Perched on the cliffs above Black’s Beach, the Torrey Pines Gliderport has one of the best views in San Diego, if not the best. It’s a place that should be on the itineraries of those visiting San Diego and probably one that residents like me don’t visit enough.

Why? Here are nine good reasons to visit the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Have feedback? I’ll certainly be adding to this list.

1. The View is Spectacular

Torrey Pines Gliderport view to La Jolla

The photo above looks nice, doesn’t it? Well, the view at Torrey Pines Gliderport is actually much better than that. The Pacific Ocean fills much of the view while to the left you can see down the coast to La Jolla and beyond and the right reveals the north coast. Parachutes add pops of color to the big blue sky throughout.

2. It’s Relaxing

I find my shoulders dropping a little each time I go there. There is something mesmerizing about watching these gliders take off and float around in the sky and you might be surprised by how long they can hold your attention. Or, maybe it’s the sunshine and ocean breezes.

3. It’s Free

It is absolutely free to park (spaces are ample but can fill during peak times in good weather) and free to enjoy the fantastic views. (Check out other free things to do in La Jolla.)

4. The Food Is Good

The Cliffhanger Cafe at the Torrey Pines Gliderport

The Cliffhanger Cafe is open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily with the exception of Christmas.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and taste of my first Cliffhanger sandwich, the Tuscany (sun-dried tomato, pepperoncini, provolone, Balsamic dressing, lettuce, tomato), and have had multiple others since. The price is $8.25 which I think is good value for the experience. While a beer with your sandwich might be ideal, note that they don’t serve alcohol (you won’t miss it). Ice cream sandwiches, salads, soups, chips and candy are also available for purchase.

Sometimes, they have a BBQ fired up with hamburgers and hot dogs. You can call or fax your order in for pick-up, too. It’s a nice stop before or after hiking nearby Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

5. There Is Live Music on Saturdays

Every Saturday from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., come to the Torrey Pines Gliderport to hear live music from up-and-coming bands and independent artists.

6. You Can Learn to Fly

Cue Tom Petty and really learn to fly which is at the heart of what this place is all about. Start with an instructional tandem flight to learn the basics of how it’s done in order to make a decision regarding how far you’d like to pursue your new hobby. Yes, there are people here with their own gear launching into the sky as well as those who want to rely on the experience of an expert.

They have one of the best safety records with no injuries in over 20 years. Pricing runs $225 for tandem hang gliding and $175 for tandem paragliding.

7. Dogs Fly, Too

There’s usually a dog or two hanging at the Gliderport but if you’re lucky, you may just be able to catch a glimpse of one of the many dogs who join their owners in flight. It’s super cute.

8. It’s Great for Kids

The Gliderport asks people to keep off the grass for the safety of the gliders and guests, but there is a deck viewing area and plenty of space on the Cliffhanger Cafe patio. We recently took our friends visiting from out of state and the four kids in total were under 10. I was surprised by how much they enjoyed being outside and watching the gliders do their thing.

Torrey Pines Gliderport on a sunny day in La Jolla

9. You Can Walk to the Beach

There are paths that lead down to Black’s Beach BUT you should know that though nudity is prohibited it is practiced here (mostly by men). If you surf, it’s awesome here—to the left is where the surfers typically park their gear as to the right is where the nudists hang. There’s a narrow dirt path, which I’d recommend you avoid. Take the main trail which actually has a sign that says “no beach access” that people generally ignore (at your own risk).

Torrey Pines Gliderport
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
La Jolla, California 92037
(858) 452-9858

Directions: Navigate yourself to Torrey Pines Road. Turn west on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive toward the ocean. Go to basically the end of the road and make a right into a dirt driveway and parking lot. Park and walk up to the gliderport.

Why do you like to visit Torrey Pines Gliderport?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. What a view Katie! La Jolla has always been #1 on my list of US places to visit. I can’t wrestle myself away from SE Asia or the South Pacific other than visiting NJ for fam stuff. With this post, and my cousin living in Maricopa, AZ, I see a trip meld developing here. SD is just so beautiful. It is paradise and since I Blog from Paradise, well, I see a match, no? 😉

    Thanks for the awesome imagery and keep on inspiring Katie!