Experience the laid back, surfer’s town that is Pacific Beach. Its two miles of coastline between La Jolla and Mission beach are always bustling with surfing locals, families playing at the beach, and visitors taking in all the sights. The boardwalk in PB (as it’s called by locals) is the best display of beach culture in San Diego. You’ll find college students studying in beach-side cafes, residents riding beach cruisers, surfers running to get to the water, tattooed skateboarders weaving through the crowd, and children roller skating by. Aside from outdoor activities, Pacific Beach is home to a variety of fun restaurants, privately owned boutiques, hole-in-the-wall food spots, and great nightlife.
Pacific Beach was developed from 1886-1888 by David C. Reed, a politician from California. Originally, the town had a racetrack, college of letters, and railway. These were eventually removed to make way for a population boom in Pacific Beach. With this boom came a significant rise in property value—from $12,000 to millions in 50 years. Today, you will find a vast array of residents, with everyone from college students to high income families.
– Most of the east-west streets in Pacific Beach are named after precious stones—Diamond, Emerald, Turquoise, and Tourmaline to name a few.
– The first Rubio’s was opened by Ralph Rubio in Pacific Beach in 1983. You can still get a fish taco there today!
– Crystal Pier is the only California pier to offer accommodations on the pier itself. Book your stay online here.
With perfect weather all year round, Pacific Beach is a great place to play outdoors. Start off by seeing all the sights of this beach town on a Segway. Segway of Pacific Beach offers guided tours along the boardwalk and into Mission Beach. Their skilled guides provide informative and entertaining commentary and can teach you how to master a Segway in minutes!
Another great tour through Pacific Beach is the La Jolla Freefall by San Diego Bike and Kayak. Starting from Mount Soledad in La Jolla, zip down the mountain on a bicycle, passing through Pacific Beach as you reach sea level. To explore on your own, you can rent a bike and pedal around on your own. Click here for a coupon!
Tourmaline Beach, in north PB is a great surfer’s-only beach. The long, slow, rolling waves here are excellent for long boarders or beginners. For bigger waves, head to Crystal Pier, where spectators watch the locals tear up the water from above. All along the boardwalk, you will find a wide, sandy beach that is perfect for lying in the sun, throwing a football, and swimming in the water. Just make sure to look for the black and yellow checkered flag designating swimming and surfing zones.
Make a stop at Kate Sessions Park. Pack a picnic and bring the whole family! Kate Sessions Park is a great place to play a game of pick-up soccer, fly a kite, or play hide and seek between the trees.
Shopping and Dining
Shopping in Pacific Beach is mostly in the form of small boutiques and vintage thrift shops. Walk up and down Garnet Avenue and you’ll find rows of these cute shops.
If you’re hungry, you can find dining options that fit any price range. The Broken Yolk Café has a family oriented atmosphere and offers great home-cooked meals. Kono’s is a local’s favorite, with great breakfast options and a line that stretches out the door every weekend. The Tower 23 Hotel has a nicer restaurant, JRDN, which overlooks the ocean.
Pacific Beach is one of San Diego’s most popular spots for nightlife, giving the Gaslamp a run for its money. Here, you’ll find a younger, more casual crowd walking from bar to bar along Garnet Avenue. PB Bar and Grill has great nightly drink specials and is filled with UCSD and SDSU students nightly. If you’re looking for dancing at a classier bar, try Johnny V on a weekend night. The Tavern and Typhoon are two locals’ favorites, with pool, some dancing, and a fun crowd. For Taco Tuesday, an awesome San Diego tradition, try Fred’s—get there early though, the wait for their fabulous $2 tacos can be up to 2 hours!