Boating, Beach & Brunch: Unveiling the Magic of Mission Bay, San Diego

Earlier this month, we were fortunate to experience San Diego. We flew with Air Canada as they are the only airline to provide a direct route from Toronto. They offer two daily flights. We spent four nights and four full days exploring the city and the surrounding areas, which was a good amount of time, although there were still some areas that we missed out on. We recommend allocating 5-7 days for a visit to San Diego.

For two days, we had the pleasure of experiencing Mission Bay, the largest aquatic park in the United States. It is conveniently located just a 15-minute drive from San Diego International Airport and a quick 10-minute drive to downtown San Diego. Mission Bay is home to six major resorts, including the Dana on Mission Bay and Paradise Point Resort. Moreover, it has major attractions such as SeaWorld and Belmont Park, as well as boat rentals, Mission Beach, and lush green parks that are ideal for picnicking or biking. Join us as we delve into the details of our delightful stay.


During our stay in Mission Bay, we had the pleasure of spending two nights at the impeccable The Dana on Mission Bay. Situated in the heart of Mission Bay, this hotel had an unbeatable location within walking distance of the beach. The check-in process was seamless, and we were delighted to find lots of parking right next to our building. As we entered our room, we were immediately impressed by its spaciousness, featuring a large king bed and a cozy living room.

The room also offered a convenient kitchenette equipped with a sink, microwave, fridge, coffee maker, and complete cutlery. The comfort of the bed was unparalleled, with convenient lights and outlets on each side. The bathroom had a generous vanity with plenty of storage space. However, the true highlight of the room was its breathtaking view of Mission Bay, which made for a captivating backdrop. Moreover, the ground floor rooms featured a charming small patio with direct access to a scenic walk/bike path, adding a touch of convenience and natural beauty to our stay.

The hotel had multiple pools as well as hot tubs. It also had a fitness center, and the well-equipped gym offered a full range of exercise options, including dumbbells, medicine balls, treadmills, elliptical machines, and even a stretch cage. Moreover, the hotel’s marina provided the opportunity to rent bikes and boats. There was something for everyone at the Dana on Mission Bay; multiple pools, a gym, a marina where bikes and boats could be rented, laundry facilities, a full-service restaurant called Firefly Eatery, free shuttle service to Seaworld, and pet-friendly accommodations.

However, what truly set The Dana apart was its remarkable staff. They went above and beyond to ensure our comfort, providing us with abundant water bottles upon request and treating us to freshly baked cookies every afternoon in the lobby. The bartender at Firefly was exceptionally friendly, serving us refreshing drinks by the pool and crafting remarkable espressos. The warm and welcoming demeanor of the staff added a personal touch to our stay, making us feel right at home.


One of the highlights of our time in Mission Bay was the exhilarating experience of renting a powerboat. Through Action Sport Rental, we had the opportunity to board a 17′ Rinker Powerboat, accommodating up to six people. It was our first time operating a powerboat, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that only a driver’s license was sufficient. The rental options also included choices of jetskis and sailboats. After a brief form completion and safety video, we set off on our adventure. The staff at Action Sport Rental proved to be extremely friendly, answering all our questions and ensuring our safety throughout the journey.

Driving the powerboat was a breeze, with only a steering wheel and a lever for forward and backward motion. Initially restricted to a speed of 5 km/hr until we passed Ingram Street Bridge, we gradually built up momentum and loved the excitement of reaching maximum speed! The vastness of Mission Bay gave us ample room for other boats, and we had the pleasure of passing by various beaches, islands, and campsites and being able to see people basking in the sun. It’s a great activity to do whether seeking a relaxing slow drive or a thrilling ride. Without a doubt, this memorable boating experience added a sense of adventure to our stay in Mission Bay.

While Mission Beach was a mere 20-minute walk from The Dana, we opted to drive and find parking to save our energy. As we stepped onto the beach, we were greeted by a lively scene of people enjoying the sun and the vibrant energy of the boardwalk.

Stretching along the coastline, the boardwalk proved to be a hub of activity, adorned with charming shops and local eateries. The inclusion of Belmont Park, featuring its iconic wooden rollercoaster, added to the area’s appeal. The boardwalk buzzed with life as bikers, rollerbladers, and skateboarders shared the path, creating a dynamic and engaging environment. We were captivated by the unique and picturesque beach houses that lined the way.

Despite the popularity of the destination, it didn’t feel overly touristy, devoid of the pushy vendors often encountered in such places. The beach itself was expansive, clean, and safe, exuding a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere. Families relished in the joys of the sandy shores, laughter echoing, and smiles abounding. Undoubtedly, Mission Beach and its vibrant boardwalk stood out as our favorite spot in the Mission Bay area.

Culinary Delights

Following a few hours of hiking at Torrey Pines, we found ourselves with growing appetites. Fortunately, we stumbled upon Tidal, a remarkable restaurant nestled within Paradise Point Resort. Despite the slight breeze, their outdoor patio provided cozy warmth with the help of strategically placed heaters.

Our eyes were instantly captivated by the stunning 180-degree views of Mission Bay. Tidal had an impressive cocktail menu, featuring a variety of spritzers and mai tais, with the standout being the Smoked “Not So” Old Fashioned, presented in a glass box filled with aromatic smoke. The brunch menu offered two tantalizing main entrees, namely the Chilaquiles Verdes and Chicken, Biscuits & Gravy.

The portions were substantial, and each bite proved to be a delightful explosion of flavors. We enjoyed our meals while witnessing the passing boats and indulging in the beauty of our surroundings.

Our culinary journey in Mission Bay reached new heights during our dinner at Covewood, an exquisite dining establishment within the luxurious Mission Bay Resort. The restaurant’s intimate ambiance and thoughtfully crafted menu, featuring seasonal ingredients, immediately captivated us.

Seated on the cozy and elegant outdoor patio, adorned with comforting heaters, we were once again treated to mesmerizing views of the bay as the sunset painted the sky with vibrant hues. Each plate was presented beautifully with standout dishes including the juicy short rib of beef and the flavorful bolognese. We were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected display of fireworks coming from Seaworld, creating an enchanting spectacle against the backdrop of the unobstructed bay view. It was an evening to remember!

Our journey through Mission Bay has been nothing short of extraordinary. San Diego has a unique feel, more laid back, cleaner, and more friendly than either San Francisco or Los Angeles. From the sun-kissed shores of the boardwalk to the exhilarating powerboat rides on the bay’s expansive waters, every moment was filled with excitement. We also had some of the best food San Diego had to offer. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, we highly recommend spending a few days at Mission Bay when traveling to San Diego.

If you have any questions or need help planning a trip to Mission Bay, feel free to email at or check out Discover Mission Bay

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