With its rich history, dramatic scenery, and laid back coastal charm, San Diego is a favorite destination for everyone from foodies to families, history buffs to beach bums. It’s simply a matter of deciding where to stay. Here are our travelers’ top picks for the best neighborhoods in San Diego.

La Jolla: Family friendly nature

Located 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, this residential district is praised for its family friendly vibes, upscale shops, and access to some of the city’s best natural sites. Get your lay of the land by renting an electric bike from San Diego Fly Rides. These hybrid bikes can reach speeds of up to 20 mph, allowing you to see a lot of sites in a little time. “With an electric bike you can cruise up hills with ease,” said one traveler. Stop and explore the scene at La Jolla cove and the nearby Children’s Pool. Kids (and adults) will get a kick out of watching the seals and sea lions play on the beach. To get even more up close and personal with La Jolla’s wildlife, take a Sea Cave Kayak Tour. This guided paddle leads you through the unique ecological habitats of La Jolla, including sea caves and a giant kelp forest. “The whole family enjoyed this tour!” wrote one traveler. After all that hard work, load up on cocktails and tacos at Puesto Mexican Street Food. Or feast on grass-fed beef burgers at Burger Lounge. “Wow! They know what they are doing here!” said one traveler. For a luxurious – and historic – stay, book a room at Grande Colonial La Jolla. Founded in 1913, this boutique hotel boasts elegant rooms and perfectly maintained grounds. Want to get the best price on the Grande Colonial or whichever San Diego hotel you choose? TripAdvisor checks up to 200 sites to find the lowest prices for you.

Pacific Beach: “As good as it gets”

With its mix of white sand coastline and hopping nightlife, some of our travelers say Pacific Beach is as good as it gets. The boardwalk stays busy with rollerbladers and sunbathers, and the beach bars are always packed. Take a guided tour of the boardwalk with Segway of Pacific Beach. After learning about the area’s history and taking in the views, head over to Belmont Park, San Diego’s only beachfront amusement park. Home to the Giant Dipper roller coaster and several surf simulation machines, Belmont Park has “something for everyone,” said one traveler. If you’re craving sushi and ramen, don’t miss Izakaya Pacific Beach. This Japanese restaurant is famous for its fresh fish and delicious yakisoba. Another popular spot is Caffe Bella Italia, which one traveler called “a hidden gem in Pacific Beach.” Order the house special, spaghetti vongole e bottarga, which features clams and mullet roe; you won’t be disappointed. For a room with a view, check out the Blue Sea Beach Hotel, located right on the white sands of Pacific Beach.

Old Town: A step back in time

Old Town is the heart of San Diego. It offers a mix of tourist hot spots, historic buildings, and a great food and drink scene. Get your history lesson on at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The park tells the story of San Diego’s nearly 200-year evolution from a Mexican pueblo to a thriving city. After learning about the city’s historic fiestas, participate in a modern one at any of Old Town’s popular Mexican restaurants. Rockin Baja Lobster serves up delicious tacos and fajitas, as well as a festive atmosphere. “What makes them unique is not just the waterfall and the live music … or the tiki torches and island-themed decorations – it’s the salsa bar!” said one traveler. “So many different varieties to try and share – everything from your basic pico to a salsa that was ‘lava hot’ along with a mango and pineapple salsa and a black bean and corn salsa.” After all that excitement – and spicy food – head back to your room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. To keep your Old Town experience authentic, the hotel’s 10 rooms are outfitted with antique furniture from the 1860s and 1870s. “It was fantastic!” said one traveler. “We literally felt like we were staying in a museum exhibit.”

Little Italy: Foodies rejoice!


Just north of downtown, San Diego’s Little Italy is a vibrant area overflowing with sidewalk cafes, art galleries and craft breweries. It’s a hopping spot day and night. Learn about the fishermen who helped found this community on a Little Italy Tour. You’ll explore the homes of some of the area’s original residents as well as historic churches and memorial sites. You’ll also get to eat! The tour takes you to some of the area’s best Italian gelato stands and restaurants. If you’re still hungry, pop by the Little Italy Mercato for crepes and cheese before grabbing a table at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. Founded in 1922, this Italian restaurant is praised for its giant portions of delicious pizza and pasta. “Super authentic, great food and wonderful staff,” said one traveler. Rest your head, and belly, at Little Italy’s Urban Boutique Hotel. Located close to all the sites, the comfy rooms include refrigerators and microwaves to store all your Italian leftovers. “The staff is friendly, rooms are clean, and the location in … Little Italy makes walking around fun,” said one traveler.