by WYNNE LOVE

San Diego doesn’t offer its residents the typical winter experience. When you can play golf, have the top down on your convertible, and even sunbathe in January, the usual winter diversions don’t really apply. So while folks in other parts of the country brave blizzards and sub-zero temperatures, invigorate your senses with San Diego’s own array of winter season sensations.

See – Every winter, gray whales migrate from the Arctic down to Baja, passing right along the San Diego coastline.  You can watch for them yourself from well-positioned overlooks like Point Loma’s Cabrillo Point or the Torrey Pines State Reserve, or schedule a whale-watching tour at discounted rates during January’s Big Bay Whale Days along the Embarcadero.  Don’t miss the San Diego Whale Festival on the Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

Hear –  Treat your ears to a free Spreckels Organ Pavilion concert, held every Sunday at 2 p.m. at Balboa Park, where you can see all 4,530 pipes in action.  Or head down to enjoy one of the Winter Concerts at the Coronado Ferry Landing held each Sunday through January.

Smell – Take a deep breath of pine-scented air and fresh apple pie with a visit up to the hills of Julian, or head east to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park while the desert temperatures are low.

Taste – Don’t miss your chance to try some of the best new tastes of San Diego during Restaurant Week, January 13-18th.  For this one week, you can take advantage of discounted meals at more than 180 restaurants in twelve different areas around the county.

Touch – Feel the real chill of winter – if you dare – by joining a New Year’s Polar Bear swim.  The La Jolla Swim Club hosts a Polar Bear Plunge and Chili Potluck on New Year’s Day each year.  Up for a more moderate chill?  Try ice-skating in any of the many rinks around the city, including temporary ones at Horton Plaza and the Hotel Del Coronado, and permanent installments at Westfield UTC’s Ice Town, Mira Mesa’s San Diego Ice Arena, or the Escondido Iceoplex.