Ocean Beach is the closest San Diego beach to downtown and the airport. Known by locals as OB, Ocean Beach has its own unique atmosphere. This is the Fun Diego Family Ocean Beach Guide.
Location: From pier at end of Newport Ave to West Point Loma Blvd
Beach Type: Party beach scene
Access: flat beach next to busy restaurant/shopping area
Parking: Free street parking and several free beach lots
Facilities: Restrooms/changing facilities
Good For: Swimming, Surfing, Family Day at the Beach, Fishing, Tide Pools, Nearby Restaurants and Bars
Not Good For: Crowds, Parking
Ocean Beach is often described as funky or bohemian. In many ways, it is a flashback to the attitudes of the 1960s. The smell of marijuana is always in the air. Because OB is right under the flight path of Lindberg Field, development in this area has been more modest. This is a beach area many younger people can afford.
The tight-knit community of OB fights mass commercialization. When the Starbucks coffee chain came to Ocean Beach, there was major opposition. Starbucks eventually opened, but not many major corporate chains can be found in OB.
Ocean Beach has definitely become more hip in recent years. In 2018, Thrillist named OB as one of the coolest neighborhoods in America to spend a weekend. The cover image for the Thrillist article looks down Newport Avenue towards the ocean. The area around Newport is now lined with hip bars and restaurants, along with the established antique and gift shops.
On the downside, there is a lot of homelessness and drug use in the neighborhood. Crime is not a major problem, but OB is definitely on the scruffy side. We have come to Ocean Beach many times over the years and never had a major problem. However, you will definitely see some colorful characters.
At the corner of Newport Avene and Abbott Avenue is the Ocean Beach Veteran’s Plaza. This memorial to veterans was built in 1997. Currently, the community is raising funds for its enhancement.
The beach in OB is one of the nicest in San Diego in terms of having wide open sand along with large grassy areas for picnics. Parking can be an issue. There is a large parking lot at the intersection of Voltaire and W. Point Loma Blvd. There are smaller parking lots by the pier and by the lifeguard station.
On busy summer days, parking will generally be along the side streets. Once again, this is usually not too bad and just involves walking a few blocks.
The heart of OB is along Newport Avenue which ends at the Ocean Beach Pier. The pier is one of the longest concrete piers in the U.S. Fishing is allowed on the pier even without a permit.
South of the pier, the coast gets rocky. There are quite a few tide pools that can be explored at low tide. Further down, the area extends along Sunset Cliffs towards Point Loma. This is a great area to explore and has some smaller beaches. However, the core of Ocean Beach runs north of the pier.
The sandy beach area runs about a half mile north from the pier to where it ends at Dog Beach and the San Diego River. Most of the restaurants, shops and bars are in the area around the pier and Newport Avenue. However, several blocks from the Voltaire St parking lot there are quite a few shops and restaurants.
Overall, the Ocean Beach scene is probably best appreciated by adults. However, the beach area will be filled with kids and babies in strollers. As long as you know what to expect, OB is a classic Southern California experience.
If you have a dog, you will want to head towards the north end of Ocean Beach to the famous Dog Beach. Also, after a day at the beach, be sure and drive a mile south to checkout Sunset Cliffs.