San Diego continues to be one of our most popular vacation destinations. Year-round, our members can’t seem to get enough of this essential SoCal destination.
There are many reasons for this: a near-perfect climate (OK, it is perfect); endless family-friendly activities; gorgeous beaches; an extraordinary and ever-changing dining scene; and convenience. This last point can’t be emphasized enough: airlift to San Diego from around United States is ample, and the centrally located airport means you can leave your front door in the morning and have sand between your toes in the afternoon.
Despite all of these attributes, it is important to note that San Diego is massive, covering some 372 square miles. To best make use of your time, it is a good idea to select a basecamp that works best for you — a neighborhood or district that is closest to the activities you really want to do. Fortunately, Inspirato offers its members 10 different luxury rooms/suites as well as a five-bedroom residence in San Diego.
To make the most of your time, we’ve create a quick beginner’s guide to the various areas of San Diego, beginning with the locations of our accommodations, as well as some noteworthy destinations beyond.
Ideal for: Families seeking the perfect fun-in-the-sun getaway
Close to: Downtown San Diego, San Diego Zoo, Point Loma, Mission Bay
Set foot on Coronado Beach and try NOT to inhale a deep breathe with arms outstretched. It’s nearly impossible to resist.
Frequently listed as one of America’s beaches, Coronado Beach is just one of a handful of traits that make this island so special. The Hotel del Coronado — and its accompanying Beach Village at the Del — is another. With its bleach-white sides and conical red-roof, the iconic property is among America’s most respected luxury resorts. Surfing, biking and sunset sailing round out the quintessential Coronado Island vacation.
Stay at: Beach Village at the Del
Ideal for: Families and romantic getaways (which are not mutually exclusive in this case)
Close to: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Mission Beach, Point Loma/Cabrillo National Monument, Downtown San Diego, San Diego Zoo
La Jolla is blessed with one of the most dramatic coastlines in the U.S. Here you will find La Jolla Cove — a postage stamp beach seemingly carved into the shore — as well as the aptly named Seal Rock, La Jolla Tide Pools, Birch Aquarium, and (up the coast a short ways) Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. For these reasons, La Jolla is wonderfully suited for curious children who love nature.
But with an extravagance of seaside restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutique shops and one of North America’s most famous golf courses — Torrey Pines — La Jolla is just as well suited for kidless vacations and long weekends.
Ideal for: Girlfriend getaways, romantic weekends, and golf enthusiasts
Close to: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, La Jolla, Birch Aquarium, North County
North of San Diego and tucked into a series of rolling hills, Carmel Valley has emerged in recent years as the go-to destination in SoCal for a golf-and-spa getaway, largely due to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. When you’re not getting pampered at the resort’s lavish spa, you can venture out to hike through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, go wine tasting, or cheer on the thoroughbreds at the Del Mar Racetrack.
Stay at: Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Ideal for: Deep relaxation, active outdoor pursuits, and fine dining
Close to: La Jolla, Birch Aquarium, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Carlsbad/LEGOLAND
Further north of Carmel Valley you travel into a large region defined by pristine beaches, arid mountains and lush valleys, and more wineries than any devoted oenophile could handle in a week. Families gravitate to this region for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as well the springtime pleasures of witnessing the colorful wildflower fields at Carlsbad in full bloom. Having LEGOLAND nearby helps bolster its case as a wonderful family destination.
But the big appeal of North County is the lifestyle — with nature and sun in abundance, you can truly get away from it all. The Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa has set the standard here, with the No. 1 ranked tennis facilities of any resort in North America, as well as a gorgeous golf course, acclaimed spa and characterful accommodations.
Stay at: Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
Other Destinations Worth a Visit
San Diego’s Victorian-era historic quarter is profuse with beautiful old buildings that have been renovated and converted into chic restaurants, lively nightclubs and intriguing art galleries.
Balboa Park & San Diego Zoo
Many of Downtown San Diego’s top attractions — especially museums — can be found in this sprawling yet consolidated urban park. Also located here is the world-famous San Diego Zoo (and we’re not kidding … it’s among the best on earth).
Cabrillo National Monument
Take a break from the city with a stroll through Cabrillo National Monument, located on the tip of Point Loma. With its photogenic lighthouse, colorful tidepools, and rich history, the national monument also happens to be one of the best places in the country to see whales from shore when they migrate by in January and February.