Situated between La Jolla to the north and Mission Beach to the south, Pacific Beach (P.B. to locals) has its own distinct identity. The area was used as a Navy base during World War II, but during the 1960s it emerged as a thriving neighborhood. Today, there are a variety of bars, restaurants and nightclubs that attract a generally young crowd of professionals and students.
The daylight hours at P.B. are laid-back but there’s never a lack of activity. On sunny afternoons, there’s always something happening on the sand: volleyball, picnics, live music and a bevy of sun worshippers. Sample some of the excellent food from across the border at one of the food stalls, or treat yourself to a cool afternoon drink at one of the upscale hotels or restaurants with a view.
In the evening, head to one of the many bars and nightclubs for a night out, California style. Garnet Avenue and Mission Boulevard are the main shopping and dining precincts.
Pacific Beach has a designated surfing area, Tourmaline Surfing Park, considered ideal for novices because of its gentle waves. There is a patrolled swimming area further to the north. To stay out of the water completely, make your way up the boardwalk on a bike or blades, or drop a line in off Crystal Pier. You may well be in luck — these mild Pacific waters are home to some sizable fish.
As with most of the beaches in the area, you’ll find a good range of facilities at Pacific Beach, with bathrooms and showers along the boardwalk. There are also fire rings along the shore, but you’ll need to be quick to get one in summer. Parking is scarce at Pacific Beach, so consider taking public transportation. San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System has a few bus services from downtown to Pacific Beach.