Run the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach Boardwalk

San Diego, California



3.6 miles

Route Type



Added by Todd Linke

The boardwalk from Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach to Belmont Park in Mission Beach is a great setting to put in a good run, while enjoying the sites of this popular part of San Diego. You'll enjoy a flat and straight course, with the picturesque Pacific Ocean to one side and the sites of these beach communities to the other side.

You can start your run at either of two historic and picturesque San Diego landmarks:  the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach or Belmont Park amusement park in Mission Beach. If you start at Pacific Beach, begin your run at the Crystal Pier. You can pretty easily find 2-hour street parking along one of the side streets near the pier.  If you start at Belmont Park, there are two public parking lots to the east and west of Mission Blvd. Typical of any So Cal beach environment, parking is tight during summer weekends, spring break, or major holidays, and you'll get stuck in traffic as the 8 freeway ends near the coast. Better times would be weekdays, as well as off-season weekends (especially early morning or late afternoon, in which case you can catch the famous Pacific Coast sunrise or sunset).

Starting at the pier end, as I did, take a look out at the beautiful rental bungalows and gaze out at the Pacific Ocean, and know that a leisurely stroll out onto the pier will be your reward when you finish your run. Run southward on the concrete boardwalk, being careful to avoid the multitude of bikers, skaters, walkers, and other assorted beachgoers.  It's so interesting to see the variety of people and activities, and it just adds to the experience! If you're serious about your pace, this may not be the place for you, but I draw energy from the beach environment, so the enjoyment of the experience is more important to me.  

Continue to lifeguard station 15 (just under 2 miles), at which point you can look left to see Belmont Park. Extend your run a bit by running through or past the park, and even pause your run to watch the roller coaster, watch the surfers in the wave tank, or just take in the beauty of the ocean. When you're ready, simply backtrack and return to the pier. The round trip of about 3.6 miles took just over a half hour (at about an 8.5 minute mile pace), leaving me plenty of time to walk the pier and chill on the beach afterward. There are also many restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops at either end of the run. Whether you chill on the beach, take a cool-down swim, stroll on the pier, or explore the local area, this adventure makes for a very rewarding and enjoyable couple of hours!

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