I love exploring smaller attractions with my kids, especially natural and historical areas. While on a recent trip to Southern California, my kiddos and I spend a morning at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center. Located north of the University of San Diego in the community of Clairemont, Tecolote Canyon offers a green space full of history in the middle of a bustling big city. The canyon was originally a source of food and shelter for the Kumeyaay, the native people who lived in the extreme southwestern United States and northwest Mexico long before Europeans arrived.
The canyon has been a cartographic feature on area maps for nearly two centuries. The name Tecolote comes from the Aztec word for owl after the burrowing owl that lived prominently in the canyon. The city of San Diego acquired the land and dedicated the park on April 1, 1978. The park covers approximately 903 acres, running roughly six miles long, with multiple entrances throughout the community. Tecolote Canyon also offers approximately 6.5 miles of trails that can be used for jogging, walking, and mountain biking.
My kids and I began our exploration at the Tecolote Nature Center off of Tecolote Road. The nature center offers hands-on exhibits for visitors to learn about native plant and animal life in the canyon. We were the only people visiting the center that Tuesday morning, so we had the run of the place. My kids especially loved looking at the live snakes. My son, who loves owls, liked looking at the display of taxidermied owls native to the canyon. I enjoyed reading the information about the geology of the canyon.
After exploring the nature center for a bit, my kiddos and I head out for a hike on one of the trails. The walk was easy going for all of us, including my toddler. We chose a short trail near the nature center that looped back around and brought us back to the start of the trail. I would have loved to have hiked around more of the canyon, but my youngest was getting tired and cranky. My two oldest enjoyed looking at the native plants in the canyon and especially enjoyed spotting lizards that ran across the trail.
If you are ever in San Diego with a few hours on your hands, I highly recommend checking out the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center. The nature center is currently open every day except Monday. The many trails through the canyon offer an easy hike for families. Be sure to bring water and wear good shoes while enjoying the bit of nature within the big city. Overall, Tecolote Canyon was an amazing experience for my entire family!
Family Fun in California: Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Places to Explore at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Kumeyaay Basketry at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Early People Display at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Trails Tell Tales Display at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Owls at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Trash Display at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Snake at the Tecolote Nature Center 1 © 2019 Heather Johnson
Snake at the Tecolote Nature Center 2 © 2019 Heather Johnson
Snake at the Tecolote Nature Center 3 © 2019 Heather Johnson
Geology Display at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson
Canyon Display at the Tecolote Nature Center © 2019 Heather Johnson