Aug 15, 2023 - Culture

San Diego's essential playgrounds

Tecolote Shores North playground

Tecolote Shores North playground on Mission Bay on Aug. 14. Photo: Andrew Keatts/Axios

It took more than a year to build, but much less time for Tecolote Shores North playground to establish itself as one of our favorites in town.

Driving the news: The $3.8 million playground and adult fitness area on the East edge of Mission Bay is worth a drive for any family looking for a park their kids will love.

  • It doesn't hurt that it's on a beach with a lifeguard and a view of Fiesta Island, but there's also plenty of parking, bathrooms and picnic areas.

Pro tip: Kids can consume hours on the rope ladders fashioned to look like waves, but the main appeal is there are so many features no one ever has to get frustrated waiting for their turn.

Zoom out: Some other great playgrounds if you're tired of the one closest to you:

  • Mast Park, Santee: Giant slide, full accommodations, snack bar, small hiking trails strewn with wildflowers.
  • Maruta Gardner Playground, Mission Beach: Great climbing areas, tarp slide and a cool carousel swing.
  • Olympus Park, Encinitas: Regulars bring strips of cardboard to sled down the turf hill, but the tube slide along the same hill and zip line will entertain any kid. No bathrooms.
  • Civita Park, Mission Valley: Parents probably know this one already, but it's hard to beat. Bonus for a little tykes area that's as good as the big kid spot.
  • Mountain Hawk Park, Chula Vista: Wide-open park on Otay Lake. The selling point is the splash pad, but stay for the hiking trails.
  • Gloria's Mesa at Chollas Lake Park, Oak Park: Kids can experience some nature around the lake, then go nuts in the large pirate ship structure at the playground.

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