Mission Beach, San Diego
Mission Beach Activities and Travel Tips
There are many ways to enjoy activities at Mission Beach. Mission Beach spans nearly 2 miles of ocean between Mission Bay to the east and Pacific Beach to the north. Filled with upscale, pastel-colored homes, hotels and condos, with a measure of old-style cottages and beach apartments, it's a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The boardwalk at Mission Beach offers some of the best people watching in all of San Diego! Joggers, bicyclists, roller bladers, and casual strollers contrast with the local flavor, which features lots of tattoos, piercings, and exotic pets. This place is a real scene most weekends. Locals in particular enjoy this beach, which teems with both land and water activities.
Mission Beach San Diego Boardwalk, Rides
Activities at Mission Beach include surfing, body boarding, swimming, kayaking, sunbathing, and picnicking. Swimmers and surfers use separate swimming areas, which are designated by City lifeguards. South Mission Beach is a volleyball Mecca. The wheelchair-accessible boardwalk behind the beach extends nearly 3 miles to just north of Pacific Beach. It's a booming activity zone of bicycling, rollerblading, running, skateboarding, etc.
You can rent equipment at the end of West Mission Bay Drive adjacent to the boardwalk. Those looking for the thrill of a beachfront rollercoaster and some 1920's nostalgia will want to ride the Big Dipper at Belmont Park, located at the north end of Mission Beach. This 73-foot-tall wooden rollercoaster was built in 1925, closed for restoration in 1976, and finally reopened again in 1990. The Big Dipper is still an exhilarating ride up into the palm trees high above Mission Beach.
The Mission Beach boardwalk has been widened with designated lanes for walking and riding. It's a great starting point for a day of bike riding or other activities like rollerblading, skating, skateboarding etc. The boardwalk extends for miles along the beach and around Mission Bay. The relatively uncrowded pathways mean a more relaxed ride.
More serious bike riders can begin at Mission Beach on the boardwalk and continue all the way to La Jolla. (Although the boardwalk ends at the north end of Pacific Beach you can follow the bike route all the way to downtown La Jolla.) For more information about local bike routes, visit the San Diego Bicycle Education and Advocacy Group. For surfboard, bicycle, or other gear rentals at Mission Beach, we highly recommend Cheap Rentals at 3685 Mission Boulevard. They offer the most competitive rental prices around without sacrificing service.
Considering its modest size, the Big Dipper rollercoaster is not for the faint of heart. Severe gyrations and turns followed by rapid descents make for a hair-raising ride — it's not advised for anyone with physical limitations that would be aggravated by sudden and severe movement.
Mission Boulevard (two blocks east of the beach) has taco shops, coffee houses, fast food chains, breakfast joints, and some ethnic food. You'll find plenty of options for breakfast, lunch, and casual dinner here. For fine dining, we suggest one of the nearby resort hotels.
Kids will love Mission Beach for its wide variety of land and water activities. Swimming, body boarding, and sandcastle building will keep them busy until it's time to go home. Belmont Park, which has a merry-go-round, bumper boats, and arcade games, is next to the Big Dipper rollercoaster. There's even an indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool called "the Plunge"; at Mission Beach adjacent to Belmont Park.
Older kids and teens will love The Wave House at Mission Beach which features"The Flowrider" an artificial wave machine that tests surfing skills.
Mission Beach has plenty of free parking just across the street from Belmont Park at West Mission Bay Drive and Mission Boulevard. These parking lots can fill up on summer days and on weekends year-round, so plan to arrive before 10 a.m. to get a good spot. Street parking is available along Mission Boulevard.
Mission Beach San Diego Directions
Take Highway 8 west and follow the signs to West Mission Bay Drive.