The Port of San Diego Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show is back, promising another spectacular display over San Diego Bay. Fireworks will be discharged simultaneously from barges placed...
San Diego's central coastal communities have a culture all their own. It's where city life meshes with beach town vibes and is fueled by local surf and skate culture. Travelers and residents alike come to these popular neighborhoods for the sips, the shopping, the sights, and, of course, the sunsets.
The beach community of Pacific Beach – or P.B. as the locals call it – is known as a seaside mecca and surfer's paradise for college students and the younger set with boisterous bars, cafes, and casual restaurants aplenty.
Throughout the year, the three-mile boardwalk connecting P.B. and adjoining Mission Beach features an endless parade of beach goers walking, running, biking, inline-skating, and just hanging out in the sun. Surfing is a favorite pastime in P.B. During summer months, the beach features designated areas for surfers and swimmers.
Lined along P.B.'s main streets, Grand and Garnet Avenues, beachgoers can find a variety of restaurants, thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, boutiques, and tattoo parlors.
Embrace the area's beach style by visiting local surf shops to find wetsuits, sunglasses, swimsuits, and flip flops from major and local retailers. Inexpensive boutiques, located all over P.B., are filled with hip attire ranging from beachwear to clubwear.
Numerous bars, restaurants and taco shops can also be found in P.B. The sophisticated JRDN restaurant in the Tower23 Hotel offers fine dining, local beers and hand-crafted cocktails, and tables with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Local favorite taco shops are Oscars Mexican Seafood, Taco Surf PB, City Tacos, and many more.
As the sun goes down, beachgoers head to P.B. Alehouse for daily happy hour drink specials and spectacular sunset views from the lounge's rooftop patio.
Located just south of P.B. and connected by the boardwalk, Mission Beach is another popular hangout for the younger set mixed with many families.
Located along the boardwalk in Mission Beach, Belmont Park features the "Giant Dipper" wooden roller coaster, a National Historic Landmark, carnival rides, amusement arcades, and plenty of beachfront fun.
Mission Beach resonates with a lively beach vibe and has a multitude of surf shops, restaurants, and bars located around Belmont Park and along Mission Boulevard.
Hamels Surf Shop has been a fixture in the local beach community since 1967 and is the place to rent a beach cruiser. Duck Dive is popular for casual All-American foods, craft beers, and cool beach vibes.
Tapping into San Diego's celebrated craft beer scene, Draft Mission Beach serves dozens of local beers on tap and is a hot spot for beachside dining. Head upstairs to Cannonball for hand-rolled sushi paired with a cocktail and views of the beach.
For a respite from the bustling boardwalk, head to the wider South Mission Beach, which offers lots of room to spread out on the sand or join in some local beach volleyball.
Spread over 4,600 acres, Mission Bay Park is the largest manmade aquatic park in the world with an abundance of outdoor water sports include sailing, standup paddle boarding, rowing, kayaking, windsurfing, powerboating, and more. The 27 miles of tranquil shoreline features soft sandy beaches, bicycling paths, grassy parks for picnicking and barbecuing, play structures, and special areas for volleyball, softball, and horseshoes.
Guests can experience Mission Bay's variety of water sports at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and Mission Bay Sportcenter.
Within Mission Bay Park, Fiesta Bay is the main designated waterskiing area. Jet-skiers are also allotted a special area, free from boat traffic. At Mission Bay's many marinas, guests can buy, rent, charter, dock, or store a full range of watercraft. Fishing is also allowed on the tranquil waters of Mission Bay where fishermen land halibut, bass, flounder, croaker, and perch.
Designed by world-renowned golf course architect Ted Robinson, Sr., the 18-hole municipal Mission Bay Golf Course is San Diego's only golf course to feature stadium lighting at night.
SeaWorld San Diego, Mission Bay's most popular attraction, offers more than 100 acres of beautiful outdoor grounds filled with amazing animals and plenty of exciting rides. Animal exhibits feature bamboo sharks, orcas, sea turtles, sea lions, otters, penguins, dolphins, flamingos, and more. Thrill seekers will revel on rollercoasters like Manta, Electric Eel and Atlantis while the little ones can enjoy even more rides throughout the park.
There are a variety of dining options in Mission Bay. The first Rubio's restaurant opened in 1983 in Mission Bay and introduced the world to "the original fish taco," a tasty Baja food staple that is synonymous with San Diego beach culture.
