Nestled between the swank of Orange County and the seedy streets of Tijuana, San Diego is a family-friendly beach city at the very bottom of the Golden State. With ritzy hotels, a number of professional sports teams, and attractions like Sea World that appeal to the kids, San Diego has a little something for everyone—including the active sports/lifestyle fanatic. The city has great running paths, miles of mountain biking trails, climbing gyms, backpacking access, and of course the legendary waves that have put it on the map. With a number of reputable universities on offer, it is no wonder San Diego is considered one of the best cities in the US for the surfing college student. Whether you are looking to train for your next Ironman, score an adrenaline fix, sip wine at a posh restaurant, or simply catch a few waves under sunny skies, its hard to beat San Diego. Here is a list of five excellent waves for the visiting surfer to check out.

1)      Blacks Beach: Although the clothing optional policy here might not make this the most family-friendly environment, it is definitely a must-surf for any hardcore wave rider visiting the area. Wave size is magnified by an offshore canyon that also serves to break up swells, making this one of the best and largest beach breaks in the country.

2)     Ocean Beach: If you thought that San Francisco was the only city with an Ocean Beach, think again! This stretch of sand bar peaks breaking north of a jetty can be extremely rippable, making it a staple for the local surf population.

3)     La Jolla: A once sleepy little town that has now been peppered with million-dollar mansions, La Jolla is just north of San Diego and has a number of quality waves on offer, including some of Southern California’s best reefs and slabs.

4)     Swamis: A great place to get your Zen on, Swami’s is a righthand reef/point located in front of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram in Encinitas. Fun on a longboard at head high, but capable of handling large waves, Swami’s is one of Southern California’s more pedestrian “big wave” spots.

5)     Tijuana Sloughs: Technically in Mexico, but close enough to the border that you can surf your way there from California (indeed, this strategy has been used by a number of creative co-immigrants needing to cross the border unnoticed), TJ Sloughs is a heavy beach break on the Baja side of the border that can produce draining barrels—if you are willing to brave the frequent sewage spills in the area.