As a San Diego local for almost 30 years now, I know my way around the diverse neighborhoods in this city. I love San Diego staycations! And when I travel, Airbnb is one of my favorite ways to get a phenomenal value along with insider tips from locals, whether I’m road tripping California or heading farther afield. Whether you’re looking for a lively girlfriend getaway, a romantic trip for two, or a beachy family vacation, I’ve got you covered in my ultimate guide to the best Airbnbs in San Diego.
I’ve even included a brief description of each neighborhood so you can find the stay that is exactly right for you. Here is where to stay in San Diego:
Unique Airbnbs in San Diego
1. Oceanfront cottage on the sand in Ocean Beach.
About Ocean Beach: Ocean Beach is your classic Southern California beach town. Join the local Obecians (“oh-bee-shuns”) for a stay here if you like the idea of a main street where organic groceries are mixed in with surf boutiques, taquerias and brewpubs. The pier here is fabulous.
Where to stay in Ocean Beach: Imagine listening to the sound of the waves while stepping directly onto the sand from your front door. Beach vacations don’t get any better than this. In fact, you can watch the waves roll in as you drink your coffee on your private porch.
If you’re looking for beach houses for rent in San Diego, this adorable oceanfront cottage has one bedroom but sleeps four. Each sofa folds down into one full-sized bed for adults or kids. There’s even air conditioning in the bedroom (queen-sized bed).
Ocean Beach is a great base in San Diego as it’s minutes to the zoo, Gaslamp Quarter for nightlife, and a quick hop over to Coronado Island. Guests rave about this friendly, helpful host, too.
This place is AMAZING! Great location on the beach. If you want a relaxing home with awesome views, the sound of waves every night and close to everything this is the place to be. We will definitely be back!
2. Cozy luxury condo in the heart of the Gaslamp.
About the Gaslamp: If you’re all about the urban nightlife, head to the Gaslamp. Known for its cocktail lounges, restaurants, and lively scene in the evenings, the Gaslamp is at the heart of it all. Plus, Horton Plaza—a multi-level outdoor shopping extravaganza—is in the neighborhood.
Where to stay in the Gaslamp: You’ll love this upscale condo luxury unit as you can walk to all the amazing Gaslamp bars and cafes here. Plus, it comes with one parking spot in a covered garage.
You’ll only drive a few blocks to jump on the freeway to head to the convention center, airport, Petco Park or Balboa Park in minutes. There are two beautiful bedrooms, complete with spacious bathrooms and bathtub. Gorgeous cityscape views and a responsive complete the guest experience.
“Location is amazing. You are right in the thick of it. Loved that! We had a great time.”
3. Romantic Zen Retreat near the water in Mission Beach.
About Mission Bay & Mission Beach: San Diego’s Mission Bay is a water playground! It makes a great base for your San Diego vacation if you’re into kayaking, stand up paddle board, sailing, water skiing or just playing in the waves! In fact, Mission Bay is the world’s biggest aquatic park.
Sea World is nearby as are several leash-free dog parks. And, in winter, you can catch a whale watching tour from here to watch the gray whales migrate down to the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. (You could also head just over the border for wine tasting and whales in Valle de Guadalupe, too.)
Where to stay in Mission Beach: Mission Beach is the best place to stay on Mission Bay. You may never want to leave this unique guesthouse studio. With private off-street parking, rich wood finished architecture and lots of natural light, this is relaxed beach living at its very best. It reminds me of some of my favorite vacation rentals in Maui.
This San Diego vacation rental studio sleeps two and includes a small patio with a grill and the use of two boogie boards, two bikes, beach chairs, a cooler, and umbrella. What more could you possibly need?
Plus, it’s quiet and near a shallow beach with great waves. It’s also an easy walk to the best local restaurants in Mission Beach.
“A great getaway for two! The studio is so charming and has everything you need. “
4. Serene Tropical Treehouse Near Balboa Park
About Balboa Park: Balboa Park is San Diego’s 1,200 acre urban park and you absolutely cannot miss it on any trip to San Diego. The world-famous San Diego zoo is here, not to mention 17 culturual museums. The botanical gardens and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture are unparalleled. Be sure to reserve a table at El Prado outdoors for a drink or a meal. It’s one of my favorite spots.
Where to stay near Balboa Park: When you stay in this private treehouse, you’ll be just six blocks from San Diego Bay, six blocks from beautiful Balboa Park, and three blocks to Little Italy. So essentially, you can walk everywhere if you are so inclined.
This unique space—in an actual tree—overlooks the bay and downtown San Diego. Plus, it comes with three outdoor decks for your sunset and sailboat viewing pleasure.
Best of all, it’s soundproofed so you can enjoy the San Diego skyline without the noise of the airport or nearby automobiles. Make breakfast in your gourmet kitchen and then enjoy the outdoor shower.
“The scene was so serene, the treehouse was a dream. Showered under a tree, ate some dinner on the balcony surrounded by more trees. Great view of the downtowns skyline. A gorgeous oasis in the city…”
5. Cozy, Tranquil 36 Foot Boat in San Diego Harbor
Why to stay near the San Diego Harbor: If you love the marina life, stay here and watch the sailboats bob on the picturesque bay at sunset. History buffs will love the opportunity to tour the famous USS Midway Museum. Seaport Village offers 14 acres of seafront shops and dining.
