This is a wonderful place to spend several hours. The lake is surrounded by a well-maintained dirt road. A walk around the lake is .8 of a mile and takes about twenty minutes without stopping. It is also nice for a bike ride. The four playgrounds are distributed evenly around the lake and have very different structures. One of these playgrounds, Gloria's Mesa, is located west of the main entrance with its own parking. It has a large area for various activities and is connected to the lake by stairs. Both Gloria's Mesa and Chollas Lake are staffed by rangers and completely fenced. Hours are around 7 am until dusk. Day camps, nature walks, and fishing derbies are offered as well as seasonal activities. Children are allowed to fish. There are many ducks, geese, and coots and I have spotted a few turtles over the years. A beautiful lake setting in the College Grove area. Definitely worth a visit, and plenty of natural shade (unlike the big lakes Murray and Miramar) makes this a good summer alternative to the beach.
A big shopping area with a Target is nearby (just off the 94 freeway) if you forget some picnic supplies.
The perimeter of the lake provides an undulating 0.8 mile dirt path for walkers, joggers, sturdy strollers, or considerate bicyclists. Much of this trail is in the shade of eucalyptus trees.
On weekends, pedal boat rentals are available and fun, but a bit pricey (2005 prices below):
2 person pedal boat: $10 for 30 min, $15 per hour
4 person pedal boat: $15 for 30 min, $20 per hour
Playground equipment is minimal, but fishing, ducks and a gently sloping shoreline should keep kids occupied. There is allegedly a multipurpose playing field north of the lake but I didn't check it out.
Rangers provide educational programs geared towards kids, sometimes with live examples of local wildlife for hands-on examination (e.g. a tarantula). Check the Parks & Recreation website or better, visit or call for details (their website is not updated very often).