Where to stay in San Diego?
May 4, 2011 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Where should I stay on my trip to San Diego?

My partner and I will be in San Diego in the autumn and could do with some expert advice on where to stay. So far, we've narrowed the areas down to Downtown/Gaslamp, Mission Bay or La Jolla. But I'm a bit worried La Jolla might be too far removed, Mission Bay might be too residential and Downtown might be too built up. Clearly I know nothing!

We really like the beach, so the last two have that going for them. But we also like have lots of bars and restaurants within walking distance at night. We'll probably spend most days touring the region by car, so daytime facilities aren't top of the list, but some shops and cafes are nice to have. Any specific recommendations on accomodation would be an added bonus please: we're looking for affordable, comfortable luxury (if that's not an oxymoron) with a nice vibe, a decent cocktail menu, but not too rowdy at night.
posted by londonmark to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am no expert - I just moved here, and previous stays were with friends and not near the beach - but I will tell you this: San Diego isn't as big as it seems. You can stay in La Jolla and still get just about anywhere you want to go in half an hour or so unless you just really want to see the south beaches or Tijuana.

I stayed for a while near Mission Bay and you're right, it's pretty residential. There's a little tourist shopping/entertainment complex at Mission Beach, but emphasis is on tourist. Most of the closest hotels to Seaworld aren't even right there, as far as I could tell; Hotel Circle is a couple of miles away kind of splitting the difference between Seaworld and the Zoo.

You can certainly get plenty and varied nightlife in the Gaslamp. I've not been to La Jolla yet (but I have toodled around Del Mar and Torrey Pines - if you want a quiet, commerce-free beach, TP is a good one but there's seriously no walkable convenience stores or restaurants or anything as it's in a state park) but it appears to at least be well-concentrated with restaurants and shopping. Do you know what kind of daytime activities you're thinking of? If it's wine country/Orange County/farmy/beachy entertainment, I'd stay north in La Jolla or similar. If it's Seaworld/Zoo/Coronado/funky shopping in the old neighborhoods, Gaslamp is probably more convenient.

My feeling is that there are more deals to be had downtown than in La Jolla.

Yelp is very active here, so you might use that as one of your research tools.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2011

You're right about La Jolla - it's too far removed and a little too suburban. It's not that walkable, and there isn't much of a nightlife. You should definitely drive up to La Jolla Cove one evening around sunset, though - it's a must see. I think you should stay downtown in the Gaslamp. There are plenty of bars and restaurants you can walk to. And, you're a close drive to the beach. There's a free parking lot by Mission Beach, and I've never had a problem finding street parking near Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach.
posted by shannonigans at 9:29 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I lived in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego for a while and always walked by this little place: http://obhotel.com/ which seems a little crunchy, but is RIGHT on the ocean and in the middle of a great little hippie neighborhood.

Ocean Beach is great because it's a small community with great little spots (try O'Bistro Cafe or the 3rd Corner Wine shop) within walking distance. You'd be right on the OB pier, within biking or driving distance of the beaches in Pacific Beach and the nightlife in Gaslamp.

You're right about La Jolla being too far removed (but still worth a drive for Black's Beach, shopping on Girard St and checking out the paragliding at Torrey Pines).

Mail me if you want more info! San Diego is amazing and Ocean Beach sounds perfect for the kind of vacation you're looking for. I'm jealous.
posted by brynna at 9:29 AM on May 4, 2011

Based on your description of what you're looking for, downtown La Jolla would probably suit you best. Specifically, your requirements of:
  • Bars/restaurants within walking distance
  • Not too rowdy at night (Gaslamp has bars, but gets kinda stupid/rowdy at night while LJ is quieter with plenty of nice places to eat and drink)
  • Gorgeous beaches
  • Shopping

    La Jolla is about 20-30 minutes north of the Gaslamp. There's not much to do south of the Gaslamp (besides Mexico...), but lots of cute areas in the north, so LJ might be a bit more central for your drive-touring plans as well.

  • posted by booknerd at 9:39 AM on May 4, 2011

    I stayed at The Bristol hotel about 5 minutes walk from Gaslamp when I was last there. It seemed to be in a good position, the reviews on tripadvisor were also positive and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.

    It was nice and I'd happily go there again.
    posted by mr_silver at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

    If you decide on Gaslamp, check the convention schedule - you don't probably want to be there in the middle of a big event. I agree to consider downtown La Jolla, although I don't know anything about actual accommodations there, so I'm not sure if there's a place that fits your criteria at all, I'm just going on location.
    posted by mrs. taters at 11:06 AM on May 4, 2011

    My wife and I stayed at Hotel Solamar downtown a few years ago. The location was very walkable but also easy to navigate from with our rental car. I don't know how the area has developed since we've been, but it was on the edge of the Gaslamp and not over-crowded.

    We were very pleased with the room and amenities, and they graciously adjusted our reservation dates when our connecting flight left without us from Vegas. There was also a daily wine hour, and the restaurant downstairs served a very good breakfast.
    posted by kyleg at 11:06 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

    If you were moving there, I would suggest that you expand your list a little and look at the Mission Hills area. It is one of the older neighborhoods being brought back to life by young people who like to walk to coffeshops and bars.It is up in the hills above OldTown.

    I like Ocean beach a lot, but it is on the seedy side, quite frankly.
    posted by SLC Mom at 5:52 PM on May 4, 2011

    http://hoteloccidental-sandiego.com/ Euro style hostel.
    posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 6:07 PM on May 4, 2011

    I stayed at The Pearl about six months ago and it was great! Reasonably priced and really nice, chill little place. Outdoor movies almost every night, cute little restaurant/bar, safe area to walk around (we walked to a couple nearby restaurants) plus convenient location to get to the airport or to get anywhere else in San Diego. If you're not looking for anything too fancy and just need a low-key, inexpensive place that's near everything else, this should work.

    I sound like a commercial. I promise I don't work for them! :)
    posted by silverstatue at 9:29 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

    We got a great rate at the Omni at the foot of the Gaslamp a few years ago, I think it was $100/night. You're set for restaurants, rooftop pool, we had no noise issues, and the other stuff you want is all driveable and a good excuse to rent a convertible.
    posted by troywestfield at 9:44 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Seconding The Pearl. That place is awesome.
    posted by brynna at 7:22 PM on May 5, 2011

    Response by poster: Thanks guys, all great suggestions. I don't think it's going to make the decision any easier, but it helps a lot with the deliberations!
    posted by londonmark at 4:21 AM on May 6, 2011

    « Older Should I drop out?   |   My voice is nasally! What can I do? Newer »
    This thread is closed to new comments.