October 1, 2022
California small towns – San Diego: part 4 – finding accommodations in the best neighborhoods and areas
San Diego is a beautiful city in Southern California, with a great geographical location, good climate, and nearly 68 miles of beaches. It is therefore a center that offers tourists endless opportunities to enjoy nature and relaxation while on vacation.
San Diego offers a variety of accommodations in the city that are able to meet all kinds of needs.
Here’s our advice on where to stay overnight in San Diego.
Gaslamp Quarter: the epicenter of Downtown San Diego
Located close to the bay, the Gaslamp Quarter is the central district of San Diego. It is a very lively area, full of cafes, antique shops, art galleries, and gas lamps (hence the name Gaslamp, although today they are powered by electricity).
It is a very pleasant neighborhood with fascinating late 19th century buildings and Victorian buildings (make a point to go to the Louis Bank of Commerce). You should book a hotel in this area if you want to have access to the shops of Horton Plaza, a wide range of dining options, and the heart of the city’s entertainment.
Here are two hotels I recommend:
- Omni San Diego Hotel: since it is in the heart of the neighborhood, this hotel is the prime location to enjoy the lively nightlife of the area. The hotel is excellent and is equipped with all the most exclusive amenities, including a terrace with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi.
- Hotel Z – Pineapple Hospitality: this is a relatively new hotel with pleasant minimalist decor and top-notch services. Guests can also rent a bicycle for free.
The beautiful gardens at Balboa Park
A beautiful park with gardens, pedestrian walkways, and Spanish Colonial mansions, but also one of the most important museum enclaves in the United States (including the enormous San Diego Zoo). This area is one of the best places to stay overnight in San Diego.
Around the park, moreover, there are many other beautiful neighborhoods that can be visited on foot, such as Hillcrest, a vibrant and crowded artistic area and the center of the gay community. Hillcrest is full of gathering places, charming cafes, and characteristic shops, in short, a happening place where you can discover hidden secrets of the city.
North Park is also quite dynamic, with restaurants, cafes, shops, and clubs open until late at night. The streets around Balboa Park are great for a relaxing stroll.
- Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast: the room of this B&B has an enchanting homely atmosphere, which will make your stay in San Diego a truly relaxing experience and help you feel at home in Hillcrest. There is Wi-Fi, free parking, and a comfortable common room.
- Inn at the Park: not far from the park, you will find this all-suite hotel. The style is modest and functional and there is a kitchen, which is perfect for those who want to prepare their own meals.
A wide selection of hotels in Old Town
North of downtown, there is Old Town, the area where the Old Town State Historic Park in San Diego is located. It is the perfect place to experience Mexican culture in the city, taste Mexican cuisine, stop by some souvenir shops, and learn more about California’s Spanish colonial past. Inside Old Town, there are 9 hotels of various categories and price ranges, but there are also different options around the historic district.
- Cosmopolitan Hotel: the most characteristic hotel in Old Town, and perhaps in San Diego, is the Cosmopolitan. Built in 1827, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city. In these rooms, you can experience the history of California.
- Fairfield Inn: located in the heart of the Old Town, this hotel is a stone’s throw from the most historic area of the city. It has a swimming pool, a fitness center, and all sorts of amenities.
- Old Town Inn: it is located at the gates of Old Town, and, even though it is on the Pacific Highway, you can tell immediately when you see it that it is a welcoming and lush oasis. You will be a 10-minute walk away from downtown and when you return, you will find a comfortable and spacious room and a swimming pool where you can cool off.
Embarcadero Marina: between Old Town and the waves of the ocean
One of the best neighborhoods to stay overnight in San Diego is the coastal area known as Embarcadero Marina. By staying here you will be close to most of the city’s tourist attractions and you can easily reach on foot the most interesting districts of downtown: Gaslamp and Little Italy. Not only that, but the Santa Fe station here in Embarcadero Marina is a crucial junction for public transportation to other areas of the city. Consider that in this neighborhood the hotels are all in the medium-high price range, so if you are looking for low-cost hotels, I suggest you focus on other areas of the city.
- InterContinental San Diego: from here you can walk to the main points of interest in the neighborhood within minutes. The hotel looks like a boutique hotel and you will find that great attention is paid to every detail. It has a wellness center and also hosts the Vistal Bar+Restaurant. Its varied menu offers cocktails and haute cuisine.
- Marriott Marquis and Marina: panoramic views over San Diego Bay and the city, together with a wide range of services, make this one of the best hotels in the neighborhood. It is adjacent to the Convention Center, where, among other events, the annual Comic-Con takes place. Before booking, keep in mind that if you want to attend the event, it is the ideal hotel for you, but if you are not interested, you may consider staying at another hotel during the event.
- Springhill Suites: this hotel is also part of the Marriott hotel chain. Although it has one star less (and therefore slightly more affordable prices), it is still superb. The strong point is the location. Springhill Suites overlooks the Waterfront Park and from the rooms, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean and a verdant area of the city.
Spending the night in Little Italy
Little Italy is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego. This is already a good reason that encourages many tourists to look for accommodations in this area. Moreover, the variety of restaurants makes it ideal for those who are looking for a place to dine in the evening and do not want to go far from their hotel.
- Found Hotel: an excellent yet affordable three-star hotel in the lively Little Italy district. The internal garden, where breakfast is also served, is the ideal place to relax.
- Urban Boutique Hotel: this hotel also has affordable prices considering the quality of its services. It may be a small hotel, but it has everything you may need.
