Fodor's Expert Review
At the blufftop Pacific Terrace Hotel, you won’t need a noise machine to fall asleep at night -- the beach is just below and the sound of the surf is legendarily lulling. When it comes to rooms, go big or go home. The posh Tommy Bahama-inspired decor is lovely, and all the rooms are comfortable, but it’s the spacious balconies with ocean views that make this place extra-special. Even if you don’t spring for the view, you can take it all in from the hotel’s brick-lined pool area, where palm trees wrapped in rope lights frame views of the boardwalk and ocean. Pacific Beach, about a half hour north of Downtown, is just what you’ve probably imagined about laid-back SoCal surf ‘hoods. There are lots of options for dining and drinking in PB, many of them family-friendly. Stairs lead down from the bluff to the long, sandy beach.
You Should Know The boardwalk right in front of the hotel sees a lot of action during the day. It quiets down at night, though.
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Instead of the casual coastal style that’s popular with beachfront hotels in Southern California, the Pacific Terrace Hotel opts for a sophisticated Tommy Bahama-inspired tropical look. Think elegant carved wood furniture, plantation shutters, and wall hangings that depict island scenery. Rooms include spacious furnished patios. The best water-facing rooms are on the higher floors, where the views are more expansive.
Bathrooms feature long granite counters, a sunken bathtub with steps, a walk-in shower, and huge mirrors.
Sophisticated island style inspired the lobby at the Pacific Terrace Hotel, from the exotic tiger-stripe bamboo reception counter to the elegant furnishings. Tropical artwork and live plants complete the polished look.
Tip Parking in the hotel’s secure underground lot is $28 per day, but you might be able to find free residential street parking nearby.
A brick-tiled pool area features an oval pool and a hot tub lined by chaise lounges, cabanas, and palm trees wrapped in rope lights. All that separates the pool area from the boardwalk is a glass wall, which is great if you love people-watching. If not, focus on that amazing view.
The hotel’s small fitness center is basic, with a treadmill, a stationary bike, an elliptical crosstrainer, and a stationary bike, along with strength-training machines, free weights, and three small TVs.
Pacific Terrace hotel serves a daily hot breakfast buffet with items like scrambled eggs, toast, bacon & sausage, french toast, as well as yogurt, fruit, pastries, assorted juices and coffee and tea.
Just north of Mission Bay, Pacific Beach is one of San Diego’s oldest suburbs. Because of the bay, you must travel east for about 15 minutes to pick up Interstate 5, the major south-north freeway that runs all the way up the West Coast. One you’ve reached I-5, you can get to just about anywhere; there are many highways that connect sprawling San Diego. This all assumes you have a car. If you’re not planning to hang out in Pacific Beach or on public transit for your entire trip, you’ll want to have a car.
Right next to the pier, the family-friendly Kono’s Cafe (5-minute walk) is a local favorite. The cozy, casual oceanfront diner has a surf theme, with wall-mounted surfboards and artwork. The hearty food is perfect for a day of hanging loose. For a glam dinner experience, JRDN at the Tower 23 hotel (5-minute walk) serves sophisticated takes on surf ‘n’ turf. The restaurant has a sexy interior, with a striking 70-foot “wave wall” that pulses with ambient light, as well as a sleek, sun-soaked patio.
Pacific Beach is a party town, albeit a laid-back beachy one. At night it attracts a young crowd, from surfers to college students from nearby UC San Diego. The good news is that there’s a wide range of options for everyone, including several family-friendly spots for an afternoon beer. The Grass Skirt (10-minute walk) is a hip spot with Polynesian decor and delicious craft tiki drinks. If you want to eat dinner there, definitely make a reservation. Otherwise, try to snag a bar stool or table. If there’s nothing available and you have to wait -- if you’re lucky -- a bartender or server might slip you a “Chi Chi on us” card that you can exchange for a vodka-based pina colada after 10pm. PB Alehouse (8-minute walk) is a two-story beachfront bar with house-brewed beer and a great patio for people-watching. The kid-friend brewery by day gets pretty boisterous in the evenings.