Mission Bay is a hidden gem just waiting to share its natural beauty to first-time visitors. The area is a stunning waterfront paradise, with endless activities, great stores, endless restaurants, and a vibrant neighborhood energy that has visitors falling in love with the area. There are so many things to do in Mission Bay. Whether you are a tourist visiting for the first time, or a local looking for a staycation or activity, you’ll be captivated by the area.
The area is loved for its gorgeous beaches, ocean activities, and youthful and energetic atmosphere. If you’re looking for good food, exercise, relaxation or stores to shop, your list will be endless. And for water enthusiasts, the bay offers everything from kayaking and sailing to lounging on the beach.
Originally, the area was a tidal marsh frequented by Native American communities. In the 1940s, it underwent extensive development to become a recreational oasis. The bay was dredged and transformed into a large aquatic playground, eventually hosting the 1964 World’s Fair, known as the California Pacific International Exposition. Today, it’s an example of the city’s commitment to preserving natural beauty while adapting to the evolving needs of its community and visitors.
Things to Do in Mission Bay: Outdoor Activities
Here’s where your adventure begins. Since it hardly rains in San Diego, it feels like every day in brings warm sunny vibes.
Spend time on Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Each has long stretches of white sand, lifeguard towers, and safe areas to enjoy the water. Pro tip – there are so many places to get food and drinks, that you do not need to bring any with you.
Mission Bay Park
4,235 acres of water and land mean that there is something for everyone. Be sure to add Tecolate Park to your places to visit – it was recently upgraded with play equipment, an adult fitness course, and shade structures. If you have a group activity planned, you can get a permit from the General Park Use Permits and Applications.
Fanuel Park is a picturesque park that is ideal for young children, bbq, beach volleyball, and has plenty of parking.
Things to Do in Mission Bay: Attractions
SeaWorld San Diego
Located in the bay area, SeaWorld San Diego is a fun spot to take the kids to. Plan on spending an entire day here, as there are so many animal encounters, rides, shows and attractions. If you plan to go more than once in the year, getting an annual pass is a good idea.
Shows and exhibits
A new immersive jellyfish exhibit will soon be opening, but in the meantime, enjoy some of the favorites like Orca Encounter, Dolphin Adventures, Turtle Reef, and Sea Lion Show.
Tips for visiting
- Plan your ride on Emperor (a floorless rollercoaster ride that includes a 90 drop) and Manta (a high thrills coaster) before you enjoy lunch.
- Buy your tickets and parking online before going
- Visit the park during the week is a good way to avoid the crowds
- Visit the key attractions first – the day goes by quicker than you’d like.
Belmont Park is San Diego’s only beachside entertainment and boardwalk. With great restaurants, attractions, and stores, it is fun for the whole family. The park opened on July 4, 1925 with a wooden roller coaster that is still open. The park is free to visit.
Notable rides and attractions
For thrill rides, highlights would be the Giant Dipper roller coaster, Beach Blaster, and Zero Gravity – the kids will enjoy the Liberty Carousel, Wave Jumper, and Krazy Kars.
Things to Do in Mission Bay: Where To Eat
Waterfront dining options
Firefly Eatery & Bar – Located in The Dana Hotel.
Local cuisine recommendations
Rosemarie’s Burgers – the best place to get creative and delicious burgers by the beach.
Molly’s – perfect for break, brunch and lunch.
Mission Bay is easily accessible by car. From downtown San Diego, take I-8 West and follow the signs.
Public Transportation: Bus
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates several bus routes that connect various parts of the city to Mission Bay.
Public Transportation: Trolley
While the trolley system doesn’t directly go there, you can take the trolley to a nearby station and transfer to a bus.
Consider renting a bike to explore the bike paths and scenic trails. Many rental shops in the area offer hourly or daily rates.
Seaforth Boat Rentals operates a water taxi service on Mission Bay, providing a unique and scenic way to reach different points along the bay.
Ride-hailing services (Uber and Lyft) are readily available in San Diego and can drop you off at various locations around Mission Bay.
If you’re staying at a hotel in San Diego, check if they offer shuttle services to Mission Bay or nearby attractions.
Depending on where you’re staying, it might be possible to walk to Mission Bay, especially if you’re in the Pacific Beach or Mission Beach neighborhoods.
With so many things to do in Mission Bay, two days won’t be enough.