An Alternative State Of Mind – Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA
Sometimes a place is a whole other state of mind, and going to Ocean Beach is exactly that. Hang out for a day in OB and you embark on a journey into an alternative psychedelic universe to a place that remains locked in time and spirit. Yeah it’s kinda like a hippy version of Star Trek. This is THE original free spirit hangout of San Diego, THE original dog beach and the only place where that hang-back surfer 60’s vibe is still abundant.
There is no other spot in San Diego that is as unique and fiercely independent, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!
I originally became involved with OB back when we lived in San Diego and I was running health classes around town. Before I started running my class there I only had a faint idea of what the place was like, but once I got involved in the local community I realized it was completely different from anywhere else in San Diego. This is the melting pot of melting pots -> a grand ratatouille of hippies, surfers, alternative families, musicians, Deadheads, politic misfits and students that have all bonded to produce a beach community with a totally alternative vibe. To say the locals love OB is an understatement. They are passionate about the place and everything here reflects that unique view!
Ocean Beach was developed in 1887 and remained largely isolated from the rest of San Diego until Hwy 8 was built in the mid-1960’s. The location and isolation was probably part of the reason it developed such a unique personality. The town attracted free spirits from the beginning and retained it’s personality by keeping building development curtailed. Today’s OB has a has a very cool downtown strip (Newport Ave) packed in with antiques, food and shopping that reflect the original spirit of the town. Here’s just a few of our favorite jaunts:
- Hodad’s: Our main food-hunt is the eclectic Hodad’s, a practical institution when it comes to burgers in San Diego. The shop is a hole-in-the-wall packed with surf-boards, licence plates and blasting music that is almost always packed to the rim. We come for the juicy fare, the vibe and the fact that they’ll offer lettuce-wraps (great for gluten-intolerant like ourselves). My favorite is the Blue Jay, but just about any burger on the menu is a home run. If you’re feeling particularly gourmet order one of their milk shakes, a delectable desert all in itself.
- The 3rd Corner: This cozy wine-shop/restaurant is where we go when we want to have a romantic dinner in town. Buy the wine from the fabulous collection in-shop and drink it with your fresh California-cuisine meal for only $5 corkage fee. We love it so much we’ve been here 3 times since we’ve been in San Diego.
- Shopping: OB is definitely a shoppers paradise for the alternative minded. The Black is a famous head shop for all things hippy, but there are also thrift stores, antique shops and record stores on the main strip.
- Ocean Beach Pier: At 1,971 feet OB pier is one of the longest concrete piers in the world. Opened in 1966 it dominates the beach landscape and offers sunset walks, fishing and even a Cafe (what a view!) at the far end.
- Dog Beach: This is THE original off-leash dog beach in San Diego, so much so that’s it’s simply known as “Dog Beach”. It’s 10 acres of brilliant sand that also doubles up as a great surf-spot too. It’s always full of paws, but has lots of space for everyone to run around. For those that need it you can head over to Dog Wash for a rinse after the run.
- Wednesday Farmers Market: If you’re in the area do not miss the Wednesday down-town Farmers Market. This is the most original of the San Diego markets with a focus on crafts and live music. Every Wed from 4-8PM. Feel free to bring doggie too (everyone else does!).
We met our RV friends Kathie and Bob on another perfect afternoon for a burger and a walk around town. It started at Hodad’s (of course) after which we meandered down the pier to check out the surfers and enjoy the view. Kathie and I both commented on the fact that we both would have loved to live here in our 20’s. It’s a city-in-one (many OBers never leave the place) and exactly the kind of spot that inspires creative thinking and living. Our spot by Mission Bay is right around the corner making this an easy hop and a skip from the RV park (there’s even a great bike trail all the way around the bay and into the beach). If you’re in the area and looking for something different, definitely make the trip. Like I said, it’s a whole other state of mind!
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