In San Diego, you could plan a luxurious vacation, staying at a hotel with 350-thread-count sheets, wall-mounted flat screens, and panoramic Pacific views. But with some flexibility—maybe opting for a partial-view room with standard TVs—it's possible to experience the city's beauty at half the price. Any local will tell you two things about San Diego: No. 1, the weather really is perfect;
and No. 2, the area's neighborhoods and beach communities offer great diversity, from lively urban vacations to laid-back beachfront escapes. In action-packed downtown, luxury hotels battle it out by offering the nicest perks, including outdoor infinity pools, in-room iPod docks, chauffeured rides in SUVs, and passes to the hotels' hip weekend parties. There are also hostels and some budget-friendly options in and near Little Italy.
You'll need a car if you stay outside downtown, but the coastal communities are rich with lodging options. Across the bridge, Coronado's hotels and resorts offer access to a stretch of glistening white sand that's often recognized as one of the best beaches in the country. La Jolla offers many romantic, upscale ocean-view hotels and some of the area's best restaurants and specialty shopping. But it's easy to find a water view in any price range: surfers make themselves at home at the casual inns and budget stays of Pacific Beach. If you're planning to fish, check out hotels located near the marinas in Shelter Island, Point Loma, or Coronado.
For families, Uptown, Mission Valley, and Old Town are close to SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, offering good-value accommodations with extras like sleeper sofas and video games. Mission Valley is ideal for business travelers; there are plenty of well-known chain hotels with conference space, modern business centers, and kitchenettes for extended stays.
When your work (or sightseeing) is done, join the trendsetters flocking to downtown's Gaslamp Quarter for its hip restaurants and rooftop hotel bars that rival L.A.'s stylish scenes.
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