- ITH Adventure Hostel: located at a Victorian house, this hostel is beautiful and welcoming, as well as clean and well-kept. The location is great and the price makes it a very attractive option. If you are looking for a youth hostel instead of a classic hotel, this is the best choice available.
Harbor Island: find accommodations close to the airport
For some tourists, staying in Downtown San Diego may not be the best choice. The hectic pace of the city can be bothersome for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet. If you’re hoping to have a quieter, more scenic stay, then look for a hotel on the small strip of land on the water called Harbor Island, just west of downtown.
- Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island: the Hilton chain also has its own hotel in this small peninsula of San Diego. The view is fantastic and the rooms are nice. This is a good option for those who want to visit SeaWorld. However, it is not as convenient for visiting Downtown San Diego.
- Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina: this hotel is located right next to the airport and for this reason, prices are a bit high, but the hotel has everything you need for an ideal vacation, including 5 restaurants, 3 outdoor swimming pools, a spa, and other fun possibilities for recreation and relaxation.
- Houseboat: you don’t have to buy a yacht to be able to sleep on one. Here you can enjoy a comfortable overnight stay on a luxury boat. In addition, this floating hotel also has a bike rental service, which is ideal for getting from here to the downtown area of San Diego.
Coronado and its unforgettable beach
Although everyone thinks Coronado is an island, in reality it is not. It is actually a peninsula connected to the rest of the city by a small strip of land called the Silver Strand. To get there, you must cross a bridge south of downtown. Coronado is a particularly affluent area, characterized by luxurious homes, shops on Orange Avenue, crystal clear waters, and one of the most beautiful beaches in California.
Coronado’s most famous landmark is the Hotel del Coronado.
- Hotel del Coronado: Built in 1888, it is one of the most charming places to stay in San Diego. You will be staying in a historical landmark and enjoying all its luxurious and whimsical charm. The view of the ocean is just one of the many strengths of this late nineteenth-century hotel, which maintains traditions without denying anyone a friendly reception, comfort, and modern amenities that a hotel must be able to ensure.
- Villa Capri by the Sea Motel: if you are looking for a modest and more affordable option, you can choose this motel. The basic services offered by this motel are all excellent. The motel is located quite close to the beach and it can be a relaxing place to stay overnight in one of the quietest areas of San Diego.
La Jolla: a slice of heaven
If you continue north along the coast above Pacific Beach, you’ll arrive at La Jolla, the “jewel” of the sea, an elegant neighborhood that is ideal for those who want to shop, browse galleries or trendy boutiques, dine at fine restaurants by the sea, and swim at La Jolla Cove, another stunning beach in California. This is where you could find accommodations:
- Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa: nestled in lush greenery in a quiet and peaceful area, among fountains and paths lined with flowers, you will find the delightful hotel Estancia La Jolla, a wonderful oasis near the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The attention to detail in the common areas and rooms, the choice of materials, and the design are worthy of a high-class hotel. There is a spa and a swimming pool.
- Inn by the Sea: this place offers good quality at a good price. It is located very close to La Jolla’s main coastal attractions, such as the rocks where seals rest in Jolla Cove, the Children’s Pool, and the Tide Pools. The Inn by the Sea also has a swimming pool.
Other towns on the coast
The city’s southern coast is one of the best in California, making it an ideal place to stay overnight in San Diego. To the north of the city, I recommend looking for accommodations in Carlsbad, Encinitas, or Del Mar if you like to be close to the beach and the ocean. There are other recommended places along the coast that I have yet to mention, such as Mission Beach, the location of SeaWorld, the most famous tourist attraction of the city, Pacific Beach, an area frequented by many young people where you can enjoy the nightlife, Point Loma, a verdant and undulating peninsula with well-kept hotels close to the ocean, and Ocean Beach, a relaxing seaside resort characterized by historic and picturesque streets.
Here are some recommended hotels along the coast:
- The Beach Terrace Inn (2775 Ocean St) in Carlsbad is the only hotel that has a private beach with direct access to the coast. The spacious and elegant rooms have private balconies with ocean views. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and offers wi-fi, free parking, and breakfast included in the price. This is also a great location for weddings.
- The Leucadia Beach Inn (1322 North Coast Hwy 101), located 2.5 miles from Encinitas, is a short walk from a beautiful beach. All accommodations have a kitchenette, a refrigerator, a microwave, cable TV, and a coffee maker. The property allows guests to bring pets for a small fee and there is free parking.
- The Wave Crest Resort (1400 Ocean Ave) located in Del Mar, overlooking the ocean, has brightly colored bungalows and suites with a kitchen. The property has a swimming pool with tables and deck chairs. A path leads to the beach and two blocks away, there are restaurants and shops.
- The Ocean Villa Inn (5142 W Point Loma Point) in the heart of Ocean Beach, surrounded by a lush garden just a few steps from the water, has spacious rooms and suites with ocean-inspired decorations and views of the water. Each room is equipped with a mini fridge and a microwave. The property is pet-friendly and offers continental breakfast and wi-fi, and laundry service and has a heated swimming pool.
- The Ocean Beach Hotel (5080 Newport Ave) located close to Ocean Beach, has direct beach access. The rooms, each one equipped with a mini-fridge, are furnished in different styles and have modern beach-themed decorations. Some of the rooms have ocean views. Guests may bring up to two dogs at no extra charge. The property offers wi-fi, laundry service, and free parking, and has a spa.
- The Pier South Resort (800 Seacoast Dr) located further south, overlooking the shoreline of Imperial Beach, has rooms with beach decor, views of the ocean, and wi-fi. The hotel has a spa, a restaurant, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a business center.
All that I have left to do now is to wish you a pleasant stay in San Diego!