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7 . Torrey Pines State Reserve

If a back-to-nature respite is what you need to handle the stress of modern-day life, then try spending an afternoon at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve in La Jolla. It might be just what the doctor ordered!

Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of the wildest stretches of land in California and yet just steps from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life. For most people, a visit to the reserve at Torrey Pines State Park replaces the smell of exhaust with the smell of wildflowers and salty ocean breezes.

Torrey Pines State Park is perched high above the cliffs overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach at the northern tip of La Jolla. Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 2,000 acre reserve dedicated to preserving the Torrey Pine, the rarest pine in the United States. Known for its nearly foot-long, gray-green needles, the Torrey Pine grows naturally only in this small area of San Diego County, although a close relative grows on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The reserve is a popular destination for walking, hiking, and running. It includes more than eight miles of trails divided into six hiking trails. San Diego runners love the Broken Hill Trail in Torrey Pines State Reserve and San Diego walkers love the Torrey Pines State Reserve Walk. The park's hiking trails offer spectacular ocean views perfect for picture taking. From December through March you may even spot a Gray Whale or two as they migrate to Baja California. After exploring the flora and fauna of the Torrey Pines State Park, check out the Torrey Pines Lodge and visitor center to learn a bit about the legend and lore.

Torrey Pines State Reserve is open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day. There are interpretive nature walks at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays. General admission is $10 per car, $9 for seniors and $5 for disabled guests (with a pass from the Department of Parks and Recreation). No food or beverages of any kind are permitted in the park.

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