A Guide to the Best Parks in North County San Diego for Family Fun
Although Southern California is blessed to have beautiful weather most of the year, when springtime hits and the temperatures reach the 70’s is really when this gorgeous part of the country is at its prime. After cooler temperatures and some rainy days, kids will be aching to get out of the house and exert all of that pent up energy. San Diego County has a plethora of family-friendly parks to choose from, so we’ve narrowed down our top favorites in the Encinitas area to bring your little ones to the next time the sun is shining.
Alga Norte Park has something for the entire family. This 32-acre park features a state of the art aquatic center, plenty of playground equipment, San Diego County’s largest skatepark and much more.
The furry companions in your life are welcome, as well, as there is an off-leash dog park with areas for large and small dogs, dog agility props and a dog training area! There are also picnic tables, a snack bar and restrooms for when you need a break. The best part is that this park boasts many green features making it both environmentally and economically sustainable, all as a result of community involvement.
A popular spot for birthday parties and company picnics, this park features spectacular panoramic views that can’t be beat. One of the first parks to implement synthetic turf fields, this park has several well-maintained soccer, softball, and basketball fields. There are also play structures for kids of all ages, so toddlers and big kids alike can have fun while parents watch from the sidelines. Plan for your little one’s next birthday party here or just bring the kiddos on a beautiful weekend - everyone will be sure to have a good time!
This 125-acre coastal park, located on the border of Del Mar and Solana Beach, boasts 5 miles of hiking trails, multiple playgrounds, picnic areas, ball fields and much more. The whole family will have fun exploring Activity Hill, which features 10 fitness stations, three hillside ladders and lookout platforms, two suspension bridges, and two TRACK Trails for kids with nature-themed scavenger hunts. Keep in mind that parking is $3, so remember to bring a few extra dollars with you!
Located just steps away from one of the most gorgeous beaches, Moonlight State Beach Park, is a fully equipped park with a fun play structure and grassy areas for kids, while the parents can relax and enjoy the sounds and views of the waves crashing before the eyes. With the beach so close, kids will be in heaven wading in the water, building sandcastles and collecting shells. There are also volleyball and tennis courts and even recreational equipment for rent. During the summer months, the snack shack is open in case your little ones need a snack. A beautiful spot to relax, but also have a great time with the young ones!
Just up the street from Moonlight Beach Park is another great option, Cottonwood Creek Park. This park comes complete with a playground and water pump that kids adore, a rock-climbing wall for the bigger kids, basketball and tennis courts, and walking trails. There’s also plenty of grass and picnic tables, so the family can enjoy a nice picnic before running around and burning it off. There are also benches and a covered gazebo area for parents to take a rest when they need it. A great spot for all ages!
Also known as Cardiff Park, Glen Park is considered the Cardiff neighborhood park to visit. One side of the park features a nice playground structure on sand, suitable for both toddlers and older kids. Remember to bring some sand buckets for this one! There are also basketball and tennis courts, a beach volleyball area and a horseshoe area. On the other side of the park is a large gazebo with tables, rolling grassy area for kids to play, and picnic tables with grills in case you want to barbeque. A wonderful option for a family picnic if you live in the Cardiff neighborhood!
If you live on the inland side of North County San Diego, Old Poway Park is a spot you’ll want to check out that provides fun for all ages. A Poway landmark that kids and the historian in the family will both enjoy, this park offers a look into the unique history of Poway, including the Heritage Museum, the Nelson House, and the Poway Midland Railroad, which offers vintage train rides around the park. It is better to come here on the weekends, as this is the only time these interesting exhibits are open. Come early enough on Saturday and you can meander around the Poway Farmers’ Market, which offers local and organic produce, artisan foods, and unique handmade artistries. If you get hungry, take the family over to the Hamburger Factory for a yummy lunch or dinner.
While this one is a bit further away, we just couldn’t leave it off the list. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in America and is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, lovely gardens and many other cultural and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. A favorite by locals and visitors alike, it’s worth the bit of drive with the kids to explore this beautiful 1,200 acre space, where you can enrich the young minds at the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum or San Diego Air & Space Museum, followed by letting out some energy on the playgrounds and then grabbing a bite to eat. You can easily spend an entire afternoon here!
We’re fortunate that the North County San Diego area is plentiful with beautifully-designed, well-maintained parks that are ensured to provide a day of fun for the whole family. So the next time you’re looking for a fun, healthy way to spend the beautiful spring day, check out these great parks in and around Encinitas for you and the kids to enjoy!