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Ballooning

Enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the coastline south to Mexico and north to San Clemente from a hot-air balloon at sunrise or sunset; most excursions include beverages and snacks, too. The conditions are perfect: wide-open spaces and just enough wind to breeze you through them.

California Dreamin'. Head here for hot-air balloon rides, specializing in Temecula wine country flights and Del Mar sunset coastal excursions. 33133 Vista del Monte Rd., Temecula, CA, 92591. 800/373–3359. www.californiadreamin.com.

Skysurfer Balloon Company. Lift off for a one-hour champagne and sunset flight in Del Mar ($210 per person). Ask if they're running any special rates for couples. 3755 Townsgate Dr., Del Mar, CA, 92014. 858/481–6800 or. www.sandiegohotairballoons.com.

Baseball

Long a favorite spectator sport in San Diego, where games are rarely rained out, baseball gained even more popularity in 2004 with the opening of PETCO Park, a stunning 42,000-seat facility in the heart of downtown. The ballpark underwent a huge effort recently to improve dining in the park, and local food vendors and craft breweries now dominate the dining options. Although the Padres have not had the winning record many fans had hoped for in recent years, PETCO is a great place to spend an afternoon win or lose.

San Diego Padres. From April into October, the Padres slug it out for bragging rights in the National League West. Home games are played at PETCO Park. Tickets are usually available on game day, but rival matchups against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants often sell out quickly. For an inexpensive day at the ballpark, go for "The Park at the Park" tickets ($10 and up, depending on demand; available for purchase at the park only) and have a picnic on the grass while watching the game on one of several giant-screen TVs. You also get access to the full concourse. Head to the fifth floor to find a Stone Brewing outdoor beer garden with sweeping views of downtown and the San Diego Bay. 100 Park Blvd., East Village, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/795–5000 or 877/374–2784. sandiego.padres.mlb.com.

Bicycling

San Diego offers bountiful opportunities for bikers, from casual boardwalk cruises to strenuous rides into the hills. The mild climate makes biking in San Diego a year-round delight. Bike culture is respected here, and visitors are often impressed with the miles of designated bike lanes running alongside city streets and coastal roads throughout the county.

Bike Paths

Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Experienced cyclists follow this route in Solana Beach east into Rancho Santa Fe, perhaps even continuing east on Del Dios Highway, past Lake Hodges, to Escondido. These roads can be narrow and winding in spots.

Mission Beach Boardwalk. A ride here is a great way to take in a classic California scene. Keep in mind this route is more for cruising than hardcore cycling, as the gawkers and crowds often slow foot- and bike traffic to a crawl. Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92109.

Route S21. On many summer days, Route S21, aka Old Highway 101, from La Jolla to Oceanside looks like a freeway for cyclists. About 24 miles long, it's easily the most popular and scenic bike route around, never straying far from the beach. Although the terrain is fairly easy, the long, steep Torrey Pines grade is famous for weeding out the weak. Another Darwinian challenge is dodging slow-moving pedestrians and cars pulling over to park in towns like Encinitas and Del Mar. La Jolla, CA.

Bike Tours and Rentals

Bike & Kayak Tours. This bike and kayak outfitter, with locations in La Jolla and on Coronado, is your one-stop shop for biking fun. It offers bike rentals and tours like La Jolla Freefall tour that starts at Mt. Soledad, La Jolla's highest point, and continues down the mountain, past mansions and along the coastline. Bike & Kayak Tours also offers a hotel delivery service, via which they drop off Gary Fisher mountain bikes or Scott Racing road bikes right at your doorstep. 2158 Ave. De La Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/454–1010. bikeandkayaktours.com.

The Bike Revolution. Choose from a wide array of rentals, from road bikes to cruisers, and embark on a ride along the downtown waterfront, up the hill to Balboa Park, or hop on the ferry to Coronado Island for a leisurely ride around the idyllic island. 522 6th Ave., Downtown, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/238–2444. www.thebikerevolution.com.

Cheap Rentals Mission Beach. A little over a block off the boardwalk, this place has good daily and weekly prices for surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, skateboards, ice chests, umbrellas, chairs, and bike rentals, including beach cruisers, tandems, hybrids, and two-wheeled baby carriers. Demand is high during the busy season (May through September), so call to reserve equipment ahead of time. 3689 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/488–9070 or 800/941–7761. www.cheap-rentals.com.

Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. This outfitter offers a wide range of guided bike tours, from easy excursions around Mission Bay and Coronado Island to slightly more rigorous trips through coastal La Jolla. Tours last up to two and a half hours, and cost $30–40 per person. The company also rents bikes and can even deliver them to your hotel. 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.

Holland's Bicycles. This is a great bike rental source on Coronado Island. It also has another store (Bikes and Beyond 619/435–7180) located at the ferry landing, so you can jump on your bike as soon as you cross the harbor from downtown San Diego. 977 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA, 92118. 619/435–3153. www.hollandsbicycles.com.

Wheel Fun Rentals. Surreys, cruisers, mountain bikes, tandems, and electric bicycles, among other two-, three-, and four-wheeled contraptions, are available at the downtown Holiday Inn and a number of other locations around San Diego; call or visit the website for details. 1355 N. Harbor Dr., Downtown, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/342–7244. www.wheelfunrentals.com.

California Academy of Tauromaquia. The academy opened in 1997 as the first bullfighting school in the United States. Year-round, the school offers a weeklong (Tuesday through Saturday) course in San Diego that finishes with a trip to a working bull ranch in northern Baja California. An intensive (12 hours of instruction) weekend course, beginning on Friday in San Diego and moving to the bull ranch in Baja on Saturday, takes place once or twice monthly year-round. A weekend intensive course in central Mexico and one or two annual field trips to Spain are also part of the syllabus. Point Loma, San Diego, CA, 92106. 619/709–0664. www.bullfightschool.com.

Diving and Snorkeling

The kelp forests and protected marine areas off the San Diego coast are easily accessible and offer divers ample opportunities to explore. Classes are available for beginners, while experienced divers will appreciate the challenges of local wreck and canyon dives. Water temperatures can be chilly, so check with a local outfitter for the appropriate gear before setting out.

San Diego City Lifeguard Service. Call this hotline for pre-recorded, up-to-date diving information and conditions. 619/221–8824. www.sandiego.gov/lifeguards.

