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Things to See & Do

Spanning more than 50,000 acres of parkland and 126 diverse parks, preserves, trails and historic sites county-wide, there is so much to see and do in San Diego! With its alluring scenery, biologically diverse habitat and mild climate, San Diego is ideal for spending time outdoors. Miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails await those with an adventurous spirit. 

Get a workout in, or relax in nature, while taking in the beauty of San Diego County. From backpacking, swimming and kayaking, to horseback riding, fishing and disc golf—it’s all possible in San Diego county parks.

View our seasonal program guides to learn about activities to suit all ages, interests and abilities. You can also make camping reservations, or plan a wedding or special event at a number of locations. Visit our Facebook page to view upcoming events. We hope to see you at one of our beautiful parks, or out on one of our scenic trails!


Hit the trail! Experience San Diego County’s miles of hiking trails in the County's parks and open space preserves. Some trails offer simple strolls along placid streams, while others take you over rugged mountains and isolated valleys. Get trekking, and discover one of the most diverse trail systems in the nation! A new trail guide is coming soon! 

Plug into nature, where app-happy kids head outside for a rewarding experience. About 6 miles of County Park trails are part of the TRACK Trails program, a nationwide network of outdoor adventures for kids, coordinated by Kids in Parks. The program rewards kids for spending time outdoors — both with new experiences and with nature-related gifts. Kids can earn “Trail TRACKer Gear” for registering their adventures in an online nature journal, and for reaching certain milestones. There are six TRACK Trails in County Parks: Felicita County Park Guajome Regional Park Lake Morena County ParkLindo Lake County Park,  San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, San Dieguito County Park, and Stelzer County Park. Along each path, you’ll find informational kiosks with brochures highlighting specific activities that kids can participate in to earn credit online.

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Get cranking! Discover San Diego’s miles of biking trails in the county's parks and open space preserves. With an average temperature of 71 degrees, the region is one of the best places in the country for people to get around on two wheels. Plus, bicycling is an easy way to increase daily physical activity, and stay fit.

Tour de San Diego. Some trails offer simple strolls along placid streams; others take you over rugged hills and isolated valleys. Get in gear! We offer one of the most diverse trail systems in the nation.

Five tips to make your bike ride a safer one:               

1.    Choose the right bike. Make sure your bike “fits” in relation to your height. If it’s an older bike, a local repair shop can tune it, and do a safety check for you. Read our policy on e-bikes. 
2.    Wear a good helmet. A helmet that fits properly will protect you in case of a fall. A helmet is required for everyone under 18 years old, and recommended for everyone else, and must meet legal standards.
3.    Pick a route in advance.
4.    Know the rules of the road.
It’s important to learn and follow the rules of the road.
5.    Put safety first.
Stay alert, and wear bright-colored clothing and reflective gear to make you more visible at night, and use a bright headlight and taillight after dark.

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Ride A Horse

Saddle up! Horseback riding in San Diego County is a rewarding outdoor experience. County Parks provides endless outdoor adventure with a wide array of trails, staging areas, and camping. From the high mountain meadows of Santa Ysabel Preserve to the open range in the San Diego desert, opportunities for horse lovers abound.

Interested in spending a weekend in the wilderness with your horse? Check out one of our camping parks that offer equestrian-friendly facilities, including horse trailer camp sites, and horse corrals. Make your reservation today! Both Vallecito County Park and Sweetwater Summit Regional Park are equipped.

Day-Use Equestrian Trails. Enjoy a relaxing hour or two on horseback, riding through a nature preserve - or take a full day trek on a more challenging trail. You'll experience acres of open space where you can roam down a tree-dotted trail, meander past pastures and climb to amazing vistas. Take advantage of some of the best horseback riding in Southern California! 

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Get stoked. A popular pastime with youth, it used to be there weren’t any public places to practice skateboarding without endangering people or damaging property. That has all changed with boarders tearing it up at two skate parks in San Diego: Lindo Lake County Park and Jess Martin County Park .

Skate to live! Skateboarders finally have a place to call their own. Skateboard park designs include multiple ramps, and up to 16,000 square feet of shred space—plenty of room to practice those pivot grinds, kick flips, slides and ollies.

All users are expected to uphold the parks rules and regulations. Signs are posted to help reinforce rules and regulations for this skate park. For example, smoking and drinking are not allowed, and users are required to wear protective gear.

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Fish & Boat

Eat. Sleep. Boat. There is perhaps nothing as nice as heading onto the open water in a boat. A mild climate and steady winds make San Diego the ultimate playground for boating of all kinds. From the excellent trout and bass fishing of Lake Morena County Park, to Lindo Lake County Park with its Boathouse and neighboring Community Center, to Guajome Regional Park where two alluring ponds test the skills of any angler. You can even throw a line at Dos Picos County Park

Meet Lake Morena's Fishing GuyHave you ever experienced fishing at Lake Morena? Whether you have or plan to, there's one park employee you must consult with. He'll have you catching the big one—hook, line and sinker.

