San Diego Parks

When visitors choose America’s Finest City as their vacation destination, it’s usually for the 70 miles of coastline with craggy overlooks and dazzling beaches. But in a city where locals would sooner be outdoors than indoors, it should come as no surprise that San Diego is also home to nearly 40,000 acres of managed green space and over 340 parks. Whether your idea of fun is a rugged adventure, a cultural feast, or an epic sunset, you’ll find more parks to explore here than you can pack into one vacation. No problem though, you can come back again and again to discover all the natural beauty this city has to offer.

Anytime is the right time to explore San Diego’s vast collection of incomparable natural settings, since it’s almost always sunny and 72. Museum-hop in the nation’s largest urban cultural park, catch the familiar whale migration from atop dramatic sandstone cliffs, or spread your blanket on the cool grass to catch an evening movie or concert. These public outdoor spaces are geographically unique to the southernmost city on America’s West Coast. You’re on vacation, so find the park that challenges your body, inspires your mind, or soothes your spirit, and then get out there and play! You’ll be glad you did.

Balboa Park, San Diego
This is the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and San Diego’s #1 ranked historic landmark. The park is home to 15 museums, several theatres, restaurants, gift shops, and gardens, and diverse recreational spaces. It also houses the famous San Diego Zoo.
Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla
This natural reserve covers 2,000 acres of land, and is one of the most primitive stretches along the Southern California coast. Visitors gather here to enjoy a challenging hike, walk a serene trail, or gaze out over the ocean from a heady overlook.
San Diego Waterfront Park
The Downtown park sits across North Harbor Drive from San Diego Bay. There are six large civic green lawns, a long row of reflecting pools with fountains, a children’s playground, colorful sculptures, walking paths, benches, and gardens. It has a packed year-round public event schedule.
Presidio Park, San Diego
This Mission Valley park is a California Historical Landmark that sits high on Presidio Hill behind and above Old Town Historic State Park. It offers some of the best views of Downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, and the Pacific Ocean. It is also one of the few remaining parks that allow alcohol.
Powerhouse Park, Del Mar
This oceanfront Del Mar park provides a relaxed, family-oriented space where visitors are often found practicing tai chi and yoga, flying kites, and picnicking. It hosts the summertime Del Mar Twilight Summer Concerts. The park provides easy access to the 15th Street surf break.
Old Town San Diego Historic State Park
Old Town San Diego Historic Park is one of the most visited state parks in California. A guided or self-guided walking tour of five historic adobes, 10 museums, and several historic buildings is the park’s main attraction. Park activities are free of charge.
Mission Bay Park, San Diego
This is the largest aquatic park of its kind in the United States. Roughly 15 million visitors a year enjoy everything from biking 14 miles of pathways along Mission Bay to enjoying a day of windsurfing, kayaking, or sailing on the water.
NTC Park – Liberty Station, San Diego
Point Loma’s Liberty Station Park runs between the San Diego Bay boat channel and a mixed-use development with art galleries, theaters, museums, a shopping and dining hub, and resort hotels. It has waterfront walking paths, athletic field-size green spaces, and a basketball court.
Kellogg Park, La Jolla
Family-friendly Kellogg Park sits parallel to La Jolla Shores Beach and is a great place for picnics, Frisbee, beach volleyball, and other seaside activities. There are modern playgrounds for younger and older kids. The long, soft-sand beach is lifeguard protected.
Harbor Island Park, San Diego
The narrow waterfront park with a long concrete boardwalk offers panoramic views of San Diego Bay, North Island, Shelter Island, Point Loma, Coronado Bridge, and Downtown. Located across from the airport, it’s a great place to bid San Diego farewell before your plane leaves.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla
The popular park is located in La Jolla Village at the bottom of Coast Boulevard on five acres of waterfront green space lined with palm trees. Overlooking La Jolla Cove and the Pacific Ocean, it is the most photographed spot in San Diego.
Centennial Park, Coronado
This small park on Coronado Island is a lovely stretch of green space on the bay side of the island. It is the best place to photograph the downtown San Diego skyline and get unobstructed panoramic shots of the cityscape. The park has two small beaches.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego
As the name implies, the sunset is the biggest draw to Sunset Cliffs Park in Point Loma. Located just south of the hippie enclave of Ocean Beach, it is the best place in San Diego to try to catch a glimpse of the elusive green flash.
Seagrove Park, Del Mar
The oceanfront park in Del Mar sits high on a grassy bluff above two-mile long Del Mar beach and offers a bird’s-eye view of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors will appreciate the park’s tranquility. It is a popular location for weddings and other permit-use summer events.