There are quite a few neighborhoods in San Diego, you might be wondering where you should live, or which one’s the best to hang out in. I have lived in San Diego for over 2 years and love it! There are so many great neighborhoods to explore, and they all have their own unique style and personality. I’ll break down some of the top neighborhoods in San Diego, and you can decide for yourself which is your favorite. Let’s go! 🙂
The Ultimate San Diego Neighborhood Guide
I lived downtown my first year in San Diego and it was amazing! The downtown area has a vibrant city center, and feels like the heartbeat of San Diego. If you’ve dreamed of living in a high-rise overlooking a sparkling bay, you can do it here.
There are endless fun activities downtown, such as dining, cafés, boutiques, nightclubs, etc.
The downtown area can be broken down into more “mini-neighborhoods”:
- The Gaslamp Quarter – The historic Gaslamp Quarter is popular for its dining options and a fun night out. If you’re looking for a neighborhood for it’s nightlife, then Gaslamp is for you.
- Petco Park – The Petco Park area is home to the San Diego Padres where you can take in a baseball game. It’s right next to the Gaslamp Quarter, so many people eat in Gaslamp before going to a game or concert.
- The Waterfront – The waterfront and boardwalk overlooks the San Diego Bay and houses the cruise terminal, Navy Pier, and Seaport Village. The pier is a popular spot to go for a jog, and Seaport Village is perfect for sightseeing, dinner, and shopping.
- Little Italy – My personal favorite is the Little Italy area. You’ll find great dining and coffee shops here, and the super popular Little Italy Mercato farmers market every Saturday from 8am – 2pm. Definitely come here for food and shopping.
Ocean Beach, or simply OB to locals, has a unique pulse all of its own. Here you’ll find the authentic groovy vibe from the SoCal of old.
The Ocean Beach neighborhood has more locals and fewer tourists than other popular beaches (Example: Pacific Beach). The surfer community, vintage VW vans, and vintage funk atmosphere draws a lot of love to this area.
Trendy Hillcrest is one of the most popular hangout spots for locals, and is most known for its LGBT community. Here you can find many restaurants, cafés, bars, and trendy thrift shops.
Gentrified and culturally diverse North Park is a hipster’s dream neighborhood (and my personal favorite!). Filled with trendy dining options, coffee shops, microbreweries, boutiques and thrift shops, it has it all! And don’t forget the popular Thursday farmers market.
Pacific Beach (PB to locals) is a favorite for tourists, college students and basically anyone looking for a party atmosphere. With no winter in sight, the fun doesn’t stop all year long.
The 3 mile long boardwalk offers anything from surfing, ice cream, burritos, margaritas, and even community yoga on Saturdays and Sundays at 10am.
Even if you know nothing about San Diego, most people have heard of La Jolla. Known as the “Jewel of San Diego”, this hilly seaside community boasts one of the most expensive zip codes in the United States.
Exuding an upscale village atmosphere, here you can find fine dining, luxurious hotels, art galleries, and fancy boutiques.
There are also many outdoor activities such as sea kayaking, hang gliding, and the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course. Also don’t forget the seal watching!
San Diego’s North County
The further north you go, you’ll find the beaches, locale, and housing prices become more desirable and expensive.
Upscale, clean, and refreshing, Encinitas is a gem! Proudly known as one of the best surf towns by National Geographic, the beaches of Encinitas are coveted amongst locals. Here you can expect an eclectic mix of upscale yoga boutiques, surf shops, and trendy coffee shops.
Beautiful Carlsbad almost feels like a seaside resort. Carlsbad Village is a great place for shopping, restaurants, and beautiful seaside hotels.
Going to San Diego? Check out these popular posts:
- 20 Things to Tick Off Your San Diego Bucket List
- 10 Reasons to Visit San Diego
- 10 of the BEST Beaches in San Diego
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What’s your favorite San Diego neighborhood? Love to know in the comments below!
Tiffany created Lavender Vines as a place to share her love for Jesus and adventures from around the world. She has a slight obsession with salted caramel lattes, Japanese kimonos, and an ongoing love affair with NYC and Paris.