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The Inside Scoop on Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay San Diego California

San Diego’s Mission Bay Park is hopping with attractions aplenty - but it looked very different in its early days. The journey from a boring piece of land to the ultimate outdoor playground is a tale worth hearing.

Did you know Mission Bay Park was man-made? Neither did I, but here is the story of how it all began.

The Numbers

Mission Bay Park is quite enormous in size at a whopping 4,235 acres. If we were to get mathematical, the breakdown would pan out to 46% land and 54% water.

The History

Mission Bay Park used to be a tidal marsh originally called “False Bay”, way back in the year 1542. Yup, that’s when explorers were roaming the lands, having crossed the ocean to see what was on the other side. A curly-haired fellow named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo gave this area the name “False Bay” because he thought it led into San Diego Bay (it doesn’t). Can you blame him? He wanted to let the world know that it wasn’t San Diego Bay by calling it false.

In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the development of Mission Bay Park began. Dredging projects practically made magic happen. Voila! The marsh was now a bay, and the dredged soil was used to make plenty of new land. Hunting and fishing facilities popped up, drawing more people to the area.

The Activities

As the years whooshed right on by, Mission Bay Park attracted visitors with its sandy beaches, swimming waters, boat docks and launching areas. There’s nothing quite like speeding through the waves on a jet ski, with water splashing you every now and then, bliss-inducing sunshine pouring down upon you, with your amazing friends and family close by.

Summertime in San Diego can put a bit of an adventurous streak into even the most timid traveler. Skillfully maneuvering your way across the water while mastering a brand new water sport can be quite the fun time! Wind surfing and water skiing can suddenly seem like hands-down must-do activities. Luckily, Mission Bay Park offers equipment rentals and lessons for various water sports - so you can go right ahead and start crossing things off your bucket list this summer.

On land, visitors keep their bikini bodies in tip-top shape, whether they’re riding bicycles, walking or running on the spacious pathways. Try your hand at flying a kite or get your heart pumping while playing volleyball on the shore.

Multi-task and find out more about the area while you’re working out! You can simultaneously learn interesting things about Mission Bay Park and enjoy good exercise on guided nature walks with park rangers.

The Playgrounds

It’s always a good time to climb when you’re a kid. Climbing structures galore await energetic and fun-loving children at Mission Bay Park’s playgrounds. What more could a kid ask for? The yachts on the water look fancy and fun for grownups, but the playground - ah, the playground - now that’s exactly what kids are talking about when they want to go have fun. Basically a kid’s dream come true, these playgrounds at Mission Bay Park are known as outdoor wonderlands of fun and happiness.

The Facilities

Dedicated exercisers chugging plenty of water appreciate the presence of public restrooms along their workout routes. Whether you’re having a picnic with your friends and family or you’re here with a good book and a beautiful day ahead of you, it’s nice to know there are decent bathroom facilities here for when you need them.

There are even showers available at Mission Bay Park. Why be stinky when you can be squeaky clean? Be as active as you want to be at Mission Bay Park, and then emerge as a new person after your visit to the convenient on-site showers.

The Events

Several big annual events really shake things up at Mission Bay Park. Here’s our totally nifty roundup of these Mission Bay events:

  • San Diego Bayfair: This San Diego event is a fun yearly tradition! This adrenaline-pumping race pits hydroplane boat against hydroplane boat. Whatever boat type tickles your fancy (whether Grand Prix, offshore, PWC, stock outboard, tunnel, Cracker Box or classic outboard runabout), San Diego Bayfair has a race that spotlights your favorite powerboat. Stop by the beer gardens on Vacation Isle and Crown Point for a cold one, chow down on good eats from the many vendor booths, and enjoy entertainment and music that usually gets families springing to their feet to dance. San Diego Bayfair is an annual four-day festival that takes place in mid-September.
  • Over-The-Line: Widely known as one of San Diego’s most lively (some might call it wild!) summer social events, this annual tournament is about much more than just the sport. Indeed, the good fun-loving folks of San Diego descend upon Fiesta Island ready to party. Come to play ball, or attend as a spectator for the revelry, socializing and drinking. Each year, the Miss Emerson contest crowns someone beautiful and new to represent the event. Old Mission Beach Athletic Club hosts this annual world championship tournament in San Diego every July.

The Final Say

Whether you come for the party during the Over-The-Line World Championship Tournament or head to Mission Bay Park to ride your bicycle, this pretty destination offers fun experiences for you to enjoy throughout the year. The best way to enjoy this scenic and exciting park is with a stay at my favorite resort, the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa. Make the most of your San Diego vacation with a waterfront room, game of tennis and full body massage at this amazing San Diego resort on beautiful Mission Bay Park.