Mission & Pacific Beaches

Beach in San Diego

Image by Richard Cummins Getty Images

Central San Diego's best beach scene is concentrated in a narrow strip of land between the ocean and Mission Bay. There's amazing people-watching on the Ocean Front Walk, the boardwalk that connects the two beaches. From South Mission Jetty to Pacific Beach Point, it’s crowded with joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists any time of the year. On warm summer weekends, oiled bodies, packed like sardines, cover the beach from end to end and cheer the setting sun.

While there’s lots to do here, perhaps the best use of an afternoon is to walk along the boardwalk, then spread a blanket or kick back over cocktails and take in the scenery.

A block off Mission Beach, Mission Blvd (the main north–south road), is lined with surf, smoke and swimwear shops. Cheap Rentals loans bikes, skates and surfboards.

In Pacific Beach, to the north, activity extends inland, particularly along Garnet (pronounced gar-net) Ave, lined with bars, restaurants and shops, mostly targeted at a 20-something crowd. At the ocean end of Garnet Ave, Crystal Pier is a mellow place to fish or gaze out to sea.

At peak times these beaches can get supercrowded: parking around noon is just not gonna happen.