San Diego, California is a beautiful waterfront city with pristine beaches, hours of sunshine every day, amazing food and great entertainment. It also has a rich history and culture that make it a popular travel destination and a fantastic place to live. You might not know that some well-known people were actually born in San Diego, like Theodor Geisel who was the author of Dr. Seuss and Tony Hawk, the legendary skateboarder himself.
The city is composed of several individual neighborhoods that all bring something new to their surroundings. Some places are known for their performing arts and entertainment, a few areas are historic while others have the best shopping or nightlife. If you are traveling to this city, you might want to do some research on the different areas to find out which one is best suited to you and your needs.
Keep reading to find out a bit more about San Diego and each of its most popular neighborhoods so you can decide where to stay. Before you book your flight and choose a hotel make sure that you find the nearest suitcase locker in San Diego so you can keep your things stowed away when you aren't in your room.
Where to stay in La Jolla
Where you choose to stay usually depends on what you want to do, and if you are planning to spend a lot of time on the beach ( a fabulous free activity) then this is the place for you. The Jolla neighborhood is where most celebrities choose to stay as well as tourists that want to relax and spend their vacation in the sun. This neighborhood is more upscale than some of the other areas but still has affordable accommodations for those who are traveling on a budget. Once you step foot into this part of the city you will understand why it is referred to as "The Jewel" of San Diego.
You will find lots to do in this part of San Diego, from sun tanning at La Jolla Cove to shopping in fashion boutiques. Museums and art galleries are scattered around this neighborhood giving you plenty of cultural and historical activities to enjoy. Most of the hotels are located at the La Jolla Shores right next to the city's best beaches. While you are here, you can have fun trying out different water sports like surfing, kayaking, snorkeling or diving. La Jolla Village is where most of the shops and restaurants are set up and many are within walking distance from one another. The beaches in the Village are smaller than other parts of the neighborhood but are where most of the seals and sea lions hang out, so stop by to see if any are around. Torrey Pines golf course and hiking trails at the Torrey Pines State Park are worth stopping by as well, and kids will enjoy exploring the tide pools, making La Jolla the perfect spot for families to stay.
Some of the best La Jolla Hotels include the Inn By The Sea which has rooms with balconies by the water as well as a heated outdoor pool, or check out La Valencia Hotel. You might want to stay at the Pantai Inn San Diego which is just a short walk away from the beaches and restaurants.
Where to stay in Old Town
Most people recommend that first time visitors stay in Old Town San Diego since it is on the National Registry of Historic Places and where you go to learn about the city's history. Many say that it is the birthplace of California which first began as a home for the Kumeyaay Native Americans and later on is where the Spanish settlements were first made in the 1800s. Some of the locals claim that this part of the city is haunted by ghosts that live in the ancient buildings, like the Whaley House.
Some of the things that you can take advantage of in this area of town include museums, good food and live entertainment. The Old Town has some of the best authentic Mexican food and your cultural experience will be complete with live performances from mariachi bands. While you are in the area be sure to take a look at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to learn more about the city and its people, as well as Presidio Park which is where the city was founded.
When you are looking to book a hotel, consider staying at Kings Inn which is has rooms that follow a 1960's theme with colorless photographs on the walls that tell the story of the neighborhood. The Hilton Garden Inn Old Town and Cosmopolitan Hotel both offer free WiFi and are good options too. The Cosmopolitan was built back in 1869 and is decorated with a Victorian style.
Where to stay in Coronado
South of Downtown San Diego is a neighborhood called Coronado. This place also has some fantastic beaches and is close to other parts of the city so you can enjoy all of San Diego's attractions that are just a short distance away. This part of the city is actually located on a small piece of land that is separate from the main city, so you will have to take a ferry ride or cross the Coronado Bridge to reach it.
Coronado's main attractions include the Silver Strand State Beach or the Coronado Municipal Beach which are perfect for spending time near the Pacific Ocean. You can take advantage of your close proximity to the downtown area by visiting some of Downtown San Diego's landmarks and tourist areas like Balboa Park or the San Diego Zoo.
