Torrey Pines Gliderport#17 in Best Things To Do in San Diego
Travelers can catch Torrey Pines' unique coastal views from a new perspective at Torrey Pines Gliderport. The gliderport is one of the top spots in California for paragliding, hang gliding, remote control models and sailplanes. In operation for almost a century, this unique adventure hub allows visitors to witness the beautifully preserved California coastline from above. Each flight lasts 20 to 25 minutes and gives gliders the chance to witness the sandstone cliffs, golf courses and vibrant water from the sky before landing back where they started – 350 feet above Black's Beach. Anyone of any age can sign up for a tandem gliding ride, but minors must get formal approval from their parents or guardians.
Visitors say the rides are worth the price because it's a once in a lifetime experience for many; they rave about the guides who made them feel safe and also made the ride fun. Torrey Pines Gliderport also offers pilot training for more experienced gliders as well as clinics for pilots who want to refine their expertise.
Tourists who would rather stay safely on the ground are free to watch the experience from below. Many recommend bringing a picnic and chairs, and sitting back to watch the action unfold. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the Cliffhanger Cafe which serves salads, sandwiches and more. In addition, local bands perform on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from May to September.
Adventure-seekers can expect to pay $175 for a tandem paragliding flight or $225 for a tandem hang gliding flight with a trained professional. Discounts are available if you pay with cash. To sign up for a flight, call the gliderport or check its website to ensure the weather is flyable. Upon arrival, you will fill out legal and safety paperwork and watch a training video to ensure you're prepared. Tandem flights are typically available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, as long as weather permits. Slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Gliders also have the option to purchase photo and video packages of their rides.
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#1 Balboa Park
Home to the renowned San Diego Zoo. this 1,200-acre park is the city's cultural hub. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park's many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don't just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon, among many others.
But if you find yourself growing antsy just walking around and smelling the roses, there are plenty of attractions located here (many of them free). Take in a show at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre, visit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to see one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater if you got the kiddos in tow. Museums are just as aplenty, with enough to suit all types of interests. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum while science enthusiasts will enjoy the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Man. If you're traveling as a family, take some time to check out the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the world's largest operating model railroad museum. There's also an automotive museum and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, dedicated entirely to San Diego's sports history.
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