Dive Sites

Mission Beach. The HMCS Yukon, a decommissioned Canadian warship, was intentionally sunk off Mission Beach to create the main diving destination in San Diego. A mishap caused the ship to settle on its side, creating a surreal, M.C. Escher–esque diving environment. This is a technical dive and should be attempted only by experienced divers; even diving instructors have become disoriented inside the wreck, and a few have even died trying to explore it. Mission Beach, San Diego, CA.

San Diego–La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Preserve. Diving enthusiasts the world over come to San Diego to snorkel and scuba dive off La Jolla at the underwater preserve. Because all sea life is protected here, this 533-acre preserve (all of La Jolla Cove to La Jolla Shores) is the best place to see large lobster, sea bass, and sculpin (scorpion fish), as well as numerous golden garibaldi damselfish, the state marine fish. It's common to see hundreds of beautiful (and harmless) leopard sharks schooling at the north end of the cove, near La Jolla Shores, especially in summer. La Jolla Shores and Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla, CA, 92037.

Scripps Canyon. Off the south end of Black's Beach, the rim of Scripps Canyon lies in about 60 feet of water and comprises the Marine Life Refuge. The canyon plummets more than 900 feet in some sections. San Diego, CA, 92037.

Dive Tours and Outfitters

Ocean Enterprises Scuba Diving. Stop in for everything you need to plan a diving adventure, including equipment, advice, and instruction. 7710 Balboa Ave., Suite 101, Clairemont, San Diego, CA, 92111. 858/565–6054. www.oceanenterprises.com.

Scuba San Diego. This center is well regarded for its top-notch instruction and certification programs, as well as for guided dive tours. Trips include dives to kelp reefs in La Jolla Cove, and night diving at La Jolla Canyon. San Diego Hilton Hotel, 1775 E. Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay, San Diego, CA, 92109. 619/260–1880. www.scubasandiego.com.

Fishing

San Diego’s waters are home to many game species; you never know what you’ll hook. Depending on the season, a half- or full-day ocean charter trip could bring in a yellowfin, dorado, sea bass, or halibut. Longer trips to Mexican waters can net you bigger game like a marlin or a bigeye tuna. Pier fishing doesn’t offer as much excitement, but it’s the cheapest ocean fishing option available. No license is required to fish from a public pier, which includes those at Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, and Oceanside.

Public lakes are frequently stocked with a variety of trout and largemouth bass, but also have resident populations of bluegill and catfish.

California Department of Fish and Game. A fishing license, available at most bait-and-tackle and sporting-goods stores, is required for fishing from the shoreline. Nonresidents can purchase an annual license or a 10-day, 2-day, or 1-day short-term license. Licenses can also be purchased online through the department's website or at the San Diego headquarters. Children younger than 16 do not need a license. Note that some city reservoirs no longer sell snacks, drinks, bait, or fishing licenses, nor do they rent pedal boats or electric motors. They also accept cash only for day-use fees. Make sure to check updated concession availability for your specific destination, or obtain a fishing license in advance. You do not need a license to fish from public piers. 3883 Ruffin Rd., San Diego, CA, 92123. 858/467–4201. www.wildlife.ca.gov.

Freshwater Fishing

Dixon, Hodges, and Wohlford. These three freshwater lakes surround the North County city of Escondido.

Lake Jennings. County-operated Lake Jennings is stocked with trout in winter and catfish during the summer; it's a popular fly-fishing spot and also offers camping and great picnicking. 9535 Harritt Rd., Lakeside, CA, 92040. 619/443–2510. www.lakejennings.org.

Lake Morena. This spot is popular for fishing, camping, and hiking. 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo, CA, 91906. 619/579–4101; 619/478–5473 recorded information. www.sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/Camping/lake_morena.html.

Sutherland. This city-operated reservoir, open March through September on weekends, is a good spot for catching largemouth bluegill and bass. There's also turkey hunting during the spring and fall. 22850 Sutherland Dam Rd., Ramona, CA, 92065. 619/668–2050.

Saltwater Fishing

Fisherman's Landing. You can book space on a fleet of luxury vessels from 57 feet to 124 feet long and embark on multiday trips in search of yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, and other deep-water fish. Half-day fishing and whale-watching trips are also available. 2838 Garrison St., Point Loma, San Diego, CA, 92106. 619/221–8500. www.fishermanslanding.com.

H&M Landing. Join one of the West's oldest sportfishing companies for year-round fishing trips plus whale-watching excursions from December through March. 2803 Emerson St., Point Loma, San Diego, CA, 92106. 619/222–1144. www.hmlanding.com.

Helgren's Sportfishing. Your best bet in North County, Helgren's offers trips from Oceanside Harbor. 315 Harbor Way South, Oceanside, CA, 92054. 760/722–2133. www.helgrensportfishing.com.

Football

Holiday Bowl. One of college football's most-watched playoff games takes place in Qualcomm Stadium around the end of December. 9449 Friars Rd., San Diego, CA, 92108. 619/283–5808. www.holidaybowl.com.

San Diego Chargers. Part of the NFL's West division, the offensive-minded San Diego–based Chargers play their home games at Qualcomm Stadium. Particularly intense are the Chargers' games with AFC West rivals the Oakland Raiders. The team began in 1960, with its first season in L.A. but then in San Diego since 1961. Its iconic lightning bolt has stayed with the team and uniforms through the decades. 9449 Friars Rd., Mission Valley, San Diego, CA, 92108. 858/874–4500 Charger Park; 877/242–7437 season tickets. www.chargers.com.

Frisbee Golf

Morley Field Disc Golf Course. Disc golf is a popular local sport that's like golf, except it's played with Frisbees. The Morley Field course, in Balboa Park, is open daily from dawn to dusk. Frisbees are available to rent for a small fee, and there's also a small fee for using the course (it's first come, first serve). Rules are posted for those new to the sport. 3090 Pershing Dr., Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, 92104. 619/692–3607. www.morleyfield.com.

Golf

San Diego’s climate—generally sunny, without a lot of wind—is perfect for golf, and there are some 90 courses in the area, appealing to every level of expertise. Experienced golfers can play the same greens as PGA-tournament participants, and beginners or rusty players can book a week at a golf resort and benefit from expert instruction. You’d also be hard-pressed to find a locale that has more scenic courses—everything from sweeping views of the ocean to verdant hills inland.

