The beautiful neighborhood of Mission Beach, California lies on a sandbar between Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean just a few miles from downtown San Diego. Long sandy beaches, excellent weather, and proximity to many of San Diego’s finest attractions make Mission Beach a desirable holiday destination. Activities situated near many Mission Beach vacation rentals include swimming, sunbathing, cycling, boating, and water sports. Here are the top things to do in and around Mission Beach.

1. Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a large amusement park on the waterfront in the midst of Mission Beach. Its premier attraction is the Giant Dipper roller coaster, one of the last remaining wooden roller coasters on the U.S. West Coast. Other activities include zip lines, a 30-foot climbing wall, mini-golf, an adventure rope course, and laser tag. The facility also has a vast array of video games and midway games.

2. SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego lies just behind Mission Beach in Mission Bay Park. Among its 26 animal habitats are environments for killer whales, walruses, sea lions, and otters. Animal shows include Orca Encounter, Dolphin Days, and Sea Lions Live. The facility has rides such as a gondola that takes you on a loop over the park, a roller coaster that plunges into a lake, and a river rapids ride to a shipwreck on an island.

3. Mission Beach Surfing School

The iconic California sport of surfing is extremely popular on the San Diego coastline, and Mission Beach Surfing School provides lessons that emphasize safety and fun for beginning and intermediate surfers of all ages. If you’re already experienced, you can rent surfboards and wetsuits. For the adventurous, lessons are also available for wake surfing and kite surfing.

4. Mission Beach Bike Hire

One of the best ways to explore Mission Beach and the nearby neighborhoods is by bicycle. The beachfront boardwalk takes you through Pacific Beach and all the way to La Jolla, and Mission Bay Park has miles of lovely cycling paths. Mission Beach Bike Hire supplies the equipment you need, including beach cruisers, mountain bikes, children’s bikes, and bike trailers for babies and toddlers.

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5. Mission Bay Sports Center

Mission Bay Sports Center, located on the east side of Mission Beach, rents you the kayaks, paddle boats, or stand-up paddle boards that you need to explore Mission Bay on the water. The center also offers tours of the bay by stand-up paddle boards or jet skis. Daily summer youth camps with qualified instructors allow kids to learn and participate in fun water sports.

6. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park lies just a few miles east of Mission Beach. Many of its historic buildings house museums, including Black Hawk Smithy and Stable, San Diego Union Museum, which recreates a 19th-century newspaper office and print shop, and the Wells Fargo History Museum with its recreated telegraph office and stage stop. Old Town also features numerous shops, restaurants, and special events.

7. Seaforth Boat Rentals

Renting or chartering a boat is a great way to discover the beauty of the inland waterways and coastline of San Diego. Seaforth Boat Rentals provides you with the power boat or sailboat you need to explore on your own. For a luxurious experienced, charter a sailing yacht or power yacht with a professional captain.

8. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is just a few minutes away from Mission Beach. Renowned as one of the world’s top zoos, this iconic attraction has over 4,000 animals from all over the globe housed on 100 acres. Highlights include the habitats for giant pandas, polar bears, elephants, gorillas, and tigers. You can tour the zoo on foot, by bus, by mini-train, or by zip line.

9. San Diego Whale Watch

San Diego Whale Watch headquarters in Mission Bay near SeaWorld. Tours take you out onto the open ocean where you can observe gray whales, blue whales, finback whales, and dolphins. Experienced captains and crew know just where to find the whales, and a certified marine biologist explains fascinating whale facts to you.

10. Bahia Belle Boat Cruise

The Bahia Belle is a turn-of-the-century Mississippi sternwheeler that takes you sightseeing around Mission Bay while you enjoy live music in comfort and luxury. The cruise begins in the evening. You can watch the sunset and then have a panoramic view of Mission Bay while you slowly and majestically ply the waters.

11. San Diego Air and Space Museum

The fascinating San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park offers a collection of historic spacecraft and aircraft including the actual Apollo 9 command module, a GPS orbital satellite, and working replicas of Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis and Wright Brothers gliders. Among the galleries are exhibits of World War I and World War II aircraft, prop planes from the barnstorming era, modern age jets, and spacesuits and other memorabilia from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs.

12. Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium is a few minutes’ drive north of Mission Beach at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The facility houses over 3,000 marine animals in 380 species. Major habitat exhibits include the shark reef, coral reef, kelp forest, and the tide pool plaza with interactive touch pools. The Hall of Fishes contains over 60 tanks with fish from all over the West Coast of the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

13. San Diego Natural History Museum

The immense and marvelous San Diego Natural History Museum provides a fascinating look at the ecology, flora, and fauna of past and present California. Exhibits include collections of prehistoric fossils, animal habitats with mounted specimens, and full-size reproductions of dinosaurs. The mineralogy gallery has a dazzling display of gemstones, fluorescent stones, and other mineral specimens.

14. Mission Point Park

Mission Point Park lies at the entrance to Mission Bay at the southeastern edge of Mission Beach. The benches provide a great view of ships coming and going through the Entrance Channel of Mission Bay. Facilities include a swimming area, a playground, picnic tables, fire rings, and paths for walking and cycling.

15. Maritime Museum of San Diego

For an unforgettable and unique experience, check out the Maritime Museum on the downtown San Diego waterfront a few miles southeast of Mission Beach. The site hosts one of the world’s best collections of famous historic ships and submarines. Other exhibits in the museum highlight maritime history.

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