What to do in Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach or as the locals call it “PB” isn’t just for the college crowd.  From incredible food, fun rentals, and even a live comedy show, there are activities and options for everyone in this southern California beach town!  With 3 miles of boardwalk that connect all the way down to Mission Beach and an endless beach party vibe, PB is the perfect spot any day of the week if you’re looking for something lively and entertaining.  For a fun group activity, consider choosing So Diego Tours to guide you through the area with stops at the best restaurants for great cocktails and food as well as exciting activities.  Here’s our take on how you should spend your time in PB!


If you enjoy a stroll and great “people watching” – hit-up the PB Boardwalk on a weekend in the summer.  Weekends tend to be the busiest so take your time and enjoy the hustle of everyone out enjoying some of the best that San Diego has to offer.  You can go for a casual stroll, put on your running shoes or rent one of the many beach bike cruisers or scooters available with an app on your smartphone.  Stop and put your toes in the sand or grab a drink or some food at one of the many restaurants and bars lining the boardwalk. A couple of our favorite casual spots are Baja Café which opens at 8:00 am for great margaritas and Mexican food or Lahaina Beach House which is cash only, 21+ and doesn’t have a website but offers big portions of food, cheap drinks and a patio on the sand overlooking the boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean!

Crystal Pier

For a truly authentic PB seaside experience, consider booking one of the cottages on Crystal Pier for a night.  The cottages feature modern amenities, kitchenettes, private patios and parking all while offering the only opportunity to “sleep over the ocean” in PB.  If you’re not planning to stay in one of the cottages, take the time to walk out to the end of the pier for amazing views looking back at the beach and the chance to see the local sea life including dolphins and seals.  If fishing is your thing, consider a visit to the bait and tackle shop halfway down the pier for license, bait and other necessities.

A Day at the Beach

Your visit to PB isn’t complete without a stop at the beach.  Pack-up your beach towels, chairs, umbrellas and more and stake out a place in the soft sand to enjoy the beautiful sun and amazing views of the water.  If you’re bringing children (or you’re a child at heart), don’t forget sand castle building tools and swimsuits to dip your toes into the water to cool off.  There are lifeguard stands offering an extra level of protection all the way down the beach – be aware of posted signs as to where it’s okay to swim and where to surf.  At the entrance to the beach near Grand Avenue, there are public restrooms and showers to rinse off the sand. Don’t forget that PB is an alcohol and dog free beach so plan accordingly and enjoy your day in the sun!

Ride the Waves

PB is the ideal spot to catch some waves on your surfboard or bodyboard.  If you’re a novice, consider taking some lessons from one of the local shops like San Diego Surfing School – they offer private, semi-private or group lessons depending on your budget and ability.  If you are visiting the area, you can also rent gear including wetsuits, boards and life jackets.  If you have your own gear and know what you’re doing, check-out Tourmaline Surfing Park at the north end of PB for some of the best waves around.  This surfing only area offers a small parking lot with bathrooms, showers and a small picnic area.  

Shop Until You Drop

Garnet Avenue is packed with boutiques as well as brand names you’ll recognize, providing everything from beach souvenirs to trendy clothing.  You’ll also find plenty of storefronts along the boardwalk offering up things like beach attire, shoes, hats and trinkets to take home. On Tuesdays, the local Pacific Beach Farmer’s Market is set-up from 2:00 – 7:00 pm year-round offering an assortment of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, breads, flowers, gourmet dining options and handcrafted artisan works.  The farmer’s market is located on Bayard Street between Grand and Garnet Avenue.  

Watch A Sunset

Whether you’ve been hanging at the beach all day or sightseeing on the boardwalk, we recommend finding a place to watch the sunset.  In PB, the sunsets can be as big as the Pacific Ocean and if you’re lucky, you may even see the elusive coastline phenomenon known as the “green flash”.  Bring a blanket, pack a picnic and watch it from the sand or grab a table at one of the many boardwalk restaurants that offer views of the water.  For something casual hit up favorites we mentioned above or if you’re in the mood for something a little fancier, check-out two of our top choices – JDRN located in the Tower 23 Hotel or PB’s newest waterfront place, Waterbar.   

After the Sun Sets

PB comes alive at night with bonfires on the beach and bars and nightclubs all lit up.  If you’d like to participate in a bonfire of your own but don’t want the hassle, consider hiring Beach Fire Guy to set it all up for you – offering different packages and pricing, there’s an option for everyone!  If local craft beer is your style, check-out Barrel Republic where you can choose from over 40 beers and pour your own straight from the tap!  If you love comedy, visit Reds Saloon every Wednesday night for a free show – they have some great acts and fill-up quick so we recommend arriving when doors open at 8:00 pm!  

If you’d prefer somewhere to get your dance on, there are plenty of options.  Here are a couple of our favorites – Shore Club located on Grand and across from the boardwalk offers great water views from their 2nd floor.  Known for their vodka redbull slushies, they have a DJ on the weekends playing all the top hits.   Newly remodeled, Pacific Beach Alehouse offers an ocean view rooftop bar with great music and drink specials each day of the week.  One of PB’s newest spots is Mavericks Beach Club, a multi-level venue with 5 indoor/outdoor bars and a beach-party feel.  With daily activities and games, 38 TVs, live music and a dance club there is something for everyone.  

Don’t forget that So Diego Tours can help you plan a PB experience you’ll be talking about again and again.  Contact them to set-up an event or tour that fits your group’s unique desire and budget.  You’ll be happy that you did!