San Diego Cemeteries – Public and Private

There are both public and private cemeteries in the San Diego area. A city generally owns the public cemeteries or come public governing authority. A corporation owns the private ones.

In general, public cemeteries are significantly less expensive than private ones.

It depends on the graveyard, but often only individuals who live in the area of the cemetery are allowed to be buried there. If the cemetery is open to everyone there may be additional fees for people not from that area.

In all, there are about 26 cemeteries in the San Diego area. There is a great article about some historical information on San Diego on cemeteries from the historical society.[The Journal of San Diego History, “San Diego Historical Society Quarterly Fall 1982, Volume 28, Number 4”]. We have a great article on San Diego’s Oldest Cemetery – Old Town Cemetery.

Public Cemeteries for Interment

Public cemeteries, as government-owned burial grounds and often have unique features that distinguish them from private cemeteries, such as:

Accessibility of Cemetery

Public cemeteries are open to all members of the public without any specific membership requirements or eligibility criteria. They provide burial services and plots to individuals and families from diverse backgrounds, regardless of religious, cultural, or social affiliations. Public cemeteries strive to be inclusive and accessible to the entire community.

Size and Capacity of Cemetery

Public cemeteries tend to be more extensive than many private cemeteries. They are often designed to accommodate more burials and provide ample space for future generations. Public cemeteries often have sections or designated areas for different religious groups, military veterans, or specific cultural communities.

Governance and Regulations

Public cemeteries are subject to governmental oversight and are governed by regulations and policies set by the relevant authorities. These regulations ensure standardized procedures for burials, maintenance, monument installation, and other cemetery-related activities. The governing authority ensures that public cemeteries comply with legal requirements and maintain appropriate standards of care.

Maintenance and Care of Cemetery

Public cemeteries typically receive regular maintenance and care from dedicated staff employed by the governing authority. Maintenance includes landscaping, mowing, tree maintenance, and general upkeep of the cemetery grounds. The aim is to create a well-maintained and serene environment that honors the memories of the deceased and provides a peaceful space for visitors.

Veterans’ Sections for Interment

Many public cemeteries have dedicated sections or areas specifically for military veterans. These sections often provide special honors and recognition for veterans, including markers, flags, and organized ceremonies during specific national holidays such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

Historical Significance of Cemetery

Public cemeteries often have historical significance and may contain the gravesites of notable individuals, community leaders, or historical figures. They can serve as repositories of local history, preserving the legacy and heritage of the community.

Public Facilities and Services

Public cemeteries may offer additional facilities and services to visitors. These can include visitor information centers, chapels for funeral services, mausoleums, columbaria for cremated remains, and designated areas for scattering ashes. Public cemeteries often provide clear signage, maps, and directories to assist visitors in locating gravesites and navigating the cemetery grounds.

Community Engagement of Cemetery

Public cemeteries often foster community engagement and participation. They may organize educational programs, guided tours, or events that promote cemetery history, genealogy research, or cultural heritage. Public cemeteries can serve as gathering places for communal activities and commemorative ceremonies.

These features contribute to the overall character and function of public cemeteries, reflecting their commitment to serving the broader community and honoring the memory of the departed in a respectful and inclusive manner.

Oak Hill Memorial Park

2640 Glenridge Road

Escondido, CA  92025


Oak Hill Memorial Park cemetery in Escondido, CA - trees and traditional headstones

San Marcos Cemetery

1021 Mulberry Drive

San Marcos, CA  92069


Looking throught gates to cemetery in San Marcos - San Diego Cemetery

Dearborn Memorial Park

14361 Tierra Bonita Road

Poway, CA 92064


More modern cemetery with flatter headstones and trees

Valley Center Cemetery

28953 Miller Road

Valley Center, CA 92082


Modern cemtery with green grass and trees - san diego cemeteries

Nuevo Memory Garden

532 Ash St. – PO Box 211

Ramona, CA 92065


Main avenue with person walking in cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery

3751 Market Street

San Diego, CA 92102


Older cemetery with traditional grave stones and trees

Private Cemeteries for Interment

As distinct from public cemeteries, private cemeteries often possess unique features and characteristics that set them apart. Here are some of the notable features commonly associated with private cemeteries:

Restricted Access interment Cemetery

It’s important to note that the specific characteristics of private cemeteries can vary widely depending on the cemetery’s location, ownership, and purpose. Each private cemetery may have distinct qualities and offerings that reflect the vision and values of the owners or members it serves.

