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Have a blast on land and sea at one of San Diego’s most popular beaches–Mission Beach!
This is a great spot with a little something for everyone – from a wooden roller coaster to surfing lessons to exceptional coffee.
Mission Beach is located south of La Jolla and Pacific Beach but north of downtown San Diego and Ocean Beach. It’s a great centralized location for accessing tons of places around San Diego.
There’s a whole lot of adventure waiting for you in Mission Beach!
PRO Tip: This beach tends to get packed during the summer months, so if you don’t like crowds try to avoid the peak times of year.
Play around at Belmont Park
You’ll find games and entertainment galore at San Diego's iconic beachfront amusement park. Belmont Park is located on the Mission Beach Boardwalk, and it’s the perfect spot for family fun by the ocean.
Entrance to the park is free. You decide which attractions you would like to pay for a la carte style.
Enjoy the retro vibe of Belmont Park, which has been around since 1925. Memories have been made here through the generations. It’s time to make a few of your own!
Ride the wooden Giant Dipper Roller Coaster
Go for a ride on a classic beachside wooden roller coaster. The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster is a staple of the San Diego waterfront.
Zoom up and down and left and right at speeds over 45 mph all while taking in a stunning ocean view.
Cruise around on bumper cars
Check out the classic carnival rides at Belmont Park like Overdrive Bumper Cars. Your kids will have a blast bouncing around, and you’re sure to have a few good laughs smacking into each other.Try out a modern version of bumper cars – Krazy Kars. Bounce around on inner tube-shaped cars as you jam to the music. For added fun, ride Krazy Kars at night under the disco ball and black lights.
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Play an 18 hole mini golf course
Get ready to compete at TIki Town Mini Golf, and see who in your family can land a hole in one. (Make your hole in one on the 18th hole, and you’ll get $5 to the arcade.)
Sharpen your putting skills around 18 holes of Tiki-themed mini golf. Oh…and watch out for the volcano!
Rock climb walls and even palm trees
Any climbers out there? Take your kids over to the Rock Wall and see how quickly they can scurry to the top. Their 12 lanes range from beginner to intermediate to advanced.
Or…try a unique twist on rock climbing and compete against your kid as you scale twin palm trees at Coconut Climb. Who will make it to the high branches first and ring the victory bell?
Tiptoe through a treetop ropes course
Rise to the challenge of a treetop ropes course at Sky Ropes. Test your agility and balance as you make your way through 26 obstacles from tree to tree. Or zoom through the air from one end to the other on a zipline.
Get your laser on
Challenge your family to a game of head-to-head laser tag. Level up your mental strategy and physical reflexes to see who will dominate this two-team competition.
Progress through 3 levels of Tron-themed laser tag. Shoot bases to win more points and shoot other players to knock them out. But watch your back! Players are only down for a few seconds. Once they “reactivate” they’ll be coming for you!
Or…head over to Laser Maze for an individual Mission Impossible vibe challenge. Complete your mission by maneuvering through a maze of lasers without touching them. Start stretching!
Break free from an escape room
Immerse yourself in a live-action game scenario at Escapology San Diego. Choose from 3 different escape rooms, and work together to find clues, solve puzzles, and discover the key to your freedom.
Think you can escape in less than 60 minutes? There’s only one way to find out!
Win prizes by playing your favorite arcade games
Win tickets from over 70 arcade games, and exchange them for prizes. Challenge your kids to a street race, or fly solo with a classic claw machine.
With so many games to choose from, everyone in the family is bound to have fun. See who will be the arcade champion and bring home the biggest prize.
Shop every kind of beach gear
If you’re finished with attractions, leisurely browse the shops around Belmont Park. You’ll find everything from skateboards to sundresses to souvenirs. You can buy beach gear to use on your San Diego trip, or purchase a little something to bring home.
Spend the day at the beach
Grab your beach towel and sunscreen and hit the sand! Spend the entire day playing in the sand (or relaxing) with your littles and bigs.
Setting up camp beside the ocean for a day is the perfect recipe for soaking up vacation vibes! You can even rent all the beach gear you’ll need.
