Where to Stay in San Diego: The Best Neighborhoods and Hotels for Every Type of Traveler

The best San Diego neighborhoods and hotels for couples, families, nightlife-seekers, first-time visitors, and more.

People walk on the waterfront promenade in downtown San Diego, California on a sunny day

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A trip to San Diego is always an exciting prospect, and planning is the first part of the fun. Whether it's a solo visit, family vacation, couples getaway, or special event celebration, San Diego offers the perfect place to stay and the ideal neighborhood to use for your home base. No doubt you'll enjoy San Diego's beaches, downtown, harbor, museums, and attractions, but choosing the right home away from home will get you started on your trip in the best way. Here's where to stay in San Diego, with options suitable for every type of traveler and budget.

Where to Stay in Mission Bay and Beach Towns

The beach will be a key feature of a family trip to this part of California, and Mission Bay offers plenty of sandy shores, ocean waves, and calm bays for water sports, sailing, and harbor cruises. Bike paths, picnic areas, swimming areas, and hotel pools fill the day, and a family beachside bonfire will end it in true San Diego style.

The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Tropical landscaping and décor create an elegant atmosphere, and with a patio or balcony for every room, views are guaranteed at this hotel. A sandy beach on Mission Bay, refrigerators, a coffee bar, a pool, Jacuzzi, and bike rentals make this hotel a convenient and luxurious family spot.

Aerial view of Paradise Point Resort near Mission Bay
Courtesy of Paradise Point Resort

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

This family-friendly resort on Mission Bay near SeaWorld San Diego features five pools, a mile-long beach, tennis courts, bonfire pits, a nine-hole putting course, beach cruisers, multiple waterfront restaurants, and a private marina on its 44-acre island. Bungalow-style rooms are set among lagoons and tropical gardens.

Bahia Resort Hotel

Less than five minutes from SeaWorld San Diego, the Bahia Resort Hotel is set on a private 14-acre peninsula on Mission Bay. Amenities include a swimming pool, tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, beachfront cabanas, and cruises on the Bahia Belle, its Mississippi-style sternwheeler.

San Diego Mission Bay Resort

Set alongside Mission Bay, San Diego Mission Bay Resort is the perfect choice for those looking for a beachside adventure. They even offer water sports equipment and bike rentals right on site, with stand-up paddle boards, powerboats, and more.

Where to Stay in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

This vibrant downtown neighborhood is the place for nightlife, with plenty of nightclubs, live music, comedy shows, rooftop bars, gastropubs, and late-night dining to keep visitors busy. It's a blend of historic and modern, with lively streets, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants ranging from casual to upscale. Choose one of the Quarter's hotels for a delightful stay and an easy walk back at the end of a big night out on the town.

Andaz San Diego

Set in a historic 1913 building and updated in contemporary style, Andaz San Diego, operated by Hyatt, offers guest rooms and suites, a pool, private cabanas, and the largest rooftop in the San Diego Gaslamp District. Enjoy a range of rooms with local art and panoramic views of downtown San Diego. Pro tip: Guests looking to relax in the sun can select a Cabana Suite for access to a private poolside cabana.

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego rooftop pool at night
Courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

The rock vibes begin with the hotel’s lobby lounge and continue through a stunning rooftop pool bar and urban garden, state-of-the-art fitness center, and high-tech amenities, such as each room's integrated plug-and-play sound system. Complimentary Electra bicycles and dining at Nobu add to the fun.

Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

The artsy traveler will enjoy a stay at the conveniently located Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. Near the Convention Center and Petco Park, this pet-friendly hotel offers elevated accommodations with modern amenities, a rooftop bar with views of the downtown skyline, and easy access to the neighborhood’s best bars, gourmet restaurants, and nightclubs.

AC Hotel, Downtown Gaslamp Quarter

This trendy property is located just steps from some of San Diego’s most iconic landmarks and offers guests a purposeful, curated, and elevated style. Starting in 2023, guests can visit the rooftop restaurant Techo Beso, with stunning and unobstructed views of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Where to Stay in La Jolla

Beautiful beaches and a mountain backdrop make La Jolla ideal for a romantic getaway. Swimming, snorkeling, and browsing elegant boutiques are popular pastimes, then there's the fun of watching the seals at Children's Pool from the cliffs above.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines view of the golf course and coastline
Courtesy of The Lodge at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

For a special stay, the elegant Lodge at Torrey Pines offers early California Craftsman style with expansive public spaces boasting fireplaces, overstuffed furniture, and leather chairs, as well as views of the Pacific and Torrey Pines Golf Course. A poolside cabana and dinner with a view of the coast at A.R. Valentien would make a perfect romantic getaway.

