The San Diego neighborhood known as Pacific Beach occupies the area between Interstate 5 and the Pacific coast, bounded on the south by Mission Bay and on the north by the neighborhood of La Jolla. It includes the sandy section of The Strand north of Mission Beach, the waterfront facilities along Sail Bay and Fiesta Bay, and beautiful Kate O. Sessions Memorial Park.
The Pacific Beach community is a microcosm of Southern California's eclectic population, mixing surfers, college students and beach bums with entrepreneurs, professionals, young families and retirees. Its architecture is varied, too, from 1930s-style beachfront cottages to earth-toned condos and modern steel-and-glass office buildings.
Much of life here is focused on the beach from which the neighborhood takes it name. Pacific Beach includes eight miles of paved boardwalk with panoramic views of the bays and beach, a popular route for cyclists, walkers, joggers and skaters. In the warm Pacific waters, residents and visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, and kayaking, virtually year-round. Activities in the sand include volleyball, picnics, Frisbee-tossing, sand sculpting, kite flying, outdoor barbecues and, of course, sunbathing.
From the rental shops near Crystal Pier, visitors can obtain surfboards, body boards, rollerblades, and bicycles. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the year. Pets are allowed on the beach between 6am and 9pm, although they must be kept on a leash. Smoking and alcohol consumption are not permitted.
The Pacific Beach Town Council provides support for a number of events that make living and visiting here both fun and unique. Activities include local surf contests, weekly clean-up projects, anti-graffiti campaigns, and even an annual wine tasting event that raises funds for local youth groups.
On Sundays in July and August, Pacific Beach holds its free "Concerts on the Green'' in Kate Sessions Park on Lamont Street just north of Beryl Street. Live music from 4pm to 6:30pm ranges from boogie-woogie and blues to salsa, Latin funk, sixties rock tributes, and even a performance by the United States Navy Band.
One of the most popular gatherings is the yearly Pacific BeachFest held in October on the boardwalk between Diamond Avenue and Thomas Street. The day-long event features live music, food, fine arts and crafts, windsurfing, and professional skaters demonstrating their skills. There are amusement rides for children, a beach volleyball competition for adults, a merchant sidewalk sale for shoppers, and a huge fireworks display at Crystal Pier to cap the evening.
In years past, the non-profit Business Improvement Association has staged an annual Pacific Beach Holiday Parade on Garnet Avenue, but it was cancelled in 2009 due to the ongoing recession. Instead, a gala "Christmas at Crystal Pier'' was held with music, activities, contests, decorating, tree lighting, and a visit from Santa. The parade is expected to resume when the economy strengthens.
The Pacific Beach Business District includes a jumble of surf shops, taco stands, tie-dye clothing stores, craft galleries, and smoke shops in addition to hotels, banks, office buildings, and restaurants. Window shopping is best along Mission Boulevard and on Grand and Garnet Avenues.
Access to Pacific Beach is easy and convenient from Interstate 5. Just take the Grand-Garnet Exit and go west to the ocean. Unmetered street parking is available throughout the community.