Playing in San Diego Like a Local
Biking Mission Beach to La Jolla
Beach boardwalks, beautiful neighborhoods, and gorgeous views – this bike route from Mission Beach to La Jolla is only about 8 miles (16 round trip) but you’ll want to allow plenty of time for café breaks and stops to watch the local sun, surf and windsurfing action.
Mission Beach to Pacific Beach
Start your ride in Mission Beach near the Giant Dipper, a wooden Roller Coaster built in 1925 and a historic landmark. Head over to the beach and up the wide ocean front boardwalk taking in the lively beach, bar and party scene. Between the clusters of bars and shops, you’ll see vacation homes and short term rentals of all types lining the boardwalk. An occasional funky dilapidated cottage nestles between new 2 and 3 story window-walled condos with outdoor spas and BBQ’s facing the boardwalk action.
Breakfast stop: Kono’s Surf Club Café. A line out the door almost all of the time. There’s seating inside, outside, and across the sidewalk behind a gift shop for a terrific view right above Pacific Beach.
Pacific Beach to La Jolla
The boardwalk ends at the grassy Palisades Park north of Pacific Beach. Follow the road up to busy La Jolla Boulevard where there’s a designated bike lane. You don’t have to bike along La Jolla Boulevard too far, just a couple of blocks before turning left on to Sea Ridge Drive. For the next couple of miles you’ll ride by all types of ocean front homes with access paths to the ocean scattered among them.
The access paths between the north end of Pacific Beach and Windandsea Beach lead down from the cliffs above to small rocky outcrops, terrific for views and popular with local surfers. More sandy beaches start at Windandsea Beach.
Up Coast Boulevard into La Jolla is Children’s Pool. The pool is protected by a seawall that was built in 1931 as a gift from local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. When the harbor seals took over the pool years ago, it started a huge controversy (and many lawsuits) over the use of the beach. As it stands now, you’ll see seals during the pupping season mid-December to the middle of May when the city of San Diego puts in a rope barrier to keep people away from seals. At other times both people and seals are allowed to use the beach. Even though we saw people in the water here, swimming isn’t a good idea due to high bacteria contamination from seal poo.
Great Break: Bobboi Natural Gelato – After all this biking you deserve a treat! The best place for that calorie splurge is a gelato at Bobboi. One block up hill from Scripps Park, on Girard Avenue.
La Jolla Cove
Before heading back to Mission Beach, swing by La Jolla Cove at the northeast end of Scripps Park. The cove is within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, a protected marine area. You’ll see lots of people swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Back to Mission Beach
Mid-point Caffeine Break: Ready for a caffeine break? There are a couple of coffee shops, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and a Starbucks on the corner of Bird Rock Avenue and La Jolla Boulevard just a couple of blocks east of the bird rock public access path. A nice little neighborhood for a break.
I love biking around San Diego and this is one of my favorite routes, plenty of beach boardwalk activity to oggle, beautiful neighborhoods with very little traffic and terrific breaks!
What if you don’t have your bike with you? DecoBike rentals by the hour have sprung up all over San Diego, but for a long bike ride from Mission Beach to La Jolla and back, you’re better of with half or full day rates from one of the many companies in Mission Beach or Pacific Beach.
Have you been biking around the beaches in San Diego? What was your favorite stop?