Get out and enjoy the great outdoors at one of San Diego’s best playgrounds. From pirate ship adventures and castle-top lookouts to sliding through a giant bunch of grapes, riding swings with ocean views and exploring Spiderman-worthy climbing nets––here’s where to find outdoor fun at the best playgrounds near you!
De Anza Cove Park
Families seem to flock to the larger park near the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, but there’s a quieter park on the north end that’s worth a visit. At De Anza Park there’s a picnic shelter just steps from the small, well kept playground and the bay is a comfortable distance from the play structure. Your little play-date will love the pirate ship and just might pretend that it’s almost ready to set sail into the bay.
3000 N. Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, CA 92109
4S Ranch Community Park
On a hot, sunny day, you'll be made in the shade at 4S Ranch Community Park, where the play area is shielded from the sun and there are picnic tables under a shaded gazebo. Kids can roam the 3 acres on a bike or scooter along the paved path that surrounds the playground. The play structure has a variety of fun, engaging equipment so kids can monkey around on the monkey bars, slide down slides and navigate their way across wobbly drawbridges til their heart's content!
16118 4S Ranch Pkwy.
San Diego, CA 92127
Quack, quack! Head to this hidden gem of a park with a lake view and (new!) playground equipment to boot. If you have both big and little kids, they can play on the two different play areas all within your keen view. Also, little ones can walk or ride around the three-quarter mile paved lake road to get that extra energy out. Even more, you'll see plenty of ducks and you can fish too. Plus, splash about in the water feature that goes off at different (posted!) times during the day.
650 Foxhall Dr.
San Marcos, CA
Fletcher Cove Park
The perfect park combo. Where else can you find a playground, half-court basketball and a nice grassy area right by the beach? The playground is smaller (with two swings), but kids love it. Also, many families picnic on the grass or picnic tables with a picturesque ocean view. Even more, bring the swimsuits, it's great because there's a lifeguard station too! When done, there are restrooms and an outdoor shower to rinse off the sand.
111 S. Sierra Ave.
Solona Beach, CA
Play ball! Whether it's soccer or volleyball, you'll find plenty of space to have a ball at this grassy green park. Even more, pack lunch and picnic at the tables with the crew. You'll enjoy the view of the city and the bay. And, you'll find clean restrooms and not too many people. Take the kiddies and have a nice afternoon.
999 Bayside Pkwy
Chula Vista, CA
Park at the Park
Take me out to the ballgame! If your little sluggers like to bat the ball around or just play in the sandbox, then this 2.7-acre park on the North side of Petco Park is a good family spot. You'll find grass, a mini-baseball diamond (for half-pints) and a tot lot. On game days, you can buy a ticket and sprawl out with the family and watch the game on the giant screen. On other days it's open to the public, so bring a blanket and enjoy.
100 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA
A swing with a view! This cute smaller park right next Del Mar beach is a perfect pit stop for a funday afternoon. Little surfers like to swing, ride the wobble animals and climb the playset. You'll let out a little breather for the surrounding fence and soft padded ground. Moreover, pack a lunch to eat on the large grass area while taking in the breathtaking ocean views. Del Mar beach, our fave family-friendly beach is just a few steps below this park!
1601 Coast Blvd.
Del Mar, CA
Allied Gardens Park
Wide-open spaces where you can run! Plus, a large playground with a sandy bottom is what you'll find in this East County gem. Even more, this park is a hot spot for birthday parties for the littles. Also, you'll find two play areas: one for tots and one for bigger kids. This park is next to the rec center and pool so you'll find special events and swimming too!
5155 Greenbrier Ave.
San Diego, CA
Hilton Head Park
Thar she blows! You'll find two climbing structures, a splash pad, set of swings and twisty slide at this 10-acre pirate-themed park. First off, your park-goer can spot a water-spouting whale from the (dry) pirate ship play structure. Further, remember to bring your little's swimsuit and change of clothes. Even more, pack a bbq to cook-up and eat on the shaded picnic tables. Good to note, the splash pad is $3 per day, but the park is free.
16005 Hilton Head Rd.
El Cajon, CA
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.
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
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.
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
This cool downtown park is best known for its whimsical water fountains, which are a toddler magnet and a great way to cool off, but in addition to making a splash, the epic play structure is not to be missed either. 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. The super fast slides, swings, see-saw and climbing structures make for an engaging and entertaining park playdate for kids. Plus, the unbeatable view of the city skyline makes it worth the drive to downtown.
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
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.
—Nikki Walsh, Jeannette Swanson & Beth Shea