Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Mission Beach, San Diego

  • Published 2022/03/19

San Diego remains one of the trendiest vacation destinations in the United States for so many reasons.

If you’re planning to travel to this southern California gem soon, there’s a particular place that you should definitely visit.

That place is no other than Mission Beach.

This tiny neighborhood in San Diego offers a contrast to its bustling urban environment through its beautiful white-sand beach that attracts beachgoers, sunbathers, and surfers.

Mission Beach is nestled on a sandbar in-between the Pacific Ocean and neighboring communities such as Mission Bay.

One of its focal points is its scenic boardwalk, overlooking its beautiful beach fronting the vast Pacific Ocean.

In addition, it has a famous amusement park and a stone’s throw away from San Diego’s most popular tourist destinations.

There is something for everyone in Mission Beach, whether you’re a beachgoer, a surfer, or a casual tourist who wants to have a great time.

So, here are the 15 best things to do in Mission Beach, San Diego:

Engage in Waterborne Activities in Mission Beach

A wave house pool at Mission Beach

Greta Gabaglio /

It’s a no-brainer that your activities upon arriving in Mission Beach are mainly centered on waterborne activities.

So, seize every opportunity to enjoy the sea through surfing, stand-up paddle, swimming, or kite-surfing.

If you’re not familiar with them, no worries because there are numerous surfing schools you can enroll in.

Empty paddle boards at the shore of Mission Beach

Rosamar /

To name some of the best surfing lessons you can take up are Surfari Surf School, Pacific Surf, and Mission Beach Surfing School.

Aside from surfing lessons, these local companies also offer other outdoor sports lessons.

At the same time, they offer surf and swimming equipment rentals.

It would be perfect to learn a thing or two about surfing before hitting the waves in Mission Beach.

A person surfing on the wave house pool of Mission Beach

Greta Gabaglio /

Have Fun at the Belmont Amusement Park

Aerial view of Belmont Amusement Park

bonandbon /

Mission Beach is also home to Belmont Amusement Park, a key attraction in San Diego that has been entertaining locals and visitors since 1925.

Belmont Amusement Park features dozens of rides, from the most thrilling roller coasters to the all-time classic carousel.

A carousel in Belmont Amusement Park

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

What makes this amusement park a must-visit attraction is its free admission, and you only need to pay for the rides.

In addition, the Belmont Amusement Park is also highly accessible from Mission Beach’s beachfront, which makes it a convenient attraction to visit.

Part of a rollercoaster in Belmont Amusement Park

Lowe Llaguno /

When you’re there, don’t miss riding the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which has been running since 1925 along with the other rides.

Lastly, this amusement park is loaded with cafes and restaurants that offer various sweet treats and gourmet food.

Booths inside Belmont Amusement Park

Sherry V Smith /

Stroll through the Ocean Front Walk

View of the Ocean Front Walk

bonandbon /

If you want a relaxing experience, stroll along the scenic 2.8-mile paved trail called the Ocean Front Walk in Mission Beach.

It’s the best way to enjoy the neighborhood’s beautiful coastline and the Pacific Ocean.

People riding bikes on Ocean Front Walk

Sherry V Smith /

Breathe fresh air while you stroll along with this beautiful location that takes you to the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach all the way to the South Mission Beach Park.

People walking along Ocean Front Walk

bonandbon /

Aside from the usual stroll, many exciting activities await you along the paved trail, while it also features a good mix of restaurants, bars, and shops on the opposite side.

Aside from relaxation, strolling through this popular location is one of the best ways to get yourself acquainted with Mission Beach’s beauty and locality.

Person riding a bike along Ocean Front Walk

Conchi Martinez /

Cast Your Line on the Mission Bay Jetty Channel

The Mission Bay Jetty Channel is a popular surfing and fishing destination along the coastline of Mission Bay.

It is less crowded than the main beach area, which makes it an ideal spot for a relaxing fishing session with the hopes of catching something at the end of the day.

