Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Mission Bay, San Diego

  • Published 2022/06/17

Mission Bay, San Diego, California, is the largest artificial water park in America, so prepare to get tanned and have fun.

As a result, Mission Bay is one of San Diego’s most famous beach areas, thanks to its expansive beach and numerous entertainment options.

Due to its location between Pacific Beach and Mission Bay, you can even visit numerous attractions within a single day.

San Diego is already a gorgeous destination, but Mission Bay’s creation added to its appeal.

It opened the door to several sports such as wakeboarding, jet skiing, sailing, and others.

This location offers several land-based activities, including cycling, picnics, skating, etc.

Europeans first found this paradise in the 1500s and named it Baha Falsa.

Later, Spanish inhabitants renamed it Mission Bay.

Here are the best things to do in Mission Bay, San Diego:

Explore the Balboa Park

Exterior of the grand casa de balboa at Balboa Park

Dancestrokes /

The Balboa Park in Mission Bay is not just the most significant urban park but also a favorite destination for recreation.

It comprises more than 1,000 acres and fifteen institutions, among others, and receives an estimated 14 to 15 million annual visits.

The museums in the park house internationally notable artifacts.

Beautiful flowers in front of Balboa Park's botanical building

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This urban park is well-known for its exquisite displays of seasonal flowers, fair groves of trees, and winding paths through rolling meadows.

Many museums along the Prado in Balboa Park inhabit spectacular Spanish Colonial Revival palaces constructed for the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition.

No one had adopted this elaborately embellished architectural style in the United States before.

A fountain at Balboa Park

f11photo /

Try the Exciting Rides at SeaWorld San Diego

Welcome sign of SeaWorld San Diego

Tada Images /

Pack your essentials and get ready for an exciting ride!

You should visit SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay Park, which is a world-class amusement park.

If you love animals, you will not want to miss seeing 2,500 animals representing four hundred species.

Shamu whale at SeaWorld San Diego

Irina Silvestrova /

The park provides a range of attractions and experiences, including penguin encounters and many others.

SeaWorld is the perfect place for a family vacation.

The park is filled with thrilling marine animal exhibitions, educational activities, thrill rides, and amusement attractions.

You might see a variety of performances and activities such as cultural dances, concerts, and a lot more.

Cute penguins at SeaWorld San Diego

Xiao Li /

Play at the Mission Bay Golf Course and Practice Center

Regardless of your skill level, anyone can participate in this sport.

The Mission Bay Golf Course, where Tiger Woods won the Junior World Championship, is your to-go destination for a complete golf experience.

As a first-time golfer, you should grab the opportunity to try at least one of the courses that Tiger Woods created himself.

The place is an 18-hole executive course and practice facility where you and your family or co-workers can play together.

The 2,719-yard course is on forty-six acres of land in the middle of the city.

Ted Robinson designed the place, the only one in San Diego that features nighttime lighting.

This location is also ideal for a romantic getaway.

Build Sandcastles at the Crown Point Beach

Aerial view of Crown Point Beach

Manuela Durson /

Crown Point Beach is a favorite destination for San Diego families and tourists to spend the day and build sandcastles.

Enjoy your Mission Bay vacation while appreciating the silky sand and breathtaking scenery.

This beach spans the peninsula’s easternmost point in Mission Bay.

Boats on Crown Point Beach's shore

Sara Spohr /

It connects to Crown Point Park, making the attractions accessible if you want a variety of activities.

The park’s plethora of picnic tables is ideal for morning dog walks and children’s fun.

If you have kids with you, bring them to the water and let them build sandcastles.

Dive into the Point Loma Kelp Forest

How about a Mission Bay underwater forest experience?

Off the coast of San Diego, the Point Loma kelp forest is another adventure you do not want to skip.

Many divers visit this area to feel what it’s like living underwater.

Point Loma’s sewage treatment plant discharges through diffusers 4.5 miles offshore in 320 feet of water.

People catch sea urchins and finfish in the forest, for sport and commerce.

Meanwhile, they harvest kelp to manufacture alginates.

Kelp is a type of brown algae rich in minerals and a popular dietary supplement ingredient.

The vast diving community of San Diego relies on this multipurpose resource.

Therefore, the health of this ecosystem affects all members of society.

Go Skiing at the Ski Beach

A gazebo at Ski Beach park

Rosamar /

Ski Beach is another great destination for a family holiday in Mission Bay.

The expansive area at Ski Beach features picnic tables, fire rings, and a running and bicycling trail.

There is a ski resort on the south side of the beach; however, swimming is prohibited there, so you must exercise caution.

Paved pathway at Ski Beach park

Sherry V Smith /

You can also bring your boats and skis to the boat launch and ski area.

Besides the picnic shelter, the beach has a neighboring children’s playground when children get tired of swimming.

Jogging paths are available for individuals who want to stroll or ride their bikes along the shore.

There are numerous conveniences available; however, dogs are strictly prohibited.

Bill Muncey memorial on the grounds of Ski Beach park

Sherry V Smith /

Go Windsurfing at the East Mission Bay Park

You’ll need to plan a trip to Mission Bay Park in San Diego.

This park is the nation’s largest water park, with over 4,000 acres of land and water.

An estimated twenty sandy beaches and eight approved swimming places stretch along Mission Bay’s 27-kilometer shoreline.

A network of waterways and islands is ideal for windsurfers and water skiers at the western end.

You can explore thousands of acres of waterways by swimming, sunbathing, or renting a boat.

Start your journey at the Visitors Information Center near the park’s eastern edge.

Try Kayaking at Santa Clara Point

Sign of Santa Clara Point's launching facility

Rosamar /

Santa Clara Point in Mission Bay is an exceptional location for kayaking.

