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Harbor Seals at Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla

A coastline walking tour of La Jolla isn’t complete without checking for harbor seals at Children’s Pool. The beach itself is closed during pupping season from Dec. 15th to May 15th but visitors can walk the seawall for a closer view – weather permitting.

Unlike Seal Lions, Harbor Seals:

  • Have ear holes but do not have outer ear flaps
  • Have small flippers and move on land using their bellies
  • Spend more time alone in the water than on land with other seals
  • Communicate using soft grunting sounds

Looking for more things to do in La Jolla? Grab our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to La Jolla.

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La Jolla Sea Lions

The area surrounding La Jolla Cove is a favorite hangout spot for sea lions!

Unlike Harbor Seals, Sea Lions:

  • Have small outer ear flaps
  • Have long flippers that allow them to walk on land
  • Spend a significant time with other sea lions out of the water
  • Communicate using loud barking sounds

It’s important to remember that sea lions are wild animals protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Enjoy while keeping a safe distance, especially around pups and protective mamas.

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Plants at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

One of the best parts about hiking at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is the variety of plants you might encounter. 

The main plant communities found in the coastal reserve are categorized as Torrey Pine Woodland, Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Coastland Strand, and Salt Marsh. Most of San Diego’s rainfall occurs during winter or early spring. However, there is always something beautiful to enjoy regardless of the season. (Full plant list here.)

Point out plants as you hike with your family. Talk about how they provide food and shelter for animals that live in the reserve. Look for fun shapes and textures.

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What’s So Special About Torrey Pines?

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is named after the Torrey Pine, a rare and endangered pine species that is native to the reserve. A subspecies also grows on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara. One characteristic of a Torrey Pine is that it has 5 needles in each bunch. 

Even though California doesn’t get a lot of rain, the Torrey Pine has a smart watering system. Moisture from coastal fog collects on pine needles and drops to the ground to help distribute water to tree roots. 

It’s easy to spot Torrey Pine trees in the reserve as you explore San Diego using our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach.

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5 Tips for visiting Cabrillo National Monument

We’ve told you about the Cabrillo Tidepools and taken you on a historical tour of the park. Here are five tips to help you plan your visit to Cabrillo National Monument.

  1. Prepare to pay an entrance fee. Cabrillo National Monument is a national park with entrance fees. Tip: The passenger car day pass is good for up to 7 consecutive days – just show your receipt! Visit the park fees & passes page to view options, like the Every Kid in a Park pass, which is free for all fourth-graders in the U.S.
  2. Check the tide chart before you go. Tide pools can only be explored during low tide!
  3. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. It’s fun to wade in the shallow water of the tide pools, but bear in mind that you’ll be stepping on a lot of rocks too. You’ll also want comfortable clothing for walking around the park. Waterproof athletic or hiking sandals work great for both instances.
  4. Wear sunscreen! Don’t let the possible marine layer fool you into thinking that you can’t get a sunburn. 
  5. Pack water and snacks. Little (and big) explorers need nourishment. 

Looking for more things to do in Point Loma? Grab our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Ocean Beach & Point Loma.