January 23, 2023
The Plaza de Panama Fountain at Balboa Park
Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday
Whether you’re looking for a place to play with the kiddos or to decompress with some off-screen time, San Diego County features 340+ parks and recreational spots for you to enjoy.
Ready to plan your trip to the park? Grab your shades and trusty water bottle — here are some of the best in America’s Finest City.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, 12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd.
Lace up those hiking boots, you’re going to get moving. This coastal gem offers plenty of walking trails and opportunities to observe San Diego’s natural beauty. There are activities for different skill levels and paths that lead to Torrey Pines State Beach.
Mission Trails Regional Park, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail
With 8,000+ acres of natural and developed areas, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature at this park. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the ~65 miles of trails, access to Lake Murray, and ability to observe wildlife. Plus, there’s a calendar packed with events to take exploration to the next level.
Chula Vista Bayside Park, 999 Bayside Parkway,
Say hello to San Diego Bay — whether you’re looking for a relaxing outing or an active day in the sun. You’ll find trails for waterfront walking, biking, or running that come with views of the San Diego Skyline and the Coronado Bridge. You can also enjoy the water at the sand beach and fishing pier.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, 200 Palm Canyon Dr.
This spot in the East County desert region features trails for biking, walking, and horseback riding, and is often a destination for campers and RVs.
San Dieguito County Park, 1628 Lomas Santa Fe Dr.
Located in Del Mar, this park offers 5 miles of hiking trails with two suspension bridges and nature-themed scavenger hunts along the way. There’s also space for activities including a baseball diamond, basketball courts, playgrounds, and duck ponds — plus scenic areas for special events at its wedding gazebo and dance pavilion.
Double Peak Park, 900 Double Peak Drive
San Marcos (or should we say San Parkos) has an elevated parks game, but the best thing about Double Peak Park extends beyond its borders. It offers an unmatched, panoramic view of San Diego County — though you’ll also find picnic equipment and a small amphitheater. You can hike to the park using Double Peak Trail, or you can drive most of the way (we won’t judge).
Otay Lakes County Park, 2270 Wueste Rd.
Head to the water, but instead of the ocean, enjoy views of Otay Lake. The park in Chula Vista is perfect for nature lovers and features trails, play spaces, and gardens for native plants. It’s also noted as a great spot for birdwatchers to break out their binoculars.
Agua Caliente County Park, 39555, 1849 Great Southern Overland Stage Route of Julian
This park at the mountain base in Julian is recognized for its desert hiking trails and hot springs. Visitors will find three geothermally heated pools, which make the area popular with campers and people looking to warm up in winter months.
A glance at Civita Park.
Image via @rosie619sd
Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway
Located by the County Administration Center in downtown San Diego, this park gives you a view of San Diego Bay and space for relaxing and activities. It offers play areas, including splash pads for those hot days, and has art scattered throughout — including pieces by Nicki de Saint Phalle.
Harry Griffen Park, 9550 Milden St.
There’s plenty of family fun at this La Mesa park spanning 53 acres. Here, you’ll find walking and jogging paths, picnic spaces, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds. Key features include an outdoor amphitheater that holds 360 people and the Canine Corners off-leash dog park.
Kit Carson Park, 3333 Bear Valley Parkway
Head north to Escondido to find this park that blends history, art, and activities. You’ll find areas for baseball, soccer, disc golf, and tennis — and an amphitheater that can hold 3,000 people. Also, admire “Queen Califia’s Magical Circle,” a sculpture garden by Nicki de Saint Phalle.
Civita Park, 7960 Civita Blvd.
Mission Valley’s 14-acre park is packed with fun for the whole family. You’ll find two shaded playgrounds, a community garden, game areas, walking trails, and separate dog parks for large and small pups. Pro tip: Take a trip on Saturday mornings and catch the Civita Farmers Market.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park, 1100 Coast Blvd.
This photographic gem will give you unforgettable views of La Jolla Cove. You’ll be able to see the Pacific Ocean, feel the breeze, and catch glimpses of seals and sea lions. This grassy area will put you steps away from some of La Jolla’s beaches and the nearby shopping and restaurants.
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