Ocean Beach, California is a family-friendly neighborhood in San Diego that lies between Mission Bay and the Point Loma Peninsula. Its soft sand beaches offer opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The community is also known for its eclectic shops and markets with a historic ambiance. A short distance away from many Ocean Beach vacation rentals are numerous world-renowned San Diego tourist attractions such as the zoo and amusement parks. Here are the top 10 things to do with children in and around Ocean Beach.

1. Enjoy the Beach

Along the Ocean Beach waterfront are several beaches, and each has its own attractive attributes. On the north side of the mouth of Mission Bay is the famous Dog Beach, a place where your family’s canine companion can run and swim freely with you without being encumbered by a leash. The wide spread of sand and nearby shops, restaurants, and picnic tables make Voltaire Street Beach extremely popular. The beach at Santa Cruz Avenue is less crowded, and is ideal for quiet swimming and sunbathing. If you want an even more secluded patch of sand surrounded by rocks and cliffs, descend the steps to Bermuda Avenue Beach at the southern end of Ocean Beach.

2. Play Sports

Beach volleyball is a popular activity at Ocean Beach, and several beaches have facilities set up for this exuberant sport. Boogie boarding and body surfing on the incoming waves are also fun activities. If you want to do some surfing, try Brighton Avenue Beach or the Dog Beach Break at the mouth of Mission Bay. At Robb Athletic Field at the north end of Ocean Beach along the San Diego River, you can find basketball courts, softball fields, tennis courts, handball courts, and other sports facilities. There’s also a skateboard park and playground area for small children.

3. Fish off the Pier

The Ocean Beach Pier allows you to go out almost 2,000 feet over the ocean to drop your line into 25 to 30-foot-deep water. Fishing off the pier is free, and you don’t need a license. It’s so long that you can catch different types of fish at various spots. In the shallow waters near shore are croakers and perch. Fishing the middle section yields bass, mackerel, halibut, sharks, and rays. If you fish off the end, you might catch white sea bass, yellowtails, and barracuda.

4. Observe Wildlife

Fascinating tide pools become exposed at low tide at the base of the Ocean Beach Pier. If you and your children explore the pools, you can observe hermit crabs, shore crabs, jellyfish, sea anemones, and other marine life. For a look at larger sea creatures, join a whale-watching tour, where you can spot gray whales, blue whales, and dolphins on the open ocean. You can also often watch whales from the bluffs at nearby Cabrillo National Monument.

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5. Go Shopping

Your vacation rental at Ocean Beach offers easy access to the attractive Newport Avenue Shopping District, where the whole family can enjoy exploring the mom-and-pop stores, surf shops, boutiques, and an eclectic diversity of other local establishments. In the Ocean Beach Antique District, you can search through artwork, antique furniture, jewelry, pottery, and memorabilia. The weekly Ocean Beach Farmers Market is a great place to shop for fresh produce, baked goods, ethnic food, flowers, and handicrafts.

6. Learn Local History

For a fascinating look at early community history, take the family on the Ocean Beach Self-Guided Historic Walk. You can find a brochure that outlines the route and offers a historical description of the relevant buildings online or at a local establishment. The tour includes the first Ocean Beach school, library, theater, hotel, and bank. To get an overview of city and regional history, head a few miles east to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which contains original adobe buildings, numerous museums and reconstructed buildings such as the old court house, jail, telegraph office, stage stop, and stables.

7. Tour the Lighthouse

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which operated from 1855 to 1891, lies just south of Ocean Beach in the Cabrillo National Monument. Although its location allows an amazing vista of the surrounding countryside and ocean, it was decommissioned because fog and low clouds often obscured its light. It’s now a museum, and you can tour the grounds and go inside where reconstructed living quarters show you how the lighthouse keepers and their families lived. National Park Service personnel offer talks, displays, and brochures, and sometimes volunteers dress up in costumes to recreate the historic figures that kept the lighthouse running.

8. Marvel at SeaWorld

Just over a causeway from the northeast side of Ocean Beach is SeaWorld San Diego, an immense theme park that includes marine mammal shows, aquariums, animal habitats, play areas, and rides. The whole family will thrill to shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and orcas. Popular animal habitats house killer whales, walruses, polar bears, otters, and other species. The four aquariums feature saltwater fish, freshwater fish, tide pool creatures, and cephalopods. For an overview of the park, you can ride in a gondola between high towers. You can also ride on a thrilling roller coaster, and on a river rapids ride with a shipwreck theme.

9. Have Fun at the Amusement Park

Directly north of Ocean Beach in Mission Beach is the historic Belmont Park amusement park, a wonderful place for family fun. Among its attractions is the Giant Dipper roller coaster, one of the few remaining wooden roller coasters on the U.S. West Coast. Other rides include the spinning Beach Blaster, the rotating Control Freak, bumper cars, a vertical plunge, and a carousel for young children. The park also has an extensive arcade, a zip line, a climbing wall, and mini-golf. The Wave House allows you and the kids to practice your surfing skills in a controlled environment.

10. Visit the Zoo

Vacation rentals at Ocean Beach are just a short distance away from the amazing San Diego Zoo. Renowned as one of the world’s best zoos, it offers exhibits themed around specific habitats, such as the African rain forest, Australian outback, and Arctic tundra. Popular animals on display include giant pandas, polar bears, elephants, gorillas, and tigers. You can wander the zoo on your own or take a gondola lift or guided tour bus.

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