Price & Hours
- Beaches, Recreation, Neighborhood/Area Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Local Experts Scorecard
Based on 8 interviews
If You Have Time
Read about how we rank Things to Do.
Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are one giant, connected shoreline in San Diego. While not as pristine as Coronado Beach, the area is just as popular thanks to all the nearby attractions and amenities. This miles-long stretch of sand fits the SoCal stereotype to a T: throngs of surfers and bikini-clad sunbathers crowd the shores every summer, while the nearby boardwalk is usually packed with inline skaters and bicyclists. The beach is a popular spot in San Diego for surfing as well, offering swells both high and low, perfect for beginners and seasoned surfers (there are numerous water sports equipment rental shops strewn around the neighborhood). Belmont Park, which acts as the border between the two beaches, is a beachfront amusement park featuring arcades and numerous rides, including the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster – a more than 100-year-old National Historic Landmark. When lunchtime rolls around, head to one of the many beachside eateries that flank the boardwalk or Mission Boulevard (the area's main thoroughfare), or have a picnic at Bonita Cove, the bayfront park located across the street from Belmont Park.
The difference between the two is discernible. While they both share the same boardwalk, sand and ocean, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach share key differences. Mission Beach, which begins at Belmont Park going south, is the calmer of the two. The boardwalk has more homes than hotels and far fewer amenities than Pacific Beach, making it good for families or those seeking a more relaxed beach experience. Pacific Beach, which starts north of Belmont Park, is much more lively. Mission Boulevard, the main thoroughfare, is lined with restaurants, surf shops, retail stores, hotels and bars. The further you go up Mission Boulevard the further you go into the belly of the beast that is Pacific Beach. Next to the Gaslamp Quarter, Pacific Beach is the best place for nightlife in San Diego, known for getting particularly rowdy. Aside from Mission Boulevard, you can find a heavy concentration of bars and nightlife options on Garnet Avenue and Grand Avenue. If you don't want to experience this side of Pacific Beach, take a walk along Crystal Pier or stick to the beach north of this pier.
Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are open every day, and there is no entry fee. However, you will have to pay to play in Belmont Park (prices are listed on the park's website). Past visitors enjoyed the fun and relaxed atmosphere and all of the things to do at and near the beaches, especially the many water sports and bike rental places available. Despite numerous positive experiences, many complained of the lack of sufficient parking. Due to the beaches' popularity with tourists and locals, expect to drive around a little before finding a parking space, especially during the weekend. You can also find more parking around Belmont Park, Santa Clara Point and South Mission Beach Park.
- Thing to Do
- 0.5 Miles Away
- 3.5-star Hotel Class
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- 4.0-star Hotel Class
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- 3.5-star Hotel Class