Where to stay near the San Diego Harbor: You can walk here from the airport! And then use the two beach cruisers that come with the boat to pedal around San Diego’s scenic bike paths. The options for flat, easy cycling here are endless!
World-class view of the San Diego skyline are yours for the taking when you stay in this cozy, clean 36 foot boat in San Diego Harbor. Waking up on the calm water is a unique and wonderful experience.
The main berth, or bedroom, includes a comfy queen bed. Best of all, you’ll enjoy full access to amenities that include a pool/spa full shower facilities, and fire pits on the beach. Plus, this cabin is fully equipped.
“Such an awesome experience! The boat is beautiful and sparkling clean. Waking up and being able to drink some coffee while watching the sunrise on the deck was amazing.”
6. Spanish Bunaglow on Coronado Island
Why to stay on Coronado: Looking to stay above the fray? Welcome to island life! Just over the bridge from downtown San Diego is sparkling Coronado Island, home to the iconic Hotel Del and miles and miles of beautiful beachfront and bike trails.
Where to stay on Coronado Island: This beautiful Spanish bungalow puts you in the very heart of Coronado for easy walking to the beach, restaurants, shops, and grocery store. It’s easy to get here on the ferry, too.
Decorated with clean lines in soothing neutrals, playful tilework throughout this elegant, upscale space brings the party. This makes a great option if you’d rather skip San Diego’s traffic and are looking for a relaxing coastal getaway. You can ride bicycles everywhere.
“Charming little house just a block off Orange Ave. Close to grocery, restaurants, shops and the beach. We had a wonderful stay for a month and hope to return next year.”
7. Boho Flat near Sunset Cliffs
Why to stay near Sunset Cliffs: Sunset Cliffs near Point Loma is a fantastic residential neighborhood to base in during your San Diego visit. The dramatic cliffs here at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park are more reminiscent of the Central California coast than San Diego. If you don’t stay here, be sure to enjoy the scenic coastal drive here and stop for sunset. And don’t forget your camera!
Where to stay near Sunset Cliffs: Stay in this cute boho studio near Kellogg Beach. This guesthouse has its own entrance with a queen-sized bed as well as a sofa bed to sleep four total. You’ll feel the ocean breeze during the day here!
Be aware that while there is silverware for food brought from home and coffee available here, there is no stove or oven, stove or dishwasher.
“Great little space! Really close to downtown and a little beach nearby. Super stylish and great hospitality!”
8. Oceanfront Cottage in La Jolla
Why to stay in La Jolla: Beautiful coastal La Jolla is about a 25 minute drive north of the airport and is one of San Diego’s most beautiful and affluent neighborhoods. The village itself is home to historic homes draped in bouganvilla, scenic La Jolla Cove, glittering waterfront restaurants, and one-of-a-kind boutiques and art galleries.
Stay in La Jolla if you like the idea of a tony, picturesque seaside village a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of San Diego itself.
Where to stay in La Jolla: If you’re traveling with a group, you can’t beat this oceanfront cottage or the sunset views over the ocean from the Adirondack chairs on your front porch. This is a bucket list property. It’s flooded with natural light and conveniently located right in the village.
This three-bedroom place sleeps eight with three bedrooms and two baths. It features a fully equipped kitchen and luxury jacuzzi with lounge seating.
“This home is beautiful and offers amazing views and sounds of the ocean. It has every amenity you could ask for.”
9. Bright, Airy Guest Cottage in Bankers Hill
Why to stay in Bankers Hill: Bankers Hill is home to swank Victorians and Craftsmans as well as modern condos. It’s a favorite residential neighborhood for affluent residents who want to be within walking distance to leafy Balboa Park while still just a short hop to the airport. If you’re looking for calm, quiet, and upscale while still being in striking distance of the best of San Diego, stay here.
Where to stay in Bakers Hill: This wonderful little studio is an easy walk to Little Italy and downtown restaurants, too. The cottage is located just behind a historic home built at the turn of the century and comes with a queen bed, small but functional kitchen, and a private patio. Air conditioning and Netflix are included, too.
“The studio cottage was much more spacious than we expected! It’s perfect for a little weekend getaway. Within walking distance to a bunch of restaurants and bars in little Italy and the surrounding area, the location was absolutely prime.“
10. Spanish Revival Bungalow in Hillcrest
Why to stay in Hillcrest: Hillcrest is lively and happenning! It’s at the very heart of San Diego’s LGBT scene. It holds a huge Pride parade annually and hosts some of the best restaurants, brunch spots, and coolest thrift shops in San Diego. There’s also a wonderful weekly farmers market here on Sunday mornings.
Where to stay in Hillcrest: This adorable fully restored 1920s studio comes with an open style plan with an extremely comfortable murphy bed as rated by guests. (Fold it away for more space). The sleek white tiled kitchen is absolutely gorgeous too. Open up the french doors and drink your morning coffee on your private patio.
“The most spotless, best located, incredibly appointed AirBnb I’ve encountered. After a three night stay I felt like a whole new man…and I only live two miles away. What a great escape!”
Still looking for the perfect place? Search more San Diego Airbnbs here:
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