What Makes Ocean Beach, San Diego a Unique Beach Town

ocean beach san diego

My weekend in Ocean Beach was enlightening, to say the least. OB, as its residents call it, in San Diego proves the point that California beaches, and the dwellings on their edges, isn’t like other towns.

Beaches that are just a few minutes drive away from one another are completely different scenes, from rocky diving cliff sides to miles of sandy shores. On any given day, since the weather was perfect every day that I was out there, you can spot people relaxing on the coastline and surfing [what this Floridian thought to be were] huge waves.

Sunset Cliffs Natural ParkIt seems like those who live in Ocean Beach stick to their area. There’s nearly everything you could want or need right on Newport Avenue, the main stretch that leads right up to the beach. So many restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes. I was always pleasantly surprised whenever we walked into a restaurant or bar, just because they look relatively small from the outside but when you walk in, you immediately uncover its distinct personality.

Narragansett Ave in Ocean Beach San DiegoDriving around Ocean Beach, you head up seemingly endless hills (brutal to run) that are lined with gorgeous homes of all colors and shapes. Cacti and other desert foliage decorate front patios and yards. I was amazed by how green everything was.

Stop at the top of Narragansett Ave. for a San Diego view that will take your breathe away. Mountains hover faintly in the distance behind the downtown skyline, an area surrounded by water. Pictures don’t do it justice.

San Diego is on people’s travel radar for plenty of reasons – perfect weather year-round, professional sports teams, beaches, and incredible food. If you only have a few days to spend there, it’s worth it to take a short drive to OB to walk through this hippie beach town, indulge in the best Mexican food, and catch a sunset that will stain your memory forever.

Ocean Beach San Diego surfers

Here’s what makes Ocean Beach in San Diego completely awesome and a unique beach town:

Outrageous Brunch

Kindred veagan restaurant outside of Ocean Beach San Diego

That’s a flower. On toast.

There is a flavor for everyone when it comes to breakfast in Ocean Beach, or really close near by. At Kindred, a vegan place outside of Ocean Beach, you are served beautiful things inside of their pristine, open set up. Experiencing the food + drink (emphasis on the drink) are a must at this restaurant.

This Black Magic Punch Bowl immediately lifts your spirit during a Sunday morning brunch. The little glass tea cups that you sip this refreshing cocktail from make you feel like royalty.

Black Magic Punch Bowl at Kindred in San Diego

Breakfast Republic is located in true Ocean Beach on Newport Avenue. Natural light spills in over the dining area in the morning, where you can find locals enjoying their first meal of the day.

Breakfast Republic in Ocean BeachAll you have to do to fit in here is show up with an hefty appetite, friendly attitude, and wearing whatever the hell you feel like.

Breakfast Republic in Ocean Beach

The Most Scenic Beach Spots

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park San Diego by Ocean Beach

Whether you want to lounge on the sand and soak in the rays, catch some serious waves for surfing, or spend an active day exploring beachside cliffs, OB beaches offer it all.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park was unlike anything I had ever seen. It’s a little bit of a hike to get from the top of the cliffs where you park down to the sand. But you can tell you aren’t the first one to do it, as there are a couple of ropes provided to assist you slowly decline downwards. It’s steep, but makes it all the more rewarding to finally reach the water. All 68-acres belong to the City of San Diego regional parks and extends 1.5 miles down Point Loma.

Sunset Cliffs by Ocean Beach in San Diego
Walking along the rocks and wading in the shallows, you can spot all types of crabs and shallow water sea creatures. The water is cold, but refreshing during a summer day.

exploring the pier at Ocean Beach San Diego
The beach that Newport Avenue opens up to, and where you’ll spot the huge concrete pier, is filled with families and surfers. It’s busy enough but a great place to watch the surfers or to watch the vividly-colored sunset. It was a new shade of orange every night.

The Mexican Food

Mike's Tacos in Ocean Beach San Diego

Mike’s Tacos is a local favorite in Ocean Beach, San Diego. A traditional order includes a California burrito – a burrito of epic proportions with the secret ingredient inside, french fries – chips and guacamole, and a Pacifico.

These spanned the menu, as there is a wide variety of flavors and options. The tortillas put these tacos in another category of delicious. I don’t think I can ever eat Mexican cuisine on the east coast without just missing these.

Mexican Sodas at Taco el Gordo

The sodas are the best part of authentic Mexican food. My parents grew up in Mexico, so when I told them about the Jamaica and Aguas Frescas Horchata they nostalgically responded that those were childhood favorites for them. Jamaica is acidic and fruity, reminding me of Kool Aid in a way, while horchata resembles chai and tastes sweet.

The Pier

exploring the pier at Ocean Beach at sunset

Walking the pier was one of my favorite things we did. It looks like it goes on for miles. Apparently there are waves during some times of the year where they’re big enough to go over the top of the pier!

Fishermen reeling in a catch and locals and visitors taking in the view alike are what you most commonly come across on the pier. The last thing we did on this trip was head to the end and watch the sunset. I can’t decide if the chronological order of it or the bright color palette of the sky are what ingrained it in my mind.

Looking back towards the shoreline is just as calming. You can see stretching palm trees reaching towards the sky, and homes that look like they stack on top of each other to catch glimpses of the sunset, themselves.

the sunset of Ocean Beach

The Craft Beer

Helm's Brewing Co. in Ocean Beach
With big names in San Diego, like Ballast Point, it’s a known fact that craft beer is something that brings people to this city. However, Ocean Beach has its own beer, too. Helms Brewing Co.  on Newport Avenue just celebrated its first anniversary of brewing all types of craft beer. It overlooks a busy part of town, which makes the open wall lined with stools a perfect spot to people watch and take in Ocean Beach.

Helm's Brewing Co. San Diego

The People

brunch with friends at Kindred in San Diego

One of our great friends moved to Ocean Beach about a year ago from Tallahassee and has quickly made this place his home. It’s easy to see why.

Every person we talked to was more friendly and welcoming than the last. This group takes advantage of living in a beach town where everything you could enjoy is at your fingertips.

drinks and dinner with friends at Wonderland in Ocean Beach San Diego

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