Torrey Pines State Reserve Park, Del Mar
Favorite thing: The photo shows Red Butte, one of the higher grounds in Torrey Pines' trail system. Several trails spread out from here, including Razor Point, Yucca Point, and the trail to the beach. When I visited, all these trails were closed due to erosion (this year we got more rain in southern California than in Seattle). But that didn't stop people from going, myself included. And I was quite happy to have the trail all to myself most of the time.
Favorite thing: At the entrance of Torrey Pines' Visitor Center, there's a sign that says "Lodge" (see photo). I don't think you can rent a room or spend a night here. This is more like a small museum with some nice display. To see Torrey Pines State Park you don't have to start from the Visitor Center. But it's a good place to prepare yourself with useful background info. For example, do you know Torrey Pine (the tree) is one of the world's rarest and can only be seen here in southern California? In the Visitor Center you can also get a trail map, find the up-to-date trail condition, and check the schedule of ranger programs. Oh, you can pay the $6 fee here if they haven't collected from you at the gate.
You must visit Torrey Pines if you are ever near Del Mar and have an interest in nature.
Fondest memory: Fondest memory for me was seeing the birds I saw there. Photo is the view from the top of Torrey Pines. There is a small museum at the top. There is also a place to pay small parking and entry fee. I got there about half an hour before they are normally open but the girl I paid my parking fee to said I could go on in the museum and look around.
Favorite thing: Big Basin is the area between 2 sandstone bluffs, Razor Point and Yucca Point. Lots of green when I visited. Looked like a valley of wild flowers. The photo shows Razor Point viewed from Yucca Point.