As I head out to Pebble Beach for my second stint on the West Coast in three weeks, I thought I’d share with you my favorite spots during my recent visit to Torrey Pines in La Jolla — just north of downtown San Diego. This year my mom came with me, seeing how much I loved it the past two years, and so many of you asked for recommendations after my trip. So here you go!
There’s no other place I’d rather begin my yearly PGA TOUR travels than at Torrey Pines. (Ok, maybe Hawaii would be awesome.) But the Farmers Insurance Open has become my traditional first trip out of the gate each year in January.
Did you know that many golf brands and equipment manufacturers are based in San Diego? Cobra/PUMA, Callaway, TaylorMade and more?! Unfortunately all my friends at those companies are usually back in Orlando, FL, for the PGA Merchandise Show the week of the Farmers Insurance Open — but good thing they still give me their recommendations!
A MUST visit when staying in the La Jolla or San Diego area! A gem in the California state park system, Torrey Pines is a park, beach, golf course and gliderport in one!
The trail head begins at the beach at Torrey Pines park, giving you several trailhead options. You can climb the stairs from the beach or walk up the incline of the private paved road along the cliff. The views at the top will take your breath away and the short trail system provides several look-out spots to take in every angle of north San Diego that you can.
Still jet lagged from our typical East Coast time, we woke up before dawn and got to the trail as the sun was rising. We hiked around for about an hour before heading to the Farmers Insurance Open for work later that morning.
Prime time: would likely be around sunset. The sunsets are TO DIE FOR in California, so you would get a stellar view from the Torrey Pines lookouts. Just beware that rush-hour traffic bottlenecks where North Torrey Pines Road meets South Camino Del Mar. So give yourself some extra time to get there.
Test your limits: paragliding at Torrey Pines
One of my favorite experiences on a golf trip, EVER! I went paragliding at Torrey Pines famous Gliderport last year. The initial nerves are worth the views. If you thought hiking Torrey Pines was cool, this is on another level.
Don’t worry! You will be paired up with a paragliding professional, who will fly tandem with you and walk you through the entire process. Honestly, you are pretty much a passenger and just have to do a little assisting during the takeoff and landing. And by takeoff, I do mean literally running off the side of a cliff. But it’s not as bad as it sounds! It was so fun and once you are up in the air, all your fears will melt away. We glided above the beach (nude beach — but you can’t see anything way up in the air, haha!) over the gorgeous Torrey Pines Golf Course, passed the cliff-side mansions and along the ocean — where we saw dolphins! My pilot and the entire Gliderport team were super professional and I felt very safe the entire time. I’d totally do it again!
Paragliding not for you? You should still go to the gliderport south of the trail and golf course. Nestled in the park at the edge of the cliffs, you can grab a sandwich from their stellar food truck, sit on a picnic table and just take in the views. You never know what you’ll see! From people doing yoga in the park, to aspiring hang gliders practicing and the pros doing flips and loops in the air — showing off their daredevil gliding skills.
Golf Torrey Pines
Did you know that Torrey Pines is a public, municipal golf course?! Yes, ANYONE can get on both the North and South Courses for a very reasonable rate. Out-of-state visitors can play for around $120, while locals can get on for as cheap as $60!
To have the opportunity to play at a major championship golf course, where Tiger Woods has won an astounding eight times (including a U.S. Open) — without breaking the bank is incredible. I wish that I had the opportunity to play here! I need to make a visit when the PGA TOUR tournament isn’t going on 😉
Or better yet, join me and watch Tiger Woods make his calendar debut each year here at the Farmers Insurance Open. Watching the pros, while taking in the breathtaking views, is a phenomenal experience. My mom came with me two weeks ago for the tournament and didn’t even care I was working most of the time, she was more than happy to walk the beautiful course four days in a row.
Between La Jolla and Del Mar, you won’t even need to venture into downtown San Diego. The restaurant scene in these coastal neighborhoods is excellent!
Our favorite part of dining during the brisk January month, was that each outdoor dining area came equipped with heaters and the hostess would bring you your own personal blanket at the table. Now that’s California cool and laid back!
- Poseidon Del Mar — my go-to spot each time I visit. Their outdoor dining is second-to-none, with your table right along the beach. It’s my favorite place to watch the sunset while sipping wine and waiting for dinner.
- Jake’s Del Mar — right next door to Poseidon. I’ve yet to make it to Jake’s but I’ve heard so many good things about it, I had to include it. Another great spot to watch the sunset.
- George’s at the Cove — voted San Diego’s best restaurant for a reason. Another place with stellar views, but a little pricier. It’s worth the splurge! If you go during San Diego Restaurant Week, which usually coincides with the Farmers Insurance Open, you can get incredible deals — like a three course dinner for $30/person!
- Javier’s — upscale Mexican cuisine in La Jolla. You’ll come for the atmosphere and stay for the delicious food and margaritas. With only six exclusive locations between California, Las Vegas and Cabo, you’ll have to see what all the hype is about for yourself.
- The Wine Bar — a cozy indoor/outdoor casual bar, where you can catch a game and sit by the fire all at once. If you are looking for a comfortable spot after a long day and are staying close to the Westfield UTC Mall in La Jolla, this is an easy place to kick up your feet.
Of course you have to hit up In-N-Out Burger while you are in town too 🙂 The local secret: ask for your fries and/or burger “Animal Style.” It’s one of numerous variations on their secret menu. Personally, I enjoy their classic menu items. My favorite order: double cheeseburger with everything on it, fries and a strawberry shake.
Where to stay
We stayed 10 minutes from Torrey Pines and within a 20-minute radius of all these restaurants listed above across from the Westfield UTC Mall. With most major hotel chains in the vicinity, we were conveniently located between I-5 and Highway 805 and were able to walk to restaurants like Javier’s and The Wine Bar in the evenings.
Next stop: Pebble Beach
Well that was about all the fun we could squeeze in during our work trip, but I’ve heard that La Jolla Cave is a must-see and, of course, San Diego Zoo and the USS Midway Battleship are great attractions as well.
Let me know your favorite San Diego spots in the comments below and I’ll keep you updated on my adventures at Pebble Beach and Napa on Instagram this week! Check back soon for my guide to the Monterey Peninsula.