This is a crowded and sometimes rowdy beach. But I give the City of San Diego profound kudos for trying to clean up the scene here, and the beach itself. Traffic is a huge issue on key weekends and in summer. Head north, and the water and sand becomes much cleaner, and the environment much more suitable for families. Try Carlsbad. Nice clear water and usually nice sand during non-storm season. Rocky beach during a time of multiple storms. Call each city's CONVIS to find out how the beaches are. That being said, there are some great buys that can be found in many of the shops in Mission Beach.