While looking for things to do in the San Diego area, I stumbled across the Torrey Pines reserve that promised good hiking and beachgoing. You could spend an entire day there if you like to hang out on the beach or want to hike every available trail, but a half day seems sufficient. Especially if you want to pair Torrey Pines with another nearby hotspot.
For hiking, the best trail in the reserve is the Razor Point Trail. If you start at the visitor center, it’s a fairly short and easy hike. You might be tempted to park your car just outside the entrance by the beach to avoid the $20 parking fee, but be warned that this will add an extra (mostly uphill) mile to your walk. In any case, the viewpoint at the end of the trail is pretty nice:
What’s great about the Torrey Pines trails is that a lot of them connect, so you don’t have to take Razor Point back to the parking lot. Instead, press on to the Yucca Point overlook, then take Beach Trail going back to complete the loop. Or take Beach Trail down to the actual beach first; it’s not that much farther, and I really liked the black sand and towering backdrop here:
Just don’t veer onto the Broken Hill Trail, or you really will be there all day. But if the Razor Point/Beach combo didn’t feel like enough, there’s also the shorter Guy Fleming Trail loop you can stop at on the way back down the main road. It’s not as picturesque as the other hikes but does offer one last glimpse of Razor Point off in the distance:
Again, you really only need to spend a few hours here, but if you want to keep the sightseeing going, what my family and I did was head to La Jolla Cove next. The seals there were really fun to watch.