Downtown San Diego: Best For Foodies And Nightlife Lovers
Given the wide variety of things to do and the proximity to the airport, downtown is one of the best places to stay in San Diego. More specifically, the historic Gaslamp Quarter is one of the best areas to stay in. There are plenty of amazing hotels in this area, and its known as San Diegos nightlife hub. Youll find tons of great restaurants, bars, clubs, and performance venues in this neighborhood.
In addition to the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy is a popular spot that has fun bars and restaurants. Downtown is also the home to many of the major must-see San Diego spots, including Balboa Park, Coronado Island, the USS Midway, and the San Diego Zoo.
Pros of Staying in Downtown San Diego
- Access to Public Transportation: In addition to the buses, Downtown San Diego has a trolley system, which can make getting around the area a bit easier.
- Close Proximity to Sights: Theres a lot of things to do and see in and around Downtown San Diego, so its a great spot for visitors.
- Walkable: Its incredibly easy to explore Downtown San Diego by foot, as its fairly compact.
- Lots of Excellent Eateries, Bars, Clubs, and Cafes: There is no shortage of excellent places to eat and drink downtown! Whether youre looking for something more lowkey or a bit more upscale, you have plenty of options.
Cons of Staying in Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego Highlights
Places to Stay in Downtown San Diego
Pendry San Diego
The US Grant
The Westgate Hotel
Best Places To Stay In San Diego For Tourists
Are you planning a trip to sunny San Diego and are overwhelmed with the question of where to stay in San Diego? With 1.3 million residents, San Diego claims the title of the second-largest city in California, so choosing one of the best and centrally located San Diego neighborhoods as your home base during your visit is important. Well, you have come to the right place.
Greg and I are San Diego locals and we are sharing our best places to stay in San Diego for visitors including hotel recommendations for each San Diego neighborhood. Whether you are looking for a beautiful beach resort in San Diego, a boutique hotel in La Jolla, or a chic hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, we got you covered.
Where To Stay In Hillcrest
- ITH Colive Balboa Park ITH Colive Balboa Park is a fun and friendly hostel where youll not only get to save money on a hotel, but also meet some pretty interesting people doing what youre doing. Simple but brightly colored, the dorms here are all you need for a good nights sleep. But with the lively area to explore on the doorstep from cafes and gay bars to international eateries and nightclubs you may not be getting much sleep anyway!
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Best Neighborhoods And Areas To Stay In San Diego
San Diego, the southernmost city in California, is known for its laid-back beachy atmosphere. The downtown beating heart of the city is situated on a large bay and is central to many of the citys most famous sites and attractions.
Travel northwest and the dense city gives way to small, eclectic beach towns that range from sleepy, to bohemian, to luxurious. Ill go into these details for each neighborhood, moving from south to north, and give you an idea of what area will be the best fit for you!
Getting Around San Diego
If you dont have your own car or a rental car during your San Diego getaway dont worry there are plenty of options for public transportation in the city as well as rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft.
In downtown San Diego and certain beach cities like La Jolla, there are scooter rentals literally all over the place which are nice for getting around short distances that are a stretch too far for a walk.
This is great for popular stops near downtown San Diego they run about every 15 minutes. There are three different trolley lines that will get you anywhere you need to go on your San Diego vacation downtown.
There are various train systems in San Diego from the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner which can bring you in from a further destination to the Coaster and Sprinter which help connect San Diego county by train. If you plan on adventuring up to North County these are great options.
Wondering Where To Stay In San Diego
Straddling the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is a vibrant city in Southern California. Often a stopover for people travelling between the United States and Mexico, San Diego has plenty of attractions worth visiting in their own right. Diverse, warm and culturally interesting, San Diego is well worth its own dedicated trip.
As a fairly large American city, figuring out where to stay can be difficult. Neighborhoods are sprawling, and the street system can make navigation difficult if you dont have your own vehicle.
Thats why weve created this guide! Weve figured out the seven best neighborhoods in San Diego and categorised them by what they are best for.
So lets dive right in!
Best Hostel In Gaslamp Quarter: Usa Hostels San Diego
USA Hostels San Diego is located at the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. It boasts a fun environment with privacy pods and brand new bathrooms. At this hostel, guests can enjoy a variety of group activities, free breakfast and discounted bike rentals. This is our choice for where to stay in the Gaslamp Quarter.
