Ocean Beach, California
Ocean Beach (OB)—A haven for the free spirited and open minded, Ocean Beach is the perfect spot to relax, surf, eat and take in the local flare. This funky little beach town, known as OB to locals, has 55 eateries, surf shops, a diverse selection of locally owned boutiques and an antique district. The pier at Ocean Beach, measuring 1,971 feet, is the second longest pier on the West Coast and the longest concrete pier in the world. Between playing on the sandy shores, shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques and listening to local music, you’ll create a day to remember. The cities neighboring Ocean Beach are Downtown San Diego, Mission Bay, Mission Beach and Point Loma. Residents of Ocean Beach often refer to themselves as OBceans pronounced “oh-BEE-shuns.” Earlier names for the city include Mussel Beach, Mussel Beds, Medanos, Palmer’s Place/Ranch and Palmiro’s. In more recent times, people refer to this beautiful city simply as OB. OB’s main street of business is Newport Avenue where you’ll find locally owned and managed antique shops, restaurants, coffee houses, bars, and bike and surf shops. Ocean Beach is home to numerous locally owned businesses and very few chain stores. In the early 2000s, Starbucks wanted to put a store on Newport Ave but the town didn’t like the idea. After the town’s efforts to prevent a chain store on the street, they lost the fight.
Some major popular events OB is known for are the Ocean Beach Kite Festival on the first Saturday of March, Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cookoff in late June, Ocean Beach Jazz Music & Arts Festival at the foot of Newport in late September and the Ocean Beach Christmas Parade in early December. Perhaps the most popular canine hotspot is Dog Beach, San Diego’s only 24 hour beach for dogs, located on the north end of Ocean Beach beach. This is a dog run area where dogs are permitted without a leash at all hours of the day. Just like many of the other San Diego beaches, OB is a popular surf spot for many local surfers. It is also one of the top favorite local beach hang-out spots for many of the area’s youth and San Diego natives.
The name Ocean Beach was created by developers Billy Carlson and Frank Higgins in 1887. The two spurred interest in the area helping to develop the neighborhood which eventually became part of the second largest city in California, San Diego. The northern end of Ocean Beach was dominated in the early 20th century by the Wonderland Amusement Park, which opened on July 4, 1913 and was constructed on the sand at Voltaire and Abbott streets. It boasted a large roller coaster, dance pavilion, large menagerie, roller skating rink, merry-go-round, children’s playground and 22,000 lights outlining the buildings. Wonderland was a popular attraction until 1916, when most of it was washed away by high tides. Some of the bungalows built as tourist accommodations atop the cliffs on either side of Niagara Avenue are still in use as businesses and homes.
Later in the 1910s, Ocean Beach became one of the many San Diego neighborhoods connected by the Class 1 streetcars and an extensive San Diego public transit system that was spurred by the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and built by John D. Spreckels. These streetcars became a fixture of this neighborhood until their retirement in 1939.
Beginning in the early 1970s, local development and land interests pressed for the development of Ocean Beach’s oceanfront, with plans for tourist-oriented resorts, hotels and a marina outlined in the Ocean Beach Precise Plan. In 1978 the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association (OBMA) was formed with 25 paid members. The OBMA organized Ocean Beach’s first Street Fair in 1981, an event that continues today. During the 90s the OBMA co-ordinated improvement projects for Newport Avenue including a tile project, store front improvements, and a Veteran’s Plaza at the foot of Newport Avenue. During the 1990s the OBMA trademarked the names “Ocean Beach Street Fair, Chili Cook-off and Fireworks Festival” as well as the name “Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market”, two regular community events. Every Wednesday Newport Avenue between Bacon St and Cable St is closed to vehicle traffic while The Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market is held.
• Ocean Beach Pier was originally names the San Diego Fishing Pier with the original plaque still there.
• Many people believe the Ocean Beach Pier is the longest pier in CA. It isn’t. At 1971 feet it is the longest concrete pier on the west coast. The pier at Santa Cruz is 2745 feet.
• Ocean Beach is surprisingly home to several species of parrots which have created a feral population, meaning they have escaped from domestication and returned to living in the wild
• Ocean Beach Dog Beach is the first leash-free beach in the United States.
• One of the most spectacular things to see from the Ocean Beach Pier is when a surfer shoots the pier by riding a wave underneath from one side to the other while maneuvering around the concrete legs of the pier.
Things To Do
Dog Beach—a popular OB hot spot for all canine lovers. Let your dog run wild and free and in or out of the water. Don’t forget to bring your dog’s favorite outdoor toys and spend a nice day with your furry friend. And please be courteous to others and don’t forget to clean up after your pets. Take I-8 West toward the beaches. Where I-8 ends, turn left onto Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, then bear right staying on Sunset Cliffs toward the town of Ocean Beach. Turn right onto Point Loma. The entrance to Dog Beach is the first turn on the right.
OB Pier and Tidepools—The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, one of the most visited landmarks in San Diego County, was officially christened and introduced to eager San Diegans on July 2, 1966. Over 7,000 San Diego residents showed up to celebrate the opening, including local politicians Mayor Frank Curran and California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown who had the honor of cutting the ribbon. The OB Pier is a popular hotspot for local fishermens and currently no fishing license is required. The Ocean Beach tidepools are located at the foot of Newport Avenue beneath the pier. For the best experience, it is recommended to visit the tidepools during low tide.
Cabrillo National Monument—is located at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. It commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at the San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. Each October, the annual Cabrillo Festival Open House takes place where it commemorates Cabrillo with a reenactment of his landing at Ballest Point. The park offers a view of San Diego’s harbor and skyline, as well as Coronado and North Island Naval Station. Cabrillo National Monument is open 364 days a year from 9am to 5pm, closed Christmas Day. While you’re there, stop at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which was built in November 1855. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was not just the housing for a light; it was the home of the people who took care of the light. Entrance fees to the park are $5 per vehicle or $3 per person for walk-ins, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. Visit the Cabrillo National Monument to learn more about San Diego history.
Belmont Park—visit Belmont Park , located in OB’s neighboring city Mission Beach. Belmont Park has been amusing and entertaining generations of San Diego residents, and millions of visitors from around southern California, the United States and the world. Enjoy amusement park rides, ride the waves at the Wave House, play mini golf, arcade games, and shop and enjoy a wide array of cuisine throughout the park. This is a great place for people of all ages. Belmont park is located at 3146 Mission Blvd San Diego CA 92109.
OB Farmers Market–Every Wednesday from 4 until 8 p.m. on Newport Avenue, between Cable and Bacon Street, the OB Farmers’ Market is rocking. And don’t miss the Music & Art Festival Sept. 10th from 10-8:00 or Oktoberfest Oct. 8th from 10:00-8:30. For more information on OB events, visit the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association at www.oceanbeachsandiego.com.
Be sure to stop into The Black, (619) 222-5498, a smoke shop which has been around since the 7’0′s.
Ocean Beach is located at the end of I-8 west. Exit Sunset Cliffs Boulevard into the heart of OB. Mass Transit bus routes #35 and 923.