Let this photo not trick you into thinking that you will find a lovely quiet beach in Mission Beach. This unique view of Mission Beach reflects the photographer's preference.
Mission Beach beach is normally packed with people basking in the bright sun and enjoying other activities usually found at a popular Californian beach.
Mission Beach is a community of the City of San Diego. Though SeaWorld and Belmont Park are important attractions in Mission Beach, the most popular attraction is it's beach. This is a swimming and a surfing beach so keep in mind that swimming and surfing activities are kept apart from each other.
The main intersection to reach Mission Beach beach is West Mission Bay Drive and Mission Boulevard. However, at the south end of Mission Boulevard turn left into another parking lot and you will find another section of the beach that isn't so crowded. The Boardwalk runs this far down, so it is possible to walk up to the more commercial section. A perfect solution for families with parents who want to relax and teens who what to be where the action is.
If my photo is not inviting to you, keep in mind that it just happens to be one of my favorite times to go to this beach. After a storm the waves are considerably higher and more powerful, which is the draw for me. Also, this is a rare photo. Most of the time there is someone at the beach, even during the winter. Maybe a better clue would be that lifeguards man this beach all year round.
Mission Beach Bay is a mini-archipelago type area offering lots of fun things to see or do. There are several big hotel / resorts located here and if the price of a room is prohibitive, you can always stop in one of their lovely restaurants for a meal and the ambience. Some of the amenities, such as bike rentals may be open to the public as well as most restaurants and bars are.
Mission Bay Park is a favorite venue for company picnics, but there is room enough for all, so feel free to plop your blanket down and enjoy the sights and sounds and the ocean breeze. There are playground areas for the little ones and wading from the shore is allowed. Public restrooms (toilets) are placed throughout.
Spend a whole day discovering the various views from different sections of the park and if a lazy summer vacation is the goal, this is the place to enjoy it.
However, if it is more activity you seek, you'll find it here. Swimming, boating and other water sports are available here. Kite flying, jogging and biking are also popular things to do here. Also there are several wild life preserves at Mission Bay Park and self-guided tours are allowed.
The Liberty Carousel sits in the shadow of The Giant Dipper and it is an antique reproduction, complete with hand-painted plaques of scenes found in old photographs kept by the San Diego Historical Society.
Though Belmont Park seems to be caught in time, it is also in the present. One of it's newer attractions is Laser Tag which is pretty popular around here.
Other rides at Belmont Park include the Vertical Plung, Krazy Kars, Crazy Submarine, Thunder Boats Ride, a Tilt-A-Whirl, and for the littlest ones, Baja Buggies. Occasionally new rides are introduced but the main thing is that there are rides for teens/adults and rides for the the younger set.
All rides and shops are located in a comparatively small area which helps to create the intimate feeling of walking through a crowded, old-time Carnival.
SeaWorld is located near Mission Bay Park and is one of San Diego's most popular attractions. The entrance price is high, but discounts can be found on the back of grocery receipts, through your hotel and other sources. SeaWorld San Diego is not only a themed amusement park, it is also a study and research facility and a refuge for endangered sea animals. Your admission fee is a valuable contribution towards the noble work going on behind-the-scenes.
There is a parking fee, for cars and RVs or campers. There are bus routes to SeaWorld, if that will be your mode of transportation. Expect delays at the gate for Security Checks and take a look at their website for a list of items not allowed in the park.
There are plenty of places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in SeaWorld, but bringing your own food is allowed and there are lockers provided--for a small fee--to store such items.
The shows at SeaWorld have changed over the years, but Shamu is still synonymous with "killer whale" and they have added thrill rides such as Shipwreck Rapids and Wild Arctic which are included in the price of admission. The Southwest Airlines Skytower and the Bayside Skyride will cost more.
Belmont Park, once known as the Mission Beach Amusement Center, was the idea of John Spreckles. That’s the very rich and far sighted man who made an impact on San Diego as well as lending his name to several buildings in San Diego and Coronado and by the way, was of "Spreckles Sugar" fame.
I’m not sure when the name changed, but I’ve only known it as Belmont Park. The main attraction to this 33 acre park was and is the "blast from the past," Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, one of only two oceanfront roller coasters left on West Coast.
By the late 60's and early 70's Belmont Park fell into disrepair and the park and rollercoaster finally closed in December 1976.
In the late 1980’s interest in Belmont Park sparked great activity and in time the place was once again fun to hang-out at. The only problem was that it took a while for the specialty shops and restaurants to find their niche. The Plunge—and indoor swimming pool—was restored in favor of the other option, a Ball Room for dancing. Another disappointing result was that a few pretty nice restaurants were closed due to lack of business.
The Ball Room has been put aside and The Plunge is back. I should also mention that they've added a wave machine at the Wave House for those who are more adventurous.
However, Belmont Park is as popular, with families and teenagers, as ever and there are lots of things to see and do, including shopping, eating, walking along the "boardwalk" and getting the thrill of your life on some of the rides. A real bonus is that there are two good sized parking lots, one each side of Belmont Park. New showers (and toilets) have been installed at the south end of the park for those wanting to rid themselves of sand etc.
This is probably why you are visiting Belmont Park -- It opened on July 4, 1925 and is one of two remaining original west coast roller coasters. It was recently renovated at a cost of over 2 million dollars!
The blue vertical thing in front is the Vertical Plunge ride -- guaranteed to leave your stomach behind.
In 1925 on the Fourth of July, this wooden roller coaster was not only new, it was "a thrill of a life time." Today it may seem pretty tame compared to the rollercoaster rides found in amusement parks across the country, that have spent years competing with each other to offer the biggest and fastest ride possible.
However mild a ride The Giant Dipper may seem today, it still provides the original thrill, as you will hear from the laughter and screams of it's occupants, as the train raises and dips along the track.
The Giant Dipper is the center piece of Belmont park as well as a landmark in San Diego.
Now this is MY kind of ride ;)
The Liberty Carousel is a detailed modern reproduction of an old-style carousel, complete with exotic animals [save the ostrich for me:)] and hurdy-gurdy music. It suffers from being between two of the scariest rides -- but do stop and take in the authentic details.
A newer ride at Belmont Park is designed to leave you disoriented and screaming .... just like the people in the picture.
The medallions that run around the top of the carousel combine patriotic imagery with local history. The medallions were based on on photographs from the San Diego Historical Society.
Another picture of the Chaos ride at Belmont Park -- from the screams I heard it has many satisfied customers :)