San Diego, CA

Pacific Beach Guide: San Diego, California

Hungry Hong Kong

If you're craving laidback beach vibes, picturesque sunsets, and lively beachfront activities, Pacific Beach is a must stop during your visit to San Diego.  Explore the vibrant and eccentric boardwalk, get active on the sandy shores, grab a coffee with a side of whale watching, and enjoy an ice cold beer at sunset.  The area is known to draw young surfers and sunbathers looking for a good time so be ready to meet friendly locals and join the fun during your stay.  There are are huge variety of accommdation and dining options for all tastes and all of San Diego's beautiful sights will be within easy access from its sandy shores.

Things to Do:

  • Ride a bike on the Oceanfront Boardwalk:

Pacific Beach's boardwalk spans 3.2 miles and is the perfect spot for an easy and scenic bike ride.  Stop in one of the many bike shops in the area and rent one for the duration of your stay.   Start at North Pacific Beach and end up at Mission Beach Jetty for the full experience.  You'll spot plenty of cool spots to relax with a coffee, lounge on the beach, or grab a few tacos during lunch.  

  • Crystal Pier at Sunset:

Built in the 1920's, Crystal Pier is a romantic and tranquil spot to take a leisurely stroll and admire Pacific Beach's colourful sunsets.  The quiet boardwalk gives optimal views of the local surfers and in January it's a recommended spot for whale spotting.  A simple bait shop at the end of the pier rents and sells supplies if you want to try your hand at fishing while you admire the views.

  • Surf at Tourmaline Surfing Park Beach:

This stretch of sand sits at the border of Pacific Beach and La Jolla and is the ideal spot to catch some waves with the locals. Tourmaline is known for its low rolling waves and attracts many beginners to the tempting and manageable swells. Amenities include public restrooms, lifeguards, showers, and plenty of picnic spots if you just want to relax and watch others ride the waves.

  • Beach Yoga:

There's no better setting for yoga than in the great outdoors. Bird Rock Yoga offers outdoor classes on Pacific Beach, so you can practice and enjoy panoramic sea views.  They have tuition for all levels, private one on one training, and even classes that take place at sunset.  Staying fit during vacation never looked so good.

What to Eat:

  • Oscar's Mexican Seafood:

You can't visit San Diego without eating tacos and Oscar's serves some of the best fish tacos around.  Choose from smoked fish, octopus, surf and turf, and even spicy shrimp tacos.  Don't miss their signature ceviche dishes, delicious homemade pinto beans, and the variety of mouthwatering sauces. Everything tastes better paired with a Mexican soda and eaten with your feet in the sand.  

  • Rocky's Crown Pub

Arguably the best burger we've ever tasted , Rocky's Crown Pub is a must for those who are craving a no frills version of the hearty meal.  The simple and casual establishment serves juicy, gigantic, classic American cheeseburgers that you'll dream about for years to come.   There aren't any fancy sauces or creative recipes, but that is the best part about these reliably delicious burgers.  Available in 1/3 or 1/2 pound and served with a thick slice of yellow American cheese, you'll be in love after just one bite. Fries are extra and they have plenty of beers on draft if you're feeling thirsty.

  • Dave's Hot Chicken

This popular chain has a prime spot on Pacific Beach and serves the most addictive and fiery chicken tenders you won't be able to stop eating.   Spice levels range from the unbearable "Reaper" to a mild "no spice" and are all served with sliced bread, pickles, and the signature Dave's sauce. Make sure to order the cheese fries and kale slaw to cool down your tastebuds and try a variety of heat levels to see which one suits you best.

  • Kono's Cafe

This is the best stop for good strong coffee and a generous hangover breakfast. The menu is affordable, portions are huge, and they're open everyday from 7am.  You can't go wrong with fluffy pancakes topped with butter, thick french toast, and the rashers of bacon that adorn each heaving plate.   The best part are the sea views and outdoor tables so you can get sunshine, fresh air, and traditional comfort food.

Where to Stay:

  • Tower23 Hotel

Prime boardwalk location, sleek modern design, and sea facing rooms are a few of the reasons stylish couples are flocking to Tower23 Hotel.  The boutique property boast five star amenities, luxurious suites, and decadent deep baths perfect for a beach getaway.   You are only a short walk to all the restaurants and bars in the area and the sandy shores are right on your front step.  They also rent out bikes, skateboards, can book yoga sessions, and even offer in-suite spa sessions for the ultimate Californian beach getaway.

  • The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Family friendly and located on a secluded bay with a wealth of amenities, this is an ideal choice for those who want to be further from the parties but have all of Pacific Beach within easy reach. Children will love the Polynesian theme, and spacious, sea facing rooms make for a picture perfect beach vacation.  Relax beside their refreshing pool or grab a sun lounger on the beach while the kids kayak, stand-up paddle board, and build sandcastles.  Their on site restaurant serves seasonal, fresh seafood, and plenty of options for picky eaters. You'll have all of Pacific Beach and San Diego at your fingertips but still can enjoy a full, luxurious trip in the resort alone.  

  • Pacific Terrace Hotel

We love this intimate boutique hotel featuring rustic cozy rooms, sea views, and a refreshing pool only steps from Pacific Beach's famous boardwalk.  Set on a sandy bluff you can't beat the stunning location and friendly service.  The elegant, vintage style rooms are suitable for idyllic romantic stays, and the sea facing balconies offer inspiring sunsets each evening. A great choice if you want a more personal and boutique feel while staying on Pacific Beach.

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We are a full time travelling family, world schooling our kids one trip at a time. Check out our articles to find the best street food, world class Michelin star restaurants, five star resorts, far flung beaches, and tips on travelling with kids and homeschooling.


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