Off campus guide to San Diego

October 21, 2017 / San Diego

Given the balmy weather and gorgeous beaches, it can be hard to keep your nose in the books when attending one of San Diego’s many higher ed institutions. Buckling down and getting the reading done and the papers written requires real effort with so much fun and excitement beckoning, so you should reward yourself for your dedication with frequent study breaks. Here are a few ideas to get you started when you’re ready to explore America’s Finest City.

Study break spots in San Diego

1. Enjoy the ocean breeze at Kellogg Park

Located right next to La Jolla Shores, Kellogg Park is a great spot for a beachfront picnic or barbecue. There is a wide grassy expanse perfect for Frisbee or touch football, and the beach is just steps away. If you decide to venture down to the water, you’ll find plenty of places nearby to rent paddleboards and kayaks for further exploration. The park has well-maintained bathrooms and showers, so after wrapping up a day of fun in the sun, you can rinse the sand off walking into La Jolla Village for a post-sunset drink.

Where: 8277 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA

2. Shop, eat, and skate at Westfield UTC

This three-level outdoor shopping center is home to wide variety of retailers as well as entertainment for the non-shoppers. The 14-screen AMC theater is one option, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, you’ll be happy to discover the UTC Ice Sports Center. The rink has daily public skate hours as well as regular free clinics for adults interested in trying hockey for the first time. After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping and skating, you’ll find plenty of dining choices. The health-conscious can head to Tender Greens or Veggie Grill, while those craving something more indulgent will be happy to know that Shake Shack just opened.

Where: 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA

3. Refuel at The Cheese Shop

A local favorite since the early seventies, the Cheese Shop has long been La Jolla’s go-to for imported cheeses. Over the years, the shop has expanded, and they now offer an extensive menu of fresh-made salads and sandwiches featuring in-house roasted meats. Their flourless oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies are legendary and pair perfectly with their freshly-squeezed lemonade. Whether you’re looking for fuel for an all-day study session or planning a picnic on the beach, the Cheese Shop has you covered.

Where: 2165 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA

4. Hike down to the beach at Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of San Diego’s natural gems. The 1,500-acre park is an ideal place to decompress away from the hustle and bustle of city living and campus life. The reserve offers eight miles of hiking trails on varying terrain, but perhaps the most popular is the Beach Trail, a moderate hike that winds down the cliff to the beach. As you hike along the bluffs and down the trail to the Pacific, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and grey whales. Be advised that the Beach Trail generally closes after heavy rains to prevent erosion.

Where: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA

5. Grab a bite at Cliffhanger Café

Established as a soaring site in 1930, the Torrey Pines Gliderport draws adventure seekers from around the world and has even earned the nickname “Kitty Hawk of the West.” From the launch site, the brave can paraglide or hang glide off the cliff, soaring high above Black’s Beach. If jumping off a cliff with makeshift wings is outside of your comfort zone, you can enjoy the view and watch others take their lives in their hands from the safety of the Cliffhanger Café. Come before 11:30 am to enjoy a classic So Cal breakfast burrito.

Where: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, CA

6. Visit the Scripps Aquarium

 For more than a century, the Scripps Aquarium has been providing the public with a chance to get a glimpse of the wonders of the deep. Over the years, the aquarium has grown to over 64,000 square feet and features display tanks containing 175,000 gallons of seawater. Don’t miss the Hall of Fishes which features more than 60 tanks housing fish in a variety of habitats including a massive kelp forest tank. If you want to get a more hands-on experience, make your way to Tide Pool Plaza. This outdoor exhibit looks out over the Pacific and gives guests a chance to get up close and personal with starfish, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, and other tide pool dwellers.

Where: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA

7. Enjoy the best local art and food at Liberty Public Market

Over the past five years, what was once San Diego’s Naval Training Center has evolved into a vibrant, mixed-use development known as Liberty Station. One of the best additions to Liberty Station has been Liberty Public Market, which opened last year. The massive marketplace aims to be San Diego’s one-stop-shop for all things local. In the 25,000 square foot space, you’ll find plenty of San Diego brewed beer, tons of food with locally-sourced ingredients, and over 25 local artisans selling everything from specialty pet gear to handmade succulent wreaths. Keep this spot in mind when it’s time to do your holiday shopping.

Where: 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA

8. Take an Old Town Trolley Tour

If you want to get an unexpected angle on your new city, book an Old Town Trolley Tour. You can get the lay of the land with the La Jolla and San Diego Beaches tour or the Hop On Hop Off tour that operates on a continuous 25-mile loop with ten stops. If you want to get a view from the water, book the SEAL tour, which puts you aboard an amphibious vehicle that can travel on both land and sea. For something different, you’ll want to round up some friends for the seasonal Ghosts and Gravestones Frightseeing Tour, which gives you a glimpse into the city’s darker side. Make sure to book the version that includes a stop at The Whaley House, an Old Town landmark that has been called the most haunted house in America.

Where: Varies based on selected tour

9. Explore Mission Bay Park

Whether you’re in the mood to relax in the sunshine or burn off steam with some physical activity, Mission Bay Park is the place to go. With over 27 miles of shoreline, it’s the nation’s largest aquatic park, and it truly does have something for everyone. There are boat launches and designated swimming areas as well as places to rent kayaks, paddleboards, and jet skis. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, there are basketball courts, volleyball nets, and miles of paved trails for running, skating, and biking. If you just want to lounge, you have several sandy beaches and grassy parks to choose from.

Where: 2688 East Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA

10. Get your caffeine fix at Better Buzz Coffee

At some point, every college student is going to need a little boost to make it through those all-night cram sessions, so you might as well enjoy your cup of joe in a uniquely San Diego coffee shop. Better Buzz offers all of the variations on coffee and espresso that you’ve come to expect, including seasonal favorites of the pumpkin spice variety. In need of a little sustenance as well? You’re in luck; their menu includes acai bowls, sandwiches, and avocado toast in addition to tasty pastries. If you’re in a hurry to get back to the grind, the PB, Point Loma, and San Marco locations all have drive-thru options.

Where: Seven locations around San Diego County

There’s no shortage of ways to relax and recharge in the sunny, laidback city of San Diego, and while your studies have to come first, there’s no reason to lock yourself in the library for four years. Even if you just move your study session to the beach, you won’t regret taking advantage of all the city has to offer.