Welcome to Pacific Beach, a seaside mecca of glistening beaches, boardwalks and a lively atmosphere. While you may think of P.B. (as the locals call it) as a town full of surfers, college kids and bars, don’t count P.B. out of your spots to visit. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a family-friendly hub with great eats, pristine waterways and parks galore to explore.

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Photo Credit: Lenya McGrath

Get Out And About
There are lots of great spots in play, explore, hike and go for a walk along the beach. Here are a few of our favorites.

North Pacific Beach
Set down your towels at North Pacific Beach, the stretch of shore between Tourmaline and Crystal Pier. Here you’ll find plenty of families enjoying this quieter stretch of beach. There are lifeguard supervised swimming areas plus restrooms and showers at the ends of Law and Diamond Streets.

Crystal Pier
Head to the start of Garnet Street and you’ll find Crystal Pier. Built in 1927, this historic pier not only stretches out over the ocean but is home to a whole bunch holiday cottages sitting right on the pier. Yes that’s right — on the pier! It is the perfect spot to take in a sunset or a leisurely walk to count the surfers dotted in the water underneath you.

Kate O Sessions Park
Sitting proudly on the hills of north P.B. is Kate O Sessions Park, a 79-acre green space that is used by locals and visitors alike. Here you’ll find some of the best views in all of San Diego with the vistas stretching to Downtown, Coronado and even the hills of Tijuana, Mexico on a clear day. There is a well equipped playground, bbq pits, picnic tables, restrooms and lots of park land for kicking the ball around or flying a kite.

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Photo credit: Jessie A. via Yelp

The Boardwalk
It wouldn’t be a beach without a boardwalk and P.B. holds a perfect 3.2-mile stretch of boardwalk starting from Law Street all the way down to Mission Bay. Take a stroll and you’ll be in for lots of people watching, dog spotting and picturesque views. It can get busy particularly from Crystal Pier down to Mission Bay, so we suggest doing what the locals do and cruising north from Crystal Pier up towards Law Street.

Fanuel Park
Take a left on Grand when you hit Fanuel Street and you’ll end up at Fanuel Park, a relaxed bayside park perfect for a family picnic. The kids can let off steam at the play ground that boasts some of the best views in the hood. There are plenty of skiff boats sitting on the shoreline to explore or toss around a frisbee in the park. There are restrooms and a small amount of free parking available on site.

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Photo Credit: Kono’s Cafe Facebook page

Delicious Food To Eat
What’s a fun afternoon out without a little something to eat?

Kono’s
This is the must-do breakfast spot in Pacific Beach. Nestled right on the boardwalk at Garnet Street, this cafe gets busy so we’d recommend beating the crowds and arriving early (which shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you have early risers!). Snag a table out on the deck or skip the lines and grab your meal to go for a early morning beach picnic with the kids. Locals swear by the breakfast burrito and the big breakfast #1. It’s good to note that servings are big so you can order on the light side and it’s cash only at Kono’s.

704 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: konoscafe.com

Fish Shop
Arguably some of the best fish tacos around belong to the P.B. institution Fish Shop. Try their world famous T.K.O taco, a grilled mahi-mahi marinated in special seasoning topped with a house-made tropical mango salsa. Your little ones will love the kids menu complete with coloring paper and crayons, while parents love the 50+ microbrewery beers available.  Avoid the lines and get here early.

1775 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: thefishshoppb.com

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Photo credit: Leah Singer

Baked Bear
If you are after a great way to treat the family, check out Baked Bear, Pacific Beaches very own ice cream sandwich shop.  Build your own treat by choosing your own cookies and ice cream combo or go for something more adventurous and try a brownie or donut ice cream sandwich! Once you’re finished the boardwalk, beach and pier are only a hop skip and a jump away.

4516 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: thebakedbear.com

Pure Cupcakes
Hidden away next to the Von’s shopping centre on Garnet, you’ll find Pure Cupcakes. A melt-in-your-mouth, kids jumping up and down, cakes as far as the eye can see treasure trove. Their menu is full of sweet cupcake treats like red velvet, white chocolate and strawberry, salted caramel, as well as the homage to Pacific Beach: the PB Bliss. There are seats for your tribe to sit down and eat in the shop or pick up some baked goods to go with their curb-side service (just call ahead to arrange).

1772 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: purecupcakes.com

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Photo Credit: San Diego Blog

Getting Around
Parking can be notoriously tight around Pacific Beach, particularly in busy spots like the beach or the bar and restaurant hubs in Garnet and Grand Streets. There are paid lots scattered around these areas, or pick a side street off Garnet and Grand for free on street parking.

Have you been to Pacific Beach? What’s your favorite family-friendly spot?

— Lenya McGrath

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