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Make a splash! San Diego County’s Splash Parks and Aquatic Playgrounds provide colorful water features for kids to cool down and make a splash. You’ll find Splash Parks at Hilton Head County Park, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, Eastview County Park, and the new Waterfront Park downtown.

Your Waterfront Park. This impressive Splash Park features a spectacular 830-foot-long fountain, which runs nearly the length of the park with jets shooting water 14 feet into the air. The fountain’s basins create a one-inch-deep splash area for children. This park, with its interactive fountain, expansive civic green and large interactive playground, is North Embarcadero’s new showpiece—and a whole lot of fun for the whole family.

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With more biodiversity than any other county in the nation, San Diego's parks and gardens are a great place to experience nature. San Diego's widely varied topography, combined with its proximity to the ocean, create five different habitats including tidal, marsh, desert, mountains, and canyons.

Plant lovers can’t miss the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas encompassing four miles of garden trails, a wide collection of native and endangered plants, a whimsical children's garden, and the nation's largest collection of bamboo species. The garden offers a full line up of events including workshops, plant sales, and bird watching tours.

Dig, sow and grow. Planter boxes full of fruit, vegetables and herbs are flourishing in our parks and preserves, thanks to a new concept in community gardening. Growing in popularity, community gardens are ideal for people who don’t have the space to garden at home, and for those who love fresh produce. Digging in the dirt and tending seedlings as they grow is good exercise, relaxing, and allows gardeners to be outdoors.

Established in 2012, Los Penasquitos Gardens at Los Penasquitos Canyon County Preserve are comprised of 20 6' x 16' garden boxes with drip irrigation, superior soil, and access to nearby tool lockers - providing lessees with the space and amenities they need to grow their own produce. The cost is $120 per year. Gardeners are required to visit weekly and garden every season. Call (858) 484-7504 for information, and to be added to the wait list. Please be prepared to share your first and last name, your phone number, your email address and a general overview of your gardening experience. You can also send a message to a park ranger.

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With its beautiful scenery and mild climate, San Diego is ideal for outdoor exercise. Regular physical activity is a great way to reduce stress, gain health benefits and have fun.

With miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, it’s easy to fit in a workout while taking in the beauty of San Diego County. From backpacking, swimming and kayaking, to horseback riding, hockey and disc golf—it’s all possible in San Diego County Parks.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Increased physical activity has the potential to decrease issues like obesity, diabetes, ADHD and other physical and mental complications.  Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Many County parks include QR Code Fitness Trails, which combine today’s technology with a personal physical fitness program. All you need is your smartphone! Each station generally takes about five minutes to complete. When you’re done, you will have completed about 25 minutes of guided exercise routines, at your own pace and level. Reconnect with the natural beauty that defines our region. Get out, and get active today! Seven County parks and facilities with QR Code Fitness Trails include: 4S Ranch Sports Park, Hilton Head County Park in East County, Guajome Regional County Park, Felicita County Park, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, Del Dios Highlands County Preserve, and the County Operations Center.

Join the fun! Browse through activities and register online. Please refer to the recreation Program Guides, regarding On-line Leagues Registration and On-line Programs Registration.

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Geocaching is a treasure hunt that utilizes Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Internet to find caches as a recreational experience. There are three parks in the County system that are open to geocaching:  Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon County Preserve, Mt. Gower County Preserve and  Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

Visit the  geocaching web page to view the policy or for more information.

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Life’s a picnic! Nothing’s better than a picnic with friends on a beautiful day. The County of San Diego Parks and Recreation oversees approximately 50,000 acres of parks, historic sites, and open space preserves. From North County to South County, and the coast to the desert, there’s a park within 20 minutes of nearly every residence in the region. Even better, there are literally hundreds of established picnic spots that are ideal for a meal outdoors. Eighteen of our County Parks have reservable picnic areas for special occasions. From company picnics, wedding receptions and large family reunions, to birthday parties or team building events, we have a park for you!

View our list of day-use parks, or peruse our camping park portfolio – these locations were made for picnicking!

Enjoy your next alfresco dining experience under a canopy of ancient oaks, in a boathouse, or on a historic stage… If you’re planning to spend some quality time in the countryside, we encourage you to try some secret spots, which are on our rangers’ must-see list.

Along Old Highway 80 in El Cajon sits Flinn Springs County Park, a 95-acre day-use park with features for kids, athletes, brides – and even birders! Pull up a seat for 1 – 500. Accommodation is one of this park’s strong suites. Another benefit of Flinn is its small collection of semi-private picnic tables.

Head over to Lakeside to enjoy a little history with your PB&J… El Monte County Park is one of the oldest in the County Parks system, equipped with five prohibition era picnic tables. Each table dons a plaque bearing the names of early land-owners and community stewards.

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