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San Diego Lodging help needed

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DH and I are planning a trip for Oct this year to drive down Hwy 1 from San Jose (home) to San Diego.

Plan to stay 2 nights Pismo Beach (never been there), we’re looking at The SeaVenture.

Then 3 or 4 nights in Carlsbad at Beach Terrace Inn. We want to stay ocean/beach side in both places.

Then I was thinking of staying 2 nights actually IN San Diego but I am having a difficult time trying to figure out where….Mission Bay area, Gas Lamp area, or???

We’re seniors so really don’t need nightlife or a wild party atmosphere. Any suggestions as to location?
Would love it if I could find a place w/free parking and maybe even free breakfast. The more I read about the various areas the more confused I get. So many have negative or mixed comments about each area.

I guess I should ask “where would your grandparents (who are still relatively active) like to stay?”
My price range is $200/night +/_

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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