Watching the Gliders at Torrey Pines
By David Hail, co-founder of local date ideas website NearHere.com
Take an afternoon to enjoy one of the best scenes in San Diego County at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Iím not talking about the views of the ocean from atop the cliffs, those are fantastic of course, but the real show is watching the paragliders, hangliders, and R/C plane enthusiasts do their thing. The spot is a favorite among fliers because consistent ocean breezes rise up the cliffs, providing excellent lift and flying conditions. For you and me this means that thereís just about always something to see.
The Gliderport has a nice lawn for take-offs and landings, a slice of which is available for people to spread out, relax, and eat. You can either bring a picnic lunch or order food at the little cafť they have on-site, but alcohol is not permitted. Don't forget to bring a blanket and sunscreen along. While youíre lying around youíll not only see people flying, but all the how-to stuff leading up to the flight. Itís actually pretty interesting to watch how they spread out their chutes, prepare equipment, gauge the conditions before take-off, and then launch. You may also get a chance to listen in while an instructor teaches a student the basics before taking them up for a tandem flight. Who knows, at the end of the day you might be ready for a lesson yourself. Make sure to check the current wind conditions, people will be flying at 6mph or more, or give the Gliderport a call and ask how many people are up before heading over.
The gliders stay in the air until 5pm or so when the office closes down. If you want to enjoy the area after that time, or are there earlier and get tired of laying around, take a hike down to Blacks Beach for a walk along the ocean. In my opinion, Blackís is one of the better beaches in the area, but itís also notorious for nude sunbathers, so be prepared to find a few people showing off more than some want to see. The trail down to the beach is fairly steep, but is well-maintained by a volunteer group called the Blackís Beach Diggers; it can be accessed south from the parking lot.
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