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Things Locals Can Do to Avoid the Crowds in San Diego

We all know and appreciate that we live in America’s finest city. We have a perfectly mild climate, only occasionally ruined by May gray and June gloom. Miles of coastline spotted with surfers and marine wildlife spoil us year-round. We look forward to walking any number of trails inland and on the coast. We relish the ubiquitous outdoor dining, craft beer scene, and boutique coffee shops throughout the county. But, let's face it, there is a reality that San Diego is a tourist destination for all the same reasons we love living here. When we've had enough of battling out of towners, where can we escape for a bit of rest and relaxation without sacrificing too much time on the freeways?

Secret Places Among Us
There is no arguing that our beaches are the best. The good news is that there are still stretches of beach where locals can enjoy themselves. Boomer Beach, located just south of La Jolla Cove, is one of those places. It is ideal for those experienced swimmers and body surfers since it is not open for surfing or bodyboarding. For those just wanting to enjoy a bit of quiet time, it is perfect for a picnic or even a quick snooze while catching some rays. Parking is free, and you can even bring your dog.

San Diego offers miles of open trails to explore and hike. However, it seems most of us seem to have the same idea. Parking sometimes becomes a premium, and finding roadside spots is a bit sketchy. But there are still plenty of options for some quality hiking. The Balboa Park trails within the city limits offer 65 miles of trails through differing terrains, with shorter hikes starting half a mile long. Outside the city, head north and inland towards Escondido, where you will find the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve with trails ranging from 2 to 7 miles long. A perfect escape to nature without the residual crowds you might find on more popular hikes.

San Diego offers more than 340 parks. Parks can range from small, community parks providing opportunities to play pickup games of basketball or pickleball to spectacular Balboa Park with its seventeen museums. Despite its draw, Balboa Park's vast size makes the crowds seem smaller and offers enough options that you can map out a strategic plan to avoid those crowds. Unlike San Diego beaches, some parks allow for alcohol consumption, including some regions of Balboa Park. Bring that picnic basket filled with your favorite cheese and crackers, lay out a blanket, and enjoy with your favorite beverage, whether wine, beer, seltzer, or your favorite frozen vodka pops (Hint: they can double as ice and your drink of choice!).
With the introduction of e-bikes and scooters, exploring San Diego without a car has also become more manageable. Both can be rented throughout the county and are a fun, alternative way to get around for a quick escape. Biking, in general, can be enjoyed on most trails and in parks throughout San Diego.
Another excellent opportunity to escape the crowds is to head to sea. San Diego offers many options to hit the water. Of course, there are the usual surfing, swimming, and bodyboarding options. Stand-up paddle (SUP) boards can be rented in shops along the coast and are a challenging workout. Kayaking is also a fun alternative to the usual beach activities. Options include rentals or even doing group expeditions exploring the coastline. While whale watching will likely attract crowds, it is still a spectacular option for a day on the water since only so many people can fit on a boat. However, it would be best to plan that in advance as reservations are generally required.

Get Out and Go
Despite the tourists that flock to our city for the unique attractions it offers, there are still many alternative activities to take advantage of when it feels like the masses make everything a little less enjoyable. There is some perfect combination of passive or vigorous activities within San Diego to feel like you have escaped the crowds and found joy experiencing our city like locals should.