You can even stay in one of Coronado's top attractions; the Hotel del Coronado. This old Victorian building is popular since it was constructed back in 1888 but don't be fooled, the hotel rooms and amenities are all modern and ready to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Here you can enjoy a spa, an infinity pool and two restaurants located inside the building. Another option would be the Coronado Island Marriott Resort which is situated close to the ferry landing and has some gorgeous San Diego city views from across the water.
Where to stay in Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter used to be the red-light district of San Diego but today it is the best place to go for nightlife mixed in with historic buildings and stories about the city. This neighborhood has over 100 old buildings and structures for you to see and walking through the city streets is quite different here than in other neighborhoods. It is also home to some of the city's top landmarks making it a terrific spot for those who want to do some sightseeing. It is by far the best place to stay in Downtown San Diego as the rest of the city center lacks the character and excitement that the Gaslamp Quarter has.
While you are here you should stop by the San Diego Convention Center, the Horton Plaza as well as the Downtown area and Balboa Park. The immediate surroundings of the neighborhood are filled with quaint coffee shops, lively bars and restaurants selling delicious meals so you are all set whenever you get hungry. It is highly recommended to visit Petco Park and stay for a San Diego Padres game. Even if you aren't a fan of baseball these games are always entertaining and a great way to spend an afternoon. Afterward, you can go bar hopping, check out a local brewery selling craft cocktails or have a drink at a nearby rooftop bar. How to get from place to place? We've got the know-how here!
The Gaslamp Quarter has somewhere for travelers of every budget to stay. If you are looking for cheap hotels try the Moxy Hotel San Diego which is unique and follows a nautical theme, or the Hotel Indigo which has a fire pit and rooftop space. If you want to treat yourself to a few nights at the boutique hotels take a look at the Pendry San Diego which has a rooftop pool.
Where to stay in Mission Valley
The human-made Mission Bay is perfect for spending time in the sun and relaxing in the calm waters of South Mission Beach. The whole area is quiet making it ideal for people who want to have a relaxing vacation. Families also love this area since it is safe and has some unique attractions for kids.
Some of the best attractions at this San Diego bay include SeaWorld San Diego which is always a fun place to visit for people of all ages. The seaside amusement park of Belmont Park is also a fabulous place to spend the day. If you want to relax you can take a stroll, bike or roller skate along the beach boardwalk or take an urban hike by the San Diego River. Along the way, you will encounter lots of bars, restaurants and various shops which can be great for window shopping.
When you are looking for San Diego hotels in Mission Valley, you will have several options. Take a look at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina which has rooms with beautiful views of the Pacific beach and ocean as well as the San Diego skyline. It is one of the best hotels in the area for families since it has a waterslide and other fun extras. Another option is the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley which is modern, minimalistic and well polished. Amenities like an outdoor pool, on-site restaurant, fitness center, lounge and restaurant are included.
Where to stay in Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is a calm, friendly and welcoming area in San Diego that most families and free-spirited individuals love. The area is decorated with quirky shops and adorable cafes as well as happy locals that will welcome you in with a smile. The area near Pacific Beach is good for nightlife, so if you are into staying out late, then this part of the city is good for that too.
Aside from shopping and eating at the cute coffee shops, this area has some other fun things to keep you busy during your stay. The neighborhood is full of street art which can be fun to see as you walk around. Feel free to go swimming off of the beach and explore the tide pools, and when you're done make sure to take a walk to the Ocean Beach Pier. On Wednesdays, you can stop by the Ocean Beach Farmers Market to buy fresh produce, and the nearby Sunset Cliffs are perfect for watching the sun go down at the end of the day. Another bonus is that this area is pet-friendly so if you are looking for a dog beach, here it is!
This is a good spot to get a room at a beachfront resort or try the Ocean Beach Hotel which is one of the best luxury hotels in the neighborhood. Try the Inn At Sunset Cliffs for a vintage motel that has been upgraded to give you a pleasant and modern experience.
Popular San Diego Neighborhoods
Wherever you choose to stay in the city you are bound to have a good time and it is hard to not be in a good mood when you wake up next to one of San Diego's beaches every morning. If you want to treat yourself to an expensive vacation with all of the top amenities you can stay at one of the local luxury resorts or find a boutique hotel that is in your budget. Once you step foot outside of the San Diego International Airport the city is yours to discover, so after you get set up in your hotel room you are free to go exploring San Diego!