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11 Great National Parks Near San Diego

April 12, 2022

If you're in the San Diego area looking for a great view in the great weather you're in luck! There are some great national parks around this Southern California city.

Whether you are hiking, biking, beaching, or even horsin' around. Here are all the best national parks in the San Diego area.

1. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park was dedicated in 1983. A long stretch of beach and hiking trails with costal bluffs, arches and sea caves. Plenty of views and beach on this amazing stretch of park.

  • When Is It Open? 4 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 9.2 miles
  • Pet Friendly? No
  • Address: Ladera St, San Diego, CA 92107
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

2. Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park is a huge 8,000 acre park with rugged hills, valleys, and open areas. This park has about 60 miles of trails, camping, boating, and a great visitor center to check out.

  • When Is It Open? Nov. 1 to March 31 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. | April 1 to Oct. 31 - 8am to 7 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 13.6 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Yes
  • Address: 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119
Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego, California

3. Balboa Park

One of the oldest parks in San Diego, Balboa Park is focused on history, landmarks, and homage to Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa. View sculptures, architecture, easy paved trails and more things to do right in the hub of San Diego.

  • When Is It Open? March 31 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. | April 1 to Oct. 31 - 8am to 7 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 1.3 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Yes
  • Address: 1889 Zoo Pl, San Diego, CA 92101
Balboa Park, San Diego, California

4. Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines is full of beach trails, beautiful cliffs, and unique wildlife. This is a state reserve which means there is important natural resources to protect like indigenous plants and animal life. Still within the city limits of San Diego, this state park has 1,500 acres of land to explore.

  • When Is It Open? 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 17.4 miles
  • Pet Friendly? No
  • Address: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Torrey Pines State Reserve

5. Cabrillo National Monument

Named after the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Cabrillo National Monument is a symbol of exploration and Spanish culture. Enjoy whale watching, a light house and the tidepools at Cabrillo.

  • When Is It Open? 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 12.1 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Yes
  • Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California

6. Border Field State Park

A stretch of beach and trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian activities. Border Field State Park is a park near the border of Mexico that gives refuge to critically threatened and endangered birds.

  • When Is It Open? 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 18.8 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Yes
  • Address: 1500 Monument Rd, San Diego, CA 92154
Border Field State Park, San Diego, California

7. La Jolla Natural Park

La Jolla Natural Park is a park that overlooks the coast of San Diego with its 42 acres of hiking trails. In the hills of Mr. Soledad there are troll bridges, munchkin houses, and more surprises around every corner of this amazing California state park.

  • When Is It Open? 5:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 12.4 miles
  • Pet Friendly? No
  • Address: 7333 Encelia Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
La Jolla Natural Park, San Diego, California

8. Cabrillo Canyon

Near the San Diego Zoo and Balboa State Park there is a canyon called Cabrillo Canyon. Check out these great trails around the area.

  • When Is It Open? 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 2.8 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Only on the coastal trail near the tidepool area.
  • Address: San Diego, CA 92103
Cabrillo Canyon, San Diego, California

9. Old Town Park

Visit the historic Old Town Park and see what Mexican and American life was like in the mid 1800's. There are plenty of historic buildings, museums and hiking trails out of the area.

  • When Is It Open? 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 3.5 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Yes
  • Address: Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92103
Old Town Park

10. Cleveland National Forest

This massive park is 50 miles outside of San Diego but well worth the drive. Cleveland National Forest has 460,000 acres of forest, stretching from Campo to Corona. A massive forest of trails, mountains, and endless plant/wildlife.

  • When Is It Open? 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 50.8 miles
  • Pet Friendly? No
  • Address: San Diego, CA 92127
Cleveland National Forest, San Diego, California

11. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

With 100 miles of trails and a great view at Cuyamaca Peak, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is a great place to hike, boat, fish, and camp. A huge creek runs through the entire valley leading to Lake Cuyamaca at the bottom.

  • When Is It Open? 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Distance From Downtown San Diego: 44.3 miles
  • Pet Friendly? Restricted to campgrounds and picnic areas.
  • Address: 14592-14674 CA-79, Julian, CA 92036
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, San Diego, California
Excellent 9.3 out of 10
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