Fit in the City: San Diego

San Diego California

Seven activities to keep you fit in sunny California.

Nicknamed America’s Finest City, San Diego offers the ultimate example of California’s gorgeous climate, making it perfect for year-round outdoor adventures. With options like beach running, surfing, hiking and more, here are a few of the best fitness-focused activities in San Diego.

Beach activities

San Diego has beaches as far as the eye can see — 70 miles of them, in fact. Beaches are free to the public and offer tons of ways to break a sweat, including kayaking, snorkeling, beach running, swimming and surfing. Don’t own equipment? No problem. You can often rent equipment for water activities at shops only a short walk from the beach. There are dozens of beaches to choose from, but a few popular locations include Cardiff-by-the-Sea, La Jolla Shores and Mission Beach.

Cardio on Coronado Central Beach

Add an extra challenge to your cardio session by walking or running on the sand. Moving over uneven terrain can help you expend approximately 1.6 times more energy than strolling on a hard surface, making this a great addition to a weight-loss fitness routine.

On the lovely Coronado Central Beach, you’ll pass the iconic oceanfront Hotel Del Coronado, which was built in 1888 and served as the set for the classic 1950s Marilyn Monroe film “Some Like It Hot.” Start or finish your run by catching a stunning sunrise or sunset on the pristine waterfront.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park, jam-packed with museums, gardens, concerts and special exhibits, is the largest urban cultural park in the United States. The Botanical Building and most of the gardens are free to tour, but each museum is run independently with its own admission. Even without going inside the museums, there are plenty of landmarks to see as you walk, jog or bike the trails throughout the park’s 1,200 acres, including Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and an antique carousel.

San Diego Zoo

Home to more than 3,700 animals across 650 species, the world-famous San Diego Zoo is routinely named one of the best zoos in America. The San Diego Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the United States (preceded only by the Philadelphia Zoo) and was one of the first zoos to feature cageless exhibits that replicate an animal’s natural habitat.

A visit to the zoo, which spans 100 acres, will keep you on your feet all day. Put on your sneakers to rack up the miles as you explore exhibits like Panda Trek, Elephant Odyssey and Koalafornia Adventure.

Boardwalk between Mission Beach and Pacific Beach

If you prefer to walk, jog, rollerblade or bike on solid ground, check out the three-mile long boardwalk running between Mission and Pacific beaches. If you like to move faster than a walk, consider visiting the boardwalk first thing in the morning or in the early evening to avoid the crowds.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Explore 40 miles of natural and paved hiking and biking trails in this 5,800-acre park. Stop at the workout stations along the trail route to bust out some pull-ups, push-ups, squats and lunges for an impromptu circuit workout.

Want to test your stamina? Try the 5-Peak Challenge, which invites hikers to reach each of the park’s five peaks: Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay, South Fortuna and North Fortuna. You can attempt to reach all of the peaks in a single day or hike them one at a time.

Torrey Pines State Park

With its broad network of trails ranging from easy to difficult, Torrey Pines State Park is suitable for hikers of all experience levels. For a moderately strenuous hike (an approximately three-mile loop), start at the visitor center and wind your way south past Red Butte and Yucca Point to the beach below. You’ll take in breathtaking views of the sea, sandstone cliffs rising 300 feet above the ground and rare Torrey pines. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of hang gliders soaring down the mountain.

In a city as temperate as San Diego, you should have no problem making your visit an active one, but if you have an all-club membership and want to fit your regular workout into a visit, be sure to visit any of the 24 Hour Fitness clubs in the San Diego area.