During busy vacation seasons it can be difficult to get a good tee time. Call in advance to see if it’s possible to make a reservation. You don’t necessarily have to stay at a resort to play its course; check if the one you’re interested in is open to nonguests. Most public courses in the area provide a list of fees for all San Diego courses.

Courses

The adult public’s greens fees for an 18-hole game are included for each course, as well as the courses’ championship (blue) yardage; carts (in some cases mandatory), instruction, and other costs are additional. Rates go down during twilight hours, and San Diego residents may be able to get a better deal. Prices change regularly, so check with courses for up-to-date greens fees and deals.

Arrowood Golf Course. This Ted Robinson Jr.–designed course in Oceanside remains under the radar, but many San Diegans cite it as their favorite due to its challenging holes and tournament-style feel with year-round contests and prizes. The course, which opened in 2005, is quite scenic thanks to its location next to protected habitat and the signature 16th hole requires a challenging shot into an island green. 5201 A Village Dr., Oceanside, CA, 92057. 760/967–8400. www.arrowoodgolf.com. $87 Mon.–Thurs., $92 Fri., $110 weekends. 18 holes, 6721 yards, par 71.

Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. San Diego's oldest public course is five minutes from downtown in the heart of Balboa Park and offers impressive views of the city and the bay. The course includes a 9-hole executive course and a challenging 18-hole course that weaves among the park’s canyons with some tricky drop-offs. Finish off your round with biscuits and gravy and a mimosa at Tobey’s 19th Hole Cafe, a greasy spoon that's also Balboa Park's best-kept secret. 2600 Golf Course Dr., Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, 92102. 619/235–1184. www.balboagc.com. 9 holes: $18 weekdays, $23 weekends. 18 holes: $40 weekdays, $50 weekends. 27 holes, 6281 yards, par 72.

Coronado Municipal Golf Course. Spectacular views of downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge as well as affordable prices make this public course one of the busiest in the world. Bordered by the bay, the trick is to keep your ball out of the water. Wind can add some difficulty, but otherwise this is a leisurely course and a good one to walk. It's difficult to get on unless you reserve a tee time 3 to 14 days in advance. The course's Bayside Grill restaurant is well-known for its Thursday and Sunday night prime rib dinner. Reservations are recommended. 2000 Visalia Row, Coronado, CA, 92118. 619/435–3121. www.golfcoronado.com. $18 for 9 holes, $35 for 18 holes weekdays, $40 weekends. 18 holes, 6590 yards, par 72.

Cottonwood at Rancho San Diego Golf Club. This peaceful public golf club 20 minutes from downtown San Diego is set among rolling hills and offers two 18-hole courses—the Lakes, aptly name for the eight lakes that dot the course, and the not-too-challenging Ivanhoe course. Both are good walking courses with nice practice putting greens. On weekend mornings tee times include mandatory cart rental. If it's your birthday, you can play for free. 3121 Willow Glen Rd., El Cajon, CA, 92019. 619/442–9891 or 800/455–1902. www.cottonwoodgolf.com. Ivanhoe: $16–$24 weekdays, $38–$42 weekends. Lakes: $18 weekdays, $16–$24 weekends. Cart is extra. Ivanhoe: 18 holes, 6831 yards, par 72. Lakes: 18 holes, 6610 yards, par 71.

Eastlake Country Club. Ted Robinson designed this fun public course a few miles from the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Eastlake offers great views of Mount Miguel, and despite the water hazards and sandtraps, it's good for players of all skill levels. It's also a pretty course with waterfalls, six lakes, and hundreds of trees. Reservations can be made up to seven days in advance and you can save quite a bit by taking advange of the club's Twilight rates. 2375 Clubhouse Dr., Chula Vista, CA, 91915. 619/482–5757. www.eastlakecountryclub.com. $69 Mon.–Thurs., $79 Fri., $89 weekends. 18 holes, 6606 yards, par 72.

Encinitas Ranch. See the Pacific Ocean from virtually every vantage point at this course on bluffs in North County. Local golfers love it because low scores aren't that hard to come by. It's a forgiving course with wide-open fairways. Encinitas Ranch also has a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with a bar and café. The adjoining patio has a stone fireplace and great ocean views. 1275 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/944–1936. www.jcgolf.com. $81 Mon.–Thurs., $87 Fri., $103 weekends (cart included). 18 holes, 6587 yards, par 72. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.

Mission Bay Golf Course and Practice Center. Making sure people have fun is the number-one goal at this city-run golf course. San Diego's only nightlighted course, the final tee time is at 7:45 pm for 9 holes, and the executive course with par 3 and 4 holes isn't too challenging. The golf course's scenic and breezy location next to Mission Bay helps keep it comfortably cool. 2702 N. Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/581–7880. www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/golf/mbgolf.shtml. $17 for 9 holes weekdays, $22 weekends; $29 for 18 holes weekdays, $36 weekends. 18 holes, 2715 yards, par 58.

Mount Woodson Golf Club. This beautiful, heavily wooded club in a hilly area off Highway 67 is set amid a grove of ancient oak trees and granite boulder-strewn hillsides with spectacular views of the historic Woodson Castle, a private residence built in 1921 that is now one of San Diego's most popular wedding venues. The course features some challenging holes like the par 5 Windinface, a deep, three-tiered green, where accuracy is a must. The course also features wooden bridges and good views, particularly from Hole 17. There is a pro shop and a small café. This is a popular local tournament site. 16422 N. Woodson Dr., Ramona, CA, 92065. 760/788–3555. mtwoodsoncastle.com. Members: $42 weekdays, $52 weekends. Nonmembers: $55 weekdays, $65 weekends. 18 holes, 6004 yards, par 70.

Riverwalk Golf Clubs. With three different 9-hole layouts that can be combined in a variety of ways, this course near the Fashion Valley shopping center is sort of a "choose your own adventure" one. The layouts, designed by Ted Robinson Sr. and Jr., feature natural terrain and oak and eucalyptus trees throughout. There are also a variety of water features including four lakes and the San Dieguito river. This course is challenging but suitable for players of all skill levels with multiple tees on each hole. 1150 Fashion Valley Rd., San Diego, CA, 92108. 619/296–4653. www.riverwalkgc.com. 9 holes: $27–$30 Mon.–Thurs., $35 Fri.–Sun. 18 holes: $89 Mon.–Thurs., $99 Fri.–Sun. Presidio: 9 holes, 3397 yards, par 72. Mission: 9 holes, 3153 yards, par 72. Friars: 9 holes, 3230 yards, par 72.

