Do you prefer the sound of Navy jets or barking sea lions? A bonfire or beach volleyball? A shot of wheat grass or tequila with a lime chaser? Birkenstocks or Jimmy Choos? Hard bodies or a rocky coastline? Tacos or tapas? Whatever your preference, central San Diego has a beach for you…
Graced with a cove that rivals the Mediterranean, La Jolla will ignite all of your senses. Rent a kayak at La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks and paddle up close to sea lions or descend the stairs onto the tide pools and spy an octopus. Plop down on an eclectic couch of yore at the The Living Room Cafe and savor a café mocha and a delectable pastry. Descend 145 steps to the inside of Sunny Jim’s Cave. Bask in the sun while meditating to the sounds of sea birds and crashing waves on the lawn of Scripps Park or a slice of beach carved into the rocky coastline. Bite into a juicy gourmet burger at Smashburger or a tasty carne asada burrito at Alfonso’s. It’s likely you will exchange the contents of your wallet for something at one of the many upscale boutiques or, best of all, one of Peter Lik’s latest creations. And, do not pass up the opportunity to sip on a cocktail at George’s at the Cove while gazing at the spectacular view. Surfing, snorkeling, shopping, scuba diving, sipping and savoring, or just sunbathing…La Jolla is simply stunning.
The Pacific Beach Boardwalk is the temporary home to a multitude of personalities making for some top notch people watching. You’ll cover more ground if you cruise on rented inline skates from Pacific Beach Surf Shop. Catch a real wave or one created solely for your pleasure at the Wave House in Mission Beach. Don’t miss the best ride of all…on the iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster in Belmont Park, which has been generating screams since 1925. Cross the street to Mission Bay for some calmer waters that are ideal for SUP boarding or jet skiing. Back at the Pacific, beach volleyball and bonfire pits provide for plenty of free pleasure. The multitude of eclectic shops lining Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue cater to the budgets of the local populace (college students with parental credit cards in hand). If you’re here on a Tuesday, protect your wallet from even the smallest dent and gorge on tacos. I guarantee you won’t have difficulty finding a bar or pub to enjoy a pitcher of local beer. After some live music at Rock Out Karaoke, there’s a late (weekend) night hot dog waiting for you at three Mateo’s Hot Spots. If you’re looking for the iconic Southern California beach, look no further.
If bohemian is more your vibe, Ocean Beach (locally known as “OB”) is your place. Smoke shops, clothing stores filled with all things tie dye, antique stores, new age boutiques, and tattoo parlors line the streets of this chill beach community once known as the Haight-Ashbury of San Diego. OB has been one of the city’s better surf spots since the 1960‘s, and is home to a few iconic surfers. Take a walk on the longest concrete pier on the West coast and spend some time exploring the nearby tide pools. If you’re hungry, grab a slice of Italian pie from Surf Rider Pizza Cafe, a hot Italian meatball sandwich from Poma’s Italian Deli, or a burger from Hodad’s. A Cuban dessert and a cafe con leche from Azucar is a must. If you own a dog, let ‘em loose at the leash free beach at the northern end of town. At the end of the day, take a walk to Sunset Cliffs and sit down…the sun will give you a show you won’t forget.
If you have your 2.5 kids and a wagon full of sand toys in the back of your mini van, drive over the bridge to the “island”. Coronado’s expansive beach has just the right size waves for the little ones…and, the Navy jets flying overhead will ensure you don’t fall asleep on the job. Here you won’t find a rambunctious boardwalk or a single tattoo parlor…but, you will find several patriotic barber shops, the historical (and purportedly haunted) Hotel del Coronado, and a plethora of independently owned and reasonably priced boutiques and eateries. The flat terrain is conducive to a smooth ride on a gear-less beach cruiser rented from Little Sam’s Island & Beach. If you’re a fitness fanatic, the four-mile bike path down the Silver Strand will gift you the challenge you crave. Go back to school at the Coronado Surfing Academy on the Pacific side or SUP Coronado on the bay. While visiting Ferry Landing, gorge on corn fritters smeared with honey butter and tender barbecued ribs at Lil Piggy’s BBQ or, if a burger is more to your liking, sink your teeth into one of the county’s best at the kid-friendly Danny’s Palm Bar & Grill. For dessert, treat yourself to a gourmet cupcake from Coronado Cupcakery or a gelato comparable to Italy’s own at Nado Gelato. As sunset approaches, hoof or pedal it over to the Sun Deck at the Hotel Del Coronado, find a front row seat, and sip on a cocktail as the sun melts into the Pacific.