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Free Things To Do In San Diego County - Torrey Pines

Updated on June 8, 2012

Nestled between Del Mar and La Jolla is the easily accessible Torrey Pines State Beach. In addition to the paid parking lot, there is free parking on the road alongside the beach, as well as on any of the nearby roads just outside of the park. Just above the beach, on the overlooking bluffs slightly to the south, is the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, which contains miles of hiking trails with beautiful views. If you hike up from the beach to the top of the bluffs, there is a museum inside the visitor's center that tells the natural and cultural history of the Reserve. It opens daily at 9:00 a.m. (May - October) or 10:00 a.m. (November - April). Free interpretive nature walks are offered on weekends and holidays at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If you happen to be in town during the month of May, you can catch the Art In The Pines Festival here, the entrance to which is also free, provided parking is outside of the park. If you follow the service road on the top of the bluffs (you can walk it) out to North Torrey Pines Road and continue to head south, you will come to the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which is definitely not free to play on, but may nevertheless be fun to take a peak at, if you are at all a golf fan.

Just a little further to the south is the Torrey Pines Glider Port. Watching the gliders take off from the bluffs and hover over the sea makes for a great sunny morning or afternoon activity, and is again absolutely free. You can do this from on top of the cliffs at the Glider Port itself, or you can hike down below, to Black's Beach, La Jolla's northernmost beach and one of San Diego's only nude beaches. Approximately one block inland, on the road that leads to the Glider Port, is the Salk Institute for Biological Research, named for Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine, and built in the 1960's by Louis Kahn. Thus, this Institute is not only known for its cutting-edge research, but also for its architecture. There are free guided architectural tours on weekdays at noon, but you need to call at least two days in advance to make arrangements 858-453-4100, ext. 1287, or schedule online http://www.salk.edu/about/architecture_tours.html. If you cross North Torrey Pines Road from here, you will find yourself on the University of California San Diego campus. Free walking tours are offered on the first Sunday of every month at 2:00, while free bus tours are offered on the remaining Sundays of each month. These tours focus on the architecture and The Stuart Collection of outdoor sculptures. For more information, visit their website http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/tours/index.html.

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