Torrey Pines Golf Course. Due to its clifftop location overlooking the Pacific and its classic championship holes, Torrey Pines is one of the best public golf courses in the United States. The course was the site of the 2008 U.S. Open and has been the home of the Farmers Insurance Open since 1968. The par-72 South Course, redesigned by Rees Jones in 2001, receives rave reviews from touring pros; it is longer, more challenging, and more expensive than the North Course. Tee times may be booked from 8 to 90 days in advance (877/581–7171) and are subject to an advance booking fee ($43). 11480 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/452–3226 or 800/985–4653. www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com. South: $183 weekdays, $229 weekends. North: $100 weekdays, $125 weekends; $40 for golf cart. South: 18 holes, 7227 yards, par 72. North: 18 holes, 6874 yards, par 72.

Resorts

Barona Creek Golf Course. Rated among the top five courses nationwide, this 7,392-yard course won accolades from day one for its challenging slopes, strategically placed boulders, and native grass landscaping. Barona Creek golf course offers four tees to accommodate golfers of all skills and abilities. For those looking to be challenged at the expert level, the course provides a championship layout with four T configurations. 1932 Wildcat Canyon Rd., Ramona, CA, 92040. 888/722–7662. www.barona.com. $80 to $160, depending on time of day, midweek or weekend. Black: 18 holes, 7092 yards, par 72. Gold: 18 holes, 6632 yards, par 72. Silver: 18 holes, 6231 yards, par 72. Burgundy: 18 holes, 5296 yards, par 70. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, rental clubs, pro shop, lessons, restaurant, bar.

Carlton Oaks Lodge and Country Club. Many prestigious qualifying events—including the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifiers—have been held at this difficult course that was built in 1958 and designed by Pete Dye. The historic course is considered a local landmark and has a picturesque setting, with Sycamore and Eucalyptus trees, several lakes, and a creek. The newly renovated Oaks Bar and Grill serves sandwiches and wraps and offers good Happy Hour specials between 4 and 7. 9200 Inwood Dr., Santee, CA, 92071. 619/448–4242. www.carltonoaksgolf.com. For members: $35 Mon.–Thurs., $45 Fri., $60 Sat., $50 Sun. For nonmembers: $55 Mon.–Thurs., $65 Fri., $85 weekends. 18 holes, 6700 yards, par 72.

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa. One of the premier golf resorts in Southern California, La Costa over the years has hosted many of the best professional golfers in the world as well as prominent politicians and Hollywood celebrities. The resort recently remodeled both its courses. The Dick Wilson–designed Champions course has new bent grass greens, Bermuda fairways, and bunkers. The more spacious Legends Course received a complete makeover including a redesign of all 18 greens, as well as new bunkers and turfgrass plantings. After a day on the links you can wind down with a massage, steam bath, and dinner at the resort. 2100 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA, 92009. 800/854–5000. www.lacosta.com. $210 Mon.–Thurs., $230 Fri.–Sun. Champions: 18 holes, 6608 yards, par 72. Legends: 18 holes, 6524 yards, par 72.

Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club. This golf course consistently ranks as one of the best in California and is the only course in San Diego designed by Arnold Palmer. The course features gently rolling hills dotted with native wildflowers and views of the protected adjacent Batiquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of bunkers and water features for those looking for a challenge, and the golf carts, included in the cost, come fitted with GPS systems that tell you the distance to the pin. The two-story Spanish colonial clubhouse has full-size lockers, lounge areas, a bar, and a steak house. 7447 Batiquitos Dr., Carlsbad, CA, 92011. 760/603–6900. www.golfaviara.com. Members: $130 Mon.–Thurs., $150 Fri.–Sun. Nonmembers: $225 Mon.–Thurs., $245 Fri.–Sun. 18 holes, 7007 yards, par 72.

Rancho Bernardo Inn and Country Club. Designed by William Francis Bell in 1962, this 18-hole course has a traditional layout, but renovations in 2009 and 2010 have kept it feeling fresh and new. New bunkers were even added in 2013. The course has hosted both PGA and LPGA events and offers an oasis in Rancho Bernardo, with its tree-lined fairways and various water features. A challenging 18th hole requires an approach shot over a creek. Located at the esteemed Rancho Bernardo Inn, the property offers great amenities like a spa and several restaurants, including AVANT, where gourmet mustards are served on tap. 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., Rancho Bernardo, CA, 92128. 858/675–8470. www.ranchobernardoinn.com/golf. Members: $55 Mon.–Thurs., $59 Fri., $85 weekends. Nonmembers: $100 Mon.–Thurs., $115 Fri., $135 weekends. 18 holes, 6631 yards, par 72. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, golf carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.

Sycuan Resort & Casino. With its three courses orginally designed by Cecil Holingsworth, this resort offers something for every golfer. Due to flooding in the late 1970s, the courses had to be redesigned by golf course architect Ted Robinson Sr., who added elevation changes and lakes to increase the difficulty. Hackers will love the executive par-3 course, while seasoned golfers can play the championship courses. Sycuan Golf Resort hosts a variety of tournaments, including the Junior World Golf Championships, U.S. Public Links Qualifying site, and the San Diego Junior Amateur. 3007 Dehesa Rd., El Cajon, CA, 92019. 619/219–6028 or 800/457–5568. www.sycuanresort.com. Willow Glen and Oak Glen: $55 for members Mon.–Thurs., $56 Fri., $66 weekends; $91 for nonmembers Mon.–Thurs., $96 Fri., $111 weekends. Pine Glen: $25 for members and nonmembers. Willow Glen: 18 holes, 6687 yards, par 72. Oak Glen: 18 holes, 6682 yards, par 72. Pine Glen: 18 holes, 2508 yards, par 54. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.

Golf

Farmers Insurance Open. This tournament brings the pros to the Torrey Pines Golf Course in late January or early February. 11480 North Torrey Pines. Rd., La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/886–4653 Year-round; 858/452–0362 During tournament. www.farmersinsuranceopen.com.

