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We were staying in San Diego and wanted to escape the downtown. We made the very short drive west to Mission Beach to explore for the day with our three year old. It’s a little boardwalk beach town with added flair of a small amusement-park style area.
We tried our best to play on the beach and in the waves before the heat of the day struck. There are staffed lifeguard stations and the waves were a bit too big to try and boogie board (though we had it with us). As we splashed on the incoming tides we kept cheering as different surfers caught waves. On the south-end of the beach there are piles of volleyball nets set up. We weren’t there to play, but we had a lot of fun watching different groups play a few sets.
The big draw for us on this trip was Belmont Park.
There are lots of shops and little places to eat fast food. It’s also free to walk around and watch the different rides. Our son wasn’t yet 42″, so he couldn’t ride on a lot of the rides at the park alone. There are several rides for smaller children, including a couple where a guardian can accompany the child.
For example, the Crazy Submarine ride looked pretty harmless and he was excited to go on. Each ride takes a different number of tickets that you buy in the middle of the park at the kiosk. Everything was easily laid out – you could see mandatory heights for each of the rides, they had rulers to check your child’s height, and there was also a posted sign indicating the number of tickets required for each ride. I was particularly grateful for the sign noting which rides a parent/chaperone could ride on without a ticket to accompany the child.
There is also a long boardwalk that you can ride bikes down or walk along. Just make sure you go before it gets too hot as there is no shade.
There are quite a few fast food and amusement park-like places to eat at Belmont Park, which is located just off the main section of the beach. We had breakfast before we headed out at our hotel and had packed something for the beach from the Ralph’s grocery store downtown.
We stayed at a hotel downtown San Diego, but there were so many hotels en route that looked fantastic. Mission Beach is linked to Mission Bay where big attractions like Sea World are based.
It was less than 30 minutes by car from downtown San Diego to the Belmont Park area. We arrived early morning and found parking by the beach without problem; however, during the high season or later in the day parking is likely very difficult to come by. There are public transportation options and/or renting a bike would be worth checking out if you’re more fit and it’s a busy time of year.
Beach tides & times schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.