A sunset stroll, a beachside bike ride, a frolic with Fido, or a picnic in the park—whatever mission you choose to accept is waiting for you at Mission Bay. The bay per se is the lagoon aspect of the largest man-made aquatic park in the country, which you can explore on a 6.5-mile walk, run, bike, or blade along the shore, out to a peninsular island park, and back.
Park at Mission Bay Park and head south by your preferred mode of locomotion. If those are legs, alternate between the paved path, green grass, or soft sand, with constant views of the bay, Fiesta Island, and beyond to the sea. Seagulls, sandpipers, ducks, and coots will be your main aquatic-fowl companions along the palm-lined trek as you pass by the Hilton, a small dock, and various picnic spots and playgrounds, making your way to Tecolote Shores. Soon you’ll see the only lifeguard tower in the area—this is Enchanted Cove, a fun place to swim or kayak to the small Enchanted Isle. Shortly ahead, make a right turn for a land crossing over to Fiesta Island.
Continue right along the island perimeter to begin your loop of the island, home to the first-ever modern triathlon, an annual over-the-line tournament, and the best doggone dog park in the city. Whether or not you brought your pup, the loop is still cool, with plenty of play space and pelican sightings, plus views of the downtown SD skyline and the swooping thrill rides of Sea World to the south. At just before the 4-mile mark, you’ll complete the island loop and cross back to the Mission Bay shores and path, which takes you all the way back to your car. Mission complete!
BONUS REFRESHMENT: Hop across the freeway to enjoy some of America’s finest brews at Coronado Brewing Company’s San Diego Tasting Room and Kitchen. Though not the original location, the brewpub has all the original beers and an extensive seasonal tap list to complement pizzas and classic pub grub. Enjoy a Guava Islander IPA or Mermaid Red while playing cornhole on the dog-friendly patio. Or opt for a front-row seat inside to watch the magic happen at one of the city’s original five local breweries.
Take the I-5 to the Mission Bay Dr. Exit, turning left onto Mission Bay Dr., followed by an immediate right. The lot will be on your right. (Very) dog-friendly!
Watersports photos courtesy sandiego.org.