Hang Gliding and Paragliding

Torrey Pines Gliderport. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean north of La Jolla, this is one of the most spectacular spots to hang glide in the world. It's for experienced pilots only, but hang gliding and paragliding lessons and tandem rides for inexperienced gliders are available. Those who'd rather just watch can grab a bite at the Cliffhanger Cafe, which offers incredible views of the Pacific and of the paragliders taking off. There's live music on Saturday. 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr., La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/452–9858. www.flytorrey.com.

Hiking and Nature Trails

From beachside bluffs and waterfront estuaries to the foothills and trails of the nearby Laguna Mountains and the desert beyond, San Diego County has several vegetation and climate zones—and plenty of open space for hiking. Even if you lack the time to explore the outskirts, a day hike through the canyons and gardens of Balboa Park or the canyons and hills of Mission Trails Park is a great way to escape to nature without leaving the city.

Guided hikes are conducted regularly through Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve and the Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve.

Hiking

Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument. Driving here is a treat in itself, as a vast view of the Pacific unfolds before you. The view is equally enjoyable on Bayside Trail (2 miles round-trip), which is home to the same coastal sagebrush that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo saw when he first discovered the California coast in the 16th century. After the hike, you can explore nearby tide pools, the monument statue, and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Don't worry if you don't see everything on your first visit; your entrance receipt ($5 per car) is good for 7 days. 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., Point Loma, San Diego, CA, 92106. From I–5, take the Rosecrans exit and turn right on Canon St. then left on Catalina Blvd. (also known as Cabrillo Memorial Dr.); follow until the end. 619/557–5450. www.nps.gov/cabr.

Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. Join guided treks through Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve, and Mission Trails Regional Park, which includes Cowles Mountain and Fortuna Mountain. Office, 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Trails at this inland park north of Mira Mesa accommodate equestrians, runners, walkers, and cyclists as well as leashed dogs. Look at maps for trails specific to bikes and horses. A small waterfall among large volcanic rock boulders is one of the park's most popular sites—it's an unexpected oasis amid the arid valley landscape. 12020 Black Mountain Rd., Rancho Peñasquitos, San Diego, CA, 92129. From I–15, exit Mercy Rd. and head west to Black Mountain Rd.; turn right then left at first light; follow road to Ranch House parking lot. 858/484–7504. www.sandiego.gov.

Mission Trails Regional Park. This park 8 miles northeast of downtown encompasses nearly 5,800 acres of wooded hillsides, grasslands, chaparral, and streams. Trails range from easy to difficult; they include one with an impressive view of the city from Cowles Mountain and another along a historic missionary path. The park is also a popular place for rock climbing and camping (the Kumeyaay Lake Campground is open on weekends). Lake Murray is at the southern edge of the park, off Highway 8. 1 Father Junípero Serra Trail, Mission Valley, San Diego, CA, 92119. 619/668–3281. www.mtrp.org.

Torrey Pines State Reserve. Hikers and runners will appreciate this park's many winning features: switch-back trails that descend to the sea, an unparalleled view of the Pacific, and a chance to see the Torrey pine tree, one of the rarest pine breeds in the United States. The reserve hosts guided nature walks as well. All food is prohibited at the reserve, so save the picnic until you reach the beach below. Parking is $12–$15, depending on day and season. 12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA, 92037. Exit I–5 at Carmel Valley Rd. and head west toward Coast Hwy. 101 until you reach N. Torrey Pines Rd.; turn left. 858/755–2063. www.parks.ca.gov.

Nature Trails

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At more than 600,000 acres, this is the largest state park in California. There are 500 miles of dirt roads and countless trails for hiking. Visits here are especially popular during the two-week desert wildflower bloom, which happens between early February and late April. The exact timing depends on winter rains, so it's best to call the park ahead for advice. The park is about a two-hour drive east of downtown San Diego, at the far eastern end of San Diego County. 200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs, CA, 92004. 760/767–4205. www.parks.ca.gov.

Carlsbad Flower Fields. This commercial nursery that's also a tourist destination is for anyone who wants to see a seemingly endless sea of red, yellow, purple, and pink blooms against the distant blue sea. The fields are only open to visitors when flowers are in bloom from March to May. Don't plan a trip in any other season or you'll just see a field of dirt. In spring, drivers on I–5 can steal a peek at the ranunculus fields, which burst with lively color. 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA, 92008. Exit I–5 at Palomar Airport Rd. and head east; turn left at Paseo Del Norte then right into parking lot. 760/431–0352. www.theflowerfields.com. $12.

San Dieguito River Park. This 55-mile corridor begins at the mouth of the San Dieguito River in Del Mar and heads from the riparian lagoon area through coastal sage scrub and mountain terrain to end in the desert, which is east of Volcan Mountain near Julian. It's open to hikers, bikers, and horses. The expansive park is also home to the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, an 1880s farmstead that was almost completely destroyed by wildfire in 2007. After painstaking restoration it reopened in 2010 and is now home to a museum. The restored adobe creamery reopened in 2014. 18372 Sycamore Creek Rd., Escondido, CA, 92025. 858/674–2270. www.sdrp.org.

Tijuana Estuary. Mostly contained within Border Field State Park, this estuary is one of the last riparian environments in Southern California. The freshwater and saltwater marshes shelter migrant and resident waterfowl. Horse-riding trails fringe the south end of the Tijuana Estuary in Border Field State Park. The visitor center is open Wednesday through Sunday, but the trails are open daily. 301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach, CA, 91932. Exit I–5 at Coronado Ave., head west to 3rd St., turn left onto Caspian, which leads into estuary parking lot. 619/575–3613. www.tijuanaestuary.com.

Horse Racing

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The racetrack attracts the best horses and jockeys in the country—Seabiscuit even won a much-talked-about race here in 1938. And, thanks to a newly added fall season, spectators can enjoy 11 weeks of racing annually at the historic Del Mar Racetrack. The summer season starts in mid-July and runs through early September and includes a summer concert series and opening and closing day celebrations. The fall season lasts for a month starting in November. The track, which opened in 1937, was founded in part by singer and actor Bing Crosby. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA, 92014. Take I–5 north to Via de la Valle exit. 858/755–1141. www.dmtc.com.

Horseback Riding

Bright Valley Farms. Take riding lessons or join a trail ride on the winding paths of the Sweetwater River valley. 12310 Campo Rd., Spring Valley, CA, 91978. 619/670–1861. www.brightvalleyfarms.com.