Swim in the Pacific Ocean
Dip your toes in the water or dive head first into the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Your littles will love splashing in the waves as they lap up on the shore. And your bigs can test their timing skills as they try to body surf the waves.Want even more fun? Rent bodyboards and skimboards to take your ocean play to the next level.
Play in the sand
Embrace your inner child and play with your kids in the sand. Build sand castles, dig giant holes, create rivers, bury “treasure”.
Bonus points if you let your kids burry YOU in the sand all the way up to your neck.
PRO Tip: Preserve your gorgeous diamond rings and get a silicone ring to wear at the beach. You won’t have to worry about it get wet, sandy, or smashed.
Soak up some sun
Bask in the rays of the Southern California sun from dawn till dusk. Recline in your beach chair, lay out on your towel, or simply soak up Vitamin D as you play around on the beach.
Make sure to protect your little ones from the harsh sun rays with sunscreen and stylish hats from BinkyBro.
PRO Tip: Even on cooler, cloudy days, the San Diego sun can still burn you. Make sure you are reapplying that sunscreen to avoid turning into a tomato.
Read more: 25 Best Items for Traveling as a Family
Get water sports gear from rental shops
Don’t just swim in the water–take it to the next level with water sports!
Local rental shops (like Mission Beach Rentals) have all the gear you need. Aquatic adventures await both beginners and advanced thrill seekers.
Get your adrenaline pumping or test your athletic skills with these San Diego water sports.
Surf the waves
When you think about San Diego beaches–you think surfing!
While the best surf is usually around dawn or dusk, you can try it out almost any time of day. All you need is the right tide and good height waves.
Rent a surfboard and go for it on your own, or get personalized surf lessons out of Pacific Beach (right beside Mission Beach).
Cruise the ocean on a sailboat
Experience the luxury of floating on a boat for the afternoon. Grab your whole family and rent a sailboat or catamaran.
Don’t know how to sail? No problem!
Learn all about it on a 3 Hour Sailing Charter Experience. Discover the propulsion of wind power in a sail, and feel the ocean breeze in your hair.
Glide around on stand up paddle boards
If leisurely water sports are more your vibe, then consider renting stand up paddle boards (SUP).
Stand up paddle boarding is great for all ages. When your kids are little, have them sit on the front of your SUP as you paddle around. Once kids are old enough to balance (even on their knees), then they can get their own board.
PRO Tip: Stand up paddle boarding is much easier on calm water. Take your SUPs to the bays nearby for calm water and relaxing paddle adventures.
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Paddle along the coastline in kayaks
Get a core and upper body workout by renting kayaks. You can splash over waves head on and paddle around the ocean.
Paddle hard and fast for a good workout, or leisurely paddle as you keep your eyes peeled for dolphins.
Jump over waves on jet skis
If you’ve got the need for speed, then get yourself a jet ski. No paddling or athletic ability is necessary for this high speed thrill.
Throw your kids on the back of your jet ski, and zoom across the water as you take in the San Diego coastline. The real challenge -- find a dolphin to race you!
Discover fun activities for the whole family
Mission Beach is the ideal place for fun activities for all ages. Blend in with the locals and have a good time with any of these beach activities.
Go for a bike ride along the boardwalk
Biking is one of the most enjoyable modes of transportation. Plus it’s the best way to explore a city without walking 20,000 miles.
Mission Beach is one of the best places to ride bikes. You can rent bike equipment (including bike trailers for little ones) and stroll along the Mission Beach boardwalk. Or you can always go on a bike tour to see the entire Mission Bay Park area.
PRO Tip: Keep a look out for SeaWorld San Diego as you cruise around. It’s only a few minutes away from Mission Beach.
Play beach volleyball like the pros
On the southern side of Mission Beach you’ll find several sand volleyball courts. Bring your own volleyball, and start a rally.
Play doubles (teams of 2 people) with your family of 4, or challenge another family to some friendly competition.
Gear up your muscles to dive for the ball or to jump high and spike it hard over the net. Just realize your vertical may not be as impressive as you thought (sand is ruthless).
Swim in the coolest public pool ever
Whether you’re looking for a good workout, or your kids are ready for some serious fun, Plunge San Diego has got you covered.
