Are you looking to chill on the best beaches in San Diego? How about sipping craft beer at the best breweries in San Diego? Why not combine the two for a perfect pairing? We’ll give you our insider scoop on the San Diego beaches that are also home to some legendary San Diego craft beer. From South to North, here we go on our San Diego beaches and brewery tour.
Our Map to the Best Beaches and Breweries of San Diego
(if the map doesn’t load, just hit refresh 🙂 )
Imperial Beach / Coronado Island and Coronado Brewing Company
Imperial Beach sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s making a comeback. Brewpubs and gentrification are rubbing off the rough edges of this San Diego beach town. Before I lived in San Diego, I used Imperial Beach was a great value destination. Even after moving to town, I still went down for dog surfing and biking on the Silver Strand (San Diego’s best bike path that connects IB to Coronado). It’s also close enough to Tijuana you can make a run for the border without breaking a sweat.
Coronado is home to the world famous Hotel Del Coronado. The Hotel Del offers its award-winning daily events to everybody, even if you’re not staying at the Del. Be sure to check the list to see if anything piques your interest. The Hotel Del Coronado, with it’s all wooden construction and vintage pictures, it feels like it’s straight out of old school Hollywood with a price point to match. If you have the budget, indulge at the Hotel Del bar for craft beer and signature cocktails at their 46’ long handcrafted mahogany bar carved from a single tree! If you’d rather have a handcrafted beer, then head to Coronado Brewing Company.
Coronado Brewing Company features a brewery right on Coronado Island, a restaurant off Imperial Beach, and a tasting room by Mission Bay. The Tuesday – Friday happy hour includes a street taco lineup and pub favorites. Their Coronado location is just around the corner from Centennial Park where you can catch a ferry back to downtown / Gas Lamp and take in the amazing San Diego skyline views along the way.
Cabrillo National Monument and Stone Brewery San Diego
Cabrillo National Monument has an odd sort of beach that we nicknamed the ‘you can’t get there from here beach.’ Actually, there’s no beach at all, and you can’t even enter the water, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. During the winter, tide pooling in the Point Loma Tide Pools lets you see animals you would usually need a snorkel to reach. The views from the Old Point Loma Lighthouse stretch on forever. You might even see whales cruising the coastline or surfers ripping it up on Ralph’s (the best surf break in San Diego but you’ll need a boat to reach it). The ‘you can’t get there from here’ trio at Cabrillo is completed by the Point Loma Kelp Beds, a great dive that, you guessed it, is only accessible by boat.
Not entering the water just means that you don’t have to clean up before going to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station. Conveniently located at the base of Point Loma, Stone is a sprawling global gastropub that’s as beautiful as it is diverse. For IPA lovers everywhere, a pilgrimage to Stone Brewery San Diego is a right of passage. As a writer, I have to appreciate their Arrogant Bastard ad campaign –
“This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory—maybe something with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multimillion-dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.”
There is only one Stone Brewery San Diego. Actually, there’s a couple of locations with the original up in Escondido, but the Point Loma venue is their flagship brewery.
San Diego Ocean Beach and Culture Brewing Company
Ocean Beach holds onto its quirky, hippy surf culture and community feel. Whether you’re watching the lineup from OB Pier or enjoying the scene along Newport Ave, you’ll feel just a little cooler hanging out here. More of a Wayne and Garth “We’re not worthy” sort of cool, but cool none the less. Dog lovers will enjoy Dog Beach, one of America’s first leash-free beaches while nature lovers delight in the trails along Sunset Cliffs. (coincidentally, a great place to catch the sunset too!).
For the beer lovers, there’s Culture Brewing Company. Their Ocean Beach tasting room captures the OB vibe while staying true to their Solana Beach roots. With almost 20 beers on tap, you’re sure to find something you’ll love from IPAs to milk stouts. Of course, being Ocean Beach, there’s even Hoppy Yoga offered on Sunday Mornings and Taster Tuesday specials. Whoever said beer and yoga don’t mix, probably just wasn’t worthy.
Mission Beach and Draft South Mission
Mission Beach is that little spit of land between Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It’s the mecca for beach tourism in San Diego. Close your eyes and imagine a hopping beach town. It would have a boardwalk (check), roller coaster (check), beach shops everywhere (check), and a world-class brewhouse (really, no kidding). Belmont Park and the Mission Beach Boardwalk bring in tourists from all over the world. Despite all this San Diego Beach action, you can still find home town craft beer, but it’s served with an ocean front view.