Many anglers cast their lines along the coastline, hoping to catch some bass or some halibut, the most abundant fish species in the area.

Moreover, fishing in this area doesn’t require a fishing license.

Watch or Play Sports on the Sand

Volleyball nets on Mission beach sand

Trevor Fairbank /

South Mission Beach is a popular place for outdoor sports activities such as sand volleyball, basketball, and the Over-The-Line (OTL).

The OTL is a modified baseball/softball intended to be played on sand.

When you’re up for some volleyball or basketball game during your visit to Mission Beach, this is the best place to go.

People playing volleyball on mission beach sand

Dogora Sun /

You will likely play with some locals or fellow visitors at this vast playing area with numerous courts.

Meanwhile, you can watch the OTL tournament, which offers you a unique sporting experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Overall, South Mission Beach is a must-visit place if you want to get active and want to have an enjoyable experience at the same time.

People playing basketball in Mission beach

Dogora Sun /

Be Amazed at the SeaWorld San Diego

Aerial view of SeaWorld San Diego

Roka /

The SeaWorld San Diego is a well-known marine park that features majestic marine animals, making it a must-visit attraction in Mission Beach.

The SeaWorld San Diego is located six minutes or two-miles southeast of Mission Beach, making it convenient to reach.

People watching an orca show in SeaWorld

Leon7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This famous ocean park is home to dolphins, sharks, orcas, walruses, otters, sea turtles, seals, and other marine animals.

In addition, the SeaWorld San Diego is also home to a 150-foot-tall roller coaster called the “Electric Eel” that is also worthy of checking out.

Overall, SeaWorld San Diego is a perfect place to visit in Mission Beach if you want to have a memorable experience, especially with your family.

An orca in SeaWorld San Diego

DaBler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drop by the De Anza Cove

The De Anza Cove, located along N. Mission Bay Drive, is another public park near Mission Beach known for its vast open field adjacent to the Mission Bay Golf Course.

Aside from its vast open field that is perfect for outdoor recreation, this park also has a beautiful beachfront for swimming, beach volleyball, and various sports activities.

In addition, there is also a boat launch, picnic area, and multi-use paved path that ensures you an enjoyable outdoor experience.

If you’re up for more picnics and outdoor activities with your family, visit De Anza Cove Park.

Experience Water Sports at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center

Far view of the Mission Bay Aquatic Center

Rosamar /

The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is a popular place for water sports enthusiasts.

It is home to numerous groups and companies that offer various water sports such as wakeboarding, sailing, surfing, waterskiing, rowing, kayaking, and more.

If you want an exhilarating experience in Mission Beach, you should definitely visit this place.

Aerial view of Mission Bay Aquatic Center

Rowman25, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You will surely get your hands full of water sports activities that are guaranteed to give you an enjoyable experience.

The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is situated along Santa Clara Place, east of Mission Beach.

Experience Water Jetpack in Mission Beach

If you want to add a few extreme sports to your Mission Beach travel adventure, experience Jetpack America’s water jetpack.

This unique attraction lets you hover more than 30-feet above the water by wearing its powerful jetpack propulsion.

Of course, this kind of outdoor activity is not for the faint of heart, so if you dare to do it, visit Jetpack America’s office along Santa Clara Place.

It’s a must-do water sports activity while you’re in Mission Beach.

But make sure you don’t have altophobia because you will find yourself hovering a bit high above the water.

Unwind at the Bonita Cove Park

Chairs under an umbrella at Bonita Cove Park

Rosamar /

Bonita Cove Park is a charming park to visit and have a nice picnic with your family.

This park is situated along W. Mission Bay Drive, which features a kids’ playground, a beautiful beachfront, barbeque pits, and picnic areas.

If you’re planning to have a picnic with your family, Bonita Cove Park is an ideal place to visit nearby Mission Beach.

Lifeguard station in Bonita Cove Park

Rosamar /

In addition, this park is near to various restaurants, cafes, and bars, so you won’t have problems getting food and drinks while having a picnic there.

