With its postcard-perfect weather — averaging 72 degrees year-round — sunny San Diego is an ideal outdoor playground to take to the skies and take in the sights from a bird’s-eye perspective.
For the adventurous traveler, San Diego has many unique, high flying escapades, from hang gliding along the scenic seaside bluffs of La Jolla and hot air ballooning in North County to a zip lining safari and indoor skydiving. The following are some of the ways visitors can spread their wings and have fun in the air, San Diego-style.
- Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla is America’s most popular coastal soaring site with nearly 100 years of flying history. Visitors can take a tandem paragliding ($175 per person) or hang gliding ($225 per person) flight at the largest tandem operation in the world with professional, experienced instructors, enjoying sensational bird’s-eye views of dramatic cliffs, Torrey Pines Golf Course and the stunning mansion homes of La Jolla. Paragliding is the more prevalent of the two activities and allows guests to fly in lighter wind conditions.
- A world leader in the sport of soaring, in operation since 1959, Sky Sailing in North County’s Warner Springs offers introductory rides for one to two passengers in a sailplane ($155 per person) or glider ($175 per person), soaring silently and effortlessly on the region’s warm air currents. Passengers can share a thermal with hawks and eagles while enjoying phenomenal views of nearby Palomar Mountain and the famous Palomar Observatory, as well as Lake Henshaw and the historic Warner Springs Ranch.
- Capable of floating balloons up to 3,000 feet on a clear day, San Diego’s inland North County is among a few places in the world where a hot air balloon can fly both at sunrise and sunset due to perfect wind conditions. California Dreamin’ offers a couple of deluxe hot air balloon adventures: a Del Mar sunset flight ($298 per person) where guests can sip champagne while floating above coastal bluffs and the Pacific Ocean, and a Temecula wine country sunrise flight ($148-178 per person) featuring breakfast, champagne and wine tasting at Vindemia Winery. Private hot air balloon rides are also available, starting at $690 per couple.
- Flying over San Diego for the past 26 years, Corporate Helicopters provides another exceptional way to sightsee over area beaches, bays and landmarks. Notable tours include the 30-minute Diego Delight ($350 per couple), flying over La Jolla Cove, Mission Bay, downtown and the Coronado Bridge; the aptly-named, 42-minute Unforgettable ($490 per couple) which includes everything on the Diego Delight plus the North County coastline and Point Loma, and the one hour Surf & Turf ($678 per couple) which includes everything on The Unforgettable plus the bucolic countryside of Rancho Santa Fe, Lake Hodges and Miramar Air Station. Exclusive tour packages are also available, like the bucket list-worthy Baja Mexico Premier two-day tour of Ensenada and the renowned Guadalupe Valley wine country.
- A vacation destination since the 1930s and popular for inner tubing down the San Luis Rey River, the La Jolla Indian Campground’s newest attraction is La Jolla Zip Zoom, the longest zip line in California. The 6,273-foot zip line course, nestled in the foothills of the Palomar Mountain range and running parallel to the San Luis Rey River, provides riders with spectacular views of mountain peaks, lush green canyons and steep rustic slopes.
- Go wild on another exciting zip line adventure in North County, Flightline Safari ($75 per person) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Guests soar 130 feet above the ground on two zip lines, enjoying thrilling views of rhinos, giraffes and other exotic wildlife in the savanna-like fields below. The “flight” covers approximately two-thirds of a mile, landing safely near the park’s campground at Kilima Point.
- iFLY San Diego delivers the dream of flight to thrill-seeking visitors with San Diego’s first indoor skydiving wind tunnel in the heart of Mission Valley. People of all ages and abilities can experience human flight in a safe, comfortable and fun environment. The indoor skydiving facility is a marvel of engineering that replicates the experience of skydiving, creating conditions that allow guests to fly on a smooth cushion of air with the help of iFLY certified flight instructors.
- Expected to launch in summer 2017, Airborne San Diego brings two new indoor skydiving wind tunnels to downtown San Diego by Petco Park, as well as a Sky Lounge, viewing platforms, a café and bar.