Located 5 miles from Sea World, 7 miles from the San Diego Zoo and
10 miles from the San Diego airport, Pacific Beach would seem an
ideal place to stay on a visit to San Diego, yet it is often
overshadowed by its neighbors upscale La Jolla to the north and
“family-friendly” Mission Bay to the south. That’s a shame, because
with a beautiful beach and boardwalk, a wide range of
accommodations and a mix of restaurants, bars and coffeehouses,
P.B., as its known to locals, is just the place to call home when
booking a trip to San Diego.
Despite being in the heart of the city, Pacific Beach has
retained its beach-town vibe, with bicycles and Rollerblades the
preferred methods of travel. While it’s still a surfing hot spot
evidenced by the surf stores on and around Garnet Avenue, P.B.’s
main drag the neighborhood’s coffeehouses and ethnic restaurants
give it a cosmopolitan feel.
“Whether it’s the serenity of Mission Bay, or the beauty of the
Pacific Ocean, or the boardwalk, we’ve got it all here,” said Ron
Houston, president of Discover Pacific Beach Business Improvement
District. “And there’s a certain energy here. You can’t miss
Of course, it’s the beach that’s the main attraction. Famous
with surfers and the local college crowd, it’s also a great place
to doze quietly in the sun or play with the kids in the surf. And
the boardwalk lined with small boutiques and restaurants, and
shadowed by a three-mile-long bike path (bike rentals are readily
available) offers an excellent respite from lounging in the sun.
About two-thirds of the way down the boardwalk, in neighboring
Mission Beach, is Belmont Park, which bills itself as “San Diego’s
only beachfront amusement center.” Belmont Park is the home of the
world-famous Giant Dipper a wooden roller coaster built in
While there’s plenty to do in Pacific Beach itself, most
visitors will use the area as a jumping-off point to explore San
Diego’s many attractions. And there’s no shortage of accommodations
in the area.
Probably the most well-known hotel in the area is the Catamaran
Resort Hotel, situated on Mission Bay. Part of the Evans Hotels
group, the Catamaran has 313 deluxe guest rooms and suites, with a
mix of garden, ocean and bay views. It has an award-winning
restaurant and two bars, and it offers a complimentary cocktail
cruise aboard its boat, the Bahia Belle. Included among its many
services is a watersports rental service where you can rent
everything from boogie boards to Jet Skis. They also offer tours to
local attractions and special packages.
“We’re situated right on Mission Bay, only five minutes from Sea
World, and close to all of San Diego’s famous beaches,” said Damon
Lockrem, director of sales for the Catamaran. “We have our own Mad
Science kids club, and we feature lots of outdoor summertime
entertainment, including luaus, music and barbecues.” The
Catamaran’s rates are $169 to $375 per night, single occupancy, for
a standard guest room. If you book before June 30, you may be
eligible for their Pre-Summer Sale, with garden-view rooms as low
as $139 and bay-view rooms for $179. The Catamaran offers travel
agents 10 percent commission on booked rooms. (Check with the hotel
for details on their commission policy.)
One of the most dramatic hotels in P.B. is the Crystal Pier
Hotel. Located literally on top of Crystal Pier, in the heart of
P.B.’s boardwalk, the hotel has 29 one- and two-bedroom units made
up of Cape Cod-style cottages that sit on the pier, about 15 feet
above the surf. The hotel has become well known in recent years as
it’s featured on the television show “Hunter.”
“People find it very relaxing,” said Sharon Hurt, an employee of
the hotel. “In some units, you can really feel the waves coming in
as you’re lying in bed.”
Summer rates for the Crystal Pier Hotel run $270 to $400 per
night, and rooms are usually booked months in advance. There is no
travel agent commission. Another place to try is the Pacific
Terrace Hotel, located on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. This
73-unit “luxury boutique” hotel features deluxe guest rooms with
large private balconies or patios, most with ocean views. “We’re
actually situated on a slight bluff above the beach,” said Jenny
Mendoza, the hotel’s director of sales, “so even the views on the
ground floor are fantastic.” The hotel offers numerous services,
including in-room massage therapy and a complimentary wine
reception each evening. They will even arrange for surfing
They offer 10 percent commission; and best of all, they say they
are “very travel-agent-friendly.” Agents can apply for commission
when booking over the hotel’s Web site.
“I’m a former travel agent myself,” said Mendoza. “We’ll really
work with the agent to help them if we can.”
Rooms run $260 to $385 per night in summer, depending on size.
Rates are based on double occupancy, but children under 14 stay
Probably the most famous restaurant in P.B. is Sushi Ota, a
regular in Zagat’s restaurant surveys and often voted one of the
best restaurants in all of San Diego. Visitors should also try
Nick’s at the Beach. This “casual California-style” eatery is known
for its fresh seafood and veranda dining with a view of the
For breakfast and lunch, another landmark in the neighborhood is
Kono’s Surf Cafe, located just a few steps from the ocean, on the
P.B. boardwalk. In the evening, try the Cass Street Bar and Grill.
A beer and wine bar with a good menu, Cass Street very popular with
With 26 million visitors every year, San Diego is certainly a
top travel destination. While there is no shortage of places to
stay in the city, Pacific Beach provides a perfect base for your
clients’ next trip down the San Diego way.
Discover Pacific Beach, 858-273-3303, www.pacificbeach.org.
Catamaran Resort Hotel, 800-422-8386,
Crystal Pier Hotel, 800-748-5894, www.crystalpier.com.
Pacific Terrace Hotel, 800-344-3370, www.pacificterrace.com.