Mission Bay lies about 10 miles north of downtown San Diego ― a 10-minute ride from the airport. For maps and information, contact the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau ( www.sandiego.com or 619/236-1212).
Dress like a local
Think water and rays: swimsuits, T-shirts, sunglasses, and lots and lots of sunscreen. And go for board shorts from Volcom or still-popular Quiksilver.
Where to stay
Bahia Resort Hotel. The Bahia, on its own peninsula, is not quite as upscale as its sister property the Catamaran, but it's attractive in its own right. 320 rooms from $175. 998 W. Mission Bay Dr.; www.bahiahotel.com or 858/488-0551.
Beach Haven Inn. Located in Pacific Beach (four blocks north of Crystal Pier), a half-block from the beach. 23 rooms from $129. 4740 Mission Blvd.; www.beachhaveninn.com or 858/272-3812.
Catamaran Resort Hotel. One of the more upscale hotels on the bay. Easy access to kayak, sailboat, and jet-ski rentals from the hotel dock. Atoll restaurant's terrific Sunday brunch―fat shrimp, elegantly prepared sushi, champagne―draws tourists and locals to the outdoor patio and its view of the bay ($$$$). 315 rooms from $250. 3999 Mission; www.catamaranresort.com or 858/488-1081.
Where to eat
Cafe 976. Hefty breakfast burritos, fat sandwiches, and more, served in a foliage-shrouded clapboard house. $. 976 Felspar St., Pacific Beach; 858/272-0976.
The Landing Restaurant. A fisherman's joint. Wood tables laden with crisp bacon (breakfast starts at 5 a.m.) and some of the best clam chowder anywhere. $. 1729 Quivira Rd.; 619/222-3317.
What to do
Bike and board rentals. Hotel concessions and beachfront joints often charge twice what you'll find off the boardwalk. Kruiser King offers an innovative package. $45 per person buys carte blanche rentals for the week―bikes, surfboards, skateboards. 3830 Mission; www.kruiserking.com or 858/488-6341.
FlowRider. Righteous wave, small crowd. $20 for one hour (plus a one-time $10 registration fee for newcomers). Wave House, 3115 Ocean Front Walk, Belmont Park; www.wavehouse.com or 858/228-9300.
Giant Dipper. $5 per ride. 3190 Mission; www.giantdipper.com or 858/488-1549.
Kayak rentals. Seaforth Boat Rentals, 1641 Quivira; www.seaforthboatrentals.com or 619/223-1681.
SeaWorld. $51, $41 ages 2-9. 500 SeaWorld Dr.; www.seaworld.com or 800/380-3202.