Kate Sessions Park, Pacific Beach
Kate Sessions is a favorite park of Pacific Beach for locals and visitors. The park has amazing views of downtown San Diego, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach and the Pacific Ocean. It’s extremely popular on the weekends and evenings during sunset.
Food is allowed but drinking alcohol in public is illegal and can result in an open container ticket.
Yes there are several BBQs at Kate Sessions. Please take hot coals to the designated hot coal bins around the park.
Public parking is available but can be busy on weekends or during events.
Yes, there is a public restroom located near the entry road near the flag pole.
The gate to enter Kate Sessions Park closes at 10 pm.
No drinking alcohol
No glass bottles
Dogs are allowed on leashes only
No skateboards or rollerblades
About Kate Sessions Park
Kate O. Sessions Memorial Park was named in 1957 after the noted local horticulturalist and “Mother of Balboa Park”, Kate Sessions. The naming took place on what would have been her 100th birthday.
The Park is 79 acres and is divided into two sections by Park Drive, a road that stems from Soledad Rd. The northern park is relatively flat with a playground at the north end and a large grassy patch. This area is ideal for picnicking, sports, flying kites and hosting events for kids and adults.
The southern section has a steep downward slope and has amazing views. The views make it a popular area for people to walk their dogs, and to lay out a blanket and have a picnic. This area has a public bathroom and the perimeter has a paved walking path. This section of the park is adjacent to residential housing on Loring St.
Kate Sessions Park is located in North Pacific Beach at 5115 Soledad Rd, San Diego, CA 92109. The park is nestled into the foot of Mount Soledad and surrounded by single family houses and the Soledad Club, located across the street.
Kate Sessions playground is located in the northern section of the park. The bathrooms are located near the flag pole and the loop on Park Drive.
The hiking trail can be accessed off of Parkview Terrace in southern La Jolla, or from the northern section of the park near the playground.
The northern section of Kate Sessions Park is used as a sporting field for many activities for all ages. You can often find practices, games and hosted events in this northern area. It is also a popular located for children’s birthday parties.
The southern downward sloped Kate Sessions Park area has some of the best views of the downtown skyline, Mission Bay and Pacific Ocean. Many tourists and locals come for a walk after work and a view of the skyline lit up by San Diego’s famous sunsets.
Kate Sessions Park also has access to hiking trails which wind through a canyon and connect to a street in southern La Jolla, Parkview Terrace.
The gate to Kate Sessions is accessed off of Soledad Rd which stems from Lamont St. Check the hours listed on the gate. Most days the gate closes at 10 pm.
History of Kate Sessions
Kate Sessions was a horticulturalist who was awarded a 10 year lease of 32 acres of Balboa Park, then called City Park. The lease required her to plant and maintain trees each year. She helped transform Balboa park into the beautiful venue that it is today and many of the trees she planted are still there.
After her lease in Balboa Park ended, she moved her commercial nursery business to Mission Hills. Over time property values and taxes increased which prompted her to look for a new space.
Kate’s immersion into Pacific Beach
In 1912 Kate found a space in Pacific Beach in the Mount Soledad foothills. Pueblo Lot 1785 was a half-mile piece of land lying north of Loring Street and east of Ingraham Street. 86 acres of Pueblo Lot 1785 had been set aside for the city in 1889, but there were 74 acres on the western half of the lot available for purchase.
Kate Sessions and her brother Frank bought the 74 western acres of Pueblo Lot 1785. Frank controlled the northern half and Kate had the southern half.
After working with the city of San Diego to obtain a 5 year lease of the public land, Frank was able to install a pumping plant connected to the Pacific Beach reservoir to supply both properties. Frank moved his poinsettia fields from Mission Hills to this new location, and by winter of 1914-1915 the hillside was a mass of brilliant red that could be seen from the city.
Kate Session’s development of Soledad Terrace
Kate’s 37 acres were subdivided into 28 lots connected by Los Altos Road and Soledad Road. Most lots were between one and two acres, which she hoped would appeal to buyers interested in planting gardens.
Kates development of this land included the continuation of Soledad Road up to the top of Mount Soledad.
Kate’s real estate venture was slower than planned in the 20s and most of the lots remained unsold into the 1930s. Kate acquired Frank’s portion of the land after the five year lease on the city portion ended and Frank moved on to become superintendent of the city pueblo farm in La Jolla near Torrey Pines.
Kate’s land now included the reservoir used to irrigate the city owned leased land and Kate granted the reservoir to the city with an easement for the pipeline supply.
Kate’s move to Pacific Beach
While Kate moved most of her nursery operations to these Mount Soledad foothills, her business and home remained in Mission Hills into the 1920s. In 1924 she purchased nearly 7 acres of property on Rose Creek.
After the new purchase, in 1927 Miss Sessions moved into one of the homes in her Soledad Terrace real estate development.
Kate led a proposal in 1933 to turn a 2 acre section of city owned land into a city park. Kate requested that the little park would be planted with two exotics, blue plumbago and bougainvillea, along with Matilija poppy and native oak trees. The park would be known as Color Park in accordance with the bright colors from the flowers. The city approved and dedicated the park in 1935.
Memorializing Kate Sessions with a park
After Kate Sessions passed away on Easter Sunday in 1940, the park became neglected. In 1956 an article declared the park was in a state of ruin.
Additional information about Kate Sessions and the park can be found in this article.
Learn more about the neighborhoods of Pacific Beach