San Diego is of course known for its stunning beaches and bays, but did you know that there are also many beautiful lakes in San Diego County? The area’s serene lakes are excellent places for water sports like wake boarding, skiing, and fishing. It is easy to get caught up in the peaceful environment, but make sure to keep your eyes to the sky: San Diego County is home to over 450 species of birds (more than any other county in the U.S.) Grab some friends, rent a boat, and spend the weekend enjoying the fun (and nature) of San Diego’s lakes!  

Visiting the Lakes in San Diego

Lake Cuyamaca3

Lake Murray

5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 668-2050
Directions: From Interstate 8, exit on Lake Murray Boulevard north, turn left on Kiowa Drive

Lake Murray is located in the Mission Trails Regional Park, which lies between La Mesa and Santee. The park includes a reservoir and over three miles of paved trails, which are perfect for biking! Boating and fishing are allowed in the lake, and there is a store in the park where you can buy fishing bait and fishing licenses (and a rental center where you can rent fishing and speed boats). Fishers can expect to catch Florida-strain large-mouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, black crappie and trout. After catching your day’s meal, cook it up on one of the park’s 10 barbecues, and enjoy your meal from one of the 64 picnic tables located around the lake. 

For more information, visit  


Santee Lakes


The community of Santee certainly does have the “Best Backyard in San Diego!” Camp, stay in a waterfront cabin, rent a boat . . . there are so many ways to enjoy the lake that was recently given the “Park of the Year” accolade by the National Association of Parks and Campgrounds.


If you would like to rent a cabin, consider one of the park’s three floating cabins, which are located on the water and are accessed by a dock. What a fun way to spend a weekend!

For more information, visit

Lake Cuyamaca

15027 Highway 79, Julian, CA 92036
Restaurant: (760) 765-0700

Only an hour’s drive from San Diego, and a short drive from charming Julian, Lake Cuyamaca is a small, picture-perfect lake surrounded by beautiful mountains and scenery. The lake is enveloped by the 26,000 acre Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which is 52% wilderness and full of wildlife: turkeys and deer are spotted daily! According to its website, the lake is stocked with 38,000 pounds of trout each year: it also is home to Florida bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill and sturgeon.

Lake Cuyamaca4

If you are not interested in packing a picnic lunch or barbecuing, check out the Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant, which is located on the water’s edge. The restaurant offers beautiful views of the lake and mountains and serves a delicious traditional breakfast, tasty burgers and sandwiches, and the famous Julian pies. On Friday and Saturday evenings the restaurant also serves a more formal menu of pastas, fish, and meats.

Lake Cuyamaca

A quick note: swimming is not allowed in Cuyamaca because it is a source of drinking water for the San Diego area. We recommend taking a trip to this lake during the colder months, when you wouldn’t be so tempted to swim. Fishing is allowed year-round!

For more information, visit    


All photos are from the lakes respective Facebook pages.