The fun and excitement of a beach boardwalk is timeless. Belmont Park, located right on the water in Mission Bay, has been a great family-friendly spot for adventure and thrills since the roaring twenties. From the Giant Dipper (a historic wooden roller coaster that’s called the Park home since 1925) to wave machines to a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, it’s no wonder that Belmont Park remains one of the most popular destinations for families in San Diego.
Go: Year-round, but keep in mind that summer is the busiest time of the year at the park.
Approximate travel time: Belmont Park is located in the heart of Mission Beach, about 1 mile west of Sea World.
Where to play: Test your skills in the arcade or choose from a variety of Midway games including “Down the Clown” and “The Hi-Striker.” The kiddos can even exchange the tickets they win in the arcade for a cool prize. Behind the arcade is the Pirates of Belmont glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, which uses black lights and fluorescent obstacles to create a unique pirate-themed good time. If your family is into twists and turns, check out the mirror maze, lazer maze, or ropes course. Feeling the heat? Test your surf skills and get wet while riding the wave machines in the Wave House. Or, hunt out a spot in the sand, kick back, and watch others hang-ten.
What to ride: The Giant Dipper is Belmont Park’s iconic oceanfront roller coaster. In fact, it’s only one of two original such coasters still operating on the West Coast. Keep in mind that riders must be at least 4 feet tall to ride and it’s the same rule of thumb for the other spinning, plunging, and flipping rides. For a tamer time with the little ones, try the Thunder Boats or traditional Liberty Carousel.
Lunch options: From sit-down beachfront dining to food court-style eateries, Belmont Park has lots of options when tummies start to rumble. The Patio Grill and North Shore Café have lots of kid-friendly eats. After lunch, grab a hand-dipped ice cream cone or other tasty treat at the Sweet Shoppe.
How to dress: Although sunny days and warm weather are the norm, expect cool temperatures in the early morning and at night. Layers are a good idea, as are towels and a change of kid clothes if you expect to get wet. And don’t forget the sunscreen, hats, and comfortable shoes.
Need to know: Parking and admission to Belmont Park is free, but the parking lots can get crowded during peak summer months so be sure to arrive early. Tickets for individual rides are $1 each and each ride requires 2-6 tickets. For the thrill seekers in your family, invest in the unlimited one-day ride passes. Check the ticket page for more pricing information and a list of height requirements for each ride.
– Abigail Matsumoto