Make the most of your summer by picking up a new hobby

Stay busy and active by hiking, surfing or rock climbing


Purnell Strom, left, stands in front of Three Sister Falls in the Cleveland National Forrest, May 15, 2023. Domenic Gabrielli, center, climbs at the Student Life Center at the University of Utah, December 20, 2023. Joshua Biggs, right, surfs at Scripps Pier, May 12, 2023. Photos by Sean Monney/City Times Media

Sean Monney, Multimedia Journalist

This summer is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby to stay in shape and develop a new skill. Starting something new can be intimidating, though, so City Times wants to give you some tips on some hobbies you can take up this summer.


San Diego is the greenest it’s been in years with the incredible rainfall this year, and hiking is the best way to see the nature surrounding our city. 

Mission Trails is easily the largest network of trails inside San Diego, along with the trails in Los Peñasquitos, Tecolote and Black Mountain. All these spots offer incredible and diverse trails within an hour of central San Diego. 

An hour east of San Diego lies the Cuyamaca Wilderness and Cleveland National Forest, which include hundreds of trails through forests, mountains and rivers. is one of the best sources for finding hikes with the appropriate distances and difficulties. There you can find pictures of the hike and reviews from other hikers to help you choose the best hike for you.

To make hiking less daunting, start with shorter hikes and pack plenty of water. As a rule, it’s a good idea to pack a liter of water for every two hours of hiking, and it’s always better to overpack than underpack. 


Surfing may seem like a daunting activity to start but there are spots along the San Diego coastline suited for beginner surfers.

Some of the best places to start surfing include Tourmaline Beach, La Jolla Shores and Scripps Pier, with their smaller waves and gentler currents. It’s best to go early when beaches are less busy and waves are consistent. 

The surfboard is the essential item to get started. Large foam boards are the best for starting, as they provide greater balance and guidance and give you more room to figure out foot placement. Surfboards aren’t cheap, but foamies can be found on OfferUp or Ebay in good shape for a good price. 

A wetsuit is also essential when water temperatures drop below 65 degrees and is a good idea to wear year-round to stay comfortable. 

It can be incredibly helpful to start surfing with a surfer or at a surf school, where someone can give you tips for getting on the board and reading waves. And the internet has a wealth of information for getting better surfing. 

Rock climbing

Rock climbing is the perfect activity to start at a beginner level and see continuous progress. Rock climbing gyms are designed with routes based on a difficulty rating system, so new climbers can start on more accessible routes and build up to challenging ones. 

Basic rock climbing is divided into two activities: bouldering and top rope. Bouldering is climbing shorter distances without a harness and rope and usually involves more technical climbs. Top rope climbing allows for higher climbs but requires a partner to safely belay the climber. 

But be warned: it is not the cheapest hobby to pick up. You need climbing shoes, chalk and then a climbing gym membership. Rock climbing shoes are hard to find under $60, but gyms usually offer shoes you can rent to start. Climbing chalk is cheap, and gyms have chalk for rent as well. San Diego climbing gym membership costs range between $60-120 monthly. Some gyms offer yearly memberships or punch cards, too.

The best way to get started is by getting a day pass or trial period, which is a more affordable way to try out rock climbing. The main climbing gyms in the San Diego area are Vertical Hold, Grotto, Mesa Rim and Asylum, all of which offer a discounted student price.