Taking seafood to another level, the Seafood Tower at Oceana Coastal Kitchen brims with the freshest, most delicious bounty of the sea. Dating back to 1962, the legendary Barefoot Bar & Grill is a local San Diego waterfront restaurant coveted for its panoramic views of the bay.
With perpetual sun, swaying palms and sparkling surf, the funky neighborhood of Ocean Beach, referred to locally as O.B., is the epitome of Southern California beach culture.
Newport Avenue, its main street, can be both laid-back and energized with boisterous bars, cafes, surf shops, tattoo parlors, and a 1960s hippie attitude.
One of the best times to experience Newport Avenue is Wednesday afternoons (4-7 p.m.) during the weekly Ocean Beach Farmers Market where fresh produce mixes with colorful characters and O.B.'s unique surf and hippie vibe.
Also along Newport Avenue and adjacent streets are diverse eateries, many with views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and featuring open patios that welcome man's best friend. Hodad's is a famous surf-themed burger joint serving truly amazing hamburgers for 40 years. Guests can dine inside an old VW van on a table where the dashboard used to be located.
At the end of Newport Avenue, South Beach Bar & Grill is a casual hangout where locals feast on fresh fish tacos like marinated and grilled mahi mahi, which once earned recognition as "America's best fish taco" from Bon Appetit magazine.
Ocean Beach, home to the Ocean Beach Pier, is a large sandy beach offering surfing, swimming, volleyball, and other recreational activities.
During large Pacific winter storms, hundreds of spectators gather along the beach's seawall to watch the huge waves break against the top of the O.B. Pier. During calm seas, fishing, walking, and taking selfies and photos are popular atop the wooden structure.
O.B. is also popular for its kid-friendly tidepools and Dog Beach, where even the tail-waggin' members of the family can play Frisbee and romp in the surf.
As one of San Diego's oldest coastal communities, Point Loma offers both a sense of history and water-filled scenery.
The first stop should be Cabrillo National Monument on the tip of Point Loma peninsula. Commemorating the "birthplace of California" and the arrival of European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, Cabrillo National Monument along with the Old Point Loma Lighthouse provide spectacular panoramic views of San Diego's harbor and coastline and the hills on neighboring Mexico on clear, sunny days.
Cabrillo National Park offers a large, rocky shoreline of tide pools where families can see flowery anemones, scampering shore crabs, and many other creatures of the sea. The best times to visit the tide pools are during winter and spring low tides.
On the oceanside of Point Loma peninsula, Sunset Cliffs is one of the most picturesque places to enjoy San Diego's spectacular sunsets. Sunset Cliffs also features numerous surfing spots for skilled surfers.
Historic Liberty Station is located on the bayside of the peninsula. The former Naval Training Station is now a cultural hub filled with art, restaurants, shops, and colorful murals. A must-visit is the Liberty Public Market, which has some 30 local artisans offering up everything from cheese and ramen to sushi and tacos along with beer, wine, cocktails, and even desserts.
Point Loma is the epicenter of San Diego's exciting sportfishing industry. Sportfishing off the San Diego coast or in neighboring Baja California allows guests to experience the thrill of the catch. Leisurely boat excursions offer half-, full- and multi-day fishing trips.
The Kelp Beds off Point Loma are popular for diving and snorkeling. Conditions vary drastically depending on the weather, but due to the large amount of "tasty" kelp, fish and other marine life are always seen in abundance.
Located just east of Mission Bay is Bay Park, a quaint residential neighborhood and commercial district. Bay Ho lies immediately north of Bay Park, with Pacific Beach to the neighborhood's west. Both boast spectacular Mission Bay views along with fun restaurants and nightlife spots.
Main thoroughfares Morena Boulevard and West Morena Boulevard offer a selection of restaurants and nightlife spots in the two neighborhoods.
Highlights include upscale food and a fine selection of beer, wine, and cocktails at Luce Bar and Kitchen. Baci Ristorante is a local landmark serving fine Italian gourmet cuisine. Bay Park Fish Company is a favorite place to go for fresh seafood.
You definitely don't want to miss Sardina's Italian Restaurant and Bar, one of San Diego's most recommended places to eat for great tasting Sicilian/Italian cuisine. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the full-service cocktail lounge is always bustling with happy people.
Nightspots with friendly locals include the High Dive Bar featuring a sports-bar vibe, pinball games, elevated pub bites, and a hefty menu of local beer. Coronado Brewing Company brews its world-famous beer in a 22,000-square-foot facility with a nice comfortable beer tasting room. It's also dog friendly, so bring your pooch.
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