Parks and Rec

Top 5 “Cool” Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer in County Parks

Video by Brett Michel

Summer is in full swing and hey — it can be hot out there. But that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. You can beat the heat and still enjoy the County of San Diego’s parks!

In fact, here’s a list of the Top Five ways you can stay cool, be cool and have a cool time at County parks this summer.

One: Hit the Water or Break the Bike Out!

Hit the fountains or splash pads: You don’t have to go to the beach to enjoy the water. You can visit our fantastic fountains at the Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego or you can cool off at our splash pads at Hilton Head County Park in El Cajon and Sweetwater Summit Regional Park in Bonita.

Go Fishing: Cast your fishing pole from shore at Lake Morena County Park in Campo. You’ll be hooked!

Fishing at Lake Morena

Check the webpage for fishing and rental boating fees. Call our Fishing Report line at (619) 687-1496 for the daily info on what’s open, what’s biting and how to prepare.

Bike: Break out the bicycle and visit the 22.5-mile Bayshore Bikeway that travels on roads, trails and paths from the Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego to Coronado and back!

Two: Visit Park’s Air-conditioned Nature Centers

Tour our air-conditioned Nature Centers in Santa Ysabel and San Elijo Lagoon.

Inside of the Santa Ysabel Nature Center
The Santa Ysabel Nature Center

The 6,000 square-foot Santa Ysabel Nature Center features a variety of educational displays.

The 979-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve in Cardiff is one of San Diego’s oldest wetlands, with hiking and a TRACK trail. The nature center has museum-quality interactive exhibits showing the history and development of the ecological reserve, as well as the plants and animals that thrive on site.

Three: Check Out the Nighttime Parks Circuit

Night Hiking: County parks regularly schedule a whole host of nighttime events. Every month, you can try night hiking at locations like Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch County Preserve, Flinn Springs County Park and Dos Picos County Park. Find out more in our new County Parks monthly programs guide  published a few days before the end of each month.

Star Parties: We also offer Star Parties the second Saturday of each month, weather permitting, at Oakoasis County Preserve, where you join park rangers and gaze at the night skies. You can also take twilight hikes to search for bats and scorpions, using high-powered telescopes with the pros, and stay overnight in group camping areas in the summer.

Sing Along: Once a month, parents and kids can sing along at the Hullabaloo on the Waterfront at the Waterfront Park.

Hullabaloo at the Waterfront Park

Four: Not a Night-owl? We Have Morning Activities Too!

Bird-watching: Get out and go early morning birding with rangers at El Monte County Park! The second Saturday of each month El Monte’s rangers lead an easy, two-hour walk through the park before it opens, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., to see an impressive array of birds.

Morning hikes, fitness, relaxation: Some of our County parks, like Potrero County Park and the Wilderness Gardens County Preserve in Pauma Valley, offer morning hikes. Check our monthly programs guide for details.

Early morning fishing: Fishing at Lake Morena opens at 5:30 a.m.!

Five: Summer Movies at Dusk

And of course, there’s always our Summer Movies in the Park series! Kick back and relax with friends and family at numerous County Parks to watch cool movies including The Goonies; Raya and the Last Dragon; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; and Moana.

So don’t swelter, be cool at the County of San Diego’s parks!

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact