Mission Bay is one of San Diego's most popular outdoor destinations, a complex of waterfront parks, public beaches and grassy, palm-lined recreation paths strung along 27 miles of shoreline. The largest man-made aquatic park in the country, Mission Bay San Diego's shape is nearly square and it's surrounded on all sides by land, with the water getting in through the Mission Bay Channel on the southwest corner. The western side is a narrow peninsula, with just one street running north and south along it. In the middle are Fiesta Island and Vacation Isle, both reachable by road.
At Mission Bay San Diego you can fly a kite, go bird-watching or have a picnic, but water sports rule here. Eastern Mission Bay is popular with jet boats, jet skis and the like, while the seaward side attracts sailboats and sailboarders. You can rent sailboats, jet skis, kayaks and power boats from Mission Bay Sport Center on the west side of the park.
You'd think a park that covers 4,200 acres would always have plenty of room, but Mission Bay San Diego is a very popular place. Get there early and bring plenty of food and drinks with you, or you may have to abandon your parking spot to go find them.
Mission Bay San Diego Beaches
The easiest way to find a nice Mission Bay beach is to just drive around until you see a place you like. In general, the parks along I-5 get a lot of highway noise. You learn to ignore it after a while, but with quieter parks on the other side of the bay, why not go there instead? Ventura Cove and Bahia Point near the Bahia Resort (Gleason Drive off Mission Bay Blvd) are nice, as is Mariners Point across the street.
Hours vary at the Mission Bay parks, but most are closed at least a few hours per day. Lifeguards are on duty on weekends in late spring and early fall, and daily in summer. Alcohol is prohibited everywhere.
The water is quite calm inside Mission Bay, but don't let it create a false sense of security. The shore drops off sharply and a child who is waist deep in water can take one step and be in over their head.
Mission Bay San Diego ActivitiesBesides the things you can do in Mission Bay San Diego parks, these are a few other area activities:
- Sea World: Killer whale Shamu is the star here, but you'll find plenty of other things to do.
- Belmont Park: An old-fashioned beachfront amusement park that's home to the 1925 Giant Dipper roller coaster.
- Beach bonfires are a particularly California activity, and you'll find containers for beach fires at many Mission Bay San Diego beaches. You can have a fire from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. Bring your own wood and/or charcoal, which you can buy at many San Diego area grocery stores.
Where to Stay on Mission Bay
- Mission Bay Top Hotels
- Campland on the Bay: RV resort on the south side
- Mission Bay RV Resort: Just off I-5 on the north side