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7 Beaches for Nighttime Bonfires

A fun and memorable SoCal pastime

After a day of swimming, surfing and sunbathing, there is no better way to enjoy a San Diego evening than relaxing next to a crackling bonfire on the beach with family and friends.

Many of San Diego's popular beaches come equipped with fire pits that are available for use year-round. Nighttime beachgoers can bring their hot dogs and marshmallows to roast or stop by a nearby eatery for a delicious takeout meal to enjoy by the fire.

Below is a list of 7 beaches and nearby eateries which have all the ingredients for a fun, memorable nighttime bonfire in San Diego County.

1. La Jolla Shores

There is nothing like a bonfire on family friendly La Jolla Shores, known for its mild surf and wide sandy beach. You can choose from six fire pits along the shore. La Jolla Shores is perfect for a relaxing evening under the stars after a day of kayaking along La Jolla Cove or an invigorating paddle board or surfing lesson.

Nearby Eats

Within a short walk from the beach, Avenida De La Playa is lined with markets, delis and restaurants offering a variety of takeout beverages and food. The award-winning Galaxy Cantina & Grill has delicious Mexican food like mouthwatering tacos and tasty churros perfect for a nighttime snack next to a blazing fire.

2. Mission Bay

Mission Bay Park's 27 miles of coastline offer many beaches that provide fire pits for bonfires. Playa Pacifica, a cozy little beach park, boasts a sandy shore that wraps around a cove known as Leisure Lagoon, a perfect spot for swimming, picnics and sunbathing. At night, it's a quiet park and great place to enjoy a bonfire with family or a small group of friends. South Shores Park has views of SeaWorld San Diego, picnic tables, a boat ramp, and plenty of fire pits. This is a great place for a bonfire during the summer when SeaWorld's nighttime fireworks light up the sky.

Nearby Eats

Located in the center of Mission Bay at the Paradise Point Resort, the Barefoot Bar & Grill is an iconic waterfront restaurant dating back to 1962. The local hangout has an all-day menu with delicious takeout options like the Classic Barefoot Burger and Blackened Market Fish Sandwich.

3. Pacific and Mission Beaches

Fire pits dot the sand along Pacific Beach (PB) and are popular for sunset bonfires that continue into the night. Local surfers, active beachgoers, college students, and 20 somethings flock during the day to PB creating a vibrant seaside hangout and popular surf spot for the younger set.

The beach scene continues into neighboring Mission Beach which is connected to PB by a three-mile boardwalk that has an endless parade of walkers, runner, bikers, inline-skaters, and people hanging out. Mission Beach also has firepits for a fun-filled bonfire at night.

Nearby Eats

There are abundant options for food and takeout at the various markets, bars, cafes, and restaurants located along the boardwalk and neighboring streets. Lahaina Beach House is your classic beachfront bar with a menu of burgers and tacos, while JRDN restaurant in Tower 23 Hotel offers a more refined fish-driven menu with Lobster Sushi Rolls and Classic Sashimi.

4. Ocean Beach

Numerous fire pits can be found at Ocean Beach City Beach, the main beach in funky Ocean Beach (OB). OB is the epitome of Southern California beach culture and known for its colorful 1960's hippie attitude. Odds of getting a fire pit are good, provided you arrive early in the day. One exception is July 4th when festive crowds can start forming in the early morning hours. Bonfires along the beach come with a backdrop of the iconic OB Pier. Other amenities include volleyball courts and picnic tables, and neighboring Dog Beach allows pups to frolic 24/7 in the surf throughout the year.

Nearby Eats

Numerous bars, cafes, pizza parlors, markets, and restaurants line Newport Avenue that ends at Ocean Beach City Beach. Hodad's is a famous surf-themed burger joint serving amazing hamburgers for 40 years. The tacos at South Beach Bar & Grill once earned recognition as "America's best fish taco" from Bon Appetit magazine.

5. Shelter Island

The sandy beach along Shelter Island Shoreline Park is small, but the breathtaking views of the downtown skyline, San Diego Bay and picturesque Point Loma can’t be beat. Imagine lighting a bonfire at sunset on the sand with sparkling downtown views in the distance. The mile-long waterfront park features a bayside promenade, fishing pier and boat ramp along with picnic areas, public art and pathways for strolling, biking and skating.

Nearby Eats

Set on a fishing pier above the bay, Fathom Bistro, Bait and Tackle is an unassuming tap house with house-made sausages, gourmet hot dogs, sandwiches, burgers, and salads on the menu. It's a hidden local gem and perfect for takeout meals and snacks to be enjoyed during a fun beach bonfire.

6. Silver Strand State Beach

Located south of the city of Coronado on Highway 75, Silver Strand State Beach has fire pits on both its oceanside and bayside areas. The oceanside is popular for daily beachgoers and overnight campers with RVs, motorhomes and trailers. Beach fire pits are available for cookouts during the summer. Fires must be contained to the fire rings and must be out by closing time (10:00 PM), even if you're spending the night. The calm bayside water, perfect for swimming and sailing, stays warmer on average than the ocean. Gazebos, tables, barbecue pits, and fire rings are available for nighttime bonfires with spectacular San Diego Bay and downtown skyline views.

Nearby Eats

Coronado's charming village center is filled with delis, markets, cafes, and restaurants providing numerous options for bonfire snacks and meals. Burger Lounge is a popular counter-serve burger spot serving grass-fed beef, vegan and fish options, tasty fries, and hand-scooped milkshakes.

7. Moonlight State Beach

The wide, sandy beach of Moonlight State Beach can be found in the Encinitas along San Diego's North County coastline. Family friendly and with great swimming and surfing spots, it's a fun, welcoming place to enjoy a warm, sunny day followed by a nighttime bonfire. Fire pits dot the sand and are available until the beach closes at 10:00 PM. Facilities include volleyball and tennis courts, recreational equipment rentals and a snack bar.

Nearby Eats

If the on-site snack bar doesn't satisfy your cravings, there are plenty of options along nearby S. Coast Highway 101. Delicious pizzas, subs, salads, and desserts can be found at Leucadia Pizzeria – Encinitas. Modern Times Far West Lounge is known for their burgers, wraps and decadent potato side dishes.

Bonus - Coronado Beach

Bonfires on beautiful Coronado Beach have long been a favorite tradition at the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Guests can gather around a private beach bonfire, roast s'mores and enjoy amazing views with the Del's Roast (nightly at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, cost is $195). Fire pits can be reserved for a one-hour experience. Reservations are required, and one pit can accommodate up to 10 guests.

Nearby Eats

Outside food is not permitted. Additional food items can be purchased at ENO Market & Pizzeria or the Beach + Taco Shack, located in the Hotel del Coronado.

Bonfire Tips and Regulations

Here are a few tips and basic regulations to keep in mind about fire pits and bonfire procedures.

  • Fire pits are available on a first come, first served basis. It is recommended you arrive early to secure a spot, especially on holiday weekends.
  • Open beach fires outside containers are prohibited at all San Diego beaches.
  • Fires are not allowed between midnight and 5:00 AM.
  • Wood, charcoal or paper products can be used as fuel. The burning of rubbish is prohibited.
  • Fuel for the fire cannot exceed a height of more than twelve inches above the upper edge of the fire container.
  • Fires must be extinguished before leaving the beach. Coals must be removed or deposited in hot coal containers.
  • Basic regulations can vary at beaches located outside the City of San Diego including Coronado and Encinitas. It is recommended you check each city's fire pit regulations beforehand.

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