Planning a vacation at Lake Murray in Southern California is a great idea for your next family trip. You’ll spend time with your family while you are surrounded by the beauty of nature, with all the fun of San Diego just a few miles away. Bring your bikes, your fishing gear, and your hiking boots to take advantage of the lake and the rest of Mission Trails Regional Park, but don’t forget that the San Diego Zoo, beautiful beaches, and more lie within easy reach. Here are our top 10 favorite activities that are within easy access from your Lake Murray vacation rental.

1. Go Fishing

Fishing
Source: Flickr/Eddie Awad

Lake Murray is stocked with large-mouthed bass, trout, catfish, crappie and bluegill, so bait those hooks and get ready to enjoy an afternoon of fishing with your family. You can purchase permits on-site, but make sure you have a California state fishing license before that first cast.

2. San Diego Zoo

Hippopotamus
Source: Flickr/cloudzilla

Just 20 minutes west of Lake Murray sits the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to pandas, koalas, and thousands of other fascinating animals. Sit on the top floor of the tram that takes you around the zoo to get the best views of the animals, then go back on foot to visit your favorites.

3. Floating and Tubing

Floating
Source: Flickr/eflon

Relax on the water on a float or inner tube, and enjoy the sensation of serenity as the water rocks you gently. Keep those tubes near the shore for your own safety, and don’t forget to bring life jackets for everyone in the family. You can even fish from your float if you want!

4. Climb a Mountain Peak

Hiking
Source: Flickr/Martha Jimenez

Lake Murray is situated in the middle of San Diego’s Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, with 7,000 acres of recreational opportunities available. Take a family hike to the top of Cowles Mountain or Kwaay Paay Peak to enjoy spectacular views over San Diego County. The trip to all five peaks in the park is about a nine-mile loop.

5. Balboa Park

Flower in Balboa Park
Source: Flickr/Lee Coursey

Head into San Diego itself to enjoy the rich offerings of Balboa Park. The Natural History Museum, the Aerospace Museum and the Museum of Man all combine education with fun, and acres of grassy space welcome you to picnic and frolic. Come on an evening to enjoy a free concert at the Spreckles Band Shell.

6. Take a Hike

Twilight of the Southbay
Source: Flickr/Jason Jenkins

Climbing to the peaks isn’t the only option when you’re hiking around Lake Murray and Mission Trails Regional Park. Take a less strenuous hike to the Old Mission Dam, or follow the Rim Trail to check out wildflowers. Don’t forget to stop at the park’s Visitor Center to listen to the fascinating park rangers tell stories about the park’s history.

7. Take a Trip to the Past

Cowles Mountain
Source: Flickr/Martha Jimenez

The Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center includes a museum that walks you through the history of the immediate area. From there, lace up your hiking boots and head down the Riverside Grinding Site Trail to see actual grinding rocks that the local natives once used in food preparation.

8. Santee Lakes

 Santee Lakes
Source: Flickr/Erin Kinney

Just a couple of miles from Lake Murray, the Santee Lakes feature paddleboats and canoes for rent, and there are even a couple of swimming pools since no swimming is allowed in the lake. Bring your bikes to ride between the seven small lakes, then sit back and relax with a picnic while your kids have fun in the playgrounds before heading back to your vacation rental.

9. House of Hints

 House of Hints

If you’re staying in a vacation rental at Lake Murray with a large group or your extended family, add an unexpected twist to your vacation by heading to House of Hints, an escape room filled with puzzles and codes that you have to solve. This escape room tests your mind without being scary, and it’s ideal for those who love puzzles and games.

10. Qualcomm Stadium

 Stadium
Source: Flickr/SD Dirk

If you’re visiting during football season, you’re in luck, because Lake Murray is only a couple of miles away from Qualcomm Stadium. You can count on great weather and a lively crowd. Don’t be surprised if you feel inspired to toss the ball around yourself once you get back to your vacation rental.