What's the best base for 4 days in San Diego?
September 20, 2007 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Never been to San Diego: best place to stay for a brief vacation?

My sister is such a fabulous admin that her boss has offered to pay for a 4-day vacation for her in San Diego. Between the Gaslight District, Balboa, Downtown, Uptown, Waterfront, and Coronado, what's the best place to stay? Hotel recommendations (or steer-clear advisories) would be much appreciated as well.
posted by azure_swing to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (10 answers total)
The whole vacation is on the boss? I spent a week this past summer at the Hotel Del Coronado, and still have dreams about it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2007

Seconding Coronado. Have her watch "Some Like it Hot" first for more fun!

I wish I worked for her boss!
posted by la petite marie at 8:27 AM on September 20, 2007

San Diego really needs a car to get the most out of it. Even walking between the zoo and the Gaslamp Quarter would be tough. Assuming you have a car, it doesn't matter where you stay. But I would avoid "hotel circle" in Mission Valley just because it's hard to get to the hotels.

The Del Coronado is the easy and obvious choice if you can afford it.

The Omni Hotel downtown is another good option.

Hyatt Regency La Jolla would be nice, but is a bit North of most of the things you mention. Still, it's only a five minute drive to downtown, and very convenient to get to.
posted by Vorpil at 9:32 AM on September 20, 2007

Seconding that you need a car to see the best of SD. Also second avoiding a hotel in Hotel Circle.

Coronado is a pleasant place but a bit isolated from the rest of the city. If your sister is the type content to sit by the pool, it's a fine choice. It's basically a giant resort with some attached military facilities.

Hotel-wise, Downtown/Gaslamp are where you'll find the best quality and variety, But I really encourage visitors to get away from downtown/gaslamp and see the beach areas--they're really what makes San Diego unique and interesting.
posted by Brian James at 10:20 AM on September 20, 2007

La Jolla is great -- Hotel La Valencia has lovely views overlooking Children's Cove, which is usually filled with seals, including baby seals. Good shopping/eating, too (LJ, not the seals).

The Gaslamp quarter is fun, with lots of shopping/eating within walking distance, and there's a Westin at Horton Plaza that I stayed in a few years ago for a business conference.

A great place to eat, where I go everytime we deplane, is the Point Loma Seafood Market. Rolled fish tacos.... so yummy!
posted by mdiskin at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2007

If she wants a smaller hotel/guesthouse, the Balboa Park Inn is charming and walking distance to the zoo, etc. Wherever you stay, I agree that having a car is best.
posted by Robert Angelo at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2007

There is no good reason to stay anywhere other than the Coranado if you have the cash. It is one of San Diego's best attractions, and the beach is right there (though the water is probably starting to get cold.) You need a car anyway and driving over the bridge is not hard.
posted by dame at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2007

If the boss really is paying, the Hotel Del Coronado is absolutely the place to stay. It's a historic landmark, it's on the beach, and it's in Coronado. The drawback is that it's in Coronado, so it is not walking distance to anywhere else.

Your next best bet is Gaslamp/Downtown. The U.S. Grant hotel was just renovated and is supposed to be really, really nice. It's across the street from Horton Plaza. My sister got married last year and everyone stayed at the Westgate , which was also pretty nice, although a bit dated and a couple blocks further away from the Gaslamp (right next to the trolley though). I haven't heard anything personally about the Omni or the Hilton in the Gaslamp, but their locations are fantastic.

Absolutely avoid Mission Valley/Hotel Circle at all costs. La Jolla is great, but it is even more isolated from the downtown/tourist stuff than Coronado is (Coronado has a ferry you can take across the bay). You must have a car to get just about anywhere worth seeing in town. Although you could walk from the Gaslamp to Balboa park I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by sbrollins at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2007

Does she want a city vacation or a beach-walking vacation? Because I find the Gaslap/Downtown to be kinda yuppie-tacky and way overpriced, though it is one of the few walkable neighborhoods. If she's into the sunset on the beach thing, she should stay in La Jolla - Hotel La Jolla is nice, with great ocean views. I believe the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club (which is RIGHT on the beach) rents rooms too. However, everything besides the beach will be a drive.
posted by ilyanassa at 2:23 PM on September 20, 2007

(I didn't mean to imply that La Jolla ISN'T overpriced. Because it is. But at least you get the beach.)
posted by ilyanassa at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2007

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