Mission Blvd – Home of the Boardwalk
Look no further to find the definition of the word “beach bum.” Shoes optional, bathing suits required. Folks here cruise on skateboards, bicycles and roller blades more than they walk on their own two feet. The vibe here is definitely what you’d call “chill”, a place filled with beachside coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. The environment is certainly laid back and local, and offers the perfect location to grab a pint of beer with old friends.
The main drag and the heartbeat of beach life in Pacific Beach is Garnet avenue. This 3 mile long stretch of street hosts a multitude of bars, restaurants and retail shops. From Zen5 sushi to World of Curry, if you have a craving for any particular type of food, you are likely to find it here. It’s where you cheer when you find a parking spot because it’s just that popular. The vibe here is definitely high energy, and the party is going on just about every day and night of the week. On weekend afternoons, locals and beachgoers alike can be found drinking Tecate and margaritas, and by night continuing their celebration with tequila shots, Jaeger bombs, and (ahem) Fireball. The average age tends to be individuals in their 20s and 30s, but you’ll also see plenty of families with young children and older residents, many of whom have called Pacific Beach home for much of their lives.
Sporty and classy, folks here are fit! Homes here are further away from the bustling streets of the PB party scene. There’s still plenty of activity, but more so with running shoes and less with high amounts of alcohol in the system. Here the main word that comes to mind is “active”, with people exercising everywhere you look. Runners, cyclists, volleyball players…this is the ultimate place for the stereotypical beach activities of Southern California. The average age here is slightly higher than that of downtown PB, with more families and young professionals who want to hit the beach without pounding beers at the same time.
Crown point is becoming one of the new “it” places in Pacific Beach. Originally known for its more quiet lifestyle and excellent location for commuting, it is now developing a downtown of its own. Be sure to grab a burger at Rocky’s, or Hawaiian fare at Big Kahuna’s. And recently, the hipster and foodie attracting restaurant Promiscuous Fork opened its second location, after developing a cult following in La Jolla.
As the sun goes down, the fires light up. The beach here is lined with bonfire pits that are great for all ages. So if you’re in the mood for s’mores, grab Hershey’s bars and marshmallows from one of the local shops and come on over! Just be sure to claim your spot early on weekends!
East PB (East of Ingraham)
About a mile up from the beach, you’ll find many bicycle shops and restaurants that are larger and host more indoor seating than those right by the beach. From The Patio to the Fish Shop, there are eateries here that make SD famous, though sometimes more expensive than the burger and fries you’ll find right on the beach.
It’s a touch more residential, as this area is the hub for locals to go for everyday errands like grocery shopping and prescription pick ups. (It’s where you’ll find Vons, CVS, & Sprouts). Any needs you have, from medical to office supplies, can most likely be attended to here. Then be ready for a mean shrimp sandwich at Fish Shop after!
Down to Earth & trendy. The main streets in North PB are Cass & Turquoise. Like the color it’s named after, Turquoise Street is definitely what you’d call hip. It is filled with earthy cafes and funky shops. From Luella Boutique to Patina Gift Shop, this is a sweet spot to hit for finding gifts you won’t at your average mall.
Cass Street, likewise, if covered with delicious eateries. From Hawaiian-inspired to outdoor garden cafes, it’s easy to feel like you’ve traveled somewhere beyond the rocking beach scene that is so nearby. Closer to the main street of Garnet, this street also hosts a lot of the staple venues & shops that locals require: the local library, the post office, and the bank. And for a coffee to work or study in between errands? Coffee at Cafe 976, Java Earth, or Turquoise Cafe! When you bank by the beach and pick up your books by the Bay, the typical errands like buying stamps and making deposits simply don’t feel like chores.
Laid back & prosperous is the vibe here. The Bird Rock area crosses over into the city of La Jolla, where the houses get larger and grander by the block. The income of this area is definitely higher than that of the students sharing rooms in beach bungalows closer to Garnet, so the crowd is a little more mature and calm. You’ll see coffee shops & yoga studios abound, this is a place to get your chi on at a hot yoga class, and then get your chai on at a nearby coffee house.