With 70 miles of spectacular coastline, there is always something new and unexpected to experience along San Diego's beaches. From popular Oceanside at the tip of North County coastline to lesser-known Imperial Beach in South Bay, piers dot San Diego's coast, providing opportunities for fishing, walking, seeing the sites, and catching spectacular sunsets.
Below is a list of 7 piers that are waiting to be discovered along San Diego's coast from north to south.
Region: North Coastal
Oceanside Pier is one of the area's iconic landmarks, located near a thriving harbor and marina, an active beach and popular surfing spot. Originally constructed in 1888, the 1,942-foot wooden pier is the perfect place to take a stroll, go fishing and watch surfers, the glistening Pacific and breathtaking sunsets. The pier serves as the backdrop for signature Oceanside events, including concerts and performances at the neighboring outdoor amphitheater, surfing competitions, the annual Oceanside IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon, and more.
Within a short walk from the pier, you can find numerous restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues. Craft Coast Beer & Tacos combines two iconic staples: craft beer and Baja-style tacos. At Orfilla Vineyards Tasting Room and Kitchen, you can sample local wines and enjoy an exciting menu featuring locally sourced products with something for everyone, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Region: Mission Bay and Beaches
Since its dedication in 1927, Crystal Pier has been an iconic landmark along the coastline in Pacific Beach. Crystal Pier is a public fishing pier (no license required) and home to the one-of-a-kind Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages, built in 1930. At night, the pier is closed to the public, while hotel guests lie in bed listening to the ocean waves below. During the day, visitors have access for walking, fishing and watching the surfers below along with gorgeous sunsets.
Located at the pier's entrance, you'll find the popular Pacific Beach-Mission Beach boardwalk and Garnet Avenue, the main street in Pacific Beach. The boardwalk features an endless parade of walkers, runners, bike riders, inline-skaters, and people hanging out in the sun along with numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. Garnet Avenue is lined with a plethora of restaurants, thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, boutiques, and tattoo parlors.
Ocean Beach Pier
Region: Mission Bay and Beaches
Built in 1966, the 1,971-foot Ocean Beach Municipal Pier is the longest concrete pier in the world and the second longest ocean pier in California. The pier was originally constructed for fishing but quickly became a popular landmark for residents and visitors alike to walk, photograph, and watch the surfers riding the waves below. If you're peckish and looking for a break along the pier, take a seat at the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe for quick eats and beautiful views.
Ocean Beach (O.B.) is one of San Diego's prime surf spots. A popular surfing spot is located north of the pier, and kid-friendly tidepools can be explored beneath it. Newport Avenue, O.B.'s main street, can be both laid-back and energized with boisterous bars, cafes, surf shops, tattoo parlors, and a 1960s hippie attitude. Located right next to the pier, South Beach Bar & Grill is where locals feast on fresh fish tacos that once earned recognition as "America's best fish taco" from Bon Appetit magazine.
Shelter Island Pier
Region: Point Loma Peninsula
The Shelter Island Pier is a t-shaped pier extending 200 feet from the shore and spanning 500 feet in length at the end, offering plenty of room to fish along San Diego Bay. Shelter Island, home to San Diego's vibrant sportfishing industry, is no stranger to anglers. The Marlin Club is located down the street from the pier, and Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle is set right on the pier. The local favorite serves San Diego craft beers and homemade sausages among other menu items.
Shelter Island Shoreline Park spans the bayside length of Shelter Island and has numerous amenities from the fishing pier and a boat launching ramp to picnic tables and public art, all with sweeping views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline. A tropical and nautical atmosphere prevails on Shelter Island. Popular restaurants, public art, and recreational offerings can be enjoyed throughout the year. You can sail the waters and experience once-in-a-lifetime whale watching excursions on America's Cup racing yachts. Bali Hai Restaurant is a tiki-inspired local landmark featuring Polynesian cuisine, famous Mai Tais, authentic tiki décor from the South Pacific, and spectacular bay and downtown views.
Coronado Ferry Landing Pier
The Coronado Ferry Landing Pier is tucked behind the Coronado Ferry Landing shopping complex along San Diego Bay on picturesque Coronado. The pier is small (377 feet long) and part of the boarding area for the Coronado Ferry that transports pedestrians between the landing and downtown San Diego. In addition to offering spectacular views of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, downtown skyline and bay, the pier is one of the area's secret fishing spots.
At the Coronado Ferry Landing, you can rent a bike and tour Coronado on its many scenic bike paths. If you have a bike, you can transport it on the ferry and tour downtown's scenic waterfront. The shopping center has a variety of options to enjoy. There are shops and boutiques for men's and women's clothing, designer sunglasses and unique souvenirs. Peohe's restaurant serves up breathtaking views and fresh tropical seafood dishes influenced by Pacific Rim flavors. The menu at Costa Azul Coronado mixes Mexican and California fresh ingredients that are sourced from local farmers and purveyors.
Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier
The Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier is small extending 95 feet from shore, but it has a T-shaped end that is 300 feet wide. Located directly behind the San Diego Convention Center along downtown's dynamic bayfront, Embarcadero Marina Park South has basketball courts, bike paths, exercise stations, public art, and more. The pier is popular for fishing (no license required), walking and enjoying spectacular views of the neighboring marinas, iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge, scenic San Diego Bay, and picturesque Coronado.
The park and pier are a short walk to Seaport Village with more than 50 themed shops featuring art, toys and souvenirs plus casual eateries and fine dining restaurants. You can catch the San Diego Padres nearby at Petco Park. Take a short walk to Downtown's historic Gaslamp Quarter. As you stroll along Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, you can find a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, retail shops, and art galleries.
Imperial Beach Pier
Region: South Bay
The Imperial Beach Pier is San Diego's southernmost pier. Walking down its 1,491 feet of wooden planks awards you with sweeping views of neighboring Mexico, the Coronado Islands, Point Loma peninsula, and the vast Pacific. Fishing is currently allowed on the pier except near the Tin Fish restaurant at its end. Instead of fishing for your meal, Tin Fish can serve you a range of seafood dishes from fish tacos to oyster po' boys.
When visiting Imperial Beach (I.B.), check out the I.B. Outdoor Surf Museum, a public art project located in and around the pier. Below the 10 surfboard benches are plaques that tell the story of what surfing means to the community. If you love nature, make certain to visit the nearby Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center. The estuary is the largest salt-water marsh in Southern California and a great spot to see migratory birds and local wildlife.
Bonus - Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier
Region: La Jolla
The Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier is an icon of UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The modern Scripps Pier was built in 1988, replacing the original pier built in 1916. Today, it is a vital research facility and considered one of the world's largest research piers. In addition to research, the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier serves as a vital teaching tool, with undergraduate and graduate classes visiting the pier to learn about data collection, instrumentation, chemistry of the ocean, and more.
Although suspended temporarily, Scripps Institution of Oceanography offers free historical tours of the pier. The one-hour tours, held one Saturday morning each month, are led by knowledgeable volunteer guides who are eager to show you the most notable features of the pier.
When visiting the pier, stop by the neighboring Caroline's Seaside Café by Giuseppe with a menu motto of "Simple, Fresh and Natural." No visit to the pier would be complete without a stop at the nearby Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The public outreach center for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography features interactive exhibits, spectacular ocean views and more.
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