San Diego's Hippest Beach Towns
Miles of sandy beaches and a boardwalk that's ideal for strolling, jogging, bicycling, skating, and just plain people watching, it's no secret that these two towns attract a lot of tourists every summer. And that's not to mention the hot nightlife, good cafes, funky shops, and Belmont Park, a popular amusement center most notable for its 73-foot-tall wooden roller coaster that was built in 1925, closed for restoration in 1976, and then reopened in 1990. But these two San Diego neighborhoods are also THE place to live for a wide variety of mostly laid-back individuals — retirees, upscale young professionals in Mission Beach-front homes and condos, and lots of college students living in apartments. In fact, the beach towns are so popular with college students that in the early 1970s, when the Baby Boomers were in college, there was a funky, free daily bus service to and from San Diego State.
The town is characterized by newer pastel-colored homes and condos interspersed with old-style beach cottages and apartment buildings. People who love the beach life live on the oceanfront side of town; if you're looking for a little less action and noise, consider living on the Mission Bay side. The community's main thoroughfare and commercial area is Mission Boulevard, two blocks east of the beach.
Can you imagine that in 1904, you could buy a vacant lot in Pacific Beach for just $25? Or that in 1950, the average home in P.B. (as it affectionally is known) was only $12,000? Today's Pacific Beach rests snugly between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay Park, the 4,500-acre water recreation area that used to essentially be mud flats (the area was dredged and filled in the 1950s and 1960s). As for housing options, "tiny beach cottages alternate with a wide range of condos and apartments on the 'flats,' while larger bungalows on Crown and P.B.'s northern half lead to hillside homes with incomparable views," according to P.B. expert and historian Eve Smull. If you want to check out those views, drive up Lamont Street to lush Kate Sessions Park. You'll see not just P.B. and the bay, but well beyond.
Pacific Beach's main thoroughfares are Garnet (accent on the "net") and Grand avenues. P.B. residents pride themselves on the number of mom-and-pop operations. Of the 1,200 businesses in Pacific Beach, about 75 percent are locally owned.
The median price for a single-family home was $772,500 in 2008. The median price for a single-family luxury home is $1,400,000. Please note that our "House Price Points" are based on the luxury market.