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Best Parks in San Diego

Boasting amazing weather year-round, San Diego is a great place for nature lovers. From urban gardens to ocean parks, outdoor attractions abound in this sun-kissed city. There’s a green spot to enjoy for everyone, whether you’re visiting or want to move here and you’re searching for an apartment to rent in San Diego.

So, if you’re looking for the best picnic spot or simply want to wind down in nature without leaving the city, here are some of the best parks in San Diego.

Balboa Park

If this is your first time in San Diego, you can’t miss visiting Balboa Park! This place is an amazing San Diego attraction in itself — and for good reason, as it’s the nation’s largest urban cultural park, spanning more than 1,200 verdant acres in the middle of the city. It’s home to the San Diego Museum of Art, the city’s famous zoo and botanical garden, 17 museums, 19 gardens — including the lush Japanese Friendship Garden, which was created to honor the close ties between San Diego and Yokohama, its sister city — as well as several theaters and more than 60 miles of hiking, walking and biking trails. History and art lovers will definitely want to check out the Spanish Village Art Center, a collection of quaint buildings designed to resemble a traditional village in Spain.

 

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O postare distribuită de Balboa Park (@balboapark)

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

This is one of the top destinations in San Diego, where locals and tourists gather to enjoy cinematic sunsets and spectacular views of the ocean. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park runs 1.5 miles along the western edge of Point Loma Peninsula and is easily accessible by car via Ladera Street or by public transit from Old Town Transit Center — plus, there’s no entrance fee! If you want to catch breath-taking sunset views from the cliffs, it’s best to plan your trip: arrive early to beat the crowds or pick a day during the week, when the park is not as busy. And since you’ll be here for at least a couple hours, grab a blanket and a picnic basket for an unforgettable evening! If you’re not the picnic type, you can climb down the steep path to the beach or you can hike along the cliffside trail while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean. Sunset Cliffs is also a great place for surfing — the best spot is Luscomb Point, named after Happy Luscomb, a famous local surfer.

 

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O postare distribuită de Andy G. (@lensfocusedphotography)

Mission Bay Park

Located within minutes from the city core, Mission Bay Park is the nation’s largest man-made aquatic park, surrounded by 27 miles of shoreline dotted with sandy beaches. This is San Diego’s water wonderland, where you’ll enjoy plenty of attractions ranging from kayaking and kite surfing to swimming, sailing and skateboarding, to name just a few.  Mission Bay is also home to SeaWorld San Diego, a coveted destination itself that’s a theme park, aquarium, zoo and animal research facility, all into one. At the north end of Mission Bay, there’s an 18-hole executive golf course sitting on 46 acres of land. Golf lovers are in for a treat when they get here: Mission Bay Golf Course and Practice Center is the only golf course in San Diego that offers night lighting — and it’s where Tiger Woods won a Junior World title! Also, one of the most popular Mission Bay attractions is whale watching, specifically gray whales migrating from the Bering Sea to Baja California. The best time to watch for gray whales is from November/December through April.

 

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Civita Park

Nestled in the heart of Civita, a master-planned community in Mission Valley, this is one of San Diego’s hidden gems. Located on the north side of Friars Road at Mission Center Road, Civita Park spans 60 acres and features an outdoor amphitheater, a community garden, a dog park, two playgrounds, as well as covered and uncovered picnic tables and picnic groves surrounded by native plants. One of the top attractions for kids is the huge splash pad, while adults can enjoy listening to live music at the pavilion or take the stairs that lead up to a 72-foot-long mural that depicts the diversity of San Diego. The best part is that you don’t have to be a resident to visit this park! Plus, if you want to throw an outdoor birthday party or host any kind of celebration here, food trucks are allowed. For an adventure-filled experience, children of all ages — and, of course, the young at heart — can spot the many bunny statues hidden along the walking path. (By many we mean more than 25! How many can you count?)

 

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Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

If you’re looking for a different kind of outdoor experience, check out Queen Califia’s Magical Circle. Technically this is a sculpture garden, but it’s located within Kit Carson Park in the middle of Escondido, so… two birds with one stone! Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is an incredible place to visit for both children and adults – it’s the only American sculpture garden, inspired by California’s historic and cultural roots sprinkled with a bit of local mythology. Designed by French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle, this unique mosaic garden comprises nine freestanding sculptures, a maze entryway and a circular 400-foot-long “snake wall”, as well as native shrubs and trees beautifully decorating the interior plaza and the outer walls. The largest of the nine sculptures was inspired by mythical Queen Califia, an icon of Native power that is often celebrated in visual representations from the coast of San Francisco to Baja California.

 

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O postare distribuită de Natalie (she/her) (@grittygoingzen)

Veronica Grecu
Veronica Grecu
Veronica Grecu is a senior creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With more than ten years of experience in the real estate industry, she covers a variety of topics in the residential and commercial real estate, including trends and industry news. Previously, she was involved in producing content for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and Yardi Matrix. Veronica’s academic background includes a B.A. in Applied Modern Languages and an M.A. in Advertising and PR.

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