Ocean Beach, San Diego: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

On the hunt for Southern California beach vibes? Look no further than San Diego’s Ocean Beach. This bohemian San Diego neighborhood is perfect for surfers, animal lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

During your Ocean Beach vacation, you can surf and soak up the sun on Ocean Beach City Beach and make new furry friends at Dog Beach. You’ll have a wonderful time browsing the colorful stalls at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market before tucking into tasty fish tacos at South Beach Bar & Grille.

Ready to experience sea, sand, and epic sunsets? Design the perfect trip with this complete guide to Ocean Beach, San Diego, including what to see & do, where to eat and drink, and where to stay!

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What to see & do in Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach City Beach

Get the ultimate Ocean Beach atmosphere at Ocean Beach City Beach. This wide sandy space is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. It’s kept its old San Diego feeling but has modern amenities and tons to see & do.

Want to hit the waves? Ocean Beach City Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego for surfing. Bring your board along, or marvel at the experts from the sand. Relax and get some sun or round up a group for a game of volleyball.

Ocean City Beach

As well as fun activities on Ocean Beach Pier, you can head south at low tide and explore the tide pools. These small pools create interesting mini habitats for marine life.

Have fun clambering over the slippery rocks while looking for fascinating sea creatures. At the Ocean Beach City Beach tidepools, you could spot hermit crabs, barnacles, and sea anemones on your day trip from San Diego.

Ocean Beach Farmers Market

Nothing helps you get a feel for a city quite like a market. The Ocean Beach Farmers Market is open every Wednesday from 4 pm until 8 pm. But this open-air market offers more than just produce. The eclectic choice of artisan vendors makes this a lively way to spend your afternoon.

As well as the freshest fruits and veggies, you can pick up organic honey, kombucha, and baked goods. Get some gourmet cheese and freshly baked bread to take on your next San Diego beach picnic. Talk to the vendors as you go to learn about their supply chain and ethical practices.

The Ocean Beach Farmers Market is vibrant, with beautiful flower stalls, live music, and arts and crafts. Browse candles with inventive flavors and support local artists by purchasing some of their work. Feeling hungry? Delicious street food vendors serve a choice of hot global cuisine.

Ocean Beach Pier

The Ocean Beach Pier is one of the most-visited attractions in San Diego and the world’s longest concrete pier. This iconic attraction has been an important site for the city since its opening in 1966 when 600,000 residents came to celebrate.

The immense structure is a gorgeous place for a morning stroll. It’s the perfect vantage point for views of the rest of Ocean Beach. Spot the pelicans, watch the surfers on Ocean Beach City Beach, or gaze at the boats drifting by. If you fancy lingering a while, there’s a small café on site selling breakfast and seafood dishes.

Ocean Beach Pier

Ocean Beach Pier is also a prime fishing spot. With depths of around 25-30 feet of water, you have the potential to catch mackerel, bass, and lobster. There’s a bait and tackle shop on site, so you’ll have everything you need to set up for the day.

NOTE: As of March 2023, the Ocean Beach Pier is closed due to storm damage. The pier will reopen once the damage has been assessed and repairs have been made.

Dog Beach

If you’ve brought your furry friend along on your San Diego trip itinerary, they’ll have a barking mad time at Dog Beach. As one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States, the stretch of sand is a famous spot for pet lovers in California. The break here also makes it great for surfing if you’re not too distracted by all the cuteness.

Dog Beach

Nothing beats watching a man’s best friend roll in the sand, chase a ball through the waves, and take a snooze in the sun. Dog Beach is a popular place for locals, so expect it to be busy on the weekends; of course, this just means even more new friends for your pup to meet! Dogs can be off-leash at any time here; just make sure you pick up after them.

If you don’t have your own pooch or board, you can still visit Dog Beach and get your puppy fix. Watch dogs of all shapes and sizes play in the sand as well as the surfers enjoying the Dog Beach Break.

