While Southern California is just about as beautiful as any place on earth, the local parks and green spaces in San Diego take the beauty to a whole other level. From city parks to ocean views and bayfront property, there’s a spot that everyone will surely enjoy.
The Central Park of San Diego is 1200 acres of museums, gardens, trails, and a variety of landscapes. You can travel from Amazonian-like jungles to rose gardens to the cacti-filled desert scape all within 15 minutes of walking. Little known fact: There are a few places where alcohol is allowed, making this the perfect brunch park (we’ll bring the OJ)!
Trolley Barn Park
You guessed it — this Adams Avenue park was once the site of a streetcar barn that housed trolley cars next to an ostrich farm (you guessed the part about the ostrich farm, right?). Currently, it’s home to a playground and some beautifully shaded grassy areas perfect for lounging on a sunny day.
Liberty Station NTC Park
The “NTC” stands for Naval Training Center, where the Navy held much of its San Diego-based operations from 1921 until 1993. Head there now for shops, a public market, a golf course, hotels, and a 46-acre waterfront park full of playgrounds, running trails, and historic markers. You could (and should) easily spend all day enjoying this space.
The grassy knoll where Law Street runs into the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Beach is known for two things: Surfers checking out the break both south at the pier and north at Tourmaline, and yoga. Every Saturday and Sunday at 10AM, a donation-based yoga class is held on these bluffs. Join the 100+ other yogis for unobstructed ocean views as you namaste with Namasteve.
BirdRock is the small community between Pacific Beach and La Jolla, and is known for its insane mansions and pristine coastline. But you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to enjoy the view. Park it on a bench at Calumet Park and enjoy the coastline while the surfers take advantage of Rock Pile down below.
Nestled in Cuvier Park in La Jolla cove is a great little stretch of green space known as Wedding Bowl. If you couldn’t tell by the name, Wedding Bowl is a small part of that is popular for—yup—weddings! So popular, in fact, that there’s a lottery process to get a permit to be married there. Luckily, no lottery needed to simply enjoy the space and the surrounding park before, perhaps, heading up to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, which is just across the street.
La Jolla Shores Park
Just north of La Jolla cove is La Jolla Shores, capped off by the famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography and its perfect pier. And this park gives you options. Hang in the sand by the beach, lounge in the grass, play on the playground — all at your fingertips. Fitt tip: Go during late August or early September during leopard shark season. Hundreds of (harmless to you) leopard sharks take over the waters off the shores, and you can snorkel, kayak, or surf right next to them!
Coronado Tidelands Park
Tidelands Park has arguably the best view of any on the list. From the magical crown jewel of Coronado, you’ll be gazing over the San Diego Bay at the Coronado Bridge and the San Diego skyline. But the coolest part? You can take the ferry from downtown there and back — a $4 well spent.
About two or three years ago, San Diego put a large chunk of change into revamping the bayfront Waterfront Park. And it shows. From a water feature for cooling off during hot summer days to a playground to a massive green park perfect for laying out your yoga mat or a picnic blanket, it is ideal. You don’t even have to bring your lunch; there are some delicious spots to grab grub just across the street (try Carnitas Snack Shack as a splurge meal).
Shelter Island Shoreline Park
Shoreline Park is a hidden gem along the San Diego Bay. Come during the day to lounge on the perfect grass, and stay for the night. Right across the way is Humphrey’s by the Bay, an outdoor concert venue. Fitt tip: Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle up to the venue to watch the show (for free!) from the comfort of your own vessel.
Fanuel Street Park
Name a place where you can run, bike, swim, or stand up paddle board all from the same place. Yeah, it’s Fanuel Park in Pacific Beach. This park sits on a picturesque stretch of beach along the bay, so whether you’re a land lover or a water fiend, you will have a variety of activities to choose from.