Best Beaches of San Diego

A 3L’s run down on the best beaches

By Peter Lee  Sept. 8, 2014

Allow me to personally welcome you to the University of San Diego School of Law, located in the beautiful city of sunny San Diego, California. For many of you, San Diego is not your hometown, and one of the things you might be thinking is, “Gosh. I just don’t know what to do with all of the free time I know I will have when I am not studying for law school.” Fret not fellow student and future colleague; I have your guide to the top places and things to do, eat, and see from a non-native San Diegan perspective. But let’s be honest, when one thinks “San Diego,” the first thing that comes to mind is likely the beach. In San Diego, we have plenty of great beaches but each has its own flavor and personality and some of the best are outlined below.

Ocean Beach

If you’re needing a place to walk your dog and you want a great ocean view, Ocean Beach is the place to go as it has a has a nice little dog park right on the sand. Fido can frolic in the sand or in the water while you take in the sea breeze. Speaking of great ocean views, Ocean Beach is also home to the famous Sunset Cliffs. Need a place to just stare at the sunset and ponder your decision of attending law school? Sunset Cliffs has you covered. And if you are the more active type, Ocean Beach hosts many intramural soccer and softball leagues at nearby Robb Fields park as well as beach volleyball courts on the north side of the beach.

Mission Beach

Moving north, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach share an ocean divide with rock jetties lining the divide. It makes for a nice view and the rocks are fun to climb on, just be careful of slipping. The south end of Mission Beach is home to another set of beach volleyball courts. Fun fact: Those courts were home to my small section during 1L year. We blew off Legal Writing & Research steam with many games of beach volleyball, street rules. But I digress. Mission Beach is also home to Mission Bay where you can rent both paddleboards and kayaks to chill out on the calm waters.

Pacific Beach

Going north along Mission Beach brings you to Pacific Beach. If you are not already acquainted with Pacific Beach, I am sure you will be well acquainted with it by the end of your 1L year. Many Bar Reviews are held here because it is home to many cost-effective bars. PB is also home to some decent food though. PB Fish Shop is a tasty joint that specializes in all things fish. They serve a mean fish taco, but their onion rings are also glorious. Trust me. They are REALLY good. If you are feeling more adventurous, PB also has World of Curry. World of Curry can satiate any curry craving a la any country that has curry in their diet, and I mean any country.

La Jolla

North of PB, we enter La Jolla. For the most part, La Jolla is a pretty quiet suburb, one that I do not frequent often, but it is a very beautiful area. If you’re interested in homes and architecture, a drive through La Jolla should be right up your alley. More than homes, you can go rent some kayaks and tour through La Jolla’s caves. La Jolla is also home to the famous Black’s Beach, the popular nude beach in San Diego. If that’s your thing, go check it out. If that is not your thing, maybe check out Gliderport instead. Gliderport is a cliff by UCSD used to launch para-gliders in all their majestic, multi-colored glory.

Torrey Pines

At the top of San Diego proper is Torrey Pines State Reserve. This swanky area has a golf course; hiking trails that lead to the beach, and Torrey Pines Beach itself. Need to put in a few rounds of golf? Hiking through nature at a leisurely pace more your thing? Need a more remote place to enjoy the ocean? Torrey Pines has you covered. A point of caution though, you can walk to Black’s Beach from Torrey Pines if you just go south along the beach. Just know what you’re getting yourself into if you decide to traverse that general way.


The last notable beach is an island off of Downtown San Diego. In order to get to Coronado, you can either drive over the bridge or take a ferry from downtown. Fun fact: the Coronado Bridge is built so that the pieces of the bridge can float in water, just in case. Like La Jolla, Coronado Island is home to multi-million dollar real estate. If looking at huge, beautiful homes gives you pleasure, driving through Coronado is what you want to be doing. Coronado is also just plain beautiful. I recommend renting some bicycles and touring the island that way. It shouldn’t take more then 2 hours to circle the circumference of the island and it easier by far to stop at the shops if you do not need a parking space. Going to Coronado manages to feel like you’re getting away. So if you need a study break, try an island adventure at Coronado.

There is of course so much more in San Diego than what I just wrote about. There are tons of hiking trails, intermural sports leagues, hipster coffee shops, awesome food, and an active nightlife. San Diego really has as many strokes as there are different types of folks. I encourage you to take some time, especially on the weekends, to go explore the city and the surrounding areas. Ask a couple of your section mates along and go try something new. San Diego is a great place to live and since you’re going to be here for the next three years, you might as well enjoy it fully.

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