San Diego's Free Spirit
Backed against the Pacific, saddled with a slightly unsavory reputation left over from the 70s, cursed, or maybe blessed with limited auto access, Ocean Beach, a.k.a. “O.B.”, exhibits symptoms of the frozen-in-time syndrome. Barnacle-like, it clings tenaciously to its quirky identity. Attitude-wise, O.B. is way cool. It may have the most social iconoclasts and ancient VW vans of any place around town, the fewest cellular phones and luxury sedans. No high-rises. No glitz. Not much chance of seeing a Gap or Starbucks anytime soon. Locals like it that way. Just an ocean, a tight-knit community, and a strong sense of SoCal beach-village funkiness.
O.B. is about as unpretentious as San Diego beach living gets, which is to be expected from one of the oldest beach communities in the county. Since the 60's the friendly greeting "OB" became synonymous with the word "Peace" when accompanied by the peace sign. Sunny days are punctuated with the occasional jet roaring overhead, the barking of happy dogs partying at Dog Beach, waves pounding the coastline of Sunset Cliffs. Eccentric antique stores and surf shops line the main street, Newport Avenue, and beach views remain unhampered by condos and high-rises.
It's a place where Halloween and New Year's Eve are high holy days, and the O.B. Chili Cook Off, the Christmas Parade, and the 4th of July fireworks show are annual traditions. In many ways, it's kind of a quiet sleepy place that time forgot. It's one of the few places left in San Diego (or the rest of the country for that matter) where the shops are locally owned and managed.
Then there’s the well-known Ocean Beach Farmers Market, a weekly scramble of erstwhile hippies, boomer yuppies, surfer dudes, beach rats, Gen-Xers, college kids, pink-kneed Midwest transplants and oldtimers who remember way back when Ocean Beach was … well, pretty much the way it still is. The market is typical of what people say they love best about living in O.B.