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Nine Kid-Approved Parks

Some of the best places to play

Whether you are looking for a larger area to roam or swings to push while you watch the ocean waves, here are eight family-friendly parks that are sure to please.

By: Chelsea Gladden; Mommy Blogger at Breezy Mama

Ready, Set, Go!

Year-round sunshine makes the outdoors in San Diego irresistible. Along with the gorgeous beaches, stunning hiking trails and countless attractions, families have plenty of parks to enjoy as well. Letting the kids burn their energy on the climbing structures while laughing their way down the slides adds to a great family vacation.

San Diego County Waterfront Park

After enjoying the many famous boats that are a part of the Maritime Museum, kids can burn off their extra energy directly across the street. In fact, they can also cool off in the fountain, complete with shooting water. To top it off, there are terrific climbing structures, picnic tables and themed gardens. While in the downtown area, this is a must-stop for families.

Where: Downtown San Diego, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101

Mission Bay Aquatic Park

This man-made aquatic playground features plenty of great park space to stay and play. Fanuel Park at the north end of Sail Bay boasts a playground with a swing set and jungle gym. On the east side of Mission Bay, a playground area is nestled between the bay and a large grassy area for families to relax. There are a variety of age-specific structures for climbing and swinging, with tons of sand underfoot, and walk-bike paths for family members who have outgrown the jungle gym. And the coastal breezes and open grass areas make this park ideal for flying kites. 

Where: Mission Bay, 1344 East Mission Bay Drive, CA 92109

Kate Sessions Park

If you’re looking for a picnic park, visit this scenic park located in a residential area. The hills are a blast for kids to roll down or learn to balance on bikes. The expansive space makes flying kites a lot of fun and the play structure is a bonus. Often a destination for weddings, this park offers views of the mountains and the bay, leading to a stunning day for the whole family.

Where: Pacific Beach, 5115 Soledad Rd, San Diego, CA 92109

Kit Carson Park

Heading east and nearing San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, this open spaced park is great for picnics and hiking. With three ponds, kids get a kick out of watching the ducks. A tot lot and playground make this park a great fit for varying ages. Truly the standout, however, is the Queen Califia’s Magical Circle created by renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle. It is the largest American collection of Saint Phalle's whimsical work with nine large-scale structures covered in brightly colored tiles and ceramics. Kids and parents alike will enjoy seeing and exploring the larger-than-life artistic creations.

Where: Escondido, 3333 Bear Valley Pkwy S, Escondido, CA 92025

Moonlight Beach Park

Right next to one of the most gorgeous beaches, the play structure at Moonlight enhances an amazing day at the water and lets parents enjoy the sound of crashing waves as kids have fun climbing, swinging and playing at the mini picnic table under the slide. During summer months, the snack shack is open and a great place to enjoy a snow cone to top off a magnificent time at the park.

Where: Encinitas, near the end of Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA

Cottonwood Creek Park

Just up the street from Moonlight Beach Park is another fabulous option. Equipped with a rock-climbing wall for the bigger kids, toddlers adore the water pump that streams down on a play structure. Both sand and rubberized ground surround the play areas so bring your buckets and tiny shovels for fun with digging. Large structures and various slides and swings add to the fun. And be sure not to miss the teeter-totter, too!

Where: Encinitas, 95 N Vulcan Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024

Gallagher Square at Petco Park

Located within the stunning Petco Park — home of the San Diego Padres —  is a charming kid-friendly play place. This mini-park is close to the action and showcases a giant monitor so parents won't miss a moment of the game. With plenty of food and concession options nearby, this park is a central hub for families looking to enjoy America's Pastime in California's Beach City. The park is open to the public daily, and tickets to a ballgame are required to access the park during games and events.

Where: 100 Park Blvd, San Diego CA 92101

NTC Park

With the calm waters of San Diego Bay on one side and the bustling shops and restaurants of Liberty Station on another, NTC Park has something for everyone in the family to love. The park features two tot playgrounds, a basketball court, and plenty of grassy fields to run and play on. Pick up some provisions from nearby Liberty Public Market for a perfect picnic by the bay. 

Where: 100 Park Blvd, San Diego CA 92101

Balboa Park

Of course no San Diego park list would be complete without the incomparable Balboa Park. Frequently called the Smithsonian of the West, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in America and is home to 17 museums, several performing arts venues, lovely gardens and many other cultural and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo, all incorporated among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres. The park features a great playground and plenty of places to grab something to eat. Family-friendly best bets include the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

Where: Downtown, San Diego, CA 92101


Follow this link to find more information on San Diego's Parks & Gardens!

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