Custom interment Burial Options

Private cemeteries often offer a range of customized burial options catering to the specific preferences of their members or owners. These options may include family plots, private mausoleums, designated sections for particular groups or families, or personalizing sites with custom markers or monuments with interment.

Specialized Themes or Cultures

Some private cemeteries are designed to cater to specific cultural or religious communities. These cemeteries may incorporate unique features, symbols, or rituals significant to the particular culture or religion they serve. They provide a sense of identity, like a club, and belonging to individuals or families with shared cultural or religious backgrounds.

Maintenance and Landscaping

Private cemeteries often prioritize maintenance and landscaping more than public cemeteries. The owners or governing entities may invest more resources and attention into preserving the cemetery’s appearance and ensuring its well-maintained condition. This investment can include beautifully landscaped gardens, manicured lawns, and regular upkeep of gravesites and markers.

Family or Community Heritage

Private cemeteries can hold deep historical and familial significance for the members or owners. They may be associated with a family’s ancestral lineage or have a long-standing connection to a specific community. These cemeteries often provide a sense of continuity, allowing families or communities to maintain a link to their past and honor their heritage.

Exclusive Services and Amenities

Private cemeteries may offer additional services and amenities not commonly found in public cemeteries. These can include on-site chapels or prayer rooms, reception facilities for memorial gatherings, grief counseling services, or exclusive events for cemetery members. These offerings enhance the overall experience and support provided to those using the private cemetery’s services.

Preservation of Historic Elements:

Some private cemeteries have historical significance due to the presence of notable individuals, unique architectural features, or cultural artifacts. The owners or governing entities of these cemeteries often prioritize preserving and protecting these historical elements, maintaining the cemetery as a valuable heritage site.

It’s important to note that the specific characteristics of private cemeteries can vary widely depending on the cemetery’s location, ownership, and purpose. Each private cemetery may have distinct qualities and offerings that reflect the vision and values of the owners or members it serves.

Singing Hills Memorial Park

2800 Dehesa Road

El Cajon, CA 92019


Modern cemetery with ground level stones and green grass and trees

Fallbrook Cemetery

1177 Santa Marguerita Dr.

Fallbrook, CA 92028


Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery

Eternal Hills Memorial Park

1999 El Camino Real

Oceanside, CA 92054


Eternal Hills Memorial Park in San Diego

Holy Cross Cemetery

4470 Hilltop Drive

San Diego, CA 92102


Catholic cemetery with church style buildings

Mission San Luis Rey

4050 Mission Avenue

Oceanside, CA 92057


Mission cemetery

St. Barths Columbarium

16275 Pomerado Road

Poway, CA 92064


St. Bartholomew Episcopal-Columbarium

El Camino Memorial Park

5600 Carroll Canyon Road

San Diego, CA 92121


El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego

Veteran interment Cemeteries

Our area has three National Cemeteries for Veterans – Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Miramar National Cemetery, and Riverside National Cemetery. All are specifically for veteran interment as well as their families.

For additional information on these, please see our National Cemeteries section.

burial vault or grave liner

A casket vault, also known as a burial vault or grave liner, is a container that encloses a casket during burial. It is typically made of reinforced concrete, plastic, or metal. The primary purpose of a casket vault is to provide more protection and support to the casket and the surrounding soil.
Here are the main reasons why casket vaults are used:

  • Preservation and Protection: A casket vault helps protect the casket from the weight and pressure of the earth above. It acts as a sturdy outer shell, preventing the soil from directly contacting the casket. This protection helps to preserve the casket’s integrity and prevents the burial site from sinking or collapsing over time.
  • Preventing ground Settling: Using a casket vault helps reduce the risk of the ground above the burial site settling or sinking. The vault provides a stable and reinforced base for the soil, minimizing the chances of the ground subsiding and maintaining the cemetery’s overall appearance.
  • Maintaining Cemetery Landscaping: Casket vaults help preserve the cemetery’s landscape by preventing soil disruption. Without a vault, the weight of the earth and heavy machinery used in cemetery maintenance could cause the ground to sink or become uneven, leading to potential damage to headstones, pathways, and other grave sites.
  • Groundwater Protection: Another essential function of a casket vault is protecting the casket and contents from groundwater intrusion. The vault acts as a barrier, helping prevent water from seeping into the burial site. The vault helps maintain the integrity of the casket and reduces the risk of contamination.

The use of casket vaults may vary depending on local regulations, cemetery policies, or personal preferences. Some cemeteries may require a vault for all burials, while others may leave it as an optional choice for families.

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