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon. At this historic ranch in Escondido, you can ride horseback by taking group or private lessons. Trail rides go past old dairy farms and orange groves. 16251 Bandy Canyon Rd., Escondido, CA, 92025. 760/871–6494. bandycanyon.com.

San Diego Beach Rides. This family-owned business south of Imperial Beach has been operating for 30 years and offers mostly private rides by appointment. The quarter and painted horses are carefully matched to each person for rides that can include a jaunt through the Tijuana River Valley Preserve, a sunset ride along the beach, or a swimming adventure, where your horse actually goes with you into the water. The monthly moonlight ride starts with a campfire cookout, complete with barbecued tri-tip and baked beans, followed by a 1½-hour ride to the top of the Grand Mesa. 2180 Monument Rd., San Diego, CA, 92154. 619/947–3152. www.happytrailssandiego.com. $50 per person for Riverbed Rides, $100 for Sunset Rides, and $150 for Swim Adventure Rides.

Sweetwater Farms. Join the farm's guides for horse rides through the stunning nature trails of inland San Diego County's Bonita area. Sweetwater Farms also offers lessons and training. 3051 Equitation La., Bonita, CA, 91902. 619/475–3134. www.sweetwaterhorses.com.

Vineyard Trail Rides. Forty-five minutes northeast of San Diego, this company offers 90-minute horseback rides through Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery, a 110-acre private estate with 100-year-old oak trees and wide valley views. The ride includes a wine tasting paired with a selection of chocolates. 18750 Littlepage Rd., Ramona, CA, 92065. 951/595–3503. vineyardtrailrides.com. $100 per person, $160 per couple.

Jet Skiing

Jet Skis can be launched from most ocean beaches, although you must ride beyond surf lines, and some beaches have special regulations governing their use.

California Watersports. Waveless Mission Bay and the smaller Carlsbad Lagoon, east of the intersection of Tamarack Avenue and I–5, are easy to reach from this water recreation center, which has a private beach and landing ramp. You can rent ski boats, jet skis, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards. 4215 Harrison St., Carlsbad, CA, 92008. 760/434–3089. www.carlsbadlagoon.com.

El Capitan Reservoir. The only freshwater lake that allows Jet Skis is 30 miles northeast of the city near Lake Jennings. El Monte Rd., San Diego, CA, 91901. Take I–8 north to Lake Jennings Park Road, head east on El Monte Road, and follow signs. 619/465–3474. www.sandiego.gov/water/recreation/reservoirs/elcapitan.shtml. $10 day-use fee, per person.

San Diego Jet Ski Rentals. The shop is open daily in spring, summer, and fall; in winter, call ahead for a reservation. In addition to Jet Skis the outfitter rents jet boats, kayaks, and paddleboards. 4275 Mission Bay Dr., Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/272–6161. www.sdjetski.com.

Seaforth Boat Rentals. You can rent Yamaha WaveRunners and explore San Diego Bay or Mission Bay from Seaforth Boat Rentals' five different San Diego locations. On most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays you can join a two-hour waverunner tour of La Jolla's coast, departing from the Mission Bay location. 1715 Strand Way, Coronado, CA, 92118. 888/834–2628. www.seaforthboatrental.com.

Jogging

Running is a very popular San Diego pastime and organized races like the Rock’n’Roll Marathon (runrocknroll.competitor.com) and La Jolla Half (www.lajollahalfmarathon.com) bring thousands of visitors to San Diego each year. You don’t have to sign up for one of these races, though, to get in on the action. Just get out and pound the pavement by going for an easy jog along the San Diego Waterfront (do as the locals do and add in a stair workout at the Convention Center), or hit the trails in Balboa Park.

Balboa Park. Balboa Park offers 65 miles of hiking, biking, and running trails of various difficulty. Joggers can start out from any parking lot, but it's probably easiest to start anywhere along the 6th Avenue side. Entry to the numerous lots is best where Laurel Street connects with 6th Avenue. Trails are clearly marked and color coded and if you really want to follow a designated "route" that informs you of the distance you've gone start from one of five gateways in the park: Golden Hill, Marston Point, Morley Field, Park Boulevard, and Sixth and Upas. 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA, 92101. www.balboapark.org.

Del Mar. Park your car near 15th Street and run south along the cliffs for a gorgeous view of the ocean. 15th Street, Del Mar, CA, 92014.

Embarcadero. The most popular run downtown is along the Embarcadero, which stretches for 2 miles along the bay. N. Harbor Dr., Downtown, San Diego, CA, 92101.

Mission Bay. This area is popular with joggers for its wide sidewalks and basically flat landscape. Trails head west around Fiesta Island, providing distance as well as a scenic route. 1590 E. Mission Bay Dr., San Diego, CA, 92109.

Mission Beach boardwalk. This is a great place to run while soaking up the scenery and beach culture. Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA, 92101.

Roadrunner Sports. Stop in at Roadrunner for all the supplies and information you'll need for running in San Diego. 5553 Copley Dr., San Diego, CA, 92111. 858/974–4475. www.roadrunnersports.com.

Kayaking

There are several places to kayak throughout San Diego. You can spend an especially memorable afternoon exploring the Seven Caves off La Jolla Cove, where you can often see seals, sea lions, and even dolphin.

Bike & Kayak Tours. La Jolla's location of Bike & Kayak Tours offers a Leopard Shark Encounter snorkeling tour ($39 a person), where adventuresome travelers can see the shy spotted creatures up close. The Coronado location has you embarking on a kayak tour ($32 per person) underneath the Coronado Bridge at dusk to enjoy incredible views of Downtown San Diego. The Coronado location also offers stand-up paddleboards for as little as $14 a person. 1201 1st St., #215, Coronado, CA, 92118. 858/454–1010. bikeandkayaktours.com.

Everyday California. This action-on-the-water sports company also has its own clothing line offering beach casual styles inspired by La Jolla. Tours with expert guides, many of which are former college-level athletes, include a sunset kayak tour, where wildlife to see includes sea lions, seals, pelicans, and dolphin; the tour combines kayaking and snorkeling. If you'd rather go out on your own, Everyday California rents kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, snorkel equipment, and bodyboards. 2243 Ave. De La Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/545–6195. www.everydaycalifornia.com. Sunset Kayak Tour from $80 for a single and $150 for a double, prices can change depending on season.

Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. This shop offers several kayak tours, from easy excursions in Mission Bay that are well suited to families and beginners to more advanced jaunts. Tours include kayaking the caves off La Jolla coast, whale-watching (from a safe distance) December through March, moonlight and sunset trips, and a cruise into the bay to see SeaWorld's impressive fireworks shows over the water in the summer. Tours last two to three hours and require a miminum of four people. 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.

La Jolla Kayak. This family-owned company offers kayak tours of the Seven Caves of La Jolla as well as snorkel and biking adventures. Several guides have extensive backgrounds in marine biology and ecology. 2199 Ave. De La Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/459–1114. www.lajollakayak.com. From $39 for singles, $69 for doubles.

Rock Climbing

Mission Trails Regional Park. Rock climbers come here for the huge quantity of bouldering, top-roping, and single-pitch climbs. 1 Father Junípero Serra Trail, Mission Valley, San Diego, CA, 92119. 619/668–3281. www.mtrp.org.

Solid Rock Gym. With plenty of belay stations and holds that are regularly changed, the three locations of Solid Rock Gym appeal to all skill levels. There are indoor top-roping, bouldering, and lead climbing areas. 2074 Hancock St., Old Town, San Diego, CA, 92110. 619/299–1124. www.solidrockgym.com.

Vertical Hold Sport Climbing Center. One of the largest full-service indoor rock-climbing gyms in Southern California, Vertical Hold Sport Climbing Center offers lessons, equipment rentals, and party packages. 9580 Distribution Ave., Mira Mesa, San Diego, CA, 92121. 858/586–7572. www.verticalhold.com.

Sailing and Boating

The city’s history is full of seafarers, from the ships of the 1542 Cabrillo expedition to the America’s Cup that once had a home here. Winds in San Diego are fairly consistent, especially in winter. You can rent a slip at one of several marinas if you’re bringing your own boat. If not, you can rent vessels of various sizes and shapes—from small paddleboats and kayaks to Hobie Cats—from various vendors. In addition, most bayside resorts rent equipment for on-the-water adventures. Kayaks are one of the most popular boat rentals, especially in La Jolla, where people kayak around the Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve at the cove. Most of what’s available from these outlets is not intended for the open ocean—a dangerous place for the inexperienced.

For information, including tips on overnight anchoring, contact the Port of San Diego Mooring Office (619/686–6227 www.portofsandiego.org).

For additional information contact the San Diego Harbor Police (619/686–6272).

Boat Rentals

Bahia Resort Hotel. This facility and its sister location, the Catamaran Resort Hotel (E3999 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach 858/488–2582), rent paddleboats, kayaks, powerboats, and sailboats from 14 to 22 feet. Thanks to their location on the calm waters of Mission Bay, both are great places for beginners to try paddleboarding. 998 W. Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/488–2582. www.bahiahotel.com.

Seaforth Boat Rentals. You can book charter tours and rent kayaks, Jet Skis, fishing skiffs, powerboats and sailboats at Seaforth's five locations around town. The outfitter also can hook you up with a skipper for a deep-sea fishing trip. Seaforth also rents paddleboards at their Mission Bay and Coronado locations. 1715 Strand Way, Coronado, CA, 92118. 888/834–2628. www.seaforthboatrentals.com.

Boat Charters

California Cruisin'. Contact California Cruisin' for sail boat or power boat charter excursions and dinner cruises. 1450 Harbor Island Dr., Downtown, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/296–8000. www.californiacruisin.com.

Flagship Cruises & Events. Get on board here for harbor tours, two-hour dinner and brunch cruises, and a ferry to Coronado. 1050 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/234–4111; 800/442–7847 reservations. www.flagshipsd.com.

The Gondola Company. You don't have to travel to Venice to be serenaded by a gondolier. This company in the picturesque Coronado Cays features authentic Venetian gondola rides that depart daily from the Loews Coronado Bay Resort marina. 503 Grand Caribe Causeway, Suite C, Coronado, CA, 92118. 619/429–6317. www.gondolacompany.com. From $95 for 2 people.

Harbor Sailboats. You can rent sailboats from 22 to 45 feet long here for open-ocean adventures. The company also offers skippered charter boats for whale-watching, sunset sails, and bay tours. 2040 Harbor Island Dr., Harbor Island, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/291–9568 or 800/854–6625. www.harborsailboats.com.

Hornblower Cruises and Events. This outfit operates harbor cruises, sunset cocktail and dining cruises, whale-watching excursions, and yacht charters. 1066 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/686–8700; 619/686–8715 ticket booth. www.hornblower.com.

Skateboard Parks and Skating

Skateboarding culture has always thrived in San Diego, and recent changes in liability laws have encouraged a jump in the number of skate parks. Many top pro skateboarders live in San Diego and often practice and perfect new moves at local skate parks. Pads and helmets (always a good idea) are required at all parks.

Escondido Sports Center. This 22,000-square-foot skate park includes a miniramp, street course, and vertical ramp. The sports center also has soccer fields and a hockey rink. 3315 Bear Valley Pkwy., Escondido, CA, 92025. 760/839–5425. www.escondido.org/sportscenter.

Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. This YMCA is very popular among the many pros in the area. It has a competition street course, two cement pools, and a classic vertical ramp. 200 Saxony Rd., Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/942–9622. www.ecke.ymca.org.

Ocean Beach Skatepark at Robb Field. The largest skatepark in the city, this has a huge street plaza, bowls, ledges, grind rails, and quarter-pipes. 2525 Bacon St., Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA, 92107. 619/531–1563. www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/centers/skateparks/robb.

Surfing

If you’re a beginner, consider paddling in the waves off Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Tourmaline Surfing Park, La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, or Oceanside. More experienced surfers usually head for Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla reef breaks, Black’s Beach, or Swami’s in Encinitas. All necessary equipment is included in the cost of all surfing schools. Beach-area Ys offer surf lessons and surf camp in the summer months and during spring break.

Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. Sign up for group and private lessons in La Jolla year-round. If you know what you're doing but didn't bring your stick, this outfitter rents boards, too. 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.

