Located just minutes from downtown is San Diego's water wonderland, Mission Bay Park. The 4,600-acre aquatic playground is the largest of its kind in the world. Surrounded by 27 miles of meandering shoreline, with a variety of waterways, inlets and islets to explore, Mission Bay is bordered by several beach communities, each with their own distinct vibe. You will quickly discover that this bustling bay area is action packed from sun up to sun down.
Here you can enjoy water sports activities of every kind. From sailing lessons, kite surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding, to jet skiing, wake boarding and everything in between, there’s something for every age and skill-level to enjoy in the water. You can also take a moonlit cruise on Bahia Belle, a sternwheeler fashioned after a Mississippi riverboat that often features live music. On land, families can rent bikes, picnic, and barbecue or celebrate with bonfires right next to the water. Accommodations in the area are plentiful, from high-end luxury resorts to budget friendly hotels. Mission Bay is also home to SeaWorld San Diego, the world-famous marine life adventure park. With awe-inspiring shows, thrilling rides and unforgettable face-to-face animal encounters, kids of all ages will enjoy exploring the wonders and adventures of the sea. If sport fishing is your passion, a number of operators depart from Mission Bay with options for half-day, full-day and multi-day trips. During the twice yearly seasons, many of these same boats also offer whale watching tours.
With an ambiance of an eternal spring break, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are the gathering place of San Diego's 20-something crowd. Along the 3-mile oceanfront boardwalk, you'll find funky surf shops, beach bars, cafes and nightclubs. A variety of upscale resorts and family hotels are also scattered along the coast. Be sure to visit Mission Beach’s iconic Belmont Park amusement park and entertainment center for a ride on the Giant Dipper roller coaster or game of laser tag. Surfers should test their skills at the WaveHouse.
With a funky vibe all its own, Ocean Beach features a quirky collection of antique and vintage stores, bars, restaurants, artist studios and eccentric local haunts, most of which can be found on Newport Avenue, the main road through town. And if you’re looking to enjoy the beach with your canine friend, there is also a pet friendly dog beach with dog wash establishments within walking distance.
Located between Ocean Beach and Point Loma you'll find Sunset Cliffs, and the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre recreational area that extends 1-1/2 miles along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline and features park lands, dramatic cliff formations and coastal sea caves. Access to the water here is limited but the setting provides some of the most picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean. Sunset Cliffs lives up to its name and has long served as an attraction for San Diego residents as well as visitors, who gather on the cliffs each dusk to watch the most amazing sunsets you’ll ever see. Just be sure to stand a safe distance away from the edge, as the cliffs are slippery and the surf is powerful.
Mission Bay is part of the recreational Mission Bay Park, the largest man-made aquatic park in the country, consisting of 4,235 acres with an equal split of land and water. The surrounding beaches include Pacific Beach to the North, Mission Beach to the West and Ocean Beach to the South. Main access to the area is from the I-5 and I-8 freeways. Mission Bay is approximately 8 miles from the airport with an average drive time of less than 15 minutes. The area is serviced by multiple bus routes and Old Town Trolley Tours offers a option for this area with on and off privileges in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.
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