Visit Mission Beach and Belmont Park and Ride The Giant Dipper, Stroll the Boardwalk, Surf or Play on the Beach. Mission Beach is the name for both a community and a beautiful section of California seashore. One of the most popular vacation communities in San Diego — Mission Beach is also home to more than 45,000 people, many of them young professionals.
The area from Pacific Beach Drive south to the rollercoaster is mostly residential with many vacation home rentals facing the beach. There are several hotels and resorts at Mission Beach, nearby Pacific Beach and Mission Bay. More funky and laid back than the beach scene in La Jolla or Coranado, Mission Beach is the California Surfer capital of San Diego. Watch surfers ride the waves from the wide sandy beach or join them in the water for even more fun. Fish off the jetty and watch boats enter and exit the harbor channel at the south end of Mission Beach.
A narrow area running along Mission boulevard from the south peninsula into Pacific Beach was originally developed as a resort by people like John D. Spreckels, George L. Barney and J. M. Asher who built a Tent City here, similar to the one Spreckles built on Coronado.
Spreckels was known as the “Father of Mission Beach,” but his involvement and investment in the San Diego community from Coronado to Balboa Park qualified him to be the “Father of San Diego.” Sunken ships have been positioned just off Mission Beach to create Wreck Alley — an artificial reef and ocean divers paradise.
During the day the beach is covered with sunbathers while kids play in the surf. Football and sand volleyball —at the south end of the beach—are popular. Surfers ride the waves and lifeguards patrol Mission Beach during the summer months. Mission Beach is the center section of a continuous stretch of beach known as The Strand extending over two miles from the Mission Bay channel entrance to the north end of Pacific Beach.
With miles of wide sandy beach, Belmont Park and its famous Giant Dipper Rollercoaster, The Plunge pool and arcades, boardwalk and night clubs Mission Beach is probably the California beach that most resembles a Coney Island or Atlantic City style East Coast beach. First opened as the Mission Beach Amusement Center in 1925 and later renamed Belmont Park the amusement center at Mission Beach almost lost its deteriorating star attraction. In 1978 the city council voted 4–1 to destroy the roller coaster. A group of concerned citizens called “Save The Coaster Committee,” helped get the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park designated as a National Landmark.
Eventually The San Diego Seaside Company—now The San Diego Coaster Company—was formed to restore and operate the Giant Dipper at a cost of over $2 million. The Giant Dipper is one of only two Prior and Church roller coasters still operating (the other is in Santa Cruz).
You can learn about other San Diego beaches (with many more pictures) on my La Jolla and Coronado pages.