The vibrant San Diego neighborhood of Pacific Beach, or PB as the locals call it, lies between La Jolla to the north and Mission Bay and Mission Beach to the south. Its long stretch of sandy Pacific Coast shoreline provides opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, and its nautical ambiance and abundant businesses offer shopping, sightseeing, and other activities. Pacific Beach vacation rentals in this beautiful, relaxing area are only minutes away from some of San Diego’s most famous and family-friendly tourist attractions. Here are the top 11 things to do with children in and around Pacific Beach.
1. Enjoy the Beach
Vacation rentals in Pacific Beach provide convenient access to one of the premier beaches in Southern California. The long, wide stretch of soft sand spreads from one end of Pacific Beach to the other. North Pacific Beach is less crowded and quieter, while the area around Crystal Pier features a livelier atmosphere. You can swim in the surf, relax and sunbathe, stroll along the water’s edge, and build elaborate sand castles.
2. Play Water Sports
Popular activities along the beach include playing volleyball and throwing frisbees, or strike out on the water for bodysurfing and boogie boarding in the waves. For a new adventure to share with the kids, try out a quintessential Southern California sport and rent a board to take some surfing lessons. For additional thrills, you can go kite boarding or windsurfing.
3. Cruise the Boardwalk
The Pacific Beach Ocean Front Walk follows the bluffs and beach, extending over 3 miles from Law Street in North Pacific Beach on into Mission Beach to the south. Parts of the walk have amazing panoramic vistas of the beach and the vast Pacific Ocean, while other sections are lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and other amenities. Take the kids to stroll along the boardwalk and snap photos, or cruise it on rollerblades, skateboards, or bicycles.
4. Go Shopping
Besides the boardwalk, the most popular shopping streets in Pacific Beach are Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue. These are lined with boutiques, souvenir shops, gift shops, surf shops, and other businesses. Browse for clothing, water sports gear, skateboards, shells, and many other souvenirs. Don’t miss the Tuesday Pacific Beach Farmers’ Market on Bayard Street, and pick up some produce, prepared foods, flowers, and local handicrafts to take back to your vacation rental.
5. Follow the Cycling Trails
Pacific Beach is mainly flat and full of designated bicycle paths, making family cycling excursions safe and fun. Bring your own or rent a bike from one of the numerous bicycle shops. The Ocean Front Walk is a great place for cycling, and if you want to explore further, you can follow the Mission Bay Bike Path, which is a scenic route of almost 12 miles that passes through or near two wildlife reserves and 10 public parks. Along the way are several spots where you can stop for a swim and a picnic.
6. Go Fishing
Crystal Pier, about midway along the shoreline in Pacific Beach, is a great place to take the kids fishing. It’s renowned for the quantity and quality of the fish. Near the tide line, you can angle for surfperch, croakers, stingrays, and guitarfish. Farther out, you might hook bonitos, Pacific mackerel, halibut, and sharks. If you’re feeling adventurous, charter a boat and take the kids fishing out on the open ocean, where you can catch tuna, sea bass, rockfish, lingcod, and even barracuda.
7. Watch the Whales
Every year, thousands of majestic blue and gray whales migrate near the coastline past Pacific Beach. It’s often possible to spot them from the observation points on the bluffs along the boardwalk. For a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime family experience, there’s nothing like joining a whale-watching tour and observing these huge, awe-inspiring creatures up close.
8. Thrill to SeaWorld
SeaWorld San Diego is just south of Pacific Beach in Mission Bay and offers a thrilling day trip for the entire family. This huge, aquatic theme park includes animal habitats, shows, presentations, and exciting rides, with the opportunity to watch orcas, dolphins, and sea lions perform amazing tricks. Popular exhibits include habitats for seals, polar bears, otters, walruses, and killer whales. Among the thrilling rides are the Journey to Atlantis roller coasters, the Bayside Skyride gondola, and the Shipwreck Rapids river ride.
9. Have Fun at the Amusement Park
If you follow the beachside boardwalk past Pacific Beach into Mission Beach, you come to historic Belmont Park. The most famous ride in this iconic amusement park is the Giant Dipper, one of the few wooden roller coasters remaining on the U.S. West Coast. Other popular rides include the Overdrive Bumper Cars, the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Liberty Carousel, and the whirling Beach Blaster. Keep the family entertained with mini-golf, a rope obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, and a zip line. The arcade has numerous digital games, and the wave tank allows you to practice surfing in a safe setting.
10. Visit the Aquarium
Your Pacific Beach vacation rental provides easy access to one of the finest aquariums on the Pacific Coast: the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in nearby La Jolla. Located on a breathtaking bluff above the Pacific Ocean, the numerous marine habitats include a kelp forest teeming with fish, a shark reef, a coral reef with giant clams, and an interactive tide pool plaza where your kids can get up close and touch creatures such as starfish and sea cucumbers.
11. Tour the Zoo
The San Diego Zoo, one of the largest and most renowned in the world, is a short drive from your Pacific Beach vacation rental. It provides an endless source of fascination and family fun. Walk the zoo paths on your own, take a guided tour bus, or enjoy an overview from a gondola. Peer into fascinating animal habitats that include enclosures for pandas, gorillas, tigers, elephants, and even Komodo dragons.
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