Kahuna Bob's Surf School. "Kahuna Bob" himself, one of San Diego's veteran surf instructors, conducts two-hour lessons at Beacon's Beach in Encinitas seven days a week; in summer there's a surf camp for kids. Beacon's Beach, 948 Neptune Ave., Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/721–7700 or 800/524–8627. www.kahunabob.com.

Menehune Surf School. This 10-year-old surf school founded by local school teachers provides surf lessons as well as paddleboard and surfboard rentals. Private or family lessons can be aranged (from $70 per person for one hour). Menehune Surf also offers popular surf camps for kids every summer from June through August at three locations: La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, and Mission Beach. 2222 Ave. De La Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 866/425–2925. www.menehunesurf.com.

San Diego Surfing Academy. Choose from private and group lessons and customizable surf camps for teens, kids, and adults. Instructional videos are also available online. The academy, which has been running since 1995, is based near South Carlsbad State Beach and meets for lessons at Seapointe Resort in Carlsbad. Near South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, CA, 92008. 760/230–1474 or 800/447–7873. www.surfingacademy.com.

Surf Diva Surf School. Check out clinics, surf camps, and private lessons especially formulated for girls and women. Most clinics and trips are for women only, but there are some co-ed options. Guys can also book private lessons from the nationally recognized staff. Surf Diva is also home to a boutique that sells surf and standup paddle board equipment, as well as sundresses and clothing for men and and children. 2160 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/454–8273. www.surfdiva.com.

Surf Shops

Cheap Rentals Mission Beach. Many local surf shops rent both surf and bodyboards. Cheap Rentals Mission Beach is right off the boardwalk, just steps from the waves. It rents wet suits, bodyboards, and skimboards in addition to soft surfboards and long and short fiberglass rides. It also has good hourly to weekly pricing on paddleboards and accessories. 3689 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92108. 858/488–9070 or 800/941–7761. www.cheap-rentals.com.

Hansen's. A short walk from Swami's beach, Hansen's is one of San Diego's oldest and most popular surf shops. It has an extensive selection of boards, wet suits, and clothing for sale, and a rental department as well. 1105 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/753–6595. www.hansensurf.com.

Swimming Pools

Sometimes the ocean can be a little too vast and a little too cold. If you prefer pools, there are several noteworthy options to choose from.

Plunge. Built in 1925, Belmont Park's 58-yard-long Plunge is the largest heated indoor swimming pool in Southern California. 3115 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/228–9300. www.wavehouseathleticclub.com.

Tennis

Most of the more than 1,300 courts around the county are in private clubs, but a few are public.

Balboa Tennis Club at Morley Field. Practice your backhand at this historic tennis club with 25 hard courts, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a daily $6-per-person fee. Heaviest use is 9 am and 11 am and after 5 pm; at other times you can usually arrive and begin playing. Pros offer clinics and classes. 2221 Morley Field Dr., Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, 92104. 619/295–9278. www.balboatennis.com.

La Jolla Tennis Club. This historic club has 9 public courts near downtown; 5 are lighted; the daily fee is $10. The club is first-come first-serve for non-members. Members are able to call one to three days ahead to reserve a court. 7632 Draper Ave., La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858/454–4434. www.ljtc.org.

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa. This tennis complex has 17 hard and clay courts, 7 of them lighted, plus professional instruction, clinics, and workouts. 2100 Costa Del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA, 92009. 760/931–7501. www.lacosta.com.

Several San Diego resorts have top-notch tennis programs staffed by big-name professional instructors.

Rancho Valencia Resort. One of the top resorts in the country has unveiled brand-new tennis facilities, which feature 18 revamped hard-court tennis courts backed by bouganvillia and citrus groves, a new pro shop, and spacious restrooms and lockers with added showers for guests and members. Rancho Valencia's tennis director is two-time U.S. Open Doubles Champion Robin White, and many of the other instructors have played at the professional level. Sign up for private lessons or tennis clinics, or try cardio tennis, where drills are set to music. Tennis shoes and tennis attire (no T-shirts) are required. 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 92067. 858/756–1123. www.ranchovalencia.com.

Volleyball

Ocean Beach, South Mission Beach, Del Mar Beach, Moonlight Beach, and the western edge of Balboa Park are major congregating points for volleyball enthusiasts. These are also the best places to find a pickup game.

Waterskiing

Mission Bay is popular for waterskiing, although the bay is often polluted, especially after a heavy rain. As a general rule, it’s best to get out early, when the water is smooth and the crowds are thin.

Seaforth Boat Rentals. Boats and equipment can be rented at the Mission Bay or Coronado locations. 1715 Strand Way, Coronado, CA, 92118. 888/834–2628. www.seaforthboatrental.com.

Whale-Watching Cruises

Whale-watching season peaks in January and February, when thousands of gray whales migrate south to the warm weather, where they give birth to their calves. Head to Cabrillo National Monument’s Whale Overlook to see the whales pass through Point Loma. If you want a closer look, charter boats and cruises host whale-watching excursions.

Flagship Cruises & Events. Join one of the twice-daily whale-watching trips during the season from December through April. Rates start at $37 for adults on weekdays and $42 on weekends. 1050 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/234–4111; 800/442–7847 reservations. www.flagshipsd.com.

Hornblower Cruises and Events. Yachts take passengers to catch a glimpse of gray whales and perhaps an occasional school of dolphins on weekends. Live narraton is provided by experts from the San Diego Natural History Museum. Rates start at $75 for adults and $40 for children. 1066 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/686–8700; 619/686–8715 ticket booth. www.hornblower.com.

Windsurfing

Also known as sailboarding, windsurfing is a sport best practiced on smooth waters, such as Mission Bay. More experienced windsurfers will enjoy taking a board out on the ocean. Wave jumping is especially popular at the Tourmaline Surfing Park in La Jolla and in the Del Mar area, where you can also occasionally see kiteboarders practice their variation on the theme.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center. The world's largest instructional waterfront facility offers lessons in wakeboarding, sailing, surfing, waterskiing, rowing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Equipment rental is also available, but the emphasis is on instruction, and most rentals require a minimum 2-hour orientation lesson before you can set out on your own. Reservations are recommended, particularly during the summer. Skippered keelboats and boats for waterskiing or wakeboarding can be hired with reservations. Free parking is available. 1001 Santa Clara Pl., Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92109. 858/488–1000. www.mbaquaticcenter.com. Sept.–May, Tues.–Sun. 8–5; June–Aug., daily 8–7.