Recreation

What's Reopening in San Diego County Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here's what you need to know about which places have reopened for recreation in San Diego as the county continues to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic

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What to Know

  • July 6: County leaders say they will rollback part of San Diego's reopening due to rising COVID-19 cases. This includes indoor activities like dine-in service at local restaurants, breweries, and wineries (they can operate outside), indoor museums, card rooms, and family entertainment centers.
  • July 6: Balboa Park's museums, many of which had reopened on July 3 and July 4, will now temporarily close again, per county public health guidelines. This includes indoor museums like the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the San Diego Natural History Museum, to name a few. The Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego Zoo, select restaurants, public gardens, carparks and trails at Balboa Park remain open. 
  • July 6: Fiesta Island reopens to vehicle traffic.

After the lengthy lockdown on parks, beaches, and other forms of recreation in San Diego County due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of the county's spots have reopened, but with limitations and new rules.

Here's a look at what's open for recreation in San Diego County as the pandemic continues and restrictions shift a bit, and locals adapt to new health and safety rules at the places we love.

And, as the COVID-19 situation changes quickly in our state and county, remember these reopenings could be rolled back or changed, so check each activity with its respective website for the latest updates before making your plans. And please follow all of the rules and safety measures.

Updates:

July 6: San Diego County health officials announced they will rollback part of San Diego's reopening, at least through July 27. This includes dine-in service at restaurants, bars, brewpubs, and wineries, plus indoor museums, family entertainment centers, and movie theaters. Any indoor activities at local zoos must be closed, too, but the changes won't impact the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park too much.

On June 29, public health officials said San Diego County would halt all further reopenings of additional categories of businesses until at least Aug. 1. All businesses that were already set to reopen, including museums, could move forward with their reopenings as planned.

On June 18, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said community outbreaks of COVID-19 had triggered county health officials to pause any further reopenings in San Diego County. Businesses already slated to reopen, including nail salons and tattoo shops, would still be able to reopen on June 19, as well as the zoo on June 20.


Curbside Dining: Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, Liberty Station, Encinitas, La Jolla, Chula Vista

With the second round of closures on dine-in service at local restaurants, eateries in Hillcrest are trying to secure permits from the city to move forward with streetside dining.

Meanwhile, Encinitas launched its own version of streetside dining and shopping on the weekend of the Fourth of July, allowing small businesses on a stretch of South Coast Highway 101 to extend their dining and shopping areas out onto the street. Businesses are still working out some kinks there.

A n Encinitas restaurant owner told NBC 7's Artie Ojeda the current outdoor dining plan isn't perfect.

On June 18, the Gaslamp Quarter in the heart of downtown San Diego debuted its curbside dining plan, which will block traffic on Fifth Avenue, from L to Market streets, so restaurants can build extended dining areas outside.

Liberty Station planned to add 100 outdoor tables and 430 chairs throughout three main hospitality areas: The ARTS District, the Quarter, and South Point, which are each home to many restaurants. The outdoor dining areas were set to be installed by Father's Day weekend.

On June 13, Little Italy debuted its outdoor dining program, which allows restaurants to extend their dining areas onto India Street during certain hours.

On July 25, La Jolla debuted its al fresco dining experience. Now through September from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., a stretch of Avenida De La Playa from El Paseo Grande to Calle De La Plata will be closed to any vehicles to make more space for outdoor dining.

Starting August 2, a stretch of Third Avenue Village in Chula Vista will be closed to vehicle traffic each Sunday in August. The closure will be on Third Avenue from E Street through Center Street keeping the major cross streets open to vehicle traffic.


City Piers & Boardwalks

All piers and beach boardwalks reopened to the public on June 9, 2020.

Dos: Practice social distance from others who are using the piers and boardwalks, and wear a face mask. Visit with members of your own household.

Dont's: Any active sports activities, or visiting with large groups that are not all members of your household.


East & West Mission Bay Park + Fiesta Island

East and West Mission Bay Parks reopened on June 8 for park and water uses. Parking lots will also reopen to 100% capacity. Meanwhile, Fiesta Island, also on June 8, reopened to pedestrians, people walking their dogs and cyclists. Fiesta Island reopened to vehicles on July 6.


City Parks, Some Trails in Open Space Parks (Locations Vary)

The city of San Diego’s neighborhood parks, as well as some trails in Open Space Parks have reopened for “passive purposes” like walking, jogging, or hiking. Parking is now at full capacity again, too. This includes one of San Diego's most popular trailheads, Cowles Mountain.

