Fishing license required to take fish; check fishing zones and updates rules and regulations at wildlife.ca.gov
Check with lifeguard on duty for current ocean conditions
Permanent lifeguard stands year-round
Dogs allowed from 6 PM - 9 AM from April 1st - October 31st and from 4 PM until 9 AM from November 1st - March 31st
Volleyball, Basketball, Surfing, Swimming, Building Sandcastles
Volleyball and Basketball Courts, Bike Paths, Lifeguards, Restrooms, Showers, Fire Rings
Free to visit
Several free parking lots nearby
Bolsa Chica State Beach
El Matador Beach
Mission Beach is a popular neighborhood in San Diego and one of the most popular beaches in Southern California. It offers a laid-back vibe, stunning beach scenery, and a lively boardwalk.
It's a popular spot for sunbathers, surfers, and volleyball players. But, really anyone who's looking for a fun-filled trip to the ocean will likely appreciate all that Mission has to offer. Whether you're looking to relax, enjoy water sports, explore a vibrant nightlife, or a mix – the Mission Beach neighborhood is the ideal destination.
Let's take a look at all there is to know, from its history and attractions to how to get there and answers to common questions.
Mission Beach History
Originally named for Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the two-mile beach sits on a sandbar in San Diego between Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
The community was incorporated in 1914. Then, in 1916, J.M. Asher, also known as the Father of Mission Beach, founded Mission Beach’s Tent City. The waterside community consisted of tents and cabanas that dotted Mission Blvd.
The relaxed nature of the Tent City is where Mission Beach’s carefree vibe was born. Unfortunately, the Tent City disbanded in 1922, and the first master plan for the community was introduced in 1930.
The neighborhood got a boost in 1925 when John D. Spreckles opened the Mission Beach Amusement Center, which is now Belmont Park. The Giant Dipper roller coaster, one of Belmont Park’s main attractions, dates back to the founding days of the park.
Mission Beach is one of San Diego’s most densely populated neighborhoods, and for great reason. That's why it's now one of the most popular destinations in the area for beachgoers.
As its popularity has grown, so has its real estate. The early days of Tent City have evolved into homes
has come a long way in the past century, shifting from the Tent City of the early days to a neighborhood with homes valued in the millions.
Today, Mission Beach is a hotspot for young beachgoers and families.
Getting to Mission Beach
There are a couple of relatively simple ways to get to Mission Beach. You can take the I-5 freeway to Garnette Avenue westwards, then Mission Boulevard south. Or, you can take Seaworld Drive to West Mission Bay Drive.
While most visitors drive and park in one of several free parking lots, there's also a city bus that will take you to the beach.
Where to Stay
You can find several hotels and vacation rentals around the beach and neighboring communities. You can also book an accommodation at another beach nearby or in San Diego. There are plenty of options for all kinds of travelers, whether you're a solo traveler, visiting with family, or taking a friends beach trip. Here are a few top suggestions:
- Bahia Resort Hotel: simple resort close to the ocean and tucked away in the lush Bonita Cove
- Blue Sea Beach Hotel: trendy beachfront hotel
- Campland on the Bay: fun-filled RV and tent campground
One of the best things about visiting Mission Beach is that there is no shortage of things to do. From theme parks and dining to beach activities and shopping, there's something to do for everyone!
South Mission Beach Park
Of course, the biggest draw to the area is the amazing beach. With nearly two miles of sandy shoreline, there's plenty of space to spread out, kick, back and hang out for the day. Many visitors head to the access at South Mission Beach Park, where you can also find beach volleyball, basketball, and more.
No matter what part of the beach to head to, you'll find a slice of paradise that's ideal for surfing, sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles. There are also fire pits for those looking to sit around a fire.
At North Mission Beach, you'll find an indoor and outdoor miniature golf course. It's within walking distance from the coast, so it's the perfect spot to head to before, after, or during your beach day.
SeaWorld San Diego
Located only a few miles from the ocean, SeaWorld San Diego is an exciting place to hang out and one of the most iconic in the area. This animal theme park offers rides, events, animal encounters, and more.
While Belmont Park is another historic amusement park in San Diego, it's the only beachfront theme park. It's a fun-filled beachfront amusement park with tons of things to do, including rides, restaurants, and games.
Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego is a thriving area only about 8 miles away from Mission Beach. It's definitely well worth exploring. You can find a vibrant restaurant and bar scene, various events, shopping opportunities, and more.
Mission Bay Park
On the inland side of the beach, you’ll find Mission Bay Park. This unique part land and part water park is the largest aquatic park of its kind. Visitors can enjoy watersports, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.
At night, you can kick back next to a beach bonfire or take a moonlit cruise on the Bahia Belle.
Mission Beach is known to have a vibrant nightlife, hence why you can often find younger crowds ready to have a good time. You’ll find a laid-back yet lively night scene where you can hang out with friends. From beachfront bars to nightclubs, there's something for everyone.