PB and Mission Beach still meccas of activity with much to see and do
by Dave Schwab
Aug 02, 2013 | 18442 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Paul Hansen
Photo by Paul Hansen
slideshow
Thrills a-plenty: From exciting rides at Belmont Park to a hydro-powered jetpack or a relaxing ride on the beach, PB and Mission Beach offer everything for every kind of vacationer. PAUL HANSEN
Thrills a-plenty: From exciting rides at Belmont Park to a hydro-powered jetpack or a relaxing ride on the beach, PB and Mission Beach offer everything for every kind of vacationer. PAUL HANSEN
slideshow
Photo by Paul Hansen
Photo by Paul Hansen
slideshow
Photo by Paul Hansen
Photo by Paul Hansen
slideshow
Sun and surf and all that goes with it is the main attraction of Pacific and Mission beaches, which are a mecca for aquatic-related activity of every imaginable type.

And the businesses in the two adjoining coastal communities reflect the same. The slogan for Pacific Beach’s business improvement district (BID) is: “It’s all right here.”

“And it really is,” said Sara Berns, executive director of Discover Pacific Beach, the largest of San Diego’s 17 BIDS and 18 micro-BIDS.

Pacific Beach’s business district, which includes Grand and Garnet avenues between Mission Boulevard and Interstate 5, as well as Cass Street, Turquoise Avenue, Lamont Street and Mission Bay Drive, boasts more than 1,400 businesses.

“There’s tons to do in PB, whether it’s riding bikes on the boardwalk, skateboarding or surfing, playing beach volleyball, horseshoes or extreme Frisbee. It’s an active, outdoor lifestyle and our businesses match that,” said Berns.

Above all else, Pacific Beach has a great mix of businesses. Some are large. Others small. Some cater primarily to locals. Others serve mostly out-of-towners.

“There is a wide range of price points,” said Berns. “You can come down and shop for a $200 pair of jeans or a $2 tank top.”

Multitudinous skate and surf shops serve the needs of those coming down to indulge themselves in the beach lifestyle.

PB’s business mix includes professionals of every stripe — doctors, lawyers, dentists, architects and acupuncturists. It also has big chain stores right alongside small businesses.

“I’m looking out my window at Office Depot and a sushi restaurant,” said Berns. “Mom and pops, we’ve still got ’em. We’ve got a Maytag store here where you can still buy a washer and dryer.”

The business community in Mission Beach is equally as diverse.

The home of Belmont Park, The Wave House and The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, Mission Beach is perhaps best known for having great beach vacation rentals.

One such rental entrepreneur is Gina Champion Cain, who owns The Patio on Lamont Street and several pet-friendly vacation-rental properties on Mission Beach, as well as Luv San Diego Surf at 4439 Lamont St., a retail store in connection with the vacation rentals.

Champion Cain said Pacific Beach is the more commercial of the two coastal communities, whereas Mission Beach is more seasonal and “beachy.”

“Mission Beach is clearly a hospitality-driven neighborhood, which has more the flavor of a tourist attraction,” she said. “PB really has more long-term residents.”

Guests of Champion Cain’s beach rentals are pampered — and so are their pets, which are always welcome at her establishments.

“We rent like a hotel, charge by the day, have concierge service,” she said. “We’re pet-friendly and it’s a big deal for us. We love our animals.”

Being pet-friendly is “how we separate ourselves from everybody else,” she said. “Ninety-eight percent of beach rentals in Mission Beach are not pet friendly.”

Champion Cain’s establishments also specialize in “supreme customer service.”

“Our rentals are completely turn-key with food in the refrigerator, dog food treats and free coffee beans,” Champion Cain said. “If you want to get tickets to the San Diego Zoo or SeaWorld, we can do all that for you.”

For more information, visit luv-surf.com or email gina@luvsdsurf .com.

Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are both noted for a wide range of more than 100 restaurants catering to every imaginable taste and palette, such as The Mission at 3795 Mission Blvd.

The Mission’s menu includes everything from classic pancakes and sandwiches to modern Chino-Latino cuisine, which, the website (themissionsd.com) proclaims, “has made The Mission a huge favorite among local San Diegans and travelers from around the world.”

If your dining tastes run more toward the traditional, there’s Luigi’s At The Beach at 3210 Mission Blvd.

The restaurant, named for an Italian who opened it in 1985, uses a blend of “family secrets” to create a “dazzling, yet simple” menu.

If breakfast is what you seek, Kono’s Café at 704 Garnet Ave. across from Crystal Pier offers outdoor seating, some with incomparable ocean views.

An iconic Pacific Beach eatery known for its breakfast burritos and other specialties, Kono’s has long lines out the door during the busy summer peak season for good reason. Patrons would be hard pressed to find better quality, bigger portions or more reasonable prices.

If your culinary tastes run more toward the homegrown side, you can indulge yourself at three local farmers markets in Pacific Beach. One takes place Tuesdays from 2 to 7 p.m. on Bayard Street at Garnet Avenue. Another happens at 4150 Mission Blvd. at Pacific Beach Drive in the Promenade, and a third takes place at the Seaside Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave.

The community also abounds with retail delights. Pilar’s Beachwear at 3790 Mission Blvd. is one place — among many — that offers PB-centric attire: beachwear.

“Pilar’s Beachwear has been in Mission Beach since 1970,” said Julie Wilkinson, the boutique’s co-owner. “We are a family owned business that carries swimwear, beachwear, clothing and accessories for women of all ages and sizes. We pride ourselves on providing personalized customer service so our customers leave here feeling beautiful and good about themselves.”

Wilkinson said Pilar’s has been voted “best place to buy a swimsuit” several times, and recently moved to its expanded location at 3790 Mission Blvd.

If you’re searching for a hotel, there are no shortage of options in either Mission Beach or Pacific Beach. Two excellent choices are The Bahia Hotel on a 14-acre peninsula surrounded by Mission Bay at 998 West Mission Bay Drive, and the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa at 3999 Mission Blvd.

The family friendly, Mediterranean-themed Bahia provides picture-perfect views from 314 spaciously appointed guestrooms. Gardenfront rooms inspire guests to relax in a tropical paradise while listening to the sounds of a trickling stream surrounded by palm gardens.

A trademark of the Catamaran with its 313 luxury guest rooms is its signature spa with its South Pacific-inspired menu of products with marine and botanical elements offering the finest in therapeutic skin and body treatments.

Besides a large assortment of beach cottages, there are more than 20 high-rise hotels in Pacific and Mission beaches from which to choose, Berns said.

Best of all about the beach communities is they’re ageless and timeless, Berns said.

“There’s something for everybody — kids, singles, couples, the elderly, whether you’re coming here to do something active, or just to lay on the beach and sunbathe,” she said.
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