The city has posted signage on parks and trails outlining the dos and don’ts of recreation in these spaces during the pandemic.

Don’ts:
Passive use means there is no congregating or group sports activities allowed -- unless it's with a small group of members who are all from your household. Visitors also shouldn’t shake hands or engage in unnecessary physical contact. Do not enter a park or trail if you have a cough or a fever.

Dos:
Visitors should maintain a minimum of 6 feet of social distance from others and also wear a face mask when in a park or on a trail.

The city of San Diego is maintaining a list of parks and recreation areas that are open and closed. You can see the full list here or below (as of June 17, 2020).


City Reservoirs

Six city reservoirs shuttered for several months have either already reopened or will reopen in July. This includes El Capitan and Upper Otay reservoirs, which reopened on June 6, and San Vicente Reservoir, which reopened on June 13.

Lake Hodges reopens on July 1, and Sutherland Reservoir on July 3. Barrett Reservoir reopens on July 8.

The city of San Diego had previously reopened two city reservoirs for recreation on May 15: Miramar and Murray. The Lower Otay Reservoir followed, reopening on May 16.

The others were being evaluated for reopening, but Barrett and Sutherland had been expected to be closed for the rest of the year.

On June 5, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office announced the other reservoirs would be able to reopen thanks to a partnership with the San Diego City Council and San Diego County officials. The cost of opening the additional reservoirs is approximately $1 million, Faulconer said, calling the lakes “regional treasures” used by San Diegans who have a passion for fishing and boating.

All reservoirs are open during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and boating, and normal boating/fishing fees will apply.

Face coverings and physical distance are required; guests will be monitored to ensure everyone is following the rules, the city said, using an “education-first” method.

Other changes: only half of the parking spaces will be open at city reservoirs to reduce capacity and comply with social distancing guidelines. The restrooms will be cleaned every two hours, the city said.


Golf Courses, Tennis Courts, Rec Rentals, Campgrounds

The county has allowed golf courses to reopen with operational adjustments. The state is now allowing the use of golf carts for single riders. To see a full list of golf courses that are now open again, click here.

On May 8, recreational facilities like tennis courts and handball courts were deemed safe to reopen under the same guidelines as golf courses. Social distancing must be practiced, anyone playing a game of tennis together must be living in the same household. A tennis facility's guidance to reopen must be approved by the county first.

The city has also allowed rentals to resume for recreational activities like bicycling, boating, kayaking and surfing.

NBC 7's Alexis Rivas shares modifications to the county's public health order that allows for more outdoor recreation starting this weekend.

San Diego County campgrounds reopened with modifications on June 12. RV parks, day camps, sports fishing and private charter boats also reopened on June 12.


Skateparks

According to the city's website, the city of San Diego skateparks are now open again.

The city of Coronado reopened its skatepark on May 15, on a limited basis. Reservations are required to use the facility and must be made 24 hours in advance. No more than two half-hour slots may be reserved per day and two individuals per household will be allowed per half-hour. For information on how to reserve your spot, click here.

The city of Oceanside has reopened their skateparks. For more details, click here.


Beaches

Here's how beach and ocean reopenings look across the county. On June 2, county health officials said beaches can reopen for "passive activities," which includes sitting and sunbathing on the sand.

City of San Diego
City beaches will fully reopen on June 2 to add passive activities like sitting and lounging on the sand.

  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing (not allowed on San Diego Bay), single-person paddling and kayaking in the ocean. Sitting and sunbathing on the sand.
  • Not Allowed: Access to boardwalks (except crossing to get to the shoreline) and piers, parking lots, and Fiesta Island; boating.

San Diego Bay
The Port of San Diego manages the San Diego Bay and is updating its reopening plans for those spaces here. Here's what's open at the San Diego Bay as of June 8.

Recreational Boating and Fishing: allowed for all vessels, so long as the occupants are members of the same household. Jet skiing, kayaking, and paddle boarding is allowed, and kayakers and paddle boarders can launch from beaches. All boat launched on San Diego Bay are open: Chula Vista; Glorietta Bay; National City; Shelter Island. Shoreline fishing is allowed in non-park areas where not otherwise prohibited (look for signs).

Parks along Chula Vista Bayfront, Imperial Beach, National City, San Diego: open for limited use including walking, running, bicycling (no stopping, sitting or lying down). Playgrounds are closed.

