There’s something a little bit different about San Diego’s Pacific Beach neighborhood. Besides the half-clothed twenty-somethings walking down Garnet Street and Grand Street or the 45-minute line out the door on Thursday evenings at Moondoggies, there’s a little thing we lovingly call Sunday Funday that makes this area ultra special.

The sun may be out, but it’s a full moon mood. The key to Sunday Funday is pacing yourself and most importantly, the ETD. Throngs of beachgoers walk, bike and drive west towards the shoreline at high noon, so be sure to head out at 11:30am to find a parking spot within twelve blocks of the beach; wait any later to head out and you’ll be doomed to weave the streets long enough to change your mind. The car will wait for you here all day, but don’t forget where you’ve parked it; you might need it for work on Monday.

With your towel, ipod, suntan lotion and solo cups in tow, stop by the Ralph’s grocery store on Mission Blvd for a case of cold beer* because as soon as the clock hits noon, the beach is open for alcohol (cans only, please). Head somewhere in between Diamond and Pacific Beach Drive for the most populated areas- don’t come here if you don’t like crowds- but beware of the traffic cops who will ticket you for jaywalking. On the beach, head past the orange cones to avoid the lifeguards’ jeep lane and refrain from walking in between the horseshoe tossers…they don’t like it and they’re the one’s holding the metal ringers.

Find a spot, pop your brew and join the masses. Make friends with neighbors or the can collectors-those men and women who stalk the beach ready to scoop up your empty one’s for the recycling center.

When you’re done with the beach- i.e. hungry or need to use the restroom- head towards Lahainas Beach Club behind chair 23. They’ll let you use the restroom for free if you show them a drinking ID, but you’ll get a workout trying to push through the crowd to the bathroom. Garnering the cook’s attention can be another aerobic experience. Yell loudly; you don’t want to get a cheese quesadilla when what you asked for a chicken cheese steak. Don’t worry if there’s sand in your hair; bikinis, swim trunks and flip flops are standard dress code here. Take a few shots with the locals, then pack your stuff and head south along the boardwalk-aka concrete sidewalk, for those of you who’ve seen a real boardwalk-with the lifeguard chair numbers increasing by your side.

At West Mission Bay Dr. turn left towards the bars and head for the Wave House. The lines are long for Sundaze, but once you’re inside you’ll see why: the mini wave pool. This is not your normal bob-around-and-float sort of pool. This treadmill for surfers is the entertainment for the night. So get a drink to cool off from your long wait in line and get a good seat to watch the surfers in action as they mount their wave and ride in style.

Finish your day off with a trip to Rubios Fresh Mexican Grill for their famous fried fish tacos. You can continue the attack on your liver with a Corona if you’d like, but maybe it’s about time for an iced tea or soda. It is Sunday, after all.

*San Diego put a ban on drinking on the beaches as of January 1, 2008. A group is trying to overturn the ruling.

What & Where:

(710 Oliver Ave.; 858-270-3888)
Moondoggies (832 Garnet Ave.; 858-483-6550)
Ralph’s (4315 Mission Blvd.; 858-273-0778)
Rubios Fresh Mexican Grill (4504 Mission Bay Dr.; 858-272-2801)
Wave House (3125 Ocean Front Walk; 858-228-9283)