7 lakes to visit in San Diego, California

Lake Murray

Lake Murray is an East County staple. | Photo via @geek_89_31

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Yes, San Diego is renowned for its gorgeous coastline, but our county is also home to many lovely lakes + reservoirs that give us all kinds of rec optionsespecially during these sunny summer days. Let’s check out seven of these local lakes. 🚣

Lower Otay Reservoir

Lower Otay Reservoir is a beautiful place for a stroll. | Photo via @playfulmonkeycosplay

Lower Otay Reservoir, 1500 Wueste Rd., Chula Vista

This artificial lake is flanked by Otay Open Space Preserve and offers water activities like boats and kayaks, plus fishing (think largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish). Leashed dogs are allowed, and the reservoir has areas for picnics + BBQs. It’s open Wednesday, except the second Wednesday of each month, Saturday + Sunday, from sunrise to sunset.

Oh, and super low-key fun fact: This is where Olympic hopefuls from the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center train for rowing sports.

Lake Murray

Lake Murray has a great path for walking + biking. | Photo via @august003

Lake Murray, 5540 Kiowa Dr., La Mesa

Located in East County (within the boundaries of Mission Trails Regional Park — our fave for hiking), this reservoir also offers boat rentals + fishing. The path along the lake is great for walking, jogging, or bicycling, offering pretty views of the water along the way. When you reach the end of the path, there’s a bullseye sign — you better tap it “or your lap doesn’t count.” Lake Murray is open daily, except the second Tuesday of each month.

Santee Lakes

Santee Lakes is home to a campground, playgrounds + seven manmade lakes. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, 9310 Fanita Pkwy., Santee

This privately-owned, 190-acre park boasts seven manmade lakes, many playgrounds, a campground, and seven lakefront rental cabins. The spot is popular for fishing + boating too, and also features picnic areas and a Sprayground that’s a hit with little ones during those hot East County days. There’s a Tin Fish restaurant near Lake 4, where you can dine on the deck overlooking the water. Santee Lakes is open daily and parking fees range from $4-$6 — plus $3-$4 for the Sprayground.

Lake Poway

Lake Poway. | Photo via @shortguypics

Lake Poway

Lake Poway. | Photo via @shortguypics

Lake Poway, 14644 Lake Poway Rd., Poway

The City of Poway owns this dam and reservoir that serves as the water supply and recreation area for boating, fishing, hiking + more. Lake Poway also hosts many of the community’s special events throughout the year. It’s open daily at 6 a.m.; parking is free for Poway residents (ask for a resident sticker) and $10 on weekends and holidays for non-residents.

Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings is a little escape in Lakeside. | Photo via @lakejennings

Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings in Lakeside. | Photo via @syv24

Lake Jennings, 9535 Harritt Rd., Lakeside

Camping, boating, fishing + hiking (the trail around the lake is about 5.5 miles) are some of the ways to get your rec on at this reservoir. Lake Jennings is stocked with 30,000-lbs of fish throughout the year (catfish in the summer) — the current lake record is an 84.4-lb blue catfish caught in January 2020. It’s open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lake San Marcos

The marina at Lake San Marcos. | Photo via @katie_Iavieri

Lake San Marcos, 1025 La Bonita Dr., San Marcos

This lake is the focal point of Lakehouse Hotel & Resort in San Diego’s North County, and offers all kinds of boat rentals, kayaks, paddleboards + dock fishing. With the hotel, golf course + lakefront dining, we can vouch that this makes for a nice, quick getaway.

Lake Miramar

Strolls around Lake Miramar are pretty + peaceful. | Photo via @madsjlonzrick

Miramar Reservoir, 10710 Scripps Lake Dr., Scripps Ranch

According to the City of San Diego, this reservoir has been an important part of the city’s drinking water system for 62 years, working alongside the adjacent Miramar Water Treatment Plant. In terms of rec, locals can enjoy boating rentals, fishing, and picnic areas. Leashed dogs are allowed, too. Lake Miramar is open daily, but closed the first Tuesday of every month.

Hey, lake lover. This is just a sampling of reservoirs + lakes in San Diego County — we know there are others, so if we missed your favorite, please let us know because we’re definitely on board for another roundup down the road. 🛶

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