Parks along the bayfront in Coronado: Grand Caribe Shoreline Park, Coronado Landing Park, and Coronado Tidelands Park are open for sitting and picnicking among members of the same household. Playgrounds are closed.

Beaches at San Diego Bay: open for limited use including walking, running, launching a kayak or paddleboard (single-person paddling), swimming. Sitting, and lying down are allowed but group activities like volleyball and football are not allowed.

Piers at San Diego Bay: piers on Shelter Island (San Diego), in Cesar Chavez Park (Barrio Logan, San Diego), in Pepper Park (National City), in Bayside Park (aka J Street, Chula Vista), and at the Ferry Landing (Coronado) are open. Imperial Beach Pier reopens on June 9. All other piers remain closed.

Coastal Cities

City of Solana Beach

  • Allowed: Walking and exercising on the beach and water activities (swimming; surfing; paddling; kayaking). As of June 2, sitting, lying and sunbathing is allowed on the beach. Fletcher Cove will be open for access to and from the beach. Tide Park and Del Mar Shores Stairs will be open only for one-way, single-file access to and from the beach. Seascape Stairs are open for one-way, single-file entry to the beach. Facial coverings are mandatory on all stairways at this beach.
  • Not Allowed: No exercising is allowed on the stairways. Sports or group games are also not allowed on the beach. Fletcher Cove Park will remain closed but may be used for access to and from the beach. Restrooms and showers will remain closed.

City of Carlsbad

To see beach updates from Carlsbad, click here. As of June 2, passive activities like sitting, lying, relaxing are allowed.

  • Allowed: Walking; running; swimming; kayaking; surfing; bodyboarding; body surfing; paddle boarding; snorkeling; scuba diving from the shore. Paddleboarding and kayaking at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon entrances. Fishing only allowed from a kayak or boat due to county health order. Sitting and sunbathing on the sand.
  • Not Allowed: Games, or sports like volleyball, football, frisbee, soccer, yoga, calisthenics, or similar activities where you stay in one place. Parking along Carlsbad Boulevard will continue to be prohibited.

To see a full list of parks in Carlsbad that are open, click here.

  • Allowed: “Passive use” only, such as walking, jogging, running, sitting on the grass.
  • Not Allowed: No active use, such as sports games. This is stricter than the county health order, which allows sports activities among people who live together. All community centers, aquatic centers, athletic fields, sports courts, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, and similar areas will remain closed for now.
  • The number of parking lot spaces will be reduced by at least 50%, as required by the County of San Diego health order. Parking along Carlsbad Boulevard will continue to be prohibited.

Information on trails in Carlsbad is available here. City-owned trails will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

City of Del Mar
To see beach updates from Del Mar, click here. Beaches will fully reopen on June 2 to add passive activities like sitting, lying, relaxing.

  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing, and paddling in the ocean. Sitting, sunbathing on the sand. Public restrooms are open again as of June 2, too.
  • Not Allowed: Games, sports, and activities such as volleyball, frisbee, yoga, and calisthenics; The 17th Street/Beach Safety Center parking lot will be closed except for disabled access vehicles.

City of Coronado
To see beach updates from Coronado, click here.

  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing, single-person paddling, and kayaking in the ocean; walking and running on the beach. As of June 2, sitting and sunbathing on the sand are allowed.
  • Not Allowed: Loitering, gathering in groups of any sizes and using fire pits; access to Dog Beach and Sunset Park; parking.
  • Beaches will be closed at sunset.

City of Imperial Beach
To see beach updates from IB, click here. Beaches will fully reopen on June 2 to add passive activities like sitting, lying, relaxing.

  • Allowed: Walking and jogging on the beach but a face covering is required.
  • Not Allowed: Stopping, sitting, lying down on the beach; gatherings of any size; access to parking lots, the street ends, or the pier.

Parks:
Parks reopened include Dunes Park, Portwood Pier Plaza, Reama Park, Rose Teeple Park, Sports Park, and Veteran's Park. Visitors are still required to maintain social distancing, all individuals should wear a facial covering, and all should keep moving, no sitting or standing.

City of Encinitas
To see beach updates from Encinitas, click here.

  • Allowed: Moonlight Beach is open and all other beaches are accessible only from Moonlight as permitted by the tides for walking and running in a select "active zone"; swimming, surfing, paddling, and kayaking in the ocean.
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings of any kind, fire rings, standing, games or other sports; access to parking lots and parking on Coast Highway.

All state beaches are closed including Ponto, Pipes, Georges, and Seaside.

