. It’s why many of us dream of heading “down south” in search of sun, and fun under that sun. A potentially underrated destination in the US is San Diego. We hear about Los Angeles, we even hear a lot about Miami on the east coast, but in California, San Diego is also a year-round outdoor playground. From beaches, to cycling, and exquisite golf courses, San Diego should be considered in your next holiday plans.

Enjoy the warm climate year-round

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

First of all, the weather is never too cold, and never too hot. For those looking to travel to San Diego in the summer, you’ll be looking at an average of 25C, which generally entails a warm day anywhere in Canada. And in the winter, the average highs in the region reaches about 20C. Keep in mind for those who like spending all day outside, it does get chilly at night at times, so definitely pack some layers. Now that we have the weather down, let’s look at all the outdoor, year-round activities you can do in the California city.

Tee up at this golfer’s paradise

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Possibly one of the best outdoor activities San Diego offers is golf. Not only has the city been named one of the Top 50 golf destinations in the world by “Golf Digest”, it is home to 72 golf courses set in between mountains, to desert and ocean! Our top choice for golf here is non-other-than The Grand Golf Club, Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s course, located in a spectacular scenic valley with rolling greens, designed by Tom Fazio. This spot is called one of “Southern California’s most dramatic and challenging 18-hole courses”, but don’t let that scare you. The 7,160-yard, par-72 Grand Golf Club spans 380 spectacular acres, and it accommodates all levels of play, including beginners like us.

At the Grand Golf Club, you can pick up the sport by learn one-on-one with PGA-certified instructors and 2022-2023 Golf Digest Best Teachers, including our instructor Shawn Cox (Golf Professional of the Year – Southern California PGA, 2018). You’ll also get the traditional forecaddie service, and there is nearly seven acres of practice areas.

This award-winning course has been named one of the top 25 Luxury Golf Resorts, as well as one of the Top 200 Resort Golf Courses in the US, it’s no wonder this loved by seasoned golfers and beginners alike. And the best part is, upon leaving the resort, you will no longer feel like a beginner.

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Hike the hills and explore

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, “San Diego County contains diversity so spectacular that it takes even local residents by surprise.” They also add that “hiking is one of the best ways to get close to nearly all of it.” So what can you find in the region? Over 2,100 plant species, over 500 species of birds, and hundreds of species of reptiles and mammals. In fact, they also say that “San Diego County’s 4,261 square miles are the most biologically diverse in California, if not the United States.”

It’s no wonder hiking is a popular outdoor activity here. There are several hiking trails in the region to check out, and they range from moderate to difficult. For those staying at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, the resort offers “Self-Guided Scenic Trails” in its coastal canyon setting. There is the option of choosing between the Grand View Trail “for spectacular vistas of the lush Golf Course,” or the Shaw Trail, “a beautiful, grassy trail shaded by eucalyptus trees that runs adjacent to a meandering stream.”

These trails are medium to difficult in terms of intensity, and lead into Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve with its ancient volcanic rocks, and Native American historical sites dating back 7,000 years.

Saddle up at an Equestrian Centre

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

While there is an Equestrian Staging Area at Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego is also home to the Grand Del Mar’s Equestrian Center, “Southern California’s most exquisite stable and riding center.” Besides hiking the scenic trails around Fairmont Grand Del Mar, you can saddle up and see the trails that way! The Equestrian Center offers riding and non-riding activities for all ages and levels of experience, making this a perfect spot to try this outdoor activity.

Catch a wave or two

La Jolla Shores (Image via Dancestrokes/Shutterstock)

Let’s head to the beach now, because we can’t talk about California without adding in some surf. One of the best places to learn how to surf is San Diego’s La Jolla Shores because it’s a family friendly beach with sandy bottom, and is located in semi-protected waters. This is also the home to one of the most renowned surf schools in the world, Surf Diva, the first all-female surf school founded in 1996 by twin sisters Coco and Izzy Tihanyi.

Whether you’re picking up a board for the first time, or an avid surfer, there are surf breaks all along the coast in San Diego for any skill level. Other beaches to check out include Pacific Beach Point, Coronado, and the Silver Strand.

Get underwater and try snorkelling

Image via San Diego Tourism Authority

If you enjoy the surf, San Diego also offers unique scuba diving and snorkelling experiences. The reason for its uniqueness is its kelp.

“Just like a terrestrial forest, the kelp is a teeming three-dimensional realm, extending from the sea floor to the surface, and to dive the kelp is to soar weightlessly through that undersea forest. Garibaldi fish, colorful nudibranchs, bat rays, sea lions and numerous indigenous species all make the kelp forest their home,” states the San Diego Tourism Authority.

Like all of its outdoor activities, the city has several dive sites to choose from, and you can select the boat excursion that suits you.

For those who don’t want to go under, you can also try water activities like bodyboarding, kitesurfing, and stand up paddle boarding!

Cycle your way around town

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Being a coastal city, San Diego is a perfect cycling destination for bike enthusiasts or beginners on beach cruisers. There are plenty of trails and paths to explore, and pit stops to check out. One of the most epic stretches to bike in the region is the Pacific Coast Highway, which hugs the coastline and goes through several beach towns like Leucadia, Encinitas, and Del Mar. For those staying at Grand Del Mar, electric bikes and cruising bikes are available to take and explore the region. A two mile ride from the property takes you to Del Mar’s scenic white sandy beach. An ideal day in the outdoors!

Fly high in a hot air balloon

Image via californiadreaminballoon/Instagram

We went from the water sports, to ground activities, and now we’re soaring to new heights. Having a mostly sunny climate allows for perfect hot air balloon excursions in the region. Conquer that fear of heights, and check out a sunset or sunrise from up above! In this area, balloons are capable of floating up to 3,000 feet on a clear day. And, you can even sip champagne while in the air.

Rest up in an award-winning spa

Image via Curiocity Group

You may say that spas are indoor activities, and you are correct. But this spa is San Diego’s “premier five-star spa” for a reason, and part of it is in the outdoors. The Fairmont Spa & Wellness at Fairmont Grand Del Mar is one of only 60 Forbes Five-Star spas in the world, and it features a menu of treatments that include cleansing facials and therapeutic massages. Treat your mind, body, and spirit to one of their signature massages, then relax in the steam and sauna area before hopping into the indoor jacuzzi for ultimate relaxation.

And as mentioned, this spa has an outdoor portion, and that’s a shared outdoor jacuzzi as well as a spa pool.

Image via Fairmont Grand Del Mar

There you have it! San Diego and its gems of activities are truly worth a visit. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, Fairmont Grand Del Mar is one of California’s most luxurious hotels, and is a playground on its own. Besides its first-class amenities, it is now home to San Diego’s first and only Michelin-two starred restaurant, Addison. The property is home to four sparkling swimming pools, two tennis courts, its Renaissance-inspired spa, equestrian center, bicycling, archery, hiking trails, and of course, San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

Talk about a playground within a playground.


This author was hosted by Fairmont Grand Del Mar.