Mission Beach, San Diego, California
Mission Beach spans nearly two miles of ocean front. It is bounded by theÂ San Diego Riverestuary on the south,Â Mission Bay ParkÂ on the east, and the community ofÂ Pacific BeachÂ 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 ’40s as summer cottages and some date as early as the 1920s. The rareÂ airplane bungalow on Manhattan CourtÂ Â was built in 1924. Because of problems to work out with developing on sand, Mission Beach developed later than the neighboring communities ofÂ Ocean BeachÂ to the south andÂ Pacific BeachÂ to the north. 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 inÂ San DiegoÂ 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 1,250Â square feet (116Â m2) to 2,400Â square feet (220Â m2). Few have been consolidated to form larger lots. Many of the structures within the community have been redeveloped into two-story homes.Â The wooden bridge to Ocean Beach was closed to traffic in 1950 and demolished in 1951.
Attractions near Mission Beach includeÂ SeaWorldÂ inÂ Mission Bay ParkÂ and the historic amusement parkÂ Belmont ParkÂ in South Mission Beach. Belmont Park was originally built as the Mission Beach Amusement CenterÂ byÂ John D. SpreckelsÂ in 1925 to stimulate real estate sales and to promote his electric railway. Belmont Park now features the original woodenÂ Giant Dipper Roller CoasterÂ as well as newer rides such as theÂ FlowRiderÂ atÂ 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 theÂ Natatorium. The 60-foot (18Â m)-by-175-foot (53Â 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’sÂ Balboa ParkÂ structures. It was featured in theÂ Tom CruiseÂ filmÂ 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.Â 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 inÂ sunbathing,Â horseshoes,Â surfing,bicycling,Â skateboarding,Â 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 volleyballÂ and basketball, with courts available for both.
There is a public recreation center on Santa Clara Avenue on the bay side of Mission Beach. At the south end of Belmont Park,Â Wave House Athletic ClubÂ 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 theÂ Over-the-lineÂ softball-on-the-beach tournament.
Thong bikinisÂ 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.Â NudityÂ 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.
Bars and nightlife
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 The Sandbar Sports Grill, and The Beachcomber and The Pennant in South Mission, The Coaster Saloon andÂ Wave House, a beachside bar-and-grill featuring an 8-foot (2.4Â m) tall barrelingÂ artificial waveÂ called the Bruticus Maximus and a smallerÂ FlowRider.
- Lloy Ball, Olympic volleyball player
- Chris Brewster, president,Â United States Lifesaving Association
- David C. Copley, billionaire, former publisher ofÂ San Diego Union-TribuneÂ newspaper
- Dave Costa,Â San Diego Charger
- Mike Gotch, former San Diego City Councilman and former California state assemblyman
- Dan Hamel, business owner (legendary Hamel’s), boxing manager
- Edward B. (Ned) Huntington,Â San Diego Superior Court judge
- Allyn Johnston, VP and publisher, Beach Lane Books, an Imprint of Simon and Schuster
- William H. Kronberger, San Diego Superior Court judge
- Lee Louis,Â KGTVÂ Channel 10 veteran photojournalist
- Pat Powers, Olympic gold medalist, Men’s Volleyball
- Cathy Scott,Â true crime author
- Walt Sweeney,Â San Diego Charger