The beach access stairways located at Swami's, D Street, Stonesteps, and Grandview have opened for access to and from the beaches. Facial coverings are mandatory while using narrow staircases. More on Encinitas' current beach rules can be found here.

A popular stairway beach access has reopened in Encinitas. NBC 7's Steven Luke has more.

City of Oceanside
To see beach updates from Oceanside, click here. Beaches will fully reopen on June 2 to add passive activities like sitting, lying, relaxing.

  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing, paddling, and kayaking in the ocean. Sitting and sunbathing is allowed again.
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings, group exercising or group games, recreational boating; access to the pier or the amphitheater; access to the strand except for vehicles (residents will be allowed to access their property); parking lots are closed.

North County Inland

City of Vista
To see a full list of parks that have reopened in Vista, click here.

Park use may now include family activities as a household unit and parking lots will reopen with half of the spaces available. Walking (dogs on leash permitted), and jogging/running are also allowed all with physical distancing and a face covering if a user cannot keep a 6-foot distance from a non-household member.

City of Escondido
As of May 2, all city of Escondido parks and open spaces are open. Parking lots are open at 50% capacity.

  • Allowed: Active rec areas like basketball, disc golf and tennis courts are open for limited use, by members of a single household only. Walking and exercising at parks and on trails is allowed; locals must wear face masks and practice social distancing.
  • Not Allowed: All play structures at parks remain closed. Boating and fishing at Dixon Lake and Lake Wohlford remain closed. The city is working on a plan to reopen those services.

City of San Marcos
All parks remain closed. For updates from San Marcos regarding the impact of COVID-19 on parks and recreation, click here.

City of Poway
Lake Poway Recreation Area is open with restrictions. Hours will be from 6 a.m. until sunset. The Iron Mountain Wilderness Area and the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve have opened for hiking.

  • Allowed: Walking, running, recreational use, active sports limited to members of a single household.
  • Not Allowed: Parking is limited, boating is closed, the lake’s concession store is closed and water fountains are not accessible. Fisherman’s trail (along the shoreline) remains closed, no organized sports, playground structures remain closed, and the archery range is closed.
Lake Poway Recreation Area reopened Sunday, May 3, with restrictions.

South Bay Cities

City of Chula Vista

Councilmember John McCann announced the reopening of Chula Vista parks, dog parks, and trails.

  • Allowed: Parking at the parks, only "passive" like walking, jogging hiking, bike riding, standing/sitting on the grass, use of dog "off-leash" areas.
  • Not Allowed: All gatherings and organized sports. All restrooms will remain closed. All sports courts, sports fields, skate parks, playground equipment, gazebos, picnic tables, benches, restrooms, and other facilities will remain closed and off-limits.

McCann said you must bring a mask and wear it if you get within six feet of other people who are not in your household.

The city is also opening up its golf course, but with its own set of rules and restrictions. It's recommended you call the course ahead of time at (619) 479-4141 to schedule a tee time.

City of National City

  • Allowed: Parks in National City are open to “passive recreation” like walking, running, and bicycling.
  • Not Allowed: All gatherings and organized sports. All amenities including playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, athletic fields, and skate park are closed.

East County Cities

City of Santee

Mast Park, Woodglen Vista Park, and Shadow Hill Park, Town Center Community Park East, Sky Ranch Park reopened with limitations in early May 2020. Parking lots are open at 50% capacity to curb crowds.

On May 22, Santee plans to reopen these parks: Town Center Community Park West; Deputy Ken Collier Neighborhood Park; West Hills Park; Big Rock Park, all with restrictions.

  • Allowed: All trails and walking paths in Santee are open. Basketball courts at all reopened parks are open for individual use or by members of a single-family or household. Picnic shelters and grass areas are open for individual use or with members of a family/household. The dog park at Mast Park is open.
  • Not Allowed: Group gatherings, group workouts, and organized sports. The playgrounds at the three parks are also closed. Mast Park’s Disco Golf Course is also closed. The skate park at Woodglen Vista is closed.

Santee Lakes has reopened but with restrictions.

The lake will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. All activities with physical distancing are allowed, including bike riding, fishing, roller-skating, and walking.

The parking lot is open at 50% capacity, no group gatherings, they ask to limit exercise time at the park to under two hours and picnic areas should be for individual use or household members only.

Fishing is allowed is anglers keep a 6 feet social distance between themselves and others. Fishing permits will be sold at the Gatehouse or by outside Park Staff.

