“It still has that sort of traditional beach feel to it. It hasn’t been totally gussied up. It’s very real,” said Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, which boasts a membership of 525 businesses.
Were you to do a Google search on Ocean Beach, entries variously describe it as a place that’s “unpretentious” and “sleepy,” where waves pound Sunset Cliffs and shops are locally owned and managed.
Ocean Beach is the home of San Diego’s original dog beach at the end of Voltaire Street at the northernmost end of the community. A true canine sanctuary, Dog Beach provides a haven where pets can run leash-free with their families.
Next door, Point Loma shares the ocean lifestyle with its neighbor, but has more of the feel of the “dock,” having been the landing place of the first European expedition to come ashore in California.
“There’s a ton of stuff to do in Point Loma, which has one of the largest fishing fleets in the West Coast offering guests the opportunity to go out on day boats,” said Matt Kalla, president of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, dedicated since 1960 to the betterment of Point Loma, Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Sports Arena and Midway areas.
“It’s an extremely clean, bayfront environment with lots of boating activities, great restaurants and some great places to stay,” said Kalla. “It’s a great destination spot that offers a lot of frills for people, such as being a great walking neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, Knox described Ocean Beach as a tight-knit community with “lots of personalities that all seem to meld together very well.” She said the majority of business owners and their employees “live here, eat out here, hang out here, spend their time here.”
Characterizing Ocean Beach as a “passionate community with lots of opinions,” Knox said the beach community is a friendly, comfortable place where you can “walk up and down the street and know people.”
Knox said Obecians are easy to get along with — as long as you observe one rule.
“People just want others to treat the community right,” she said. “Don’t litter, don’t wreck the community in any way. If [visitors] do that, people will leave them alone.”
Many of the sights and businesses in OB are iconic.
The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, one of the most visited landmarks in San Diego County, was officially christened in1966. The T-shaped pier, which affords ample fishing opportunities, extends 1,971 feet into the ocean and is the second-longest pier on the West Coast.
In Ocean Beach, you don’t need a machine to go back in time. Just check out some of its nostalgic boutiques like The Black at 5017 Newport Ave. The Black has everything you’ve always wanted to have or see from the 1960s if one is not afraid to ask.
Even some of OB’s landforms are iconic, like Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre resource-based park stretching along the Pacific Ocean bordering the western edge of Point Loma. Dedicated in 1983, the park’s topography includes intricately carved coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves affording inspiring panoramic ocean views. From the cliffs, the California gray whale can be seen migrating annually from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
Sunset Cliff’s 50-acre hillside section, a designated multiple-species conservation area, links to the 640-acre Point Loma Ecological Reserve that begins at the Navy property to the south. The peninsula that is Point Loma, a seven-mile strip of land jutting into the ocean from the north end of San Diego Bay, also has no shortage of landmarks. Recreational resources are abundant on the peninsula, including the Cabrillo National Monument, Shelter Island and the Point Loma Lighthouse. Visitors are charmed by the peninsula’s eclectic shops, seaside restaurants, art galleries and romantic harbor atmosphere.
Throughout the years, Point Loma’s deep-water anchorages at marinas protected seafarers from ominous storms, and the harbor served as an ideal location for yachting, sailing, and sports fishing. The peninsula hosts international sailing competitions and has been the scene for the Americas Cup.
Kalla notes that Point Loma is ideally located.
“It’s so close to downtown,” he said. “Staying there is a really convenient place with a little more breathing room, not smack in the middle of downtown.”
Point Loma also features military landmarks like a key submarine warfare base, as well as Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive.
“Its very moving to see how many people have fought for our country,” said Kalla.
The Peninsula also has Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), one of the region’s most prominent Christian-based colleges, known for its “forward-thinking” programs. PLNU, serving more than 3,500 students, offers more than 60 undergraduate areas of study and graduate program regional centers, including Mission Valley in San Diego.
Another huge draw, Kobey’s Swap Meet at Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) at 3500 Sports Arena Blvd, is San Diego’s largest open-air market, offering everything from souvenirs to arts and crafts to jewelry and antiques. Kobey’s draws 30,000 shoppers and more than 1,000 sellers weekly, attracting a large and diverse audience of about 1.2 million people annually.
For more than 40 years, the sports arena has been one of the region’s premiere multi-purpose entertainment venues, bringing out the best concerts, family shows, sporting events and a variety of other special events. The arena was the scene of the 1973 Muhammed Ali versus Ken Norton heavyweight title fight and has hosted some of the world’s most prominent musicians, including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Elton John.
No discussion of things to see and do in Point Loma would be complete without mention of Liberty Station, a world unto itself. A mixed-use, 361-acre development on the site of the former Naval Training Center San Diego, Liberty Station’s retail, cultural and commercial district’s anchor tenants include Vons, Trader Joe’s and Ace Hardware. There are also several dozen restaurants, including several Starbuck’s coffee shops, and a variety of retail shops.
In May, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens opened on Historic Decatur Road. The 23,500-square-foot facility cost $8 million and can seat 700 patrons. It is the largest retail enterprise at Liberty Station.