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The Best Picnic Spots Around San Diego


Let's face it, with the type of climate we have, almost any place outdoors is a good place to have a picnic, maybe even starting with your own backyard. Or maybe just the neighborhood park. At the same time, San Diego has so many choices for a good picnic setting, that picking one is purely a subjective matter of what you feel like: Some place with a playground? The beach? Balboa Park?

That being said, I've come up with places I feel are some of the best places to have a picnic. Some have great scenery. Some are picturesque. Some are great for family and kids. So, what are you waiting for? Let's have a picnic!

1. Ellen Browning Scripps Park - La Jolla Cove

If any outdoor spot epitomizes the good life in San Diego, Ellen Browning Scripps Park may very well be it. Located in La Jolla overlooking picturesque La Jolla Cove, this patch of grass is the most photographed spot in San Diego according to AAA Magazine. With the surf and sand below, ocean breezes above, and the scenic beauty all around, this picnic spot is ideal to just set out a blanket and soak in the scenery. Usually crowded especially on weekends, it may not be a place for solitude, but it's a great place to people watch.

2. Pepper Grove in Balboa Park

Obvsiously, any spot in Balboa Park is a great place for a picnic, but if you have kids, Pepper Grove is the picnic area you'll want to be. Located just south of the Prado area along Park Blvd., Pepper Grove is a great picnic spot for family events such as birthday parties with 15 picnic tables. Even better for kids, there is a large, well-equipped playground area. And, if you feel like taking a stroll, the Park's wonderful museums and sights are a short walk away.

3. Kate O. Sessions Park - Pacific Beach

Hands down, Kate Sessions Park gives you one of the best panaromic views of the city to go with your picnic. Located at 5115 Soledad Road in Pacific Beach just as the road starts heading up to Mount Soledad, Kate Sessions Park is an idyllic slice of green above the hustle and partying of PB. Of course, holiday weekends might be another thing, as the park can get, shall we say, quite crowded and boistrous with revelers. Those times aside, the park is a wonderful place to have a barbecue, throw the frisbee, bring the dogs, and enjoy the amazing views of Mission Bay and beyond.

4. Presidio Park

Presidio Park, above Old Town, has some wonderful, hilly, grassy areas where you can throw down a blanket and enjoy the solitude. But there's one great little area that's perfect for picnics, at the top of the winding road leading into the park. Called the Arbor, it's a little triangle slice of grass just before you head into the immaculate Mission Hills neighborhood. A few picnic tables are about the only amenities, but it's such a peaceful area that you can't help but feel stress free after having a picnic here.

5. Rohr Park - Bonita

Rohr Park is one of those large, recreational parks with all the requisite amenities: picnic areas, walking trails, playgrounds, softball fields. Oh yeah, and a miniature railroad. Located in Bonita, adjacent to the Chula Vista Gilf Course, Rohr Park is a popular picnic site. If you're having a large gathering, or need a facility that has lots of recreational space, Rohr Park is a great chouce.

6. Chollas Lake - Oak Park

Unless you live in the surroudning neighborhoods around Oak Park, you probably don't know about Chollas Lake Park. But this idyllic spot in the middle of the city's urban core is a great place for a family picnic. The 16-acre lake, surrounded by groves of eucalyptus trees, is especially for kids: the fishing is free and only for kids under 15, there are playground areas, a basketball court, hiking trails, and an .8-mile walking path around the lake. Picnic tables and barbecues are scattered all around the lake, making for a perfect spot for an all-day picnic.

7. Tidelands Park - Coronado

The largest San Diego Bay park, Tidelands Park, offers a small beach, recreational fields, picnic areas and plenty of open space for a variety of outdoor activities. A scenic bike path extends from the Silver Strand to the Old Ferry Landing. Located just at the foot of the Coronado Bay Bridge, the park offers a large grassy area for picnics and games, and there's even a small beach for a dip into San Diego Bay.

8. Model Yacht Pond - Mission Bay

Of course, the entire Mission Bay Park is ideal for picnics, but if you're looking for an out-of-the-way spot in the midst of all the recreation going on, the area around the Model Yacht Pond is your place. Located on Vacation Isle near the Paradise Point Resort, this usually quiet spot is nice for just chilling, reading a book, and enjoying the sun. But the added bonus is the model yacht pond, where hobbyists race their sail and powered model boats. Lots of grass, trees, picnic tables, and beach access - just a nice spot.

9. El Monte County Park - Lakeside

If you're looking for a spot more with a backcountry vibe, El Monte County Park is a popular spot.  El Monte Park is one of the original County parks. The spectacular rocky face of El Cajon Mountain rises high over this 88-acre park, dominating the other mountains that encircle this valley. There are plenty of recreational opportunities, including a ball field and play areas. Seven reservable picnic areas make every size picnic easy to arrange.

10. Pioneer Park - Mission Hills

If you're looking for a nice, neighborhood park, then Pioneer Park is where you want to have your picnic. Also known as Mission Hils Park, this clean grassy spot goes back to the 1800s. Located in the lovely neighborhood of Mission Hills, Pioneer Park is also known for one unique characteristic: it is also the location of one of the first ceemeteries in San Diego, hence the "pioneers." A playgorund area makes it great for families.

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