Some of my favorite places around San Diego (picture heavy!)

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TMG51

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There was interest in the other thread in hearing some specific parking places as well as water access in San Diego, so I thought I'd share some of my experience. I'll be talking about the greater San Diego county, as that's what most locals refer to as San Diego, and most of the good stuff is on the outskirts!

Better than half the gas stations out here offer water for vehicle/radiator use and none of them have minded me filling my water tanks when I've asked. I usually only do this if I'm buying gas though. In my posts below I'll mention a couple open spigots I came across. Also, there's a dump station around Sea World too.


**Note that each of the below images contains a street address / GPS coordinates to the referenced location. Click to see the picture full size. **

Part 1 of 2

Coronado Dog Beach, Coronado.
The circled area is part of Sunset Park. You can't park there overnight but you can park on any of those residential street just around the corner, and show up in the circled area at 6 AM and have prime real estate all day. Note that Coronado is a high brow area with snooty old money so don't park in front of the same house twice or they'll probably call the cops.
+Right next to the beach.
+Dogs allowed on the beach.
+Fires allowed on the beach.
-The residential streets are not level (for sleeping).





Tourmaline Surfing Park, Pacific Beach.
Purportedly a parking lot for surfers but there's always ample parking if you show up early and all types stay there.
+Stay right on the water.
+Some cool cliffs around.
+Plenty of beach to choose privacy / socializing.
+Public bathrooms. Completely open. They don't even close at night. Go in there at 1 AM and take a dump and shower if you want to (cold shower).
+There is a water spigot on the back of the bathroom building. The handle is removed, but seeing as all the shower etc water is used publicly I didn't feel bad about accessing this spigot with a key to fill my water tank. However I did so at night so as not to create a poor image.
-Signs say no parking between 2-4 AM, but this is a brief period and I've never seen it enforced.





Ocean Blvd street parking, Pacific Beach
+Great view of both the ocean and the yoga babes activity at the park.
+Cool cliffs.
+Legal to park all hours.
+Walk to the beach.





Emerald St by Cheeba Hut, Pacific Beach
Trust me on this one. But probably only if you're in your youth; the reason to park here is to be downtown Pacific Beach, which is a college/party area. Bring alcohol and meet people on the street.
+At a couple blocks off the main downtown drag you don't have to fight for parking too hard.
+Walking to beach and all of downtown PB.
+Get parking early and stay there all day/night.
+Juxtaposed between a liquor store, fast food and a half dozen bars *cough*primeatlastcall*cough*
-Technically 2 hour parking business hours but never seen it enforced.
-If you're looking for a quiet night's sleep this isn't the spot.





Sloane Canyon Road, El Cajon
This sprawling dirt road is out of the way from most everything and makes for a good getaway without going too far from the city.
+Awesome windy drive and hillside scenery.
+Totally secluded.
+Near a cemetery where you can access water spigots.
+Near a casino.
-Not walking distance to anything other than bushes.





Palomar Airpor Rd turnoff, Carlsbad
+Right by the water.
+Cool cliffs.
+Relax on the cliffs with a drink for the sunset, everyone drinks openly here.
-Right by a busy road.
- / + Lots of other vandwellers around.





Imperial Beach
This address is for residential parking.
+Feet away from the beach.
+Legal to park here any time.
+Level parking spaces, not side street parking.
+Marsh / preserve on opposite side is scenic and filled with wildlife.
+Can see Mexico from here.





Mariner's Point, San Diego
+One of the easiest places to park in the immediate SD downtown area.
+Public bathrooms.
+Walking distance to Mission Beach.
+Fires allowed.
-Not allowed to park overnight, but seldom enforced.





Downtown Oceanside
Two options circled here, the address and larger circle are for a seldom used parking lot, smaller circle is street parking.
+Walking distance to the beach (just out of frame).
+Lively downtown is scenic but not a party area.
+Street activities occur weekly (think fair food).
+Plenty of legal parking options.
+Public bathrooms at the beach within walking distance (but parking nearest to the beach is paid only).
+Cemetery nearby with access to water.
-If choosing street parking it is not level.





Oceanside Harbor
+View of the water.
+Sea lions congregate here, walk up to them if you want.
+Legal street parking all hours and it's even pretty level.
+Cemetery nearby with access to water.
- / + Lots of other vandwellers.



[continued]
 

TMG51

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Part 2 of 2

**Note that each of the below images contains a street address / GPS coordinates to the referenced location. Click to see the picture full size. **

Some random empty road, Oceanside
This was a drive-in theater which was abandoned, and became a swap meet. The road in question just happens to be vacant and no one cares about it.
+Great place to get away without leaving the city.
+No one cares what you do here.
+All sorts of wildlife, rabbits, big birds (heron?), coyotes at night.
+I think the decaying industrial stuff from the old drive in looks cool in the distance.
+Cemetery nearby with access to water.
- / + Not sure what it's like when the swap meet is taking place, I've never been there during.





