Relax And Swim At The Beach
TripSavvy / Sharyn Umaña-Angers
Head west from any part of San Diego, and you’ll probably end up at a beach. When you get there, you can swim, surf, watch a sandcastle competition, go for a walk, or play with your dog. The trick is to know which beach is the right one for you. La Colla Cove, with its grottos and protective restrictions, is great for diving and snorkeling, while Windansea Beach is a surfer’s paradise thanks to its steep ocean floor and reef break. But if you’re just here to relax and take in the sunshine, nothing beats Coronado Beach.
The first European to visit San Diego, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped on the shore near Cabrillo National Monument, located at the southern end of the Point Loma Peninsula, in 1542. We don’t know if Cabrillo climbed to the top of this promontory or not, but people who make it get some of the best views of San Diego, looking across the Bay and back toward downtown.
While much of the year, there’s enough moisture in the air to obscure the views, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking on a clear day. In addition to the gorgeous vista, there’s a historic lighthouse, visitor center, some beautiful tide pools down below, and good whale-watching in the winter.
Neighborhood Guide To The Best Drinks In San Diego
San Diego may have earned its reputation as a foodie town plate by plate. But as any dedicated gourmand knows, even the finest of fine dining isnt complete without a signature cocktail to complete the experience. So if youre looking for an insiders guide to the best drinks in San Diego, youve come to the right place.
Heres what you should be drinking in every neighborhood in the city.
Where To Stay In San Diego Neighborhoods & Area Guide
A huge, picturesque coastal city perched along the Pacific Coast in Southern California, San Diego is characterized by its many universities, well-manicured green spaces, a warm climate, and of course, gorgeous beaches. Though it is the second-largest city in the state, San Diego has a rather laid-back pace which enables its visitors to enjoy a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle that is usually expected out of a metropolitan of this size.
With its favorable warm climate year round, San Diego is home to over one million inhabitants from all around the world, making it one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the United States. Once known as the birthplace of California, the city welcomes over 35 million visitors each year.
Finding accommodation at the Craft Beer Capital of America could be daunting not because it lacks options but because there are too many. To select where to stay in San Diego, you must take a look at the below-mentioned neighborhoods to get an idea of what to expect from each.
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More Accommodation Guides In California
Travel Planning Resources
Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.
Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner
Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO.
Travel Insurance: Don’t leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:
- World Nomads – Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
- Allianz – Occasional Travelers.
- Medjet – Global air medical transport and travel security.
Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.
Best Hotel In Downtown: Best Western Plus Bayside Inn
Located in Little Italy, the Best Western Plus Bayside Inn is our pick for where to stay in Downtown San Diego. Not only is it close to the citys most popular eateries, cafes, bars and shops, but it has amazing views of the harbour. This hotel boasts a relaxing Jacuzzi, a fitness centre and a stunning swimming pool.
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Hotel Circle Where To Stay In San Diego On A Budget
Located adjacent to Old Town and Mission Valley, Hotel Circle is a bustling thoroughfare that was purposely designed to cater to San Diegos many visitors.
With several of the regions busiest freeways nearby, this is the perfect place for a hotel stay if youre traveling with a car and plan to visit sites in the surrounding territory.
Nearby attractions and activities include the Riverwalk Golf Club, the Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center and the Fashion Valley Shopping Mall in addition to Westfield Mission Valley.
With tons of other retailers and restaurants within a short drive, this is an excellent place for families to stay or for those who want to have convenient access to freeways.
Additionally, Hotel Circle is pretty accessible to the airport, so this is a good selection if you have an early flight.
In Hotel Circle, youll find all of the usual suspects as far as national hotel chains are concerned. If you have a favorite brand, youll probably find it here.
Prices generally are reasonable when compared with some of San Diegos more upscale and exclusive neighborhoods.
Bargains may be had at some of the older properties, but this isnt the place to expect much in the way of hostels. Still, the crime rate is pretty low, making this a good place to stay in San Diego.
Sample One Or More Of The City’s 150
Courtesy of Societe Brewing Company
Self-described as the Craft Beer Capital of America, San Diego more than earns its title by boasting more than 150 breweries, dozens of tasting rooms, an annual beer week, and beer-centric events like the San Diego Brew Festival. So while you’re here, it goes without saying that sipping some of the city’s famed West Coast-style IPAs should be on your agenda . Take a trip to their tasting room to get a taste of the beer that started it all, then make your way over to Societe Brewing Company and sample four categories of beersOut West, Old World, Stygian, and Feraland be sure to try The Coachman, a session IPA that’s claimed the gold at the Great American Beer Festival twice.