La Valencia tower in La Jolla
Courtesy of La Valencia Hotel

La Valencia Hotel

Nicknamed the "Pink Lady" for its distinctive bright hue, this property has been perched overlooking La Jolla Cove for nearly a century. La Valencia boasts beautiful rooms — most with an ocean view — as well as an impressive restaurant, lobby bar, and practically incomparable access to the local shops, galleries, and world-class museums of this historic neighborhood.

Cormorant Boutique Hotel  

Named after the cormorant birds native to La Jolla Cove, this property dates back decades but was recently given an update to offer guests modern seaside amenities. It’s within walking distance to an abundance of shops and activities and has a rooftop restaurant appropriately named Birdseye with tasty food, impressive views, and a hip atmosphere made for socializing.

La Jolla Shores Hotel

Set directly on the beach for a romantic oceanfront stay, La Jolla Shores Hotel's amenities include an outdoor heated pool, a Jacuzzi, and a range of water sports rentals. And what could be more romantic than watching the sunset from the beach or your private balcony?

Where to Stay in Downtown San Diego

Yes, staying downtown is ideal for first-time visitors. Minutes from the airport, with easy access to public transportation, Balboa Park, the waterfront Embarcadero, Seaport Village, harbor cruises, and restaurants, staying downtown offers a great introduction to San Diego.

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

This hotel boasts a waterfront location near Seaport Village, with a resort-like feel in the midst of downtown. First-time visitors will love having both views of the sea and a convenient location with access to everything they want to see in San Diego.

The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego

This historic hotel, part of the Marriott Luxury Collection, dates to around 1910, and its major renovation retained its vintage style and elegance. Visitors can enjoy cocktails in the Grant Grill Lounge. A spa, fitness center, and luxurious guest rooms and suites also make The US Grant a popular choice.

Pendry hotel lobby in Downtown San Diego
Courtesy of Pendry

Pendry San Diego

This modern hotel offers a spa, rooftop pool, and several dining and entertainment venues, including a beer hall and fine dining restaurant. The Pool House, the property's rooftop lounge, provides poolside service, and San Diego first-timers will love watching the sunset from the pool or hot tub.

The Marriott Marquis San Diego Bay Marina 

This downtown bayfront hotel overlooks a private marina and features stunning views of the San Diego Bay and Coronado Island. Guests can cruise the bay, rent paddle boards, or explore along the Embarcadero.

Intercontinental San Diego

InterContinental Hotel San Diego, Downtown Marina District 

The luxury waterfront InterContinental Hotel San Diego is located in downtown San Diego, with close proximity to major visitor attractions, including the famous San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway, Seaport Village, Petco Park, and more. Enjoy rooms with breathtaking ocean views and dining at one of two restaurants on site — including the chic rooftop Sardinian restaurant, Garibaldi. There’s also a terrace with a collection of cozy fire pits with views of the bay and an outdoor pool.

Kimpton Alma

A warm and upbeat addition to downtown, the Kimpton Alma embodies a classic, chill San Diego atmosphere with nods to the local neighborhood. Admire the original street art on the pool deck and the murals created by local artists, or try an agave spirit tasting from neighboring distillers. It’s even pet-friendly — and hosts added amenities such as a complimentary evening “social hour” with local wines and craft beer. 

King room at The Guild Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of The Guild Hotel

The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

This stately property is just steps from the Santa Fe Depot (perfect for arriving via railway) and attractions like the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. This building dates back to 1924 when it was a Navy and Army YMCA, but it has since been carefully updated to become an elegant boutique hotel. Guests can take advantage of bike rentals to explore San Diego’s waterfront and downtown.

Where to Stay on Coronado Island and Imperial Beach

Find iconic hotels and beachfront fun for all ages on Coronado Island and Imperial Beach.

Lawn at Hotel del Coronado

Sharyn Umana-Angers/Travel + Leisure

Hotel del Coronado

The legendary Hotel del Coronado lives on one of America’s most iconic beaches, having welcomed guests for more than 134 years. It’s a luxurious spot that serves as a fantastic home base for a range of coastal adventures on Coronado. Spend time on the enormous porch or roast s’mores on the large, sandy beach adjacent to the property. There’s always something exciting happening on site at The Del. 

Shore House at The Del 

Those who seek a more exclusive overnight stay should check out Shore House at The Del, which offers a unique “hotel within a hotel” experience, encompassing 75 gorgeous one, two, and three-bedroom villa-style seaside rooms with amenities like a zero-edge oceanfront pool. This hotel is technically on the grounds of the Hotel Del so guests still get access to the larger Hotel Del Coronado offerings. 

Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection

Pier South Resort — a new boutique resort in Imperial Beach — embodies the intersection of sand and surf. This property is south of downtown and offers guests jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean from the comfort of their cozy suites. Indulge at the on-site D'ames Spa or dive into a mouth-watering culinary experience at SEA80˚ Coastal Tavern. 

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