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San Diego downtown area seen at nighttime
Credit: Courtesy of Hilton San Diego Bayfront

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 has the perfect place to stay and the ideal neighborhood 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.

Where to Stay in San Diego As a Family: Mission Bay and Beach Towns

The beach will be a key feature of a family trip, and Mission Bay has sandy shores, ocean waves, calm bay, water sports, sailing, and harbor cruises. SeaWorld will naturally be on the agenda, and getting there is convenient. Bike paths, picnic areas, swimming areas, and hotel pools fill the day, and a family beachside bonfire will end it in San Diego style.

Best Hotels in Mission Bay and Beach Towns

The Catamaran Resort & Spa

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

3999 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109

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

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

This family resort on Mission Bay near SeaWorld features five pools, a mile-long beach, tennis courts, bonfire pits, 18-hole putting course, beach cruisers, two waterfront restaurants, and a private marina on its 44-acre island. Bungalow-style rooms are set among lagoons and tropical gardens.

1404 Vacation Road, San Diego, CA 92109

Bahia Resort Hotel

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

998 West Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA 92109

Where to Stay in San Diego for the Nightlife: Gaslamp Quarter

This downtown neighborhood is the place for nightclubs, live music, comedy shows, rooftop bars, gastropubs, and late-night dining. It’s a blend of historic and modern, with lively streets, boutiques, galleries, restaurants from casual to upscale. Stay in one of the Quarter’s hotels for a delightful stay and a convenient walk back at the end of the evening.

Best Hotels in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter

Andaz, San Diego

Set in a historic 1913 building and updated in contemporary style, the Andaz offers guestrooms and suites, pool, private cabanas, Andaz Wine Bar, and a rooftop bar and lounge with views of the San Diego skyline.

600 F Street, San Diego, CA 92101

To book: hyatt.com

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

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Its rock vibe begins with the lobby lounge and continues through a stunning rooftop pool bar and urban garden, fitness center, and high-tech amenities, like each room’s integrated plug and play sound system. Complimentary Electra Bicycles Cruisers and dining at Nobu add to the fun.

207 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

Conveniently located near the Convention Center and Petco Park, this pet-friendly boutique hotel boasts a roof garden and Level 9 Rooftop Bar with cozy fire pits for chilly evenings.

509 9th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

To book: ihg.com

Where to Stay in San Diego for Romance: La Jolla

Coastline views, stunning beaches, and a mountain backdrop make La Jolla ideal for a romantic getaway. Swimming, snorkeling, and browsing elegant boutiques are popular pastimes, and there’s the fun of watching the seals on Children’s Beach from the cliffs above.

Best Hotels in La Jolla

Lodge at Torrey Pines

For a special stay, the elegant Lodge offers early California Craftsman style with expansive public spaces boasting fireplaces, overstuffed furniture, leather chairs, and 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.

11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037

La Valencia tower in La Jolla
Credit: Courtesy of La Valencia Hotel

La Valencia Hotel

Set amid fashionable shops, galleries, and world-class museums atop La Jolla Cove, the Mediterranean style La Valencia offers luxurious accommodations, romantic courtyards, Spanish mosaics, ocean views, and lush tropical landscaping.

1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

La Jolla Shores Hotel

Set directly on the beach for a romantic oceanfront stay, the hotel’s amenities include an outdoor heated pool, Jacuzzi, in-room massage services, and a range of water sport rentals. What could be more romantic than watching the sunset from the beach or your private balcony?

8110 Camino del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037

Where to Stay in San Diego for First-time Visitors: Downtown

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

Best Hotels in San Diego’s Downtown

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.

1 Market Place, San Diego, CA 92101

To book: hyatt.com

The U. S. Grant, San Diego

This historic hotel dates to around 1910, and its major renovation retained its vintage style and elegance. Visitors enjoy cocktails in the Grant Grill Lounge or French-inspired Rendezvous Bar. A spa, fitness center, and luxurious guest rooms and suites make it a popular choice.

326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

To book: marriott.com

Pendry hotel lobby in Downtown San Diego
Credit: 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, their rooftop lounge, provides poolside service, and San Diego first-timers will love watching the sunset from the pool or hot tub.

550 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

To book: pendry.com