Where to Stay in San Diego: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels

Where to Stay in San Diego: A Local's Guide to the Best Neighborhoods

Wondering where to stay in San Diego? I’ve put together this local’s guide to the best neighborhoods so you can easily plan your visit!

As San Diego has been my home for years, I can tell you firsthand just how amazing this city is, no matter what you’re into. Whether you’re keen on hitting the beach, getting caught up on your SoCal history, visiting the best breweries, doing some shopping, or spending some quality time in nature, there is a neighborhood in San Diego for you.

These are our recommendations for where to stay in San Diego!

Where to Stay in San Diego: A Local's Guide to the Best Neighborhoods


Where to Stay in San Diego: A Local’s Guide to the Best Neighborhoods


Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego’s premiere entertainment district, the Gaslamp Quarter is filled with world-class dining, nightclubs, and shopping options. Known for its distinct Victorian architecture and history, the Gaslamp’s 16.5 blocks are super walkable and accessible to other neighborhoods.


Where to Stay in the Gaslamp Quarter

For an awesome mid-range option, check out Staypineapple at Hotel Z. For luxury accommodations, consider Gaslamp Plaza Suites.

Read more: 25 Easy Weekend Getaways from San Diego (By a Local)


Old Town

Founded in 1769, Old Town San Diego was California’s first-ever settlement. Today, this neighborhood boasts a quaint atmosphere filled with historic sites, museums, specialty shops, and beautiful gardens.

Old Town is also a great place to take in a festival, as they happen here pretty much year round. No matter what you’re into – whether it’s Monty Python, jazz, or a bonfire night, Old Town has an event for you.


Where to Stay in Old Town

For an awesome mid-range option, check out Courtyard San Diego Old Town. For a more upscale stay, consider Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to San Diego


Ocean Beach

Known for having that iconic 1970’s SoCal beach vibe in spades, Ocean Beach is an eclectic, bohemian neighborhood just North of Point Loma. This vibrant spot is popular for surfing, great dining, nightlife, dive bars, and soaking up the sun.

Plus, if you plan on bringing a furry friend with you, Ocean Beach is also home to Dog Beach – a casual place where you can allow your dog to roam freely.


Where to Stay in Ocean Beach

For awesome mid-range options, check out Ocean Villa Inn or the Ocean Beach Hotel.

Where to Stay in San Diego



Just around the corner from Balboa Park sits Hillcrest — the pedestrian-friendly epicenter of San Diego’s LGBT scene, and is home to the city’s massive annual pride parade. The neighborhood also boasts one of the largest farmer’s markets in the city on Sundays, great nightclubs, and a diverse array of ethnic restaurants.


Where to Stay in Hillcrest

For an awesome mid-range option, check out Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast.

Read more: Things to Do in San Diego for Couples


Bird Rock, La Jolla

Just North of Pacific Beach, Bird Rock is an oceanside neighborhood in La Jolla that has an upscale atmosphere with a laid-back attitude. The spot is filled with cute mom-and-pop shops, art galleries, and top-notch ocean views.


Where to Stay in Bird Rock, La Jolla

For an awesome mid-range option, check out nearby Pacific Shores Inn. For luxury accommodations, consider nearby Pacific Terrace Hotel.

Read more: Devil’s Punch Bowl San Diego – Cedar Creek Falls Travel Tips



Coronado is a resort city nestled atop a peninsula in San Diego Bay. Home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, this neighborhood is popular for its restaurant and shopping options, as well as for surfing, sunbathing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. With five beautiful beaches, Coronado is a great place to be if you plan on soaking up the California sun.

For an indoor experience on Coronado definitely check out the Coronado Museum of History and Art; an ever-evolving museum that showcases Coronado’s history dating from the 1880’s.


Where to Stay in Coronado

For an awesome mid-range option, check out 1906 Lodge. For luxury accommodations, definitely look at Hotel del Coronado.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Where to Stay in San Diego


North Park

Northeast of Balboa Park, North Park is a trendy neighborhood filled with coffee shops, indie stores, and craft beer joints. I especially recommend staying in this neighborhood if you consider yourself a foodie as it’s home to some of the most delicious, eclectic restaurants in town.


Where to Stay in North Park

For an awesome mid-range option in North Park, check out Berkshire Motor Hotel.

Read more: The Best Places to Photograph in San Diego


Point Loma

Point Loma is a rugged peninsula home to hiking trails, art exhibits, seafood restaurants, and one of the best sunset-watching spots you’ll find in San Diego. If you stay in Point Loma, I recommend paying a visit to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse as well as Liberty Station — an urban village filled with markets, breweries, and yummy restaurants.


Where to Stay in Point Loma

For an awesome mid-range option, check out Humphreys Half Moon Inn. For luxury accommodations, consider nearby Kona Kai Resort & Spa.

Read more: 15 Best Weekend Getaways in California



Located just North of Del Mar and Encinitas, Carlsbad is an affluent seaside community known for its seven miles of coastline, Tamarack Surf Beach, its great golf clubs, and, of course, Legoland. If you happen to stay in Carlsbad come spring, I definitely recommend hitting up the Carlsbad Ranch flower fields which are home to over 50 acres of incredibly colorful blooming flowers.


Where to Stay in Carlsbad

For an awesome mid-range option, check out Tamarack Beach Hotel. For luxury accommodations, consider Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara.

Read more: 20 Best Restaurants in Encinitas

Where to Stay in San Diego


San Diego Packing Essentials


Beachwear: A swimsuit (pack a few!), quick-drying towel, sunscreen, and a cover-up, are must-have items. Additionally, if you plan on getting in the water, be sure to pack snorkel gear.

Shoes: Rainbows are a California staple, but be sure to also bring a good pair of walking shoes as well as a pair of heels for going out.

Casual-Chic Clothing: Casual tops and t-shirt dresses are par for the course in sunny SoCal. Remember to bring a pair of jeans and a thicker sweater for at night though, the beach can get chilly!

Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Southern California


Plan Your Trip to San Diego

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Skyscanner is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar (or “map”) feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.


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