We’ve been hard at ‘work’ soaring on swings, roaring down slides and swinging across monkey bars from downtown to Escondido to determine our top 10 favorite playgrounds––and what we discovered are play structures that go way above and beyond the standard issue jungle gym: a gigantic bunch of grapes clustered around a tunnel slide, a caterpillar to climb and a four-seater sit & spin are just a few playtime gems we gave a whirl. Scroll through our slideshow to get the 4-1-1 on our favorite parks and playgrounds in San Diego.

Cottonwood Creek Park

This creek-themed park will remind you of when you were a kid. Encourage your littles to explore the manmade creek that flows down the middle of the playground. They can set up a dam, float a boat and build sand castles with moats. School-aged kids love the challenge of climbing the giant boulder on the playground. Another kid fave is the stand-and-spin. There are bathrooms, tennis courts, basketball courts a giant play structure and plenty of grass to play on.

95 N. Vulcan Ave.
Encinitas, Ca


Kellogg Park

If you want to hang out in a grassy San Diego park right by the beach, Kellogg Park in La Jolla is the place to go. It has a great playground for kids, tons of green grass, restroom facilities and a no-alcohol rule, unlike many beach area parks. Parking can be difficult during busy times, so plan to drop by at off hours or leave time for a stroll to and from the playground.

8200 Camino Del Oro
La Jolla, Ca

Grape Day Park

We heard it through the grapevine. This historic Escondido Park is right across the street from the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum–– so make a day of it! Let your littles discover the wonders at the museum from water spray to grocery play, then go across the street to explore this harvest-themed park. You'll find a newly expanded playground, picnic tables, grass area, bathrooms and even free WiFi. Pack a lunch, sit and eat, then let the kiddos run about. Great photo-ops with the giant bunch of grapes clustered around a tunnel slide too!

321 N. Broadway
Escondido, Ca

Alga Norte Park

Big kids or little kids? This park has got you covered. With two-levels of fun and plenty of playground equipment, a large grass area and infant swings, your fam will have a fantastic time. There's also a large skate park and fenced-in doggie park too! You'll find covered picnic tables, a community pool, basketball courts and clean bathrooms. There's a large easy-access parking lot that's half-shaded with solar panels.

6565 Alicante Rd.
Carlsbad, Ca

Pepper Grove Park

A perfect place to let off some steam after visiting the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center or theNAT at Balboa Park. At these two large playgrounds, kids can sit on the panda bear's lap, lounge on the hippo or jump on the turtle's back. Head off for a spin at the second playground or climb the large play structure. You're sure to see the ice cream man parked on the street in the summer.

2200 Park Blvd.
San Diego, Ca

Lake Murray Community Park

This playground boasts a healthy mix of nature and play structures. You won't be able to get your kiddo off the cool roller slide and toddlers love the sit-spinner. Plus swings, a clatter bridge and slides keep everyone engaged. Bring some food to feed the ducks by the lake after playtime.

Good to note: there are only port-a-potties and the parking is a short walk away.

7001 Murray Park Dr.
San Diego, Ca

Waterfront Park

Beat the heat! The whimsical water fountains are a toddler magnet and a great way to cool off. Plus, the unbeatable view of the city skyline makes it worth the drive to downtown. The modern blue-themed playground has a soft ground, rock climbing and a spider-net that make your kids feel like a superhero. There are picnic tables, benches, security guards and clean bathrooms.

1600 Pacific Hwy.
San Diego, Ca

Mission Bay Park Playground

From rollerblading to stroller jogging or running with the kids in tow, you can cruise the winding pathways before hitting the playground. You'll find swings, a boat, stone turtles and slides. Climb a caterpillar's back or the half-dome jungle bars. Perfect for both little kids and older siblings. All set to the beautiful backdrop of Mission Bay. Bring a lunch, have a BBQ, make a nice day of it.

3900 N Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Ca

Solona Ranch Park

Head to this hidden gem in Carmel Valley––it's a perfect spot for half-pints. There are two play structures one for toddlers and one for bigger kids, a sweet spin machine that fits four and plenty of swings. Bring food to barbecue and try out the large charcoal grill. Everyone can stay cool at the three covered picnic tables.

13605 Pacific Highlands Ranch Pkwy.
San Diego, Ca

Spreckels Park

At first glance, you may notice the 8-acres of grass and beautiful shade trees. Upon further investigation, you'll appreciate the large playground made with little tykes in mind, the bathrooms, picnic tables and the fact that the public library is across the street. You can plan a cool day-trip to Coronado, including library time, play time and don't forget to pack a lunch!

601 Orange Ave.
Coronado, Ca

Where’s your favorite playground in San Diego? Let us know in the comments.

—Nikki Walsh



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