Mission Beach is a community built on a sandbar between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay. It spans nearly two miles of ocean front. It is bounded by the San Diego River estuary on the south, Mission Bay Park on the east, and the community of Pacific Beach on the north. A boardwalk runs along the beaches on both the ocean and bay sides of the community. The main artery through Mission Beach is Mission Boulevard. The community is divided into South Mission, a peninsula, and North Mission. At the south end of the beach a jetty, with grass, parking and a walk, extends into the ocean.
Many residential structures in Mission Beach were built in the 1930s and 1940s as summer cottages and some date as early as the 1920s. The rare airplane bungalow on Manhattan Court was built in 1924. Because of problems to work out with developing on sand, Mission Beach developed later than the neighboring communities of Ocean Beach to the south and Pacific Beach to the north.
As a result of a new official subdivision in 1914, encouraged by land sales in those next-door communities and a new wooden bridge linking Mission Beach with Ocean Beach, John D. Spreckels offered small lots for sale. As a result, Mission Beach is the most densely developed residential community in San Diego with a land use designation across the majority of its land area of 36 dwelling units per acre. It also has the smallest lots in the city, ranging from 1,250 square feet (116 m2) to 2,400 square feet (220 m2). Few have been consolidated to form larger lots. Many of the structures within the community have been redeveloped into two-story homes. The wooden bridge to Ocean Beach was closed to traffic in 1950 and demolished in 1951.
Attractions near Mission Beach include SeaWorld in Mission Bay Park and the historic amusement park, Belmont Park, in South Mission Beach. Belmont Park was originally built as the Mission Beach Amusement Center by John D. Spreckels in 1925 to stimulate real estate sales and to promote his electric railway. Belmont Park now features the original wooden Giant Dipper Roller Coaster as well as newer rides such as the FlowRider at Wave House, Chaos, Vertical Plunge, Krazy Kars, Tilt-a-Whirl, Liberty Carousel, Crazy Submarine, The Beach Blaster, and The Chaos.
Designed by architect Frank Walter Stevenson, The Mission Beach Plunge in Belmont Park opened in May 1925 as the Natatorium. The 60-foot (18 m)-by-175-foot (53 m) swimming pool was at the time the largest salt-water pool in the world, holding 400,000 gallons. The Plunge building enclosing the pool was styled after the Spanish Renaissance architecture of San Diego's Balboa Park structures. The changing rooms were featured in the Tom Cruise film Top Gun. Celebrities who once swam at the Plunge include Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller. The roof of the building rolled open to make it both an indoor and outdoor pool. The Mission Beach Plunge (now using fresh water) and the Giant Dipper are the only remaining attractions left from Spreckels' original park; the other structures were razed in the late 1980s.
Mission Beach offers opportunities to participate in sunbathing, horseshoes, surfing, bicycling, skateboarding, Frisbee tossing, and other outdoor activities. A local skating club, "Skate This!," performs for free on weekends, executing trick skating and dancing on both rollerblades and traditional skates. It is a well known, popular location for engaging in sports, including beach volleyball and basketball, with courts available for both.
There is a public recreation center on Santa Clara Place on the bay side of Mission Beach. At the south end of Belmont Park, Wave House Athletic Club is a full-service beachside fitness center, complete with cardio equipment, weights, fitness classes, aquatic classes in the Plunge, and beach Bootcamps.
Mission Beach includes Mariner's Point, the original site of the Over-the-line softball-on-the-beach tournament.
Thong bikinis are technically illegal on Mission Beach, but lifeguards and local police do not typically enforce the ban on such swimwear. The consumption of alcoholic beverages on the beach is illegal as of April 2008. Nudity is not allowed.
Many beachgoers are local college and university students, but both tourists and permanent residents of the beach and other areas are also frequent visitors to the beach. Weekly and monthly rentals are available during the summer months.
Mission Beach has many well-known bars. Most bars in the neighborhood are relaxed, beach-style gathering places. Some of the more popular places include Guava Beach, The Sandbar Sports Grill, The Beachcomber and The Pennant in South Mission, The Coaster Saloon, Draft and Wave House, a beachside bar-and-grill featuring an 8-foot (2.4 m) tall barreling artificial wave called the Bruticus Maximus and a smaller FlowRider.
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Updated: 28th September, 2022 6:24 AM (UTC).