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The Final Word On San Diego Accommodations
Along with the unique lodging locations we mentioned, there are plenty of chain hotels with prices below $100 a night, and they are not hard to find. However, when you visit a city as unique as San Diego, it is nice to stay at a place that matches its rich history and singular nature, as Southern Californias jewel, and Americas Finest City.
Once a quiet beach town, San Diego is now livelier than ever. While you can still find those sleep beachside lodges, you can also hit the streets of Downtown San Diego and most city centers in every San Diego location for late-night shenanigans. So, whether you are planning a family trip or a raucous adventure, San Diego is sure to please, with a room to match.
What Neighborhood To Stay In In San Diego
Hi, I am traveling with my husband and my two children, ages six and nine. We are going to San Diego at the end of May. We are looking into renting a house in Mission Beach. I have heard that traffic during rush hour in San Diego is very bad. I dont want to get stuck in traffic just to go out to dinner. Is there a better neighborhood to stay in, where we could walk to dinner? Or is driving from Mission Beach to downtown not that big of a deal at dinner time? Thanks!
I don’t think you have a clear idea of our neighborhoods. There is no need to drive “downtown” for dinner at all! There are plenty of restaurants in Misison Beach or nearby Pacific Beach. “Downtown”San Diego is a small area and locals don’t go there most nights for dinner. If you tell us where exactly you are staying or if you put the address into Google you can use the search nearby function on the map to find nearby restaurants.
Edited: 3 years ago
Mission Beach is pretty run down. The is allot of partying there..I would never stay there with small children it for that matter by myself. I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay area but live here in San Diego since 2001. So my perspective might be different as to what I think a vacation spot would look like. I would stay in Mission Valley hotel circle and then go to the beaches for the day. Downtown San Diego doesn’t have much to look at or do. You might want to check out. Seaport Village that’s a nice place and a few good restaurants like the Fish House.
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Coronado Best Place To Stay In San Diego For Couples
Located just across the San Diego Bay this area is a peninsula, separate from the city, and it is also known as Coronado Island. Dont worry though, you can take the bridge to reach Downtown San Diego or you can jump on the ferry and enjoy a quick thirty-minute trip.
Also known as the Crown City, Coronado is perfect for your romantic getaway to San Diego, CA. The peninsula is super tranquil and peaceful, Yulia the owner of the site even said that at night the highway is so empty and free of cars that you can even walk on it .
Mostly a resort town, here youll enjoy all the privacy you need to have romantic late-night walks by the beach. Coronado Beach was named the best beach in the United States in 2012 and its also home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888, which looks like a small village of its own!
Things to do in Coronado
- Take romantic walks by the Coronado Beach
- Explore the Silver Strand and admire the views of the San Diego Bay
- Have a romantic picnic in the Glorietta Bay Park
- See the famous Hotel del Coronado, which looks like a small village
- Learn new things about the city at the Coronado Historical Association
Things To See And Do In Gaslamp Quarter
Visit the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum that offers tours hosted by veterans.
Enjoy a few drinks at Karl Strauss.
Sip a glass of wine at Vin de Syrah.
Catch a Padres baseball game at Petco Park.
Sink your teeth into a succulent burger at Searsucker.
Browse the stacks at the San Diego Central Library.
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of people watching in Gaslamp Quarter Park, a small square with good views.
Dine on delicious and filling dishes at barleymash.
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Things To See And Do In Old Town
Visit the Junipero Serra Museum to see exhibits and displays on the life in Old Town.
Wander throughout San Diego Historic Park.
See the San Diego Courthouse, which dates back to the early-19th-century.
Catch an American football game at Qualcomm Stadium.
Watch a live performance at the Theatre in Old Town.
Enjoy incredible Mexican fare at Casa De Reyes.
Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day in Presidio Park.
Visit the Whaley House Museum, which is rumoured to be the most haunted house in America.
Ocean Beach Where To Stay For Families
My free-spirited grandfather used to take me to Ocean Beach as a child and wistfully say, O.B. where you live happy and free as soon as we stepped out of our car. Today, the sentiment still rings true. Ocean Beach is a casual neighborhood where alternative lifestyles are not just welcomed, but embraced.
Walk along the main street past all types of restaurants, boutiques selling tie-dye everything, healing crystal shops, and taco stands. Street art covers formerly bare walls and the sun is usually shining after noon once the marine layer of fog burns off.
Explore the tide pools, go swimming in the ocean, and walk along the Ocean Beach Pier.
Ocean Beach is accepting of everyone, including pets. If you are looking for where to stay in San Diego with pets, youll find that Ocean Beach is just about as accommodating as it gets. Make sure to check out the Ocean Beach Farmers Market. It is full of organic food stalls and they even put on live music!
