Beach hop from pier to jetty on a 6-mile (round-trip) journey infused with classic beach culture. The trip starts at Pacific Beach Pier (aka Crystal Pier, after the classic cottages lining its edges) and goes to the Point Medanos jetty, the southernmost area of iconic Mission Beach. To start, find street parking along one of the many east-west side streets and take the paved path by the pier, paralleling a wide swath of soft sand. Soak in the quintessential San Diego beach scene: eateries, shops, grandiose homes, and interesting people!
About 2 miles south of the pier, you’ll reach Belmont Park at Mission Beach, a truly classic oceanfront amusement park dating back to 1925. Its centerpiece, the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster, is the second oldest of its kind in America, a symbol of the city (and a hell of a ride).
Continue south for another mile to the Point Medanos jetty, a string of huge rocks piling out into the Pacific, acting as the northern border of Mission Bay’s entrance channel. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, scramble along the jetty to check out a mysterious graffiti house perched on the rocks. Time your return walk for sunset, when the sandpipers scurry in harmony with the tide amidst the glowing backdrop of the San Diego sky.
BONUS BAR: On the final frontier of on-the-beach drinking, Lahaina Beach House in Pacific Beach has a deck literally stretching onto the sand. Their cash-only policy often drives visitors away, but it’s a great experience. Pair fish tacos with beer and a sunset.
To get to the Pacific Beach starting point, take I-5 and exit west on Garnet Ave., which runs directly into Crystal Pier. Lahaina Beach House is half a mile south of the pier at the Oliver Ave. intersection. Dog-friendly on the boardwalk. No dogs on the beach.