• Hannah Smentkowski

Ocean Beach, San Diego: Come for the beach, stay for the fish tacos

Out of every neighborhood in San Diego, Ocean Beach (known to the locals as OB) has been my favorite place in the city (so much so, that while visiting once I got an "OBϟSD" tattoo in the classic "ACϟDC" font lightening bolt and everything!). This neighborhood is entirely unique and eccentric. It's one of those towns that never really left the '60s- still living in the days of drum circles, VW vans and crystals' healing energies. I want to give you a sweet and simple list of my favorite parts of the neighborhood. Ocean Beach may not be everyone's flavor or style (according to a close friend of mine, at least) I'm here to be your guide to this funky, underrated patch of San Diego and convince you to visit it at least once in your lifetime. 

1. Newport Avenue

This is the main street in town, perfectly lined with palm trees and not a chain restaurant in sight (except for stupid Starbucks). Instead of seeing a McDonald's or a Chili's on every corner, check out some of the distinctive dining opportunities on Newport, like Mike's Taco Club, Azucar Cuban Pastries, and Hodad's Burgers, where you'll often find a line out the door and far onto the sidewalk.


There are also more unique shopping opportunities than you could ever imagine in your wildest dreams on Newport. From spiritual shops with incense and crystals, to old antique shops with vintage finds, to boutiques with trendy and fashionable clothes. Not to mention the breweries, the best of which by far would have to be Killowatt, where you can experience some of the richest and most incredible stouts you'll ever taste. This is definitely the street that really exemplifies the hippy vibe of Ocean Beach, with the eye-catching street art. the vibrant individuals and even the less-than-legal street vendors selling crystals along the boardwalk. This street will also lead you directly down to the beach, where you'll find OB Pier and the most popular surf spot in Ocean Beach. 

    The OB Pier is the longest pier in Southern California, clocking in at 1971 feet! While it's mostly a fishing pier, it's a great walk out over the ocean and a perfect scenic view. There's an added incentive to take this almost half-mile pier stroll, it's home to the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe, which makes one of the most incredible clam chowder bread bowls I have ever had! 

2. OB Farmers Market/Drum Circle

Every Wednesday, Ocean Beach closes down the main street to hold their amazing farmers' market. A truly classic affair, full of crisp, fresh fruits and veggies, unique handmade jewelry, crochet bikini tops and tie-dye bandanas, this farmers' market has that unique OB feeling just like everything else here. It's a great way to support the local farming community and businesses in San Diego, and to soak up even more of the infamous OB character I'm so enamored with.  The market typically starts around 4PM and runs until around 8pm. 

    After the market, at the end of the street, in a quaint grass park next to the boardwalk, you'll find the remarkable drum circle. A pivotal OB event that encapsulates the culture of this area of town better than almost anything else, you can hear the rhythmic, primal beating of drums, swing glowing hula-hoops, perform or watch acrobatics, and bask in the hippy glow that is OB. 

3. Dog Beach

The happiest place on earth! That's right, you thought it was Disney Land, but in all reality it's the OB Dog Beach. Seriously, just one look at all of those dogs running around the beach as happy as can be against the idyllic sand-and-sea of the beach, no one could be upset anymore. Dog Beach is on the north end of OB, and is the only part of the beach that actually allows dogs, and off-leash as well! While I've enjoyed bringing my dog down to this magical place many times, sometimes I simply go there to experience the pure joy of it all. I suggest grabbing an acai bowl at the nearby Tiki Port and walking down to the dog beach from there. Even if you're not usually a 'dog person', no matter who you are, this is a truly wonderful and positive way to start a day in Ocean Beach. 

4. Sunset Cliffs

    The quintessential spot to end your day in Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs is one of the most magnificent spots to catch that perfect West Coast sunset in all of San Diego (hence the name). The best part? Most of these seaside cliffs aren't even fenced off from the ocean! This makes a slightly dangerous yet truly beautiful unobstructed view of the sunset. If you're looking for a glimpse into how the "other half" lives, you can take a walk on the opposite side of the street to get a view of some of the most expensive and extravagant houses in Ocean Beach, and maybe even spot the infamous OB pink house - if you're there you can't miss it! (Seriously, it's a bubblegum-pink mansion!)

These are just some of the reasons why I absolutely love Ocean Beach, San Diego. From the beautiful ocean to the truly unique character of the town, this area has an old school feel that I really just dig. 

Please feel free to either comment below or email me if you have any questions about the area, want some more in-depth suggestions on where to get a great beer or the perfect fish taco, or want to tell me about your favorite place in Ocean Beach. Stay tuned for more blog posts on San Diego and beyond!

Until then, Happy Travels!

  • Instagram