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Top Things To Do In Coronado:
- Spend lazy days on the white sand of Coronado Beach. Waves are mild, so its very safe for little nippers
- Catch some waves Coronado Surfing Academy can help any beginners find your feet!
- Get some family snaps at the Coronado Bridge Viewpoint
- Hire some bicycles and explore the whole peninsula
- Shop at the boutiques of delightfully fragrant sounding Orange Avenue
- Explore the rock pools which are revealed at low tide and look for crabs
- At low tide, try spot the sunken SS Monte Carlo it drifted ashore and due to its shady onboard activities, nobody ever claimed it!
- Eat European pastries at Tartine and delicious ice cream at Moo Time
- Catch the latest flick at the Village Theater
- Hire a kayak or paddleboard from Seaforth Boat Rentals and explore the bay! Charter a yacht if youre feeling more flush
You Are Sure To Be Spending Most Of Your Vacation Lounging About On The Inviting Porch Of This Bnb Soaking Up The Sun With Its Trendy Decor And Homey Atmosphere This Apartment Will Have You Taking Back Home Design Tips After Your Holiday Is Over
As a fairly cheap area, there arent any luxury hotels in North Park. If you want to splash out, we suggest opting for a private house or apartment! Casa California is one of the best, and with capacity for nine people is perfect for large groups and families. It also has a private patio.
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Where To Stay In San Diego Close To Everything
- COOLEST thing to do in Downtown head to the top of the Hyatt and admire the gorgeous views across the city and the coast
- BEST place to visit in Downtown wander around the Maritime Museum of San Diego and learn about the citys seafaring history
It goes without saying that Downtown is the most central neighborhood in the city, and this is the best area if you want to stay close to everything! It is also where the Amtrak and Greyhound stations are based, keeping you well connected with other destinations further afield in California and even Mexico.
Aside from its central location, Downtown San Diego is a major entertainment hub in the city! Whether you want to check out an exhibit at a museum, catch a live theatre performance or simply kick back with a few beers and mingle with locals, Downtown is a vibrant area to stay in during your stay.
- San Diego Repertory Theatre is a great venue if you want to discover some local, up and coming talent
- Childrens Museum of San Diego is a surprisingly popular attraction showcasing interesting aspects of childhood in the city
- Seaport Village is the major shopping district in Downtown, with a seaside atmosphere and a great selection of stores and restaurants
- Prohibition San Diego is a speakeasy-style bar selling some classic cocktails as well as contemporary concoctions
- The Mission is a popular restaurant chain across the city and surprisingly, their Downtown location has the smallest queues!
Things To See And Do In North Park
Eat fresh and delicious tacos at City Tacos.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream.
See your favourite animals up close at the massive San Diego Zoo.
Wander through Balboa Park, where youll find more than 16 museums, performing arts venues, gardens, trails and beyond.
Take a self-guided pub and food crawl along 30th Street.
See incredible works of art by local artists and creatives in the Ray Street Art District.
Enjoy a night of craft beer and old arcade games at Coin-Op Game Room,
Down a pint at the hip and casual True North Tavern.
Sample a variety of different dishes at Chop Suey.
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Ocean Beach: Best Place To Stay In San Diego For Beach Lovers
Ocean Beach, or OB as its known to locals, is a beautiful bohemian beach neighborhood. It is the most low key of all the seaside areas in San Diego, which is why its my top pick for a beachside stay.
Ocean Beach is a bohemian paradise, full of eccentric attractions and a vibrant town center. You can fish from the pier without a license, free of charge. Ocean Beach Pier is one of the longest piers in the West Coast, perfect for fishing, and also a great spot to see sea lions. There is also a Farmers Market every Wednesday with a bounty of amazing produce grown in the areas just outside of the city. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Sunset Cliffs and find a lovely spot to sit and watch the sunset over the ocean. There is often a combination of tourists and locals up there to see the sunset, but you should be able to find a spot to plop down, no problem.
The other popular beachfront areas in San Diego are Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
Pacific Beach is popular for nightlife, especially among the twenty-something, bar-hopping crowd. While it is great for a night out, it can be a little loud to stay in unless youre interested in San Diegos nightlife. If you are, then definitely stay near Garnet Ave.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Ocean Beach
- Like North Park, the hotel options are pretty limited. There are a couple of spots, which youll find below, but vacation rentals are your best bet here.
Best Places to Stay in Ocean Beach
Options For Couples