With its moderate climate and soft sand beaches with oh-so surfable waves, San Diego is a popular vacation destination for a reason. However, gone are the days when boardwalks and family-friendly activities like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld were the main attractions. Many cultural institutions have received recent upgrades and artsy enclaves are flourishing, making America’s Finest City a great destination for arts and culture.
The city’s hotel landscape has also matured thanks to the renovations of beloved historic hotels and many stylish new additions, from downtown design properties to chic hotels on the beach—a perfect excuse to finally pack that swimsuit. Our best hotel picks are scattered through the county (San Diego County stretches from the U.S. Mexico border to San Clemente) from a genteel resort in a lush Rancho Santa Fe canyon to a fancy escape in La Jolla. Below, the best hotels in San Diego for SoCal-style indulging, which means plenty of health and wellness offerings to go along with the fabulous cocktails and cuisine.
The Best Hotels in San Diego
The Best Hotel For The Fitness Fanatic: Rancho Valencia
Best In The Gaslamp: Pendry San Diego
Best In North County: Alila Marea
For Gourmands: Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Best Hotel In Coronado: Hotel del Coronado
Most Historic Hotel: The Guild Hotel
The Best Luxury Hotel: La Valencia
The Best Spa Resort: Cal-a-Vie Health Spa
Best Location and Views: InterContinental San Diego
The Best Hotel In La Jolla: Estancia La Jolla
The Best Hotel For Golfers: The Lodge At Torrey Pines
Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego
Where Should I Stay In San Diego?
San Diego is spread out with a variety of diverse neighborhoods, many separated by canyons and freeways, so it’s essential to consider what you want to do and what type of vacation you envision when choosing a San Diego home base. Stay downtown if you are visiting for a convention, to see a Padres baseball game, or enjoy a more urban experience with plenty of nightlife. Upscale La Jolla is your best bet if you want to be by many of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches and best boutique shopping. Some of the best surf, and coveted laid-back SoCal vibe, is found in North County, the northern part of San Diego County, which includes the seaside villages of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside. Coronado is also good for soft shimmering sand and an idyllic turn-of-the-century feel.
What Is The Best Month To Visit San Diego?
San Diego has famously fair year-round weather with high temperatures typically in the upper 60s or low 70s, but contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always sunny. A thick marine layer often spreads inland during San Diego’s late spring months, which is why they’ve earned the nicknames May Gray and June Gloom. Summer in San Diego can be quite crowded. There are fewer crowds and the warmest temperatures from September through November. April and March also have reliable weather and fewer tourists except for Spring Break.
What Is The Best Beach To Visit In San Diego?
It is challenging to pick the best beach in San Diego, but La Jolla Shores, a mile-long crescent north of the Village of La Jolla, seems to have something for everyone. It’s anchored on one end by the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and has swimming and surfing and is used as a launching ground for scuba diving and kayaking. Fires in first come, first serve fire pits are allowed on La Jolla Shores. La Jolla Cove, hidden just below La Jolla’s main shopping district, is a small deep bay popular with swimmers and snorkelers and is one of San Diego’s most beautiful and secluded beaches.
About Casey Hatfield-Chiotti, Your San Diego Guide
Luxury travel and hotels are my passion. I’ve written and edited travel and lifestyle content for print publications, websites and brands for over a decade. I’ve toured every Palace hotel in Paris, where I lived from 2014 to 2016, and I have a soft spot for grand historic hotels, boutique design properties, wellness retreats and anything with a chic, well-worn bar. Not afraid of a little roughing it, I’ve also summited Kilimanjaro and hiked the W Trek in Patagonia. I love the West Coast’s natural beauty and access to the outdoors. San Diego, where I make frequent trips, is one of my favorite cities. In addition to contributing to Forbes Vetted, I also write a monthly travel feature for Marin Living. My writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Departures, Robb Report, Afar, Sunset, Modern Luxury and more.