Overall, Bonita Cove Park is a great place to unwind and watch a beautiful sunset in the afternoon.

Test Your Skills at the Mission Bay Golf Course

The Mission Bay Golf Course nestled along N. Mission Bay Drive is a unique course that offers after-dark golf sessions.

It’s one of the very few golf courses in California that offer after-dark golf sessions at its 18-hole executive course.

If you’re up for some golf sessions while in Mission Beach, you should definitely check out Mission Bay Golf Course with your friends or family.

This golf course guarantees you to have fun and excitement, especially when you try its golf after-dark sessions.

Go on a Food Trip to Mission Beach

A barbecue restaurant at mission beach

Edward Fielding /

Mission Beach might be known for its beautiful beach and coastline and its laid-back environment, but it is also home to a mix of restaurants that are worth trying out.

So, make sure to include having a food trip when you’re in Mission Beach to satisfy your cravings after a whole day of activities.

Some of the restaurants you should not miss checking out are Mission Beach Original Steakhouse which has been around the community since 1951.

It serves delicious steaks, shrimp cocktails, Alaskan King Crab legs, and wedge salads.

On the other hand, the Mission Café is a popular coffeehouse that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring Chino-Latino cuisines.

Their Mission French toast and their brewed coffee are their must-try menu items.

In addition, Cannonball, a restaurant in Belmont Amusement Park, is also an excellent restaurant to dine in because of its fresh seafood such as sashimi, nigiri, and sushi.

Go on a Scuba Diving through the Wreck Alley

A mile off the coast of Mission Beach is a diving spot popularly known as the ‘Wreck Alley,’ which is home to numerous sunken boats lying on the ocean floor 60-feet below the surface.

If you want to experience scuba diving in Mission Beach, this is the perfect diving spot you need to check out.

Aside from the sunken boats, Wreck Alley is also home to the Naval Ocean Systems Center tower that got sunk from a rogue wave back in 1988.

Today, these remains serve as an artificial reef for marine life and underwater attraction in Mission Beach.

Lastly, numerous scuba diving teams offer scuba tours to Wreck Alley if you want to see this diving spot.

Tour Mission Beach on a Bike, Electric Bike or Scooter

People touring mission beach

Sherry V Smith /

A fun way to visit Mission Beach’s attractions is on a bike, scooter, or electric bike.

Mission Beach has dozens of local rentals that offer bicycles, scooters, and electric bikes to provide tourists with a more convenient way to visit its attractions.

People riding bikes, and walking at mission beach

bonandbon /

If you’re looking for bike rentals, visit Pacific Beach E-Bikes, Cheap Rentals, Coastal e-Bike Tours & Rentals, Ray’s Rentals Mission Beach, Mission Beach Rentals at Belmont, Boardwalk Electric Rides, and Rad Action Sports.

Each bike rentals offer hourly and day rates, depending on how long you’re planning to rent the bike while touring around Mission Beach.

A person riding a bike at mission beach

Trevor Fairbank /

Taste Various Craft Beers from Local Breweries in Mission Beach

Mission Beach is also home to numerous craft beer breweries that serve locals and visitors top-notch craft beer and ale, with most of them are known throughout San Diego.

With that in mind, you should also add brewery hopping to your itinerary while in Mission Beach.

When you’re ready to have a good time, visit Mike Hess Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, Modern Times Beer, and Amplified Ale Works, which offer various signature craft beers at their respective taprooms in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

Just a reminder, though, that your mission is not to get wasted but rather experience the different flavors of its signature craft beer.

So, drink moderately and, of course, enjoy the experience.

Final Thoughts

Mission Beach is a great place to visit for a short vacation, considering it’s a few minutes’ drives from San Diego’s city center.

This small community nestled on a sandbar has more to offer than its beautiful beach.

It is an excellent destination for water sports activities at the same time it’s a nice place to unwind.

Mission Beach has something for everyone, whether you’re an avid beachgoer or an average tourist.

If you find this post useful, make sure to share this on your social media or with your fellow travelers.

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