10 Best Parks in San Diego for Play, Relaxation and Views

Good weather equals plenty of park time in San Diego. Our best parks have views, trails, playgrounds and plenty of grass to enjoy in our year-round sunshine. Which you choose depends on the part of town you're in and what you'd like to do there. 

The new Waterfront Park is perfect for kids in the downtown area who love splash pads and state-of-the-art play areas. Its convenient location across the street from the Embarcadero means that is'a nice break in between a walk through Little Italy or perhaps a spin through the San Diego Maritime Museum.

Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban cultural park. Whether you have multiple days or a half-day to spend here, it is definitely worth of any San Diego sightseeing itinerary. In between the 16 museums lies multiple gardens, hiking trails, walking trails, playgrounds and pet-friendly amenities.

Lastly, we have Cabrillo National Monument located out on Point Loma. It's San Diego's only National Park Service park and has several interesting parts to it. Of course, it pays tribute to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Spanish explorer who first set foot in California. But, there are also historic structures, WWII bunkers, trails, tide pools and spectacular ocean views.

And, there are a myriad of other San Diego parks worthy of a visit.



Queen Calafia's Magic Circle is located inside Escondido's Kit Carson Park. It's the only American sculpture garden by artist Niki de Saint Phalle and particularly unique because you can actually play in it. The collection of nine fun,...  Read More



Situated just above La Jolla Cove, this park is a nice place to stop and relax during a walk along La Jolla's boardwalk or a visit to the area's famous seals and sea lions. The wind blown trees here are thought to have inspired the truffula...  Read More

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Beach


There are two sections here that are worth a visit. The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is home to bluffs overlooking the sea and eight miles of trails through unique landscape. The twisted Torrey pine tree is found in only two places on...  Read More



Kate Sessions park boasts one of the most spectacular views of San Diego including downtown, Mission Bay, the ocean and beyond. The parking lot faces the view so often times you'll see people working or resting in their cars while soaking up the...  Read More



One of San Diego's largest and wildest parks, Mission Trails sprawls over 7200 acres. It includes more than 40 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers of all abilities, a lake, campgrounds, and a fine Visitor and Interpretive Center where...  Read More

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Find out what life was like in Mexico and early America back in the 1800s. This spot is where the city of San Diego was born, and it contains historic treasures unearthed by archeologists over the years. The historic park includes several...  Read More



This park encompasses 4600 acres with 27 miles of shoreline of which 19 miles are sandy beaches. Facilities include marinas, a horseshoe court, sand volleyball courts, fire rings, picnic areas, children's play areas, and paths for biking,...  Read More



Waterfront Park, with the historic county building at the center, is incredibly popular with kids (and adults) for its splash fountain that you can actually walk into an get wet. There is also a reflecting pool, native plant garden, public art...  Read More

Cabrillo National Monument
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Don't leave San Diego without visiting the Cabrillo National Monument, perched high on the cliffs at the end of the Pt. Loma peninsula. You'll be awed by the spectacular view onto San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego, and the mountains looming...  Read More

Balboa Park


With over 85 cultural and recreational facilities, Balboa Park is a must-see. It's probably best to start at the Visitor's Center for a map and events calendar, and to purchase a Balboa Park Explorer Pass, which provides entrance to the park's...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie