Located just off the bay, the Gaslamp Quarter is the center of historic downtown San Diego. Reserve a San Diego hotel here if you want to be near the shops of Horton Plaza, have a wide array of dining options and have access to the entertainment heart of the city. Sports fans can catch a Padres game at PETCO Park, while gastronomes can get their fill of pastas and pizzas in Little Italy. Those wanting a quieter, scenic stay can choose the tiny strip of land, Harbor Island on the water, just west of downtown.
Old Town & Hotel Circle
North of downtown is Old Town, the home of the Old Town State Historic Park, a place to get authentic Mexican food, shop for souvenirs and learn a bit about California's Spanish heritage. Heading east on Interstate 8 Freeway from Old Town is Hotel Circle, a hub of affordable hotels tucked in the canyons of Mission Valley. A stay here is convenient for exploring the San Diego Zoo and the other attractions in Balboa Park.
Although everyone calls Coronado an island, it is actually a peninsula, connected to the rest of San Diego by a small strip of land, called the Silver Strand. Accessible by bridge just south of downtown, the most famous landmark here is the beachfront 1888 Hotel del Coronado. Rent a bike and wheel around to one of best sandy beaches in the city or browse the quaint shops that line Orange Avenue.
Situated north of Balboa Park is Hillcrest and its surrounding Uptown communities. What was once a suburb for bankers is now the heart of the city's gay community. The eclectic shops, fine restaurants and charming cafés of Hillcrest spill west into Mission Hills and east to North Park, Normal Heights and University Heights.
West and north of Old Town are the beach communities of Ocean Beach, Mission Bay and Pacific Beach. A stay in Mission Bay is ideal for families visiting SeaWorld or wanting to be near the water. Put on your flip flops, grab a beach towel and head down to enjoy the beach neighborhoods on the nearby coast.
Traveling north along the shoreline above Pacific Beach brings you to La Jolla, the "jewel" of the sea. This posh neighborhood is a playground for those wanting a casual afternoon shopping the galleries and chic boutiques in La Jolla Village, or, looking for a more active holiday, surfing or snorkeling in the Cove.