The Most Picturesque Parks in San Diego

San Diego may be best known for our incredible attractions, beautiful beaches and abundant sunshine, but there’s one aspect of “America’s Finest City” many visitors overlook: our picture-perfect parks! The gorgeous green spaces that dot our city grid are incredibly inviting, and it’s time we stopped keeping them a secret. Read on to discover our picks for must-visit parks in San Diego.


Kate Sessions Park (1.8 miles)

(Photo: @katesessionspark)

Just a brief few minutes away, solace-seekers will discover Kate Sessions Park, named for the famed horticulturist — often referred to as “The Mother of Balboa Park” — who introduced many of the area’s now-native botanical species into the local ecosystem. This 79-acre space isn’t just beautiful in its own right, it also offers visitors sweeping views of Mission Bay, the downtown skyline, and our stunning sunsets. Bring a Frisbee, a picnic, and enjoy your day! 

5115 Soledad Rd. San Diego, CA 92109


Kellogg Park (5.4 miles)

(photo: @surfangel1)

Traveling with kids? Kellogg Park has a fantastic playground area, and it’s just a hop, skip and jump north in La Jolla. Kellogg is also a popular spot for picnics, surfing, fishing and recreational water sports, since it’s near the only beachside boat launch in the area. No matter how you plan to spend your day out, Kellogg Park is a great choice for spending a day on the water. 

8277 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037


Tecolote Canyon Natural Park (6.1 miles)

(Photo: @uofsandiego)

This stunning natural park offers visitors not just abundant beauty, but also recreational and educational opportunities thanks to its rich history. Tecolote Canyon Natural Park includes 6.5 miles of trails, all absolutely perfect for hiking and mountain biking. Additionally, the on-site nature center features exhibits on native plants and animals visitors to the area can look forward to discovering. Be sure to bring your camera!

5180 Tecolote Rd, San Diego, CA 92110


Presidio Park (7.3 miles)

(Photo: @janicegingerichtherapy)

Presidio Park is one of the San Diego park system’s loveliest outdoor spaces. But beyond just being beautiful, this is also an area of great historical significance. Spanish missionaries Gaspar de Portola and Junipero Serra built the San Diego Presidio and the Mission San Diego de Alcalá here in 1769, making its Old Town San Diego location the site of the first European settlement in what would come to be known as California today.

2811 Jackson St, San Diego, CA 92110


Waterfront Park (10 miles away)

San Diego’s Embarcadero sits adjacent to San Diego Bay and is a popular spot for residents and visitors alike. Waterfront Park is located adjacent to this area, and it’s another perfect spot for a picnic. Several fascinating maritime museums can be found here, as well as top-notch seafood restaurants. Enjoy the area as you take in the view. 

1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92101


Balboa Park (11.8 miles)

Along with Presidio Park, Balboa Park is one of the crown jewels of San Diego. At 842 acres, it’s one of the largest urban park spaces in the country — making it an even bigger green space than New York’s Central Park. In addition to being an absolutely beautiful nature spot, the park is also home to some of San Diego’s most acclaimed museumsrestaurants, and public art. So it’s the ideal place to have a leisurely stroll and appreciate the fresh air.

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101


Torrey Pines Reserve (13.3 miles)


(Reel: @obecinco)

Torrey Pines Reserve is one of San Diego’s most remarkable outdoor spaces. Ancient sandstone features sweep elegantly across the terrain here, adjacent to truly spectacular views of the Pacific. If hiking’s your thing, Torrey Pines offers trails of all levels. While here, don’t miss the most notable feature of this striking area — the reserve is one of only two places on the planet where you can see the area’s namesake Torrey Pine, one of the rarest trees in existence.

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037


San Diego Botanic Garden (21.8 miles away)

(Photo: @sandiegobotanicgarden)

Visitors to this grandiose garden will discover a true treasure. Nearly 40 acres of native and globally sourced plants (organized by region and theme) are presented along four miles of serene, winding walkways. San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the only spots in the state to see certain carefully tended species, so it’s well worth the trip. The Garden also supports educational kids’ programs, as well as local eco-conservation efforts.

300 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024


Carlsbad Flower Fields (26.5 miles)

Carlsbad Flower Fields

The breathtaking Carlsbad Flower Fields draw tens of thousands of visitors to a beautiful super-bloom of Giant Tecolote ranunculus flowers every year. Row after row of brilliant rainbow colors ripple across the landscape during peak seasons. When visiting, guests are treated to not just the brilliant botanical display, but also a wide range of activities, such as antique tractor rides, fruit picking, and even a historic Poinsettia greenhouse.

5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008


Other “Parks” You Can’t Pass Up

(Photo: @belmontparksd)

Although not necessarily “parks” in the same sense as the green spaces elsewhere on this list, there are still some must-visit spots visitors may want to experience during their visit. Anyone looking for a fun day out will find much to love at Belmont Park, a timeless boardwalk-style waterfront rides-and-games destination located in picturesque Mission Beach. This fun zone features favorite attractions like the Giant Dipper roller coaster, mini-golf, rock climbing, classic oceanside dining, and more. And anyone traveling with kids should definitely make it a point to stop at Sesame Place — a delightful destination for all ages, featuring all the charm of one of the most treasured kids’ shows in history.

Belmont Park, 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (2.1 miles)

Sesame Place, 2052 Entertainment Cir, Chula Vista, CA 91911 (25.9 miles)


Plan To Peruse Our Parks From Pacific Terrace

Heading to “America’s Finest City” to check out our parks? Reserve your stay at Pacific Terrace. Our beautiful beachfront location offers top-shelf accommodations, thoughtful amenities, and a central location convenient to every stop on the list. Check out our Special Offers Page for all the latest San Diego travel deals.