If you enjoy being in the great outdoors, hiking, and exploring unique landscapes, then San Diego is one place you can go all year round.
Blessed with sunny weather most of the year and moderate winter temperatures, San Diego is a great destination any time you choose to travel.
I headed to San Diego for a couple of days to do hike on Mt Woodson and another in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Scenic hikes are notorious for working up an appetite, so luckily I also found the perfect place to enjoy some delicious apple pie.
The Mt Woodson trail is about a 40 minute drive from San Diego and is popular with locals and tourists alike due to the jutting rock near the summit nicknamed Potato Chip Rock.
The trail is located in the Lake Poway Recreation Area and you don’t have to walk far to get beautiful views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.
The trail starts from Lake Poway and goes around the lake before you start heading up. The trail follows a winding path up the hill and is steep in parts. You’ll pass lots of steep boulders on the way – and some are easy to climb up and take in the view. You’ll also get stunning views out to the ocean, across the surrounding rocky hills and down to Lake Poway.
On your left just before you reach the summit lies Potato Chip Rock - a thin piece of rock jutting over the hill which makes for a great photo opportunity.
It will take about 90 minutes to get to Potato Chip Rock – but expect a line (especially on weekends) to get a photo.
While the trail is quite exposed and it can get hot, you still might want to bring a jumper just for the top to protect yourself from the chill during the winter months.
In the desert areas of California, about two hours from San Diego, the most well-known state park is Joshua Tree National Park but I headed to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to check out the Slot Canyon – and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Slot Canyon is a winding canyon formed by flash floods. It’s quite narrow in parts so don’t go in with a big backpack. Once you get down into the canyon, it’s an easy, flat trail with some narrow sections before it opens up.
It was fascinating winding through the canyon between the mud walls. The scenery was breathtaking, like nothing I’d seen before and I highly recommend sticking around to watch the sunset over the canyon.
Access to the Slot Canyon is via Route 78. Slot Canyon is off a dirt trail marked ‘Buttes Pass’ - be on the lookout for it about one hour and 45 minutes into your drive.
After a morning or afternoon hiking in the desert, you’ll be hungry right? And I’ve found the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.
About 45 minutes from the state park, lies the quaint mountain town of Julian. Once a gold mining town, it is now famous in California for its amazing apple pies.
While tourist numbers reach their peak during the annual Apple Festival in September when the apples are harvested, Julian still attracts plenty of tourists throughout the year. I’d recommend timing your visit for a weekday if possible.
So why is Julian so famous for its apples? In the early 1900s, Julian won the prestigious Wilder medal, an honour bestowed to them by the American Pomological Society – an organisation fostering the science and production of fruit. And ever since people have been flocking to Julian for its prize-winning apples and delicious warm apple pies.
There’s a couple of cafes in town selling apple pies, you’ll be be able to spot the cafes by the queues out the door. You can either sit down to eat or order a takeaway slice from the window and of course you can have your apple pie topped with everything from ice cream to melted cheese.
If you’re heading to Julian during the winter months, rug up – it gets cold out there and you might even see snow.
Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors.
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