Splash around in one of the largest pools in Southern California. Your kids (and maybe you) will love the floating obstacle course.
Check out the day rates for this unique swimming experience only in Mission Beach.
PRO Tip: Plunge is a great option if you visit during the winter months and the ocean is too cold for your kiddos. Let them splash around in this warm water and make some memories.
Roast marshmallows over beach fire pits
Search Mission Beach for concrete fire pits (available first come first served), and stoke that beach bonfire as the sun goes down and the stars come out.
Pack your graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate (or peanut butter cups - my personal favorite) for delicious s’mores on the beach.
After hours of fun in the sun, what better way to end your day than sitting around a bonfire as you listen to the sound of crashing waves?!
Read more: Top 20 San Diego Outdoor Activities
Try your hand at Spikeball
This popular game can be played anywhere, but it’s perfect on the beach. You can rent Spikeball equipment and have it set up in minutes.
Get the whole family circled around this trampoline net and spiking the ball on it. Don’t let it go past you or you’re out!
Warm up for a while by practicing and having fun. Then level up your competition and see who will be the last one standing.
Swing, climb, and slide at the Bonita Cove Park playground
This playground was recently transformed into the brand new Maruta Gardner Playground with vibrant pink and blue hues that give off fun Mission Beach vibes.
There’s a section for younger kids and another section for bigger kids, so all your kiddos will have fun swinging, sliding, climbing, and spinning around on the equipment.
In the middle of the playground, a rope climbing structure resembles the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park (located across the street). You’ll find kids of all ages climbing all over it.
Dine with stunning Ocean Views
One of the best things about beach life is ocean front dining! What could be better than a delicious dinner with breathtaking views of rolling waves on the Pacific Ocean? Almost nothing!
Check out these incredible restaurants along Mission Beach that are fun for the whole family.
Eat lunch at beach front picnic tables
Forget about reservations. Pack your own lunch, and eat picnic style along the ocean.
Several picnic tables are scattered along the boardwalk in Mission Beach.
If that’s not close enough to water for you, then grab your towel or blanket and set up a picnic on the sand.
WATCH OUT FOR SEAGULLS! They are ruthless when it comes to stealing food–even right out of your hand! (Ask me how I know.)
Sink your toes in the sand at Beach House
Grab a drink (the adult kind) and sink your toes into the sand at Beach House. Savor beachy vibe appetizers and sip signature cocktails.
Gather around a fire pit with your family, or kick back in a beach front adirondack chairs.
PRO Tip: Catch live music here on weekends to make your experience even better.
Grab some grub and a brew at Draft
The outdoor patio at Draft sits right along Mission Beach boardwalk. It’s the perfect place to enjoy food, family, and friends. Choose from over 70 beers on tap to drink while you watch the waves or a game on the big screen.
Between the food and the brews with the views…it’s hard to disappoint.
Indulge in expansive rooftop dining at Cannonball
Level up your dining experience at the largest oceanfront rooftop in San Diego. Cannonball serves delectable flavors inspired by the Pacific Rim in a lounge atmosphere.
Enjoy pool vibes from the restaurant decor without ever getting wet.
PRO Tip: Go on a Tuesday or Thursday night to enjoy live music as the sun sets over the water.
Grab delicious bites along Mission Blvd
Just a short walk from the beach is Mission Boulevard. You’ll find all kinds of dining options.
Turn any restaurant into an ocean view experience. Simply, grab your food to go, and take it to the beach. You’ll savor the same flavors but now with a five star view!
Start your day with breakfast from The Mission
Beachfront picnicking is not just for lunch. Order some chilaquiles or cinnamon french toast to go at The Mission, and kick off your day with a big breakfast.
You’ll be fueled up and ready for hours of fun!
Sip coffee or tea from Better Buzz
If big breakfast plates are too much for you in the morning, head to Better Buzz Coffee (a San Diego favorite) for delicious coffee selections.
Sitting on the beach in the morning watching the sun come up with a warm drink in your hand–sounds pretty idyllic to me!
Top 5 Travel Hacks
Discover the secret to stress free family vacations!