As locations go, Tower23 Hotel is hard to beat. Set on a bluff, steps from a wooden staircase that leads down to the beach, the sleek hotel is named for a nearby lifeguard tower. With an eye-catching contemporary design that features large windows and an outdoor deck with fire pits and seating, the luxurious Tower23 offers on-trend style, a noteworthy restaurant, and awesome ocean views. Laid-back Pacific Beach, a neighborhood popular with surfers and sun lovers, has a classic SoCal beach vibe, with a busy boardwalk and lots of cool, casual restaurants and bars.
Impeccably chic rooms keep it simple, with white walls, walnut furnishings, and seating in shades of ocean blue. Entry-level rooms feature views of the hotel’s rooftop deck, but upgraded rooms feature partial or full ocean views. Some rooms also overlook Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier. Swanky suites include private patios or balconies.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Bring earplugs. Between the boardwalk and ground-floor bar, it isn’t the quietest if you’re an early-to-bed. Once things quiet down, though, all you’ll hear is the sound of crashing waves.
Clean-lined bathrooms feature a soft blue accent wall, a walnut vanity, and a white tiled, glass-enclosed rains showers. The hotel’s cobalt-blue bathrobes lend a pleasant pop of color.
The airy lobby’s sleek reception desk riffs on the lines of lifeguard towers, with a wood and stainless-steel backdrop and a pair of minimalist chairs. The hotel’s outdoor deck sits atop the ground floor, at the center of the U-shaped hotel.
Tower23 offers in-room spa services, including facials, massages, and body skincare treatments.
The hotel loans out bikes and skateboards to cruise around the boardwalk.
JRDN makes a great first impression, with a 70-foot light sculpture that resembles waves and pulses with color. The recently refreshed restaurant features a raw bar and fresh, seasonal California fare that focuses on seafood and steak. During the day, grab a seat on the patio if you can. The people watching is top-notch.
At night, JRDN’s bar area is all aglow in swathes of gold and amethyst light. The scene picks up at night, spilling out onto the patio.
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 (1-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. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood serves delish fish tacos and ceviche, or head to Bare Back Grill if you’re craving burgers. And, since you’re on vacation, dig into one of the decadent ice cream sandwiches at The Baked Bear. Nom nom nom.
The Grass Skirt (7-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 (7-minute walk) is a two-story beachfront bar with house-brewed beer and a great patio for people-watching. The pub gets pretty boisterous in the evenings.