Santa Clara Point is home to several land and water recreations.

Built in 1952, the Bayfront Park Recreation Center has become well-known for its annual events.

A picnic table overlooking the waters of Santa Clara Point

Rosamar /

The Santa Clara Point Recreation Center features an aquatic center, kayaking facilities, and a diving center.

After a brief warm-up in the fitness facility, guests can also play on the tennis court and basketball court.

Attend short courses to learn windsurfing and rowing, among other water sports.

Don’t worry if you’re a complete beginner.

Aerial view of Santa Clara Point

Rosamar /

Do Land and Water Activities at Sail Bay

Sail Bay is a circular bay that encompasses the whole perimeter of Sail Bay, from Santa Clara Point Recreation Center to Crown Point.

You’ll find numerous grassy areas and picnic tables scattered around the beaches of Sail Bay, making it an ideal spot for picnics.

Likewise, you can try water sports such as snorkeling and surfing.

At low tide, you’ll see exposed sand bars, adding sunbathing and picnicking space.

Don’t forget to enjoy the night music overlooking adjacent resorts.

Walk Your Dog at the Fiesta Island Park

Scenic view of Fiesta Island Park

Dancestrokes /

Fiesta Island Park is a popular destination for dog lovers and their dogs.

This park is a dune-covered island with multiple options for launching small watercraft and a dog beach.

Fiesta Island is a large peninsular park in Mission Bay and a popular location for outdoor activities such as charity walks.

The park allows dogs to run around, whether leashed or not.

Beautiful landscape of Fiesta Island Park

Dancestrokes /

However, you need to keep an eye on your pets.

Around the island’s beachfront, the city authorizes only the fire rings they provided.

They are accessible on a first-come, first-served basis.

The island’s eastern side is a five-mile-per-hour zone where recreational water activities are permitted.

Enjoy the Belmont Amusement Park

Aerial view of Belmont Amusement Park's giant dipper rollercoaster

Unwind /

The Belmont Park in Mission Bay is ideal for recreation and enjoyment.

Established in 1925, the Belmont Park combines elements of the 19th-century and contemporary amusement parks.

People touring the Belmont Amusement Park

Sherry V Smith /

The Giant Dipper, bumper cars, and carousel are only a handful of the various attractions.

Three seaside cafés provide hamburgers, waffle cones, ice cream, and hundreds of specialty beers.

This location is suitable for group visits with children.

A carousel at Belmont Amusement Park

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Enjoy Wine and Cheese at the Firefly Eatery and Bar

In Mission Bay, you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy the finest cuisine while gazing at the ocean.

The Firefly Eatery and Bar overlooks the bay, giving customers a pleasant atmosphere while enjoying the restaurant’s famous daily breakfast.

As you converse with your companions, order a variety of traditional and contemporary cocktails.

The standard menu for all-day dining features delectable appetizers such as fresh guacamole and chips and an artisan cheese platter.

You can also try their popular chicken and cheese appetizers.

Shop at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Welcome sign of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Ken Wolter /

The Old Town Park is a state-protected historical park that recalls the early days of San Diego from 1820 to 1880.

In 1971, the National Register of Historic Places listed this historic place on the record.

There are a variety of accessible historical buildings and museums in this neighborhood.

Entryway of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park market

Idealphotographer /

This park in Mission Bay is accessible to tourists who wish to learn more about San Diego’s history or admire its architecture.

Casa de Estudillo is one of the best adobe haciendas in the state, and the city has restored it as Heritage Park.

The streets feature over a hundred shops and boutiques and numerous cafés that you will surely want to visit.

Of course, don’t go home without buying something good from this place.

Pottery store at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Kit Leong /

Eat Pizza by the Beach at the Plaza Del Sol

Plaza Del Sol is where to go if you want a laid-back, casual area to chill out with friends and family.

This outdoor terrace at the Mission Bay Resort in San Diego has a fun atmosphere, ideal for outdoor group activities.

Try their popular pizza by the beach, and enjoy your meal in the eatery’s lively atmosphere.

You must also try the Blanco pizza, which mixes delicious ingredients such as crème di pecorino, grilled artichoke, and your favorite pizza toppings.

Plaza Del Sol provides everything you need for an afternoon snack or an evening supper with friends: companionship and delicious food.

Keep Learning at the Fleet Science Center

Exterior of the Fleet Science Center

Sherry V Smith /

Children will love the instructive museums in Mission Bay.

There are numerous museums in the area where your children may engage their curious minds.

Start your rounds at Fleet Science Center, where your child can train their minds and get curious about the world around them.

Building sign of Fleet Science Center

Lester Balajadia /

Let your kids do interactive activities and imaginative play spaces at the New Children’s Museum in San Diego.

Recent New Children’s Museum exhibits focus on recycling and food sustainability through kid-friendly painting and craft projects.

Many of these museums provide toddler areas where even the tiniest visitors can join the fun.

A water fountain in front of Fleet Science Center

Sherry V Smith /

Learn Something at the Museums for Children

Children will enjoy a variety of instructive museums in Mission Bay.

There are numerous museums around where your children may engage their curious minds.

You can start your rounds at Fleet Science Center, where your child can train their minds and get curious about what they see.

Interactive activities and imaginative play spaces are available at the New Children’s Museum in San Diego.

Recent New Children’s Museum exhibits focused on recycling and food sustainability through kid-friendly painting and craft projects.

Many of these museums provide toddler areas where even the tiniest visitors can participate in the fun.

Final Thoughts

Mission Bay is a beautiful day trip destination.

This is a lovely spot to explore if you want to experience the ocean without getting wet.

Gift shops and restaurants provide a range of cuisines, including seafood delicacies, on the boardwalk.

Drop by Mission Bay when you visit San Diego next.

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