A quirky amusement from a bygone age, Belmont Park San Diego stands proudly on the sands of Mission Bay, overlooking both it and the Pacific Ocean. It harbors multiple rides and attractions, as well as a handful of eateries and seasonal events, all with an eye toward family fun. There is no entrance fee, but you have to either pay as you go for your rides and games or get an unlimited day pass. This is a great option if you want to spend several hours there and don’t want to worry about going over budget.
Nearby stand multiple restaurants, souvenir shops, and all that Mission Beach has to offer. It welcomes thousands of San Diegans and tourists a year with its charm. This guide will provide all the information needed to enjoy this spot.
History of Belmont Park San Diego
John D. Spreckels originally built the place as the Mission Beach Entertainment Center in 1925. It was primarily a publicity stunt to promote his ventures in Mission Bay real estate and drive ridership on his electric railways.
Two major attractions anchored the new amusement area: The Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster, still the park’s centerpiece; and the c’s first municipal pool and at one time the world’s largest saltwater one, now known as the Plunge.
The Center remained popular for several decades, changing its name to Belmont Park in 1955. It eventually fell from grace in the 60s and 70s, with residents calling for the removal of the coaster as decay set in.
Thankfully, due to the efforts of the Save the Coaster Committee, the Giant Dipper became a historic landmark, although it remained shuttered for much longer. After further improvements, the park reopened permanently in 1988.
At this time, developers added various shops and made it more of a commercial destination. The refurbished roller coaster resumed operation in 1990, creating the modern incarnation of Belmont Park.
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Attractions at Belmont Park
Despite covering only 7 acres, the park provides a surprising number of activities for both kids and adults to enjoy. The park houses twelve thrilling rides and six attractions, all of them worthwhile, depending on a visitor’s idea of fun.
Rides for Young Adventurers
Younger, adventurous patrons will enjoy the rock climbing wall, the laser maze, and Sky Ropes, a three-story adventure course dozens of feet in the air. Other small rides including bumper cars, a carousel, and a tilt-a-whirl are popular, too. A handful of other rides spin and invert guests, which I enjoy and recommend, and two drop towers round out the collection.
Perhaps the most thrilling is the Beach Blaster. It spins riders while raising them high into the air, only to toss them back toward the ground at a fast pace. As a note, several of these rides require closed-toed shoes, and many have height and weight restrictions, so plan accordingly.
Classic Carnival-Style Games
More moderate amusements run down the center of the park, where the Midway’s classic carnival-style games sit, complete with their enormous stuffed animals. Next door sits an arcade full of noisy electronic games, air hockey, and skeeball. Here the visitors can earn tickets for small prizes.
Belmont also houses a laser tag arena, a mini bowling alley, and a surprisingly good mini-golf course themed around a jungle.
The Plunge, newly remodeled, has reopened as a municipal pool for the city of San Diego. Many residents use it for routine exercise or swimming classes. The water has been divided into a free-swim region with an obstacle course and traditional swimming lanes.
Recently, developers updated the surrounding building modified to house a regular gym called Fit Athletic Club. Guests can purchase day passes or memberships, depending on their needs.
The Giant Dipper
Of course, the big ride remains the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster. This behemoth occupies a good quarter of the park and stands head-and-shoulders above everything else. It’s my favorite ride here, and I send everyone who likes coasters to it.
As a wooden coaster, it does rattle pretty severely, but it runs faster and longer than most expect. Offering exceptional ocean views, it is definitely well worth the cost.
On top of the previous items, Belmont Park Mission Beach offers three premium attractions. These include the Go-Karts, which run around a small track set in the parking lot and Escapology, a time-travel-themed building with three escape rooms.
These three attractions represent the newest additions and cost a little more than their older counterparts. Some passes include them, but not all, so be careful when planning a trip.
The zipline has become the most popular premium experience. You must fill out a waiver, increasing the excitement—both for kids and their parents. It allows riders to soar above the action and enjoy an overhead view of the festivities.
Food and Drink
To fuel up between rides, food vendors and restaurants litter Belmont Park Mission Beach. Smaller stalls sell the classics: Cotton candy, pretzels, popcorn, hot dog on a stick, sodas, water, and the like. Round Table Pizza and Belmonty’s Burgers provide more filling, delicious fare in the center, near the stage area.
Another cool place, especially with kids, the Sweet Shoppe offers ice cream, shakes, and made-in-house fudge.
For more adult patrons, the park contains a small bar space and a beer cart. On the boardwalk outside, diners can find three full restaurants: Draft House for sandwiches and burgers, and Cannonball for Asian fusion, to enjoy more substantial meals. In addition, the surrounding Mission Bay neighborhood contains plenty of restaurants within a very short walk.
The park contains a small stage used for festivals throughout the year, including small-scale concerts. Most festivals use themes for different seasons. For example, the fall theme occurs in the autumn and features Halloween decorations, pumpkin-spiced drinks and free trick-or-treating every Sunday.
The site supports multiple small shops—such as Wings, Sun Diego, San Diego’s Best, and the Beach Trade. These cater to a beach clientele, offering anything one might need on the boardwalk.
Getting Tickets: Belmont Park San Diego
Belmont Park Mission Beach opens onto the street and has no admission fee. Visitors just walk inside and pay to play for specific experiences. Tickets cost a dollar apiece (unless purchasing the larger packages). The prices range from four or five tickets for smaller rides to seven for the Giant Dipper and twelve for Sky Ropes.
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Patrons can also buy day passes for unlimited rides that work for only the rides, all attractions for a given day, or annual passes for an entire year’s worth of rides.
Note: Premium attractions may require extra fees. For visitors exploring the city further, several multi-day city packages offer Belmont Park San Diego as an option, including the Go City All-Inclusive Pass.
Getting There: Belmont Park Mission Beach
Belmont Park opens daily from 11 am to 10 pm on weekends, 8 pm on weekdays and 9 pm on Sundays, most days of the year apart from some major holidays.
Most visitors drive to Belmont Park San Diego by car. The site hosts its own free parking lot, and Mission Bay Park contains two more across the street.
Mission Bay streets also have plenty of street parking, although these options can fill up on busy summer days. Rideshares represent another option, especially if intending to drink.
Alternatively, the #8 bus runs from the Balboa Drive trolley stop, on San Diego’s blue line, through Mission Bay, past SeaWorld, to Old Town. It passes every 15 minutes or less and costs only $2.50 to ride.
Overall, the charm and campy atmosphere of Belmont Park makes for a fun day or afternoon out. While not large, the area packs plenty of family excitement into its space. Older guests may struggle with everything available, the Giant Dipper presenting the most exciting option, and spend only a couple of hours, while families can fill an entire day.
Its location on Mission Beach also makes it easy to combine with a day on the sand, so be sure to bring a swimsuit. Although certainly not a must-see attraction in San Diego, this amusement park rates at least a half-day visit from locals and belongs in any family vacation’s itinerary.
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Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Maria Haase