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Old Town Best Place To Stay In San Diego For First
Old Town San Diego is The birthplace of California. As you can guess from the name, is a historic part of San Diego that was the first Spanish settlement in the early 1800s. Before that, it was an important area for the Kumeyaay Native Americans. Old Town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What makes Old Town so interesting today is that its retained its charm and style of architecture. Many San Diegans believe that Old Town is haunted, with most ghosts residing in the Whaley House.
You can spend your time browsing through museums, visiting the Mission, sampling Mexican food, and listening to live music from a mariachi band. Old Town is perfect for visitors of all ages interested in food, history, folklore, and have a great imagination.
Where To Stay In San Diego For Luxury
Some of the top hotels in San Diego lie north of the city in spectacular wilderness areas near La Jolla, an upscale coastal neighborhood about 14 miles northwest of downtown. This is a favorite area for outdoor adventures like kayaking, surfing, paragliding, and biking along the beach. It’s also home to designer boutiques, museums, and the Torrey Pines State Reserve, a wild and rugged coastal park, where you can hike more than eight miles of trails, spot migrating whales from the cliffs, and bask on the windswept beaches.
About a 20-minute drive from Torrey Pines State Reserve, in the Los PeÃ±asquitos Canyon Preserve, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar on 400 acres is one of the best hotels in San Diego. This luxury resort evokes the elegance of a grand estate on the Italian or French Riviera.
The sumptuous guest rooms and suites feature marble baths with deep tubs and gorgeous garden views. You’ll find it difficult to choose from all the things to do here. In your spare time, you can swim in one of the four pools, dine at the resort’s multiple restaurants, tee off on the Tom Fazio-designed championship course, play tennis, or snuggle up at a movie night. The resort’s luxury spa is one of San Diego’s best.
If you’re looking for luxury right on the ocean, the Balinese-inspired Pantai Inn in La Jolla offers excellent value. This boutique beauty features 30 uniquely-decorated rooms, suites, and cottages, with features like fireplaces and four-poster beds.
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Best Place To Stay In San Diego For Families With Kids
When trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego with kids you will have a lot of options to choose from.
However, right off the bat, the Gaslamp Quarter is probably not a great idea due to its nightlife scene.
This neighborhood aside, you are spoilt for choice with two options standing out with the most to offer your family.
Below is more about them and what makes them particularly special for families with kids of all ages.
San Diego Geography Overview
San Diego covers a lot of land, with county lines stretching all the way through Anza-Borrego State Park on the east. That said, for visitors, the best neighborhoods in San Diego to visit and stay in are generally along the coast. In addition to the beaches which is why most people choose to visit San Diego! most of the main sights are located closer to the coast.
A section of the southern coastal area is where most of the sights people associate with San Diego are located. Here, you have Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway, the Coronado Bridge, Hotel del Coronado, Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, and more . With all of this in mind, if youre visiting San Diego for the first time, youll likely want to stay closer to this area if hitting up these iconic spots is important to you.
The northern coastal area of the county has fewer must-see sights compared to south county, but there are still lots of great beach towns that are fun to visit. Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar each have lively town centers with lots of excellent restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. Since they have a lot to offer on their own and since theyre just steps away from the beach these areas are still popular for tourists.
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Best San Diego Neighborhoods For Visitors
Urban and busy, the center of San Diego is vibrant and offers a lot to locals, tourists, and business travelers alike. The Gaslamp Quarter offers excellent restaurants and nightlife and is within walking distance to the San Diego Convention Center. It is the perfect spot to explore all the things to do in San Diego.
If you dont have a car, we highly recommend you stay downtown, as many attractions are within walking distance and most others can be reached with public transport or a quick shared ride.
Main attractions in and near Gaslamp Quarter/Downtown:
Balboa Park | San Diego Zoo | USS Midway | Seaport Village | Gaslamp Quarter Nightlife and Restaurants | Petco Park | Convention Center | San Diego Symphony | Bay Cruises | Whale Watching | Cruise Ship Terminal | | Santa Fe Station | Museum of Contemporary Art | San Diego Childrens Museum
As the name suggests, this is San Diegos Italian quarter. You will find great restaurants, a bustling Farmers Market and a fun piazza to hang out with the locals, tasty food at the Little Italy Food Hall and lots more all within walking distance to many of San Diegos main attractions. Hotels here are mainly 3 star, small boutique hotels.