Lowe's Oceanside
Box stores are everywhere so I haven't bothered to mention them (e.g., I've stayed at Target in nearly every area of San Diego with no trouble) but I like this Lowe's enough to give it a mention.
+Good for when you just want to park somewhere but not necessarily be out and about.
+Right next to a grocery store.
+Strong wifi signal.
+There is an open water spigot (its location is the smaller circle).
+No one cares how long you park here even though you're technically not allowed (for sale vehicles and 40' RVs stay here for days).
-Nothing scenic around, it's just a place to live when needed.





Overall image of San Diego and a rough color legend of these locations.





There are plenty of other places to park - basically anywhere near water will have a park where you can stay during the day and most box stores you can get away with parking at night (but avoid Wal-Mart or any upscale mall, they hire mall cops to chase you out, the lesser known box stores are usually safe). The above are just some of my preferred places I've found in my stay around San Diego. It's a diverse city and you can choose scenery, action, privacy, upscale or low income areas just by moving a few miles and choosing your preferred atmosphere.
 

bseek

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Thanks so much. I Evernoted this so I will have it when necessary. Awesome.
 

Iggy

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A lot of good info here! I've been spending a few weeks in San Diego for each of the last 3 winters. But haven't explored the city like TMG51 has. Most of my time is spent in Ocean Beach, where I really love the ambiance and easy parking close to the beach. I spent some time in Poway and Imperial Beach also, and slept at the various casinos too.
Thanks for sharing details like this!

Sent from my XT1528 using Tapatalk
 

akrvbob

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This is such good stuff I'll make it a sticky!
Bob
 

TMG51

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akrvbob said:
This is such good stuff I'll make it a sticky!
Bob

Well now, I feel honored. :D Hopefully this helps people down the line then.
 

oldnjung

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TMG51 said:
Glad you guys find it useful, happy to help.

What great info! We have been hoping to find places like you have posted to bring winter relief from the long, damp, wet winters in the Pacific Northwest. Can't wait to try them out.
RealSpur
 

FALCON

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Thanks for sharing these locations. I'm in San Diego right now and will probably be here 1-2 months. I've seen a couple of those spots already and will probably check out the others :-D
 
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IF in a target or lowes lot does that exclude harrasment from the police? in which case i suppose they can tow you while your sleeping but they cant give a ticket in private lot. Is that what the law is? San diego is really beautiful...the thing I missed when I went was it was a dead city scene compared to even orlando never mind miami or NYC. I did go in the winter maybe that was the reason. I saw so many van dwellers and rv dwellers in sand diego I felt bad for them because it was before I saw the u tube videos and this site...now I envy them.
 

TMG51

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TMG51 said:
Part 2 of 2

**Note that each of the below images contains a street address / GPS coordinates to the referenced location. Click to see the picture full size. **

Some random empty road, Oceanside
This was a drive-in theater which was abandoned, and became a swap meet. The road in question just happens to be vacant and no one cares about it.
+Great place to get away without leaving the city.
+No one cares what you do here.
+All sorts of wildlife, rabbits, big birds (heron?), coyotes at night.
+I think the decaying industrial stuff from the old drive in looks cool in the distance.
+Cemetery nearby with access to water.
- / + Not sure what it's like when the swap meet is taking place, I've never been there during.


Update: This location is no longer viable. I just got a $58 ticket for staying there last night. Previously, I've stayed there for days at a time without issue. But now they're renovating the area, taking down the old industrial-looking stuff (a negative in my eye) and paying more attention to the street. So, I can't recommend anyone park here without risk.
 

MrNoodly

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Excellent. I'll have to make some printouts for quick reference.

Too bad I didn't see this before paying mucho bucks for a state campground just down the road from your Carlsbad location.
 

MrNoodly

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Since I'm kind of familiar with Oceanside Harbor I went to Street View for your location and had to chuckle because there was a cop car parked there.

The sea lions there will sometimes bark all night long.
 

MrNoodly

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I'm at the Imperial Beach site right now. The estuary looks much nicer/greener than the satellite shot. It's a Sunday, so most of the parking spaces are taken, but I think there will be more choice toward evening. There are also lots of streets in Imperial Beach with unrestricted parking. Just pay attention to the curb colors. Red = no parking, green = limited time. Go for the unpainted curbs.
 

TMG51

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MrNoodly said:
I'm at the Imperial Beach site right now. The estuary looks much nicer/greener than the satellite shot. It's a Sunday, so most of the parking spaces are taken, but I think there will be more choice toward evening. There are also lots of streets in Imperial Beach with unrestricted parking. Just pay attention to the curb colors. Red = no parking, green = limited time. Go for the unpainted curbs.

Glad you're enjoying! There's also a Mexican grocery store around the corner from that lot with good deals on produce, spices etc. I'm in OB currently, mingling with the hippy folk.
 
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