Torrey Pines Gliderport with the Kids
Gliding into the weekend like these guys at the Torrey Pines Gliderport!
Happy Friday everyone!
TORREY PINES GLIDERPORT
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
What Is It
A clifftop take-off and landing zone for paragliders and hangliders that you can watch as they run and jump off the cliffs to soar through the wind high above the ocean.
"The Torrey Pines Gliderport, is the most historic aviation site in North America, with nearly 100 years of flying history. It is Southern California’s premiere location for paragliding, hang gliding, remote control models and sailplanes. The Gliderport provides a world class flying site, flight lessons, certifications, tandem flights, equipment sales, and repair services."
Why We Love It
The views alone high atop the cliffs of Torrey Pines are worth coming here for! Oh, and it’s also FREE, unless you sign up to fly. Otherwise, you can just hang out and watch the adrenalin junkies jump off the cliffs and soar into the winds. You'll see mostly paragliders here and occasionally hang-gliders. Sometimes there's a man training hawks and he'll teach you about falconry and let you hold them (for a fee).
Good To Know:
Wind conditions greatly affect if any gliders will be flying so check the wind conditions before you go from their website.
Depending on the season you could see some dolphins or migrating whales (Dec-Apr) out in the ocean so bring your binocs. Also, be sure to wear tennis shoes and bring the baby carrier in case you want to go exploring while you’re waiting for the next glider to jump off the cliff. There can be about a 20 minute wait before you'll see someone jumping. It takes time to set up their gear, but that can be entertaining too.
1. There are some hiking trails just to the left of the building that will lead you down to an overlook; which does have warning signs something about "unstable cliffs, stay back". So be careful.
2. If you hike a little further south, you'll find another trail and some stairs that lead down to the beach; which is very steep.
3. Or, there is a flatter, shorter hike next to the parking lot that goes up on the canyon rim and gives you some insane views of the La Jolla Coast.
4. You may want to keep the kiddos away from the trails over on the right; which lead down to you-know-what Black’s Beach...a known nudist beach if you're not familiar, not that I'm personally familiar with it...okay, moving on!
"Since the late 1920’s, sailplanes have been gracing the bluffs north of La Jolla.Many aviation pioneers had their first flights on the cliffs of Torrey Pines.On February 24, 1930, Charles Lindbergh had his maiden flight along the cliffs of Torrey Pines, soaring from Mt. Soledad to Del Mar and established the first gliding distance record.In 1936, Woody Brown launched and landed on top of the cliffs for the first “top landing” in Gliderport history.In the late 1930s, Hawley Bowlus, engineer and construction supervisor of the Spirit of St. Louis, began soaring the cliffs with his own sailplanes the Bowlus gliders."
Google says 9am-5pm daily, but I couldn't verify this from their website. Depending on wind conditions there may not be any gliders going so check the wind conditions beforehand from their website.
Free to come watch and just hang out
🅿️ PARKING & HOW TO GET THERE
Follow Torrey Pines Scenic Dr. all the way towards the ocean and then you’ll see the dirt parking lot entrance.
There’s lots of parking in the dirt/rock parking area and then you'll walk over to the glider port.
WHAT YOU'LL FIND
Port-a-potties are down by the dirt parking lot
Maybe all-terrain strollers would do okay here? You couldn't go on any of the nearby hikes with a stroller due to the large crevices, but you could probably park it near the picnic area if you feel comfortable leaving it to go on a quick hike nearby.
Uneven dirt & rock parking area that leads to a grassy area that makes up the glider port. I don't recall any steps or stairs, but it's been a while since we've been.
Bring a picnic lunch or buy from the Cliffhanger Café (open daily 9-4). They serve up some pretty good (huge!) gourmet sandwiches. One was enough for my 2 boys and I to share. They also serve salads, soups, drinks, ice cream, etc. There are lots of picnic tables around, some have shade. Local bands will play there on Summer weekends May-Sept.
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