Draft South Mission features 69 beers on tap and oceanfront seating. (Now that’s a draft number I can get behind:-)). They’re also the Ohio State alumni bar in San Diego, so I’ve been there a time or two. Their patio backs up right onto the beach with unbelievable sunset views nightly. Tuesdays feature Flight Night with 5 oz tasters and live music.
Pacific Beach and the SD TapRoom
Pacific Beach is the town where Coleman Concierge was born. We like to think of it as a college town without the pretense of academics. Doctor Suess pinned it as Whoville, where the joyful Whos lived under the shadow of Mount Crumpit aka Mount Soledad. We loved the sunsets at Crystal Pier, yoga at Palisade Park, and of course surfing at Tourmaline. Although it’s connected to Mission Beach by the boardwalk, it always felt a little more local than its southern neighbor.
Garnett Ave is the main drag of Pacific Beach and, five blocks off the ocean sits one fantastic taproom. The SD TapRoom is a beer nerd paradise! Their ‘Brewery to Glass’ philosophy means they always keep the beer cold and lines clean. It also means the beer always tastes just like the brewmaster intended. The cold beer gets dispensed straight from the tap into your mug after you scan your beer bracelet. That’s right- you can pay at the tap for as much or as little as you want from their extensive craft beer menu.
La Jolla Beach and Karl Strauss Brewery
La Jolla Beach, known as San Diego’s jewel, have a little of everything. The tidepools by Hospital Point rival Point Loma without having to worry about the park closing at 4:00. Baby seals and sea lions along Scripps Park are just too darn cute not to stop and ogle for a bit. Shore diving at La Jolla Cove or La Jolla Shores lets divers explore with a short kick out, and the surfing by Scripps Pier gets a little shelter the venturi effect of Mt Soledad when all the other breaks get blown out. La Jolla Beach even has an upscale shopping strip along Prospect St that’s filled with boutique shops and, no kidding, the world’s best gelato. We’d also highly recommend Taco Tuesday at Puesto.
What La Jolla Beach don’t have is parking. That’s why it’s so great that Karl Strauss Brewery is walking distance from La Jolla Cove. They’re a local San Diego chain that wins medal after medal for mid-sized brewing companies. In fact, since 2009 they have won over 110 medals and counting. It’s a great place to grab a burger and beer without having to repark. If you Ubered in, why stop at one beer?
San Diego Beaches and Breweries North of La Jolla
Immediately north of La Jolla is Black’s Beach, San Diego’s infamous nude beach. This is more of a beach and bear tour than a beach and beer tour, so… we ain’t going there today. A little farther north is Del Mar, with great oceanside dining at Jake’s but their signature brewery (Viewpoint Brewing Company) is better situated for horse racing than a beach day. The San Deigo beach towns march on one after another into North County until you reach Oceanside and Camp Pendelton. For the sake of brevity, we’ll stop at Torrey Pines Beach, the unofficial boundary between North and South County in San Diego.
Torrey Pines State Park is a large enough natural area for it to have no brewery paring, but I’ll let you in on a little secret that I learned when I worked at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. You can park at the Lodge and enjoy a delicious breakfast at A.R. Valentien or lunch at The Grill at Torrey Pines, where you can grab a drink and arguably the best burger in San Diego. Afterward, keep your parking spot and walk next door to enjoy a hike into Torrey Pines State Park to burn off those calories and take in some of San Diego’s most scenic beach views.
If you’re a golfer, consider trying to get a walk-on spot on a weekday ‘twilight’ round at Torrey Pines. The course is notoriously booked (even with a $45 booking fee), but we routinely had guests who could get a spot on the twilight round, which varies from 12:30 – 3:00 depending on the time of year. You can play a PGA course with amazing views at almost 1/2 for green fees and cart rentals, often times without a reservation. Just check on the way into The Grill. Worst comes to worst, you just hike Torrey Pines instead.
Tapping out of the San Diego Beach and Brewery Tour
We hope you found our insider knowledge of San Diego’s Beaches and Breweries helpful. I know that we enjoyed many beach days in the Craft Beer Capital of America. Perhaps it’s the combination of warm sunshine and cold beer that makes this San Diego America’s Finest City. Don’t take our word for it, try it for yourselves. We think you’re worthy.
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