San Diego boasts a reputation of “America’s Finest City,” so it’s no surprise that they maintain some of the most immaculate outdoor spaces in the state. With so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit and which to skip. We’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of the best North County San Diego Parks! For additional information on the best hiking trails and outdoor recreation in the San Diego area, access our exclusive Destination Guide!
Discover the Best of San Diego
The 5 Best North County San Diego Parks
Moonlight Beach State Park
We may be slightly biased toward Moonlight Beach because of its proximity to our inn! This spot is a quintessential Southern California ocean park. When you arrive, you face the vast, pristine Pacific Ocean. Behind you are the rolling hills of Encinitas, California. Lay your towel down and admire the calming sights of SoCal surfers, playful dolphins, and, if you’re lucky, migrating Humpbacks.
Do you know where Moonlight Beach got its name from? Residents in the early 20th century used to frequent the quiet beach for midnight picnics with family and friends. If you’re feeling adventurous, pack your midnight snack and head over to Moonlight for a peaceful night under the stars!
San Dieguito County Park
San Dieguito County Park is one of the most popular parks in North County. Outdoor recreation options are plentiful here and every inch features picturesque views. “Activity Hill” provides visitors with a unique outdoor gym. It includes 10 fitness stations, two suspension bridges, three hillside ladders, and a handful of lookout platforms. In addition, the park offers five miles of hiking trails, a basketball court, and a baseball field.
Looking for a spot to declare your “I dos”? San Dieguito County Park is the perfect intimate space for your wedding ceremony. Get more information from the Parks and Recreation Department.
Kit Carson Park
Kit Carson Park, named for the famous scout who led the first expedition through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is packed with some of the best natural sights in the city. The park’s Iris Sankey Magical Gardens offers a beautiful, walk-through exhibit filled with mosaic artwork. The park’s newest addition, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, is another mosaic-tiled exhibit created by the late French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. This park is truly one you have to see to believe.
Cottonwood Creek Park
Cottonwood Creek Park is another popular park in San Diego County located right off of Encinitas Boulevard. The park is immaculately maintained and provides plenty of tables and green space for picnics and butt-gazing. If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, bring the tennis rackets for a match on the court or hike next to the quiet stream.
Tide Beach Park
This is one of Solana Beach’s best-kept secrets! Tide Beach Park provides visitors with the county’s best sights . Whether you trek down the steep wooden staircase to the placid, sandy beach or enjoy breathtaking views from the top of the cliff, you’ll make plenty of great memories here!
At high tide, the beach transforms into a private cove perfect for surfers looking to escape the crowds. During low tide, you can walk to Seaside Beach or Fletcher Cove, but we prefer to delve into the tide pools and discover Mother Nature’s treasures.
Get Closer to Nature at the Inn at Moonlight Beach
After exploring some of the best North County San Diego Parks, discover your most relaxed self at The Inn at Moonlight Beach! Book our Moonlight Ocean Suite and get a bird’s eye view of Moonlight Beach State Park and the majestic Pacific Coast. Lounge on your secluded outdoor patio, then sink into your 5,000-thread count linens. We ensure that you’ll have the most tranquil, wellness-centric stay with our Rabbit Air Filtration System, aromatherapy diffusers, elaborate water purification system, and spacious bathrooms with stand-alone soaking tubs. You can even rejuvenate after a day of exploring the local parks with an on-site massage! After achieving maximum relaxation, start the next morning right with organic and vegan breakfast options delivered to your door.
Itching to explore more of North County San Diego? Check out our favorite Encinitas hiking trails!