Escape the Go: Fiesta Island

You don't have to go far to travel, Mission Bay reveals.

Nighttime San Diego gets a fresh vantage point from Mission Bay's Fiesta Island.
  • Nighttime San Diego gets a fresh vantage point from Mission Bay's Fiesta Island.

We didn’t have anything like this in Chicago. 

We didn’t have a jutting piece of terrain you could drive out on, pull your car off the road wherever you felt like it, and set up shop. If you’re lucky, you’d lay claim to a 4’x4’ pit for cooking and general bonfirey. Free of lights, free of eyes, you could watch a sunset, throw a ball along the beach to your dog, or just sit and be.

Fiesta Island moment, interrupted by a passing car.

Fiesta Island moment, interrupted by a passing car.

Here, on Fiesta Island, you can lay til nightfall and be completely in the dark. Even though it’s temporary (there’s always a car moments away from emerging around the corner, headlights on), people living in a city of 1.8 million should treasure whatever peace and quiet is presented and easily accessible. And since you can’t really remove a location in a huge city from its innate hectic-ness, this is peace with a view of The Go. I-5 is easily visible, cars streaming each way, never stopping.

Pull onto Fiesta Island, stay right, stop at one-quarter mile, get out of your car, put the car stereo on to something good, and look over your left shoulder: Ocean. Pause. Listen. The waves. The water. Slowly pan your head to the right. Now you’re looking over your right shoulder. The cars. The highway.

This is a place to reflect, to lay on the hood, look straight up, and actually see stars hanging above you. There were no stars in Chicago. The lights were too bright everywhere, even at night. Fiesta Island, perpetually bending the steering wheel to one side to keep its cars on, to help them traverse and round this bubble-shaped land, has stars. It’s a snow globe, its own thing, trapped in by its lack of streetlights and lack of structure. It forms a clear barrier between its outer reaches and the beginnings of The Go. 

Fiesta Island’s accessible only by Mission Bay Drive. If you take Morena, you’ll have to do some type of hairpin turn to turn around at some point. If you take I-5, you’ll never see it or know to get off and look for it.

All the better that way. No offense, dear out-of-town reader, but I want this place to myself. I want to steam around its bends, see people savvy enough to take the turn-around off Morena to enjoy it, making fires and dancing in them, to pull off the road and set myself up in the sun, to see it disappear behind the bridge and set on the continental country for the day.

Fiesta Island is a simple treat, one missable for tourists (there’s no gift shop, you see) but altogether memorable for the citizen looking to step out, to take a breath, to watch the world fly by in both directions, changing lanes, never approaching a stop. 

All the while you watch it, completely still.

What to bring

For this adventure, you will need: a car, a chair, some Modern Times (or equivalent), and something to play music with.

Fiesta Island Park, Mission Bay

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