Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Pacific Beach (or 'PB', as it's known to locals) is beach party central in San Diego. All of the 'restaurants' here are really just bars that happen to have food, and every corner store is really just a glorified liquor store that offers sunscreen. This is the stuff millennial beach party movies are made of- you start your morning on a surfboard, spend the day sipping margaritas, and by the time the night ends you'll find yourself slamming shots with some strangers who've become your best friends for the night - or until the next bar. If this is the kind of SoCal experience you're looking for, then rest assured I'm here to give you some sage advice on some spectacular spots where you can find some sand, some surf, and of course some shots.
One of the optimum parts of Pacific Beach is that it is truly surf central. With a golden shore stretching out as far as the eye can see you truly cannot pick a bad spot to grab a board and catch some choice waves.
Never surfed before? Here's a tip if you want that San Diego experience, but can't afford the expensive lessons: Rent a foam board and scout out a location where others are taking lessons. Why? Because these are literally the spots that the experts have chosen to take inexperienced people- even if you aren't taking a lesson, lesson areas are going to provide you with smaller waves and less rip currents (plus you'll stay out of the way of more experienced surfers who probably don't want to run into you slipping off your board for the 800th time.)
2. The Boardwalk
If you're looking to really experience the overall PB vibe, head on over to the boardwalk. This is the stuff surf movies are made of; with hot, bikini-clad girls on skateboards to your left and surfers traipsing around with unzipped wet-suits to your right, you're going to feel straight off an episode of 90210. As you're strolling through the absolute best of beach-y cliches, peruse the random street vendors peddling their wares or take part in the infamous PB tradition: 32oz margaritas! The best place to find one? Baja Beach Cafe, on the corner of the boardwalk and Thomas Ave.
The boardwalk also will lead you to the PB pier. This pier, while not quite as expansive as the one in Ocean Beach, still gives a magnificent view of the ocean. Bonus: You can stay in a quaint little beach bungalow right on the pier! (As long as you don't mind the literal hundreds of people passing you every day...) Also by the pier is Kono's Cafe, a prime choice for all day breakfast (because who doesn't need chorizo breakfast burritos accessible at all times?!)
3. Shopping and Drinks
If you're beginning to tire of the sand and surf and are looking for more diverse options, you're in luck. To find excellent shopping and drinking opportunities, you can either stay on the boardwalk and check out some of the terrific rooftop bars like The Water Bar or PB Shore Club, or head up Garnet Ave. and check out Maverick's. There are too many options to list, but these three local haunts will really give you that boisterous, party atmosphere that is oh-so-Pacific-Beach.
For shopping, some good areas are up both Mission Blvd. and Garnet Avenue. Here you can find all the cute, trendy, 'boho' shops your heart desires! If you're on the hunt for $50 tank tops that declare your love for yoga and fair-trade coffee, this is the spot for you.
My last and final suggestion is that no matter where or how you indulge, you watch how much you're drinking. As fun as it is to totally lose yourself in the beach-y, party atmosphere of Pacific Beach, it's way too easy to find yourself hazy-brained on the sidewalk wondering where the hell your hostel went. (Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything....). There's definitely nothing wrong with indulging but trust me, PB will tempt you. Be careful, drink a lot of water, and with that slight warning in mind, I hope you're tempted to check out the wonders of Pacific Beach as it can be a truly interesting weekend spot to relax and hang loose.
Until next time,