With 70 miles of pristine coastline, spending a day at the beach is a must.
From secluded coves perfect for swimming to scenic shores prized for surfing,
every beach (and surrounding seaside community) has a unique character.
Here are five of our favorite places for surf, sun and sand.
Live the California dream at this iconic beach town dotted with waterfront bars, taco
stands, trendy restaurants, fashionable hotels and a lively nightlife scene. Line up early
for breakfast burritos at Kono’s Café (704 Garnet Ave.), then spend the afternoon cruising up and down the boardwalk, fishing at Crystal Pier (end of Garnet Ave.) and swimming in the calm waters of North Pacific Beach (between Crystal Pier and Tourmaline).
Head to Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (746 Emerald St.) for fish tacos, followed by an ice
cream cookie sandwich at The Baked Bear (4516 Mission Blvd.). Shop for souvenirs
with local cred at Pangaea Outpost, featuring more than 70 merchants and artists, and
beachy threads at Closet Signature (875 Garnet Ave.). Nab a seat on the beachfront patio
at JRDN (723 Felspar St.) and enjoy upscale surf ’n’ turf among sleek surroundings.
MISSION BEACH/MISSION BAY
Between the rolling surf of Mission Beach and the calm waters of
Mission Bay, opportunities for fun on the water are endless.
Go wakeboarding or wakesurfing with a skippered boat rental
from Mission Bay Aquatic Center (1001 Santa Clara Pl.) or
explore on your own with a kayak, sailboat or stand-up
paddleboard rental. For lunch, post up on the patio for
seafood and prime people-watching at the Catamaran
Resort Hotel’s Oceana Coastal Kitchen (3999 Mission
Blvd.). Conquer the Giant Dipper, a towering wooden
rollercoaster built in 1925, and ride the wave machines at
Belmont Park (3146 Mission Blvd.). Keep the fun going with
sushi and sake at Cannonball, or craft beer and a burger at
Draft (both 3105 Oceanfront Walk, inside Belmont Park).
With its quirky shops and laid-back nature,
Ocean Beach (or O.B. to the locals) moves
to a beat all its own. Start the day at Lazy
Hummingbird (4876 Santa Monica Ave.) to
soak in the bohemian vibe over a coffee
and açai bowl. The cozy neighborhood
shop hosts live acoustic music every Sunday
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stroll to Dog Beach
(end of Voltaire Street) and watch pups frolic,
or walk out on the pier to see surfers swoop
down glassy waves. For lunch, refuel with
a bacon cheeseburger at Hodad’s (5010
Newport Ave.) and a pint at Culture Brewing
Wonderland Ocean Pub (5083
Company (845 Newport Ave.). Pop into local
boutiques like Noon (4993 Niagara Ave.)
to shop for home accents and acces-
sories, and Miss Match (4932 New-
port Ave.) for boho-chic women’s
clothing. For dinner, park yourself
on a chair facing the ocean at
Santa Monica Ave.) and watch the
GLOW IN THE DARK
sunset while feasting on a plate of
Mac Daddy Ahi Poke—spicy yellowfin
tuna with crushed macadamia nuts and
Try paddleboarding in the evening on a NightSUP that’s equipped with waterproof, high-intensity
LED lights, designed to illuminate up to a 40-foot circumference around the board. Adventures
provided by Spirit Yoga at Mission Bay Sports Center (1010 Santa Clara Pl.).