Torrey Pines’ gorgeous coastline rivals some of California’s most rugged and remote stretches, making it hard to believe that it’s located just miles from downtown San Diego. See its most dramatic scenery in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
(and score a little beach time at nearby Torrey Pines State Beach) by setting out on a 2.25-mile loop to marquee overlooks at Razor Point and Yucca Point. Venture down a sage-covered bluff dotted with Torrey pines—the rarest pine tree in North America. The viewpoints offer postcard-perfect perspectives of striated sandstone cliffs that seem to melt into the Pacific. Take Beach Trail down a canyon that leads to a sandy strip between the waves and the cliffs. Walk north up the beach to spot rainbow-colored bands in the orange cliffs above, or venture to a more secluded beach by following a surprise path cut into the bluff above Flat Rock.
WHERE TO STAY: Splurge for The Lodge at Torrey Pines (11480 N. Torrey Pines Rd. in La Jolla), a gorgeous resort overlooking the 18th green of the PGA Torrey Pines Golf Course. The architecture plays up to its natural surroundings with exposed wood beams, a giant garden, and windows galore. Conveniently, it’s just a 0.7-mile walk from the lodge to the edge of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Rather rough it? Camp at Dixon Lake Regional Park (1700 N. La Honda Dr., Escondido). Its 45 sites are on a ridge above a reservoir backed by boulder-covered hills.
Enter from the north end of the reserve off N. Torrey Pines Dr. (map). Entrance fee is $10 per vehicle Monday through Thursday, $12–15 per vehicle Friday through Sunday and holidays. Drive 1 mile into the reserve and park at the Beach Trailhead on the right, across from the visitor center. Be mindful of the tide. Park closes at sunset. Bring this trail map and brochure. No dogs.