Neighborhood Guide for Pacific Beach, San Diego

A perfect blend of laid-back beach living and San Diego’s nightlife.

Crystal Pier Pacific Beach San Diego

Beach views in PB.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Table of Contents

Life in San Diego can be beachy keen, and Pacific Beach has become a popular spot for people to surf through their days. The neighborhood blends laid-back living with outdoor activities + nightlife to give residents a taste of everything San Diego has to offer.

Let’s discover (or rediscover) why so many locals love this areaincluding SDtoday readers. We asked you which neighborhoods you’d like us explore, and many of you mentioned PB — particularly as a neighborhood for young professionals + out-of-towners.

☀️ Need to know

You’re not the only one with your eyes set on PB. In August 2022, the area’s average home listing price rose by 24.4% compared to a year prior. Wondering why? While we can’t say for sure, Pacific Beach is known for its fun, sunny lifestyle with over a mile of beaches, and is home to many schools like Pacific Beach Elementary + Middle schools and Mission Bay High School.

PB 1970s SDtoday

Cruisin’ through PB, 1970s style.

📜 The early days

The name Pacific Beach dates back to 1887 when the underdeveloped land was set to be used during San Diego’s population boom. Prior to this, it was settled by the Kumeyaay people who called this area hamo or jamo. The neighborhood was originally set to be the home of the College of Letters, but it only lasted a few years before the space was soldin 1910 to the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, then again in 1936 to the Brown Military Academy.

This attracted families + tourists, and even more so when Crystal Pier was built in 1927. By the 1940s families settled in the area after World War II, and by the 1950s the population had reached 30,000.

The 1970s saw an investment in development of the neighborhood, and bigger buildings were built to be used as homes + hotels. Ironically, this attracted a college crowd by the 1990s, and the neighborhood became a mix of a college town + residential community — a reputation it still holds today.

📍 Can’t miss

New to the area? There’s a lot to see, but these might be the first places you want to check out if you want to know what PB’s all about.

  • Crystal Pier is a landmark in the community that attracts locals and tourists (especially the lucky ones who can stay in The Cottages). You can find it at the end of Garnet Avenue for views of the beach, fishing, or holiday decorations toward the end of the year.
  • The 3.2-mile boardwalk connecting Pacific + Mission beaches runs along the coast, providing easy access to shops, restaurants, and of course the ocean.
  • Many of the major attractions lie along Garnet Avenue. This is where you’ll find bars like Mavericks Beach Club, coffee shops like Better Buzz, and treats like Mr. Frostie’s soft serve.
Kate Sessions Park PB

A view of the city from Kate Sessions Park.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

🏖️ Outdoors

Wave hello to the sun — Pacific Beach has plenty of outdoor activities to keep you out and about.

🛍️ Shop

There’s plenty of shopping in this neighborhood, but we wanted to share a small sample so you can look good, fuel up, and keep moving.

Friend fries at the Local Pacific Beach

Fries and murals pair well with beer at The Local Pacific Beach.

Photo via @thelocalpb

🥂 Eat + drink

Pacific Beach is full of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. It would take a long time to visit them all, but we thought we’d give you a taste of some places to try.

  • Pacific Beach Alehouse offers a menu of local, craft beers and views of the ocean..
  • Dirty Birds is a go-to chicken wings spot, and its original location opened in PB in 2008. Its menu has sauces ranging from mild to really spicy — unless you’re too chicken to feel the heat.
  • There’s no shortage of bars, but you’ll always find a party (and water views) at PB Shore Club.
  • You’ll find food, drinks + entertainment at The Local Pacific Beach. As the name implies, locals love it, but all are welcome.
  • JRDN inside the Tower 23 hotel offers a more upscale experience, with a menu designed by Executive Chef Stephen Gage + beachfront views you’ll only find in PB.
  • This neighborhood loves brunch, and Crushed is one of the most popular spots for cocktails + mid-morning munching.

Psst: We hate to cut the list short, but PB has more eateries than we can list. If we missed your favorite bar or restaurant, let us know where to explore next.

⭐ Famous locals

Over the years, many big names have found their ways to PB, whether it be local legends or rising stars.

🏠 Where to live

Pacific Beach is a fun + desirable place to live, but comes with a price tag to boot. As of August 2022, the average listing price was $1.4 million — but it never hurts to browse.

  • For $499,000 this 1 BD, 1 BA condo includes two parking spaces, a fireplace, and a large patio.
  • For $1.7 million this 2 BD, 2 BA condo is steps away from the beach. It offers 1,191 sqft of space with gated parking and access to a pool, spas, and rooftop deck.
  • For $2.1 million this 4 BD, 3 BA home is blocks away from Mission Beach + the Pacific Ocean, and has 2,333 sqft of space with new appliances + a rooftop deck.
  • For $2.5 million this 4 BD, 4 BA single-family home offers 2,420 sqft of living space, a covered patio, a detached 3-car garage and plenty of outdoor space.

Want to explore? The map below will help you get around PB.

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