Ocean Beach Athletic Area Robb Field

If you’re getting restless from all your beach time, spend the day at Ocean Beach Athletic Area Robb Field. Stretching along the San Diego River, the park is an emporium of outdoor activities. The pretty area also has lots of green space where you can take a walk and spend time in nature.

Ocean Beach Athletic Area Robb Field is a great place to perfect all your favorite sports. With a tennis practice wall and 12 well-lit tennis courts, you can channel your inner Serena Williams. Or check out the skaters trying new tricks in the skate park. You can get involved or watch from the sidelines with basketball courts, softball fields, rugby goals, and handball courts.

If you’re craving a workout, there’s also a gym on-site. Their four workout rooms include free weights, cardio machines, and training equipment for yoga and Pilates.

Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail

Take in the fantastic San Diego landscape on the Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail. This 2.4-mile out-and-back trail takes you through the stunning Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Explore it by mountain bike, road bike, or on foot. One of the top-rated San Diego hiking trails, it’s an easy hike and takes around 45 minutes to complete. You can even bring your dog along as long as you keep them on the leash.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Meandering along the ocean, the hiking trail will take you on a journey past intricate cliff formations and dreamy ocean vistas. Make sure to stop on the way to admire the open-ceiling sea cave. This large hole in the ceiling of the cliff opens up onto the crashing waves below.

RELATED: When is the Best Time to Visit San Diego?

The panoramic views make Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail a fantastic place to watch the sunset. Let the sky turn red as the sun sinks into the ocean. At the right time of year, you may even be able to spot gray whales in the bay.

Where to eat & drink

The relaxed local feel of Ocean Beach makes it a fantastic destination for an evening on the town. Enjoy global dining with plenty of seafood and quirky venues with creative menus.

Fuel up for your beach days at Breakfast Republic. This funky breakfast spot has chicken-themed décor and sweet treats like s’mores French toast. With six different types of Benedict, this will be the most creative breakfast of your life.

Restaurant in Ocean Beach

Hugo’s Cocina has a huge menu of authentic Mexican dishes. Try everything from tortas to tamales, with lots of fish and seafood options too. Or try classic California rolls at The Joint Sushi & Tapas. The casual restaurant has a varied choice of Asian dishes, seafood, and small bites. There’s even a dog menu so you can get your canine friend involved.

Raglan Public House

For fabulous ocean views, grab a drink at Wonderland Ocean Pub. Order one of their mermaid-sharing cocktails, perch on a window-facing table, and make plans for your time in Ocean Beach. Looking out onto Ocean Beach Pier, South Beach Bar & Grille has a long wooden bar for watching the sunset. With 22 different tequilas, 40 beers, and mahi fish tacos, this place serves up the ultimate vacation vibes.

Escape to New Zealand at Raglan Public House. This friendly spot has mouthwatering grass-fed beef burgers, craft beers, and edgy cocktails. Sit under the lights of the street side patio and meet some new mates.

Where to stay

For travelers seeking out the ultimate SoCal seaside vibes, Ocean Beach is one of the most popular areas to stay in San Diego. There’s a handful of great accommodation options in the community, from hotels and B&B-style inns to vacation rentals.

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

This charming waterfront hotel has kept some of its 1950s style. With blue and white décor, you’ll feel like you’re on the coastline of Mykonos. Less than a ten-minute walk from Ocean Beach City Beach, you’ll have panoramic ocean views. Take a dip in the pool or lie out on the huge clifftop deck.

Samesun Ocean Beach

Samesun Ocean Beach

This cute rainbow house perfectly captures the Ocean Beach hippy feeling. A gorgeous option for solo travelers or those seeking a social atmosphere. There’s a choice of dorms and private rooms, a shared kitchen, and colorful common areas. Daily activities make it easy to explore the seaside community with your new friends.

It's the Good Life

It’s the Good Life

This stylish home is an elegant Ocean Beach oasis. Huge bedrooms and living spaces are flawlessly decorated. Spend hot summer nights on the twinkling patio. The outdoor kitchen comes complete with a stone pizza oven. Cook up a storm while your friends chat with you from the hot tub.

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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