The iconic neighborhood of Ocean Beach lies northwest of downtown San Diego on the south side of lovely Mission Bay. At Ocean Beach you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, water sports and touring its fascinating historic district. Numerous annual events liven the atmosphere including the Ocean Beach Street Fair and the Ocean Beach Kite Festival. In the neighborhoods nearby, you can visit some of the unique attractions that make San Diego such a popular holiday destination. Here are some of the top locations for Ocean Beach vacation rentals perfect for a family getaway.

1. North Ocean Beach

people watching the dolphin
Source: Flickr / Robert Linsdell

The northern stretch of beach at the Entrance Channel to Mission Bay is Ocean Beach’s famous Dog Beach, which permits dogs to run freely without leashes. Across a short bridge on a peninsula in the bay is SeaWorld San Diego, an immense theme park, aquarium, and marine mammal exhibition. The park has regular shows featuring orcas, dolphins, sea lions, and other animals. It also has a number of spectacular rides, including a gondola traveling between high towers and a roller coaster over water. Various simulated environments display wildlife such as sea turtles, sharks, walruses, beluga whales, and killer whales.

2. Central Ocean Beach

surfer crashing the waves
Source: Flickr / Mr. Nixter

Running through the middle of Ocean Beach is Newport Avenue, its main shopping street, which hosts many restaurants, surf shops, bike shops, and coffee houses. It’s also home to the Ocean Beach Antique District, a concentration of antique and collectible dealers where you can browse for hours. Newport Avenue has a weekly Farmer’s Market, where you can find fresh produce, local cuisine, and homemade arts and crafts. At the end of the street, Newport Avenue Beach is the most popular beach in the neighborhood for surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, and photographers.

3. South Ocean Beach

long concrete pier
Source: Flickr / The Decipher

Ocean Beach Municipal Pier lies a few blocks south of Newport Avenue and offers a variety of vacation rentals. It’s the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. You can stroll to the end of the pier for a spectacular panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego coastline, and you can also fish freely off the pier without a license. Below the pier is the Ocean Beach Tidepools to explore at low tide. South of the pier is several beaches at the ends of residential streets that you access by climbing down flights of stairs. These beaches are generally less crowded than those on the north side and are perfect for sunbathing and relaxing.

4. Point Loma

during low tide
Source: Flickr / Wayne S. Grazio

Point Loma is a hilly peninsula that adjoins Ocean Beach on the south. From the rugged bluffs of Sunset Cliffs on the west side, you have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and can often spot migrating California gray whales. If you climb down a series of stairs, you can access a lovely beach that’s popular with sunbathers and surfers. At the tip of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is Point Loma Lighthouse, a centuries-old decommissioned structure that is now open to visitors. At the end of the peninsula lies Cabrillo National Monument, which offers a panoramic view of downtown San Diego and San Diego Harbor. You can explore the park’s tide pools and trails for a fascinating look at local ecosystems.

5. Coronado

people at the resort
Source: Flickr / Al_HikesAZ

Coronado lies southeast of Ocean Beach across the bay from downtown San Diego. An isthmus called the Silver Strand connects Coronado Island with the mainland. The clean sandy beaches along the Silver Strand and on the island consistently rank among the best beaches in the United States. Besides relaxing swimming and sunbathing, you can enjoy surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and sailing. Orange Avenue has outstanding restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The Coronado Museum of History and Art offers a fascinating look at local history. A visit to the Hotel del Coronado provides a glimpse into one of the world’s finest resorts, with past guests that include many U.S. presidents, movie stars, and sports celebrities.

6. Downtown San Diego

city skyline
Source: Flickr / Kevin Tostado

Downtown San Diego encompasses several neighborhoods, including the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Cortez Hill, and Marina. The National Register of Historic Places lists many of its buildings. Seaport Village and Horton Plaza are major shopping malls full of shops, restaurants, galleries, and other places of interest, located within minutes from vacation rentals. On the waterfront, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has a vast collection of historic ships. You can take harbor tours to have a closer look at San Diego Bay.

7. Old Town

beautiful houses
Source: Flickr / Ken Lund

The family-friendly neighborhood of Old Town is due east of Ocean Beach. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park contains fascinating replicas of pioneer-era buildings, including an adobe home, a blacksmith and stable, a public schoolhouse, a courthouse, and a jail. Among the museums are the Wells Fargo History Museum, which reconstructs a telegraph office and a stage stop, and the San Diego Union Museum, which has a newspaper office and print shop from the 1800s. On a hill at the east end of Old Town is Presidio Park, where the Franciscans founded the first mission in San Diego. The Junipero Serra Museum focuses on the early history of the city.

8. Mission Beach

amusement park
Source: Flickr / Grauke/O

Mission Beach lies on a long narrow sandbar north of Ocean Beach. A miles-long boardwalk lined with shops, bars, coffee houses, and restaurants follows the coastline. It’s a popular place for strolling, cycling, rollerblading, and skateboarding. The long, continuous beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, Frisbee throwing, and beach volleyball. Along the boardwalk, Belmont Park is an amusement park that offers fun for the whole family with its arcades, Wave House, Giant Dipper roller coaster, and many other rides.

9. Pacific Beach

bay area
Source: Flickr / caccamo

The neighborhood of Pacific Beach is due north of Mission Beach. The Mission Beach boardwalk and its wide sandy beach continue all the way up to North Pacific Beach. Famous Crystal Pier juts far out into the Pacific Ocean waters and offers opportunities for fishing and sightseeing near your vacation rental. Surfing is very popular in the waves off Pacific Beach. Garnet Avenue, which runs from the beach inland, is a popular nightlife hotspot with its many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.