City of Lemon Grove

  • Allowed: Lemon Grove Park, Berry Park, and Civic Center Park are open for activities like walking and jogging, but parking lots are closed.
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings of any kind and group sports.

City of La Mesa
For the latest updates from La Mesa regarding the impact of COVID-19 on city recreation, click here.

City of El Cajon
For the latest updates from La Mesa regarding the impact of COVID-19 on city recreation, click here.

California State Parks (Beaches)

California State Parks
In an email sent to NBC 7, California State Parks confirmed these beaches have reopened.

  • Cardiff
  • San Elijo
  • Torrey Pines State Beach - (Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve remains closed)
  • Carlsbad State Beach
  • South Carlsbad State Beach
  • Silver Strand

Restaurant Dining Rooms, In-Person Retail, Library Pick-Up Service

Under phase 2 of San Diego County’s reopening plan, dining rooms at local restaurants were given the green light to reopen on May 21, with new rules and restrictions. Among the changes, patrons and employees must wear face masks and practice social distancing. On June 30, the county phased back reopenings for restaurants that serve alcohol. Those establishments must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. On July 7, the city closed all restaurant dining rooms (and dine-in at wineries, bars, and breweries that sell food) due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and community outbreaks in San Diego County. Dine-in will remain closed until at least July 27.

In late May, phase 2 of San Diego's reopening plan opened the door for in-person shopping at local retailers, again with restrictions. By May 25, all in-person retail was reopened across California.

On May 26, San Diego County opened 11 public library branches for new, contact-less pickup service. Here’s how that works.

Hair Salons

On May 26, Newsom issued guidelines for counties to begin reopening hair salons and barbershops under phase 3 of California’s reopening plan. San Diego County was among those approved to reopen its hair salons; the shops will have to reopen with modifications.

Theme Parks & Local Landmarks

Balboa Park: The city of San Diego said Balboa Park’s Central Mesa reopens on June 12; parking lots will also reopen to 100% capacity at that time. Museums were also able to begin reopening on June 12; Balboa Park's museums planned to reopen, bit by bit, over the next few weeks. Places like The Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Natural History Museum reopened on July 3, followed by the San Diego History Center and San Diego Model Railroad Museum on July 4. However, on July 6, county public health officials said all indoor museums would need to temporarily close again, at least through July 27.

Cabrillo National Monument: The national park is in a phased re-opening. All outdoor areas, trails, and restrooms are open, but indoor areas like exhibits, the visitors center and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse are temporarily closed. Visitors must wear face masks and practice social distancing around the park and trails.

Liberty Station: Liberty Station has started to reopen its restaurants, shops, ARTS District, and promenades. Liberty Public Market has also reopened. Customers must wear face masks and practice social distancing at the market and around Liberty Station.

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park: The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park reopened, with modifications, on June 20. Read all about that here.

The Hotel del Coronado reopened on June 26 after being closed for months due to the pandemic. The temporary closure was the landmark's first-ever in its 132-year history.

USS Midway Museum: The USS Midway Museum on San Diego's waterfront plans reopened on July 1. Read all about that here.

Maritime Museum of San Diego: Also an icon on our waterfront (and shuttered since March 16), the Maritime Museum of San Diego reopened on July 1. However, on July 7, the Maritime Museum announced it would close, again, per county health orders.

SeaWorld San Diego: As of June 12, this local attraction remains closed but other SeaWorld parks around the country are slowly reopening. SeaWorld San Diego is working on its reopening plan and has been updating this website.

Legoland California Resort: The theme park said on June 30 that it planned to remain closed until at least Aug. 1. Updates on the theme park's status can be seen here.

NBC 7's Lauren Coronado spoke to the owner of one nail salon that is already booked out next week.

Gyms, Bars, Museums, Hotels, Nail Salons

Gyms, bars, wineries, card rooms, and other businesses were able to reopen across San Diego starting June 12 but on July 1, bars and some wineries would need to close again. This phase of the county's reopening plan also allows for the reopening of museums, family entertainment centers, galleries, zoos, aquariums, hotels, swimming pools, indoor movie theaters, and Airbnbs.

Nail salons across the county were given the greenlight to reopen on June 19, as well as tattoo shops and massage parlors.

Gyms in San Diego County have bene given the all-clear to reopen now, so NBC 7’s Audra Stafford spoke with one Chula Vista gym about its strategy to welcome back members in a safe manner.
NBC 7's Joe Little spoke to bar owners who are as unsure about the rules and how following them will impact their business.
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