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Popular North County San Diego Parks to Visit with Kids

North County San Diego Parks

Lucky for us, the San Diego sun shines most days of the year and we’re betting you spend a lot of time outdoors with your family. Maybe you’ve also ticked off plenty of hours at some of our city’s gorgeous parks, especially if you have little ones, or maybe you’re new to town and looking for the perfect play place. Either way, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite North County parks especially popular with kids. Frolic in the sun at:

Carlsbad —

Carlsbad Aviara Park. This panoramic paradise offers beautiful views and has several covered and lighted picnic areas with barbecues, all-ages play structures, and well-maintained grass fields. A popular picnic and play spot, this park is usually flush with young kids and their parents.

Things to Know:

  • Aviara has covered gazebo areas with BBQ pits for parties (reservations needed)
  • Aviara is a popular venue for children’s birthday parties with its ample space and multiple play areas
  • The park has basketball and tennis courts, as well as a baseball field
  • Restrooms are close to the play areas


6440 Ambrosia Ln
Carlsbad, CA 92011

Del Mar —

San Dieguito Park Del Mar

San Dieguito County Park. This 125-acre coastal park boasts playgrounds, vast lawns, picnic areas, a baseball field and basketball courts. Explore the horseback trails, suspension bridges and duck ponds, or just let the kids go wild on the multiple play structures.

Things to Know:

  • The park is dog-friendly
  • Parking is $3 unless you park on the east side of El Camino Real where there’s free parking outside the park entrance
  • There are “upper” and “lower” park entrances; play areas are located in the upper park
  • BBQs are available throughout the park
  • Restrooms are on site


1628 Lomas Santa Fe Dr.
Del Mar, CA 92014

Encinitas —

Cottonwood Creek Park. Chock full of trails and fields, Cottonwood offers plenty of grass and picnic tables so your family can picnic or play ball. There’s also rock climbing for kids, water play, a playground and basketball and tennis courts. A covered gazebo with picnic tables provides a shaded eating area (if you can snag it) and benches throughout the park give parents a place to take a load off while they watch the kids play.

Things to Know:

  • Park is dog-friendly
  • Parking can be limited
  • Located close to Moonlight Beach
  • It’s also close to Leucadia Pizza or Wendy’s for an after-park snack
  • Restrooms are on site


95 N. Vulcan
Encinitas, CA 92024

Moonlight State Beach Park. This family-friendly beach area has a fully equipped park with lots of grass and a play structure for the kids. The water is just steps away, so sandcastle-building and ocean-wading are options, too. Volleyball and tennis courts round out the fun and if you feel the urge, you can also rent recreational equipment. Moonlight Park also has showers for after-park clean-up and downtown Encinitas is very close for snacks and lunch after (or before) play time.

Things to Know:

-There’s a snack shack for hungry kids
-Fire rings are available, although they’re non-reservable
-Picnic areas are located in the park
-Restrooms are on site


400 B Street
Encinitas, CA 92024

Escondido —

Kit Carson Park. It doesn’t get much better than this huge North County inland park with its walking/hiking trails, five-acre arboretum (with a magical garden!), duck ponds, sports center, glass maze (check it out), sports center, tot lot, and “older-kid playground.” Covered picnic tables are also available and so are BBQs should you want to grill your picnic.

Things to Know

  • Dogs are allowed only on leashes and on sidewalks during specified hours
  • The park has lighted baseball/softball/soccer fields
  • A tennis court is on the grounds
  • The Sports Center contains a skate park and roller hockey arenas
  • There’s summertime shows at the 3,000-seat-capacity outdoor amphitheater
  • There’s plenty of parking
  • Trees aren’t as plentiful as in other parks, so wear sunscreen


3333 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92025

Poway —

Old Poway Park. Another North County inland park, Old Poway Park is a Poway landmark and local favorite. Trees, trails, and a tadpole-filled creek run through the park, as does a historic train (check website for hours of operation). A play structure is located in the “new” part of the park, and if you get hungry, hunker down for a picnic under one of the park’s venerable trees or hightail it to the Old Hamburger Factory located on site. If you’ve got a historian in the family, he or she will love touring the park’s many museums and historic buildings.

Things to Know:

  • The historic train offering rides is a 1907 steam locomotive
  • The Poway Farmers’ Market operates every Saturday (9AM to 12PM) and is within walking distance of the park
  • Restrooms are located on site and in the Old Hamburger Factory
  • There are picnic tables, but not many


14134 Midland Rd.
Poway, CA 92064

Your Turn…

This is but a small sampling of some of San Diego’s best loved North County parks, but all are great places to bring the kids to enjoy the the great San Diego outdoors. What are your favorite North County parks?


Photo CreditSan Dieguito Park Website, Cottonwood Creek Website, City of Poway Website.

Debbie Anderson: Debbie is a freelance writer and editor who’s been blogging at San Diego Momma since 2007. Debbie's been featured in Writer's Digest, the San Diego Reader, and San Diego Magazine, and was named Top 25 blog by Red Tricycle, nominated for an InfluenceSD "Best in Lifestyle" blog award, and appeared on NBC, Fox, and The CW Network as a blogger spokesperson. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or at Google+.