Location: Mission Beach (8 Miles / 15 Minutes Northwest of Downtown San Diego)
Features: Most Popular Beach in San Diego for the Young and the Young-at-Heart; Place to See and Be Seen; Boardwalk; Beach Volleyball; Amusement Park
Mission Beach Highlights: The three-mile stretch of wide sandy beaches from Pacific Beach in the north to South Mission Beach is the most popular beach area in San Diego. At the center of Mission Beach is Belmont Park, a small amusement park with a wooden roller coaster, games and beach souvenir shops. It is also where you will find most of the dining options available in the Mission Beach area.
Both the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach communities consist of vacation rentals, college students, and the young-at-heart who enjoy the active lifestyle opportunities provided by the beaches and adjacent Mission Bay Park. The young crowds make this beach area the place to see and be seen.
At the south end of Mission Beach is a basketball court and several beach volleyball courts. It is a good place to find pick-up games. However, the waits for games can take a while on weekends, especially during the summer months.
Lifeguard stations next to Belmont Park and at the south end near Avalon Court are manned year-round. Other lifeguard stations are only open during the summer months.
A narrow boardwalk extends the entire length of the beach area. There are a handful of bars, restaurants, and shops along the way. The area from Belmont Park heading north to Pacific Beach is the most crowded.
The boardwalk heading south to the end of Mission Beach is a little less crowded. Visitors navigating the narrow boardwalk will have to watch out for a combination of joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters.
For those looking for a quieter beach outing, head across the street to Mission Bay Park where the crowds are much smaller, the beaches are fairly empty, and the water is much calmer. Mission Bay Park also offers a number of water sports and boating.
Concrete fire pits are available in various locations for visitors to create an evening bonfire. You must bring your own wood or charcoal.
Beach Rentals – You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas as well as bikes, in-line skates, and surf boards from Cheap Rentals. For additional information on beach and bay rentals, visit our page about Mission Bay Water Sports.
Beach Weather – Visitors can enjoy the beaches in San Diego year-round. However, finding ideal beach weather during the winter and spring is hit or miss. The best beach weather occurs from July to October. Ocean water temperatures are usually around 70 degrees during the summer and 60 degrees during the winter. Learn more about San Diego weather.
Food – Most food options for Mission Beach are around Belmont Park. There are only a couple of restaurants offering full menus with the others offering bar food options. You will find a handful of bars and laid-back restaurants along Mission Boulevard (fewer options heading south, more options heading north). Pacific Beach to the north offers many more dining options.
Information on Visiting Mission Beach
Directions from Google Maps to 3146 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109. (This is the address for Belmont Park where you will find the largest parking lots serving Mission Beach.)
Traffic – Mission Beach is 2.5 miles from the I-8 and 4 miles from the I-5. There are only a few traffic lights along the surface streets leading from the highways to the beach area. However, traffic can be very bad on summer weekends, especially holiday weekends as visitors head to one of the most popular beach areas in San Diego County. If you encounter heavy traffic, consider parking at one of the free Mission Bay Park parking lots along the way and walking or rollerblading to Belmont Park. There are continuous sidewalks and trails throughout Mission Bay and Mission Beach. (Learn more about San Diego traffic.)
Parking – After making a left from West Mission Bay Drive onto Mission Boulevard, you will see very large parking lots on both sides of the road. These spots are free and fill up quickly on summer weekends. You will find additional parking lots a mile south where Mission Boulevard ends. You can park here or find street parking along the way. Street parking is free in Mission Beach.
Transit – Buses serve Mission Beach. (See San Diego Transit Information for bus schedules and information for the online Transit Planner.)