Main Attractions in Little Italy
Piazza Della Familia | Little Italy Farmers Market | Restaurants & Bars | Firehouse Museum | Waterfront Park
Hotel Recommendations Little Italy
Top Sights in Old Town
Hotel Recommendations for Old Town
Old Town Mission Valley Hotel Circle Where To Stay In San Diego On A Budget
Our next area is actually two neighbouring districts, which combine to form the historic portion of San Diego. Old Town and Mission Valley are located in the very centre of San Diego, in a wide river valley where the San Diego River runs from east to west, into the Pacific Ocean.
The Mission Valley portion gets its name as it was the first Spanish settlement in California, with a history dating back as early as 1769, where Christian missions were built. The original mission of the city, San Diego De Alcala, still stands in its original location at the east end of mission valley, in Presidio Park, a destination that straddles both San Diego neighborhoods and is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places.
Presidio Park was also the site of the historic Royal Presidio Of San Diego Fort, which housed the first permanent European settlement in the western coast of the United States. Despite none of the original structures remaining, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The Junipero Serra Museum was built in the park in the Spanish Revival style to house and display the collections of the San Diego Historical Society. This makes it a fabulous destination for fans of history to learn about the origins of the area and see some incredible historic locations first-hand.
Old Town the ideal place to stay for those who visiting San Diego in december for a truly unique and festive destination.
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Where To Stay In Del Mar
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
This luxury hotels East Del Mar location avoids some of the traffic issues that Village hotels have. Its located on the Los Penasquitos canyon preserve which means guests have access to lots of trails for hiking and biking. The resort offers golf, tennis, a full-service spa, lots of family programming, an onsite equestrian center, a kids club, heated pools and more. Book a Virtuoso rate online.
LAuberge Del Mar
LAuberge Del Mar is a boutique hotel designed to feel like a private coastal estate located across the street from the beach at 15th street , in the heart of Del Mar Village. Rooms feature interior design by local favorite, Barclay Butera. Other highlights include ocean views from the pool and the spa. Check rates and reviews.
- Travelers who are looking for larger accommodations that dont break the bank.
- Travelers who plan to have rental cars.
- Those who like a quieter beach scene.
Not a fit for:
- Vacations with emphasis on downtown San Diego attractions .
- Luxury hotels on the beach .
Getting there: It takes about 35 minutes to get to Aviara and La Costa from the San Diego International Airport without traffic. Plan at least an hour or more if traveling during rush hour.
Where To Stay In San Diego On The Beach
San Diego is sometimes nicknamed the Beach City.
With the numerous breathtaking and award-winning beaches and the overall relaxed paradise vibe, it is not so hard to understand why.
However, not all beachside neighborhoods are the same.
If beach fun is what you are visiting for, below are the 3 best places to stay in San Diego near the beach.
That way, your fun day in the sun and sand will be just a short trip away
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Downtown Where To Stay In San Diego For First Time
San Diegos downtown district is a short car ride away from the airport. At once hip, glamorous and laid-back, downtown is a great place to book a hotel stay.
Thats not only because the neighborhood boasts numerous transportation options but also because theres a ton to see and do.
Downtown features diverse cant-miss attractions like The New Childrens Museum and the This also is the place where its possible to shop your way through 14 acres of stores at upscale Seaport Village or take in a San Diego Padres game at Petco Park.
Whether you choose to stroll along Waterfront Park or raise a glass at the Mission Brewery, youll always find plenty to do.
In fact, this is a fantastic place to stay if youre hoping to enjoy some nightlife. Downtown features a huge collection of bars, lounges and clubs that are buzzing every night.
Overall, downtown is a safe place to stay and play. San Diego knows how important their downtown district is to commerce and tourists. Consequently, the neighborhood is patrolled by police to ensure that the streets are safe for locals and visitors.
Another excellent reason to stay in the downtown area is the choice of accommodations. Visitors will encounter everything from tried-and-true national chains to one-of-a-kind boutique properties.
Best Airbnb In North Park: Stylist And Quiet Room Near Everything
Stay right on the edge of the Balboa Park with a few minutes from the zoo and downtown district this home is placed in a prime location for all the San Deigo attractions. And the best dog in the entire world happens to live here, too! Hes hypoallergenic and very, *very* lovable. Get cozy on the couch and relax, reading one or two of the many books the owner has placed to share. Have to work while traveling? No problem, theres a private desk for your convience!
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