Park play time should be characterized by playful physical activity and not by safety-related stress. In theory, wide open spaces are wonderful, but not so much when your eyes are working overtime. This is why we love fenced in playgrounds or at least semi-enclosed playgrounds that take the worry factor down a few notches. Here are 11 of our favorites.

ntc-park-liberty-stationphoto: Anne C. via Yelp

1. NTC Park
While this one is not surrounded by a fence, it makes the list because of a generous stretch of grass acts which acts as a barrier between the play area and parking lot. Because of the addition of the Public Market, parking is quite scarce in the lot behind Kid Ventures, but (usually) abundant at the park. The two age-specific play structures often solve the worry of the smaller set being intimidated by the more seasoned park players. This park scores an A+ for catering to all ages and a central location that’s a magnet for mamas from all over San Diego.

2370 Cushing Rd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: parkpogo.com/park/liberty_station_ntc_park

silver-terrace-parkphoto: Jeannette Swanson

2. Silver Terrace Park
This park is a little gem, and when we say little we mean don’t blink or you might miss it! On Friars Rd. close enough to hear the trolley rumble past, this park is entirely fenced in. The play structure is well kept and there’s plenty of grass for the kiddos run amuck. There’s a paved sidewalk for easy stroller access, and if you’ve got a sleeping babe you need not wake them while your older kids play thanks to the cozyness of the park.

Insider Tip: There are no restrooms and the parking lot is a tad small, so try to limit sippy time and plan on leaving a little early so you can look for parking in case the attached lot is full.

5550 Friars Rd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

Insta-swingphoto: Melissa Heckscher

3. Kensington Mini Park
This park is for the family who appreciates smaller spaces (and a Starbucks just across the street!) The equipment is simple, but in a positive way that won’t overload your tots brain. This one is ideal for those in the neighborhood or for those who need a break from other too crowded playgrounds.

4121 Adams Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Online: parkpogo.com/kensington_mini_park

nobel-parkphoto: Matt E. via Yelp

4. Nobel Park
Since this park often gets an overflow from the rec center next door, your littles are almost always guaranteed impromptu play dates. Most would consider this park to be divided into three areas that can stand on their own. There’s a spot for sand toys and digging, slides and playground equipment for younger kids as well as a separate set for the older crowd. A row of covered picnic tables sits between the playground, so bring a to-go breakfast or lunch to nosh on outdoors.

8810 Judicial Dr.
San Diego, Ca
858-552-1626
Online: sandiego.gov/park-and recreation/nobel

5. Jackson Park
This neighborhood park can be added to your itinerary on a day you’re planning to visit Grossmont Center or the Costco in La Mesa. Test drive a couple of cars and yield to the in-ground stop sign before proceeding. After your tots imagination has driven them at least three times around the faux Nascar circuit, make sure they climb out and stretch their legs as they zip down the slides. With all the shade supplied by the abundance of nearby trees, this is a must visit for our many months of warm weather.

5870 Jackson Dr.
La Mesa, Ca
Online: lamesaparks.org/parks/jackson-park/

6. 4S Heritage Park
This neighborhood park might look small in relation to the grassy area that wraps around it, but it’s surrounded by almost a complete circle of fencing. The large area of grass is actually a plus, since they have the option to frolic barefoot on the sweet green blades after being corralled in the entertaining play area. Although, it might be tough to get them to forfeit the wobbly bridge, twisting slide and peek-a-boo hole that beckons them to ask for just five more minutes.

16600 4S Ranch Pkwy.
San Diego, Ca
Online: sdparks.org 

western-hills-park-san-diegophoto: Jeannette Swanson

7. Western Hills Park
Just like NTC Park, this hidden park is not fenced in, but it makes the list because of its elevated location from the street and tucked away nature in general. Located in a quiet neighborhood in Bay Park, this one should make its way onto your calendars each Friday of the month if you’re in the area. Bay Park Connection hosts a weekly play date at this location and they generously bring a batch of coffee and donuts to fuel us and our mini play dates. Starting at 9:30 a.m. and going until the sugar rush has worn off, there’s plenty of companionship to be had here. Even if you can’t make the Friday play date, the safe location, expansive grassy area with a fence of trees and the trail that makes for a perfect mini hike, is enough to warrant a play trip here.

4800 Kane St.
San Diego, Ca
Online: yelp.com/biz/western-hills-park-san-diego

West Hills Parkphoto: Richard G. via Yelp

8. West Hills Park
This smaller Santee playground receives light foot traffic during the week and a fence that’s only one panel short of being entirely enclosed. This one might be the East County equivalent of NTC Park, since it also has a separate structure for the older jungle gym lovers. There’s even a bright blue whale on springs that your beach lover can bounce around in and pretend they’re actually minutes from the water.

8790 Mast Blvd.
Santee, Ca
Online: ci.santee.ca.us

9. Kroc Center Playground
This playground not only stands out because of its vibrant purple color scheme, but its design was inspired by many local tot artists. The playground sits between an athletic field and the gymnasium and sits in the shade in the late afternoons. While the park is only accessible to members, it’s a wonderful resource for its members and to area families. The park can either be the focal point of your day or it can be a quick jaunt after a scheduled activity at the center.

6845 University Ave.
San Diego, Ca
619-287-5762
Online: sd.kroccenter.org

mills-parkphoto: Jeannette Swanson

10. Mills Park
While this playground is only open to those with access to MCAS Miramar, its smaller size is very welcoming to new moms or moms with multiple kiddos. This fenced in playground has a nice slice of shade that’s provided by a canopy and it makes for a nice sitting spot with baby while you watch your older ones play. On the way in or the way out, consider getting a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. After all it’s one of the rare five in the San Diego area!

MCAS Miramar
Bauer Rd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: mccsmiramar.com/mills-park/

11. MCRD Bay View Marina Park
This fully fenced-in, ADA approved playground by the marina is a dream come true for kids and parents alike. There’s a Marine-themed vehicle and a variety of obstacle-themed structures to give them a tactical experience. There’s also a soft turf here that will appeal to the little movers who prefer not to have sand in their shoes. To round out the day, walk around the marina before heading home. But like the park above, this one is only open to those with base access, so consider making a date out of this with one of your military gal friends.

MCRD San Diego Boathouse & Marina
2221 Guadalcanal Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Online: mccsmcrd.com/boathouse-marina/

What are your favorite fenced in parks? Let us know in the comments!

—Jeannette Swanson