The 20 Best Airbnbs in San Diego and the Surrounding Region
Downtown apartments, beach bungalows and wilderness homes aplenty
San Diego is more than just beaches and sunshine — though it is certainly a lot of that. It also has a far more lively downtown than it gets credit for, full of bars, restaurants and other attractions (though most of those things are admittedly of little use at the moment).
Balboa Park is the largest “urban cultural park” in the United States. The San Diego Zoo is one of the best in the world. Torrey Pines is one of the nation’s best golf courses. Plus the weather can’t be beat: 70s and 80s pretty much year round, with very little rain.
So as you look ahead to 2021 — and the promise of a California that has returned to relative state of normalcy, with vaccines widely available and the current stay-at-home orders lifted — start dreaming about a trip to California’s southernmost city, whether it’s for a short getaway or an extended vacation (which may just end up bordering on a move, if you stay long enough).
To help you out, we rounded up 20 of our favorite Airbnbs in the area: city proper, surrounding beach communities and inland towns, each with its own unique vibe and experiences to offer.
Just be aware: San Diego County, like the rest of California, is subject to a stay-at-home order for the time being. We recommend booking no earlier than February of next year and checking in frequently on restrictions in the area. You should also take note of Airbnb’s internal COVID-19 protocols and safety measures, as well as any stipulations provided by the host of the properties below.
Otherwise, enjoy the sunshine.
Downtown San Diego Proper
Ocean Beach Cottage Steps To Sand
Location: Ocean Beach
Vibe: If a lumberjack went on a romantic beach vacation. Wood paneling everywhere, but still beachy.
Amenities: Tons of great restaurants right on the block. None in-house for this one.
Other things to know: This is pretty bare-bones, which adds to the charm, but you’re literal steps from the beach. It’s also a guest house, so you will have neighbors (the owners) but they keep to themselves.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “We loved our stay at this charming, stylish, vintage beach cottage. It’s only a few steps to the sand, which made it perfect for taking quick surfing breaks during the day and walking on the beach in the morning. Location is walking distance to restaurants and coffee.”
Recently Renovated Luxury Downtown Rooftop
Location: Mission Hills
Vibe: A modern loft with a clean aesthetic — the type of place your friend who works in finance but is cooler than most of the finance guys he works with would have.
Amenities: Balcony with jacuzzi and killer views. Floor-to-ceiling windows with 270º views of the city. Baller master bedroom.
Other things to know: It’s not really walkable to the beach, but it is walkable to Balboa Park, Little Italy, shopping districts and the zoo.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “By far the best Airbnb I have stayed at. The view is stunning, the house is so clean with amazing amenities inside, and the details/directions around the house were so helpful.”
Private Modern Poolhouse
Location: Mission Hills
Vibe: Like you have your own private poolside cabana at a dope resort somewhere like Cabo but instead you actually just live there because it also has a bed.
Amenities: Great indoor/outdoor action here with a garage-like front door opening to the pool area. Heated splash pool and hot tub. Outdoor TV, fire pit and grill.
Other things to know: It is a primarily outdoor location, with basically just the bedroom inside, but it’s great if you’re looking for an open-air environment to WFH during the day.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “This was a beautiful romantic spot for a private getaway. We loved that you could adjust the temperature of the pool for daytime or up to a spa temperature at night. It was amazing floating and looking up at the stars! The location is clean, private, and quiet. It felt like our own little world.”
Historic Loft with Peloton and Roofdeck
Location: Gaslamp District
Vibe: Industrial loft meets modern townhouse. Your artist friend who also has a trust fund and invests in startups would live here.
Amenities: Peloton. Very high 16-foot ceilings. Shuffleboard (the table kind you find in bars). Roof deck access.
Other things to know: The location currently has a 30-night minimum in place. It’s near Little Italy and other downtown strips with lots of good bars and restaurants.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “They provided everything I could need (the place was stocked!) and were super responsive. The loft is gorgeous and the bed was super comfortable.”
Room D at The Dutra Inn
Location: Little Italy
Vibe: Industrial loft that is made as homely as possible without jeopardizing the sharp corners of the home. An architect that designs boutique hotels would live here.
Amenities: Lots of natural light and plants. A lofted bedroom with Tuft & Needle Mattress. Instagram opportunities galore.
Other things to know: This is technically a room to rent in an Inn (The Dutra Inn), not a private home. The bedroom is lofted and only accessible via a ladder.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “A beautiful, urban loft. All the details were incredibly thought out, from the guides to the loft and the surrounding area provided by the host, to the smaller things like the quality of the linens and toiletries. Their (the hosts) food recommendations were incredible!”
2-Bedroom Award Winning Design Apartment
Location: Bankers Hill
Vibe: Your minimalist friend who doesn’t decorate their apartment with much, but everything they do have is super nice and has a purpose. Oh, and they have dope views.
Amenities: Wraparound balcony. En-suite bathrooms. Smart TV. Stocked kitchen.
Other things to know: The apartment is very near the airport, so depending on your affinity for planes it could be really cool to see the planes fly in and out all day … or annoying, because of the noise.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “Was a nice place for 4 people me and my friends had loads of fun love the indoor/outdoor living concept, which makes it great for entertainment. Would recommend this to anyone. But be warned of the planes flying over that’s about it. Amazing shower as well.”
Casa Paradiso – A Private Resort Home
Location: Mission Hills
Vibe: It’s like an adult play palace at this home. Suitable if you want to wild out on a retreat with a few other couples; also ideal for bringing kids along, because there is plenty to keep them occupied.
Amenities: Pool. Putting green/three-hole mini golf. Pool. Pool table. Wet bar with built-in 70” TV. Basketball hoop. Home theater.
Other things to know: Rowdy bachelor/bachelorette parties are not welcome. If you want to heat the pool/hot tub, it will be an additional fee per day.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “The house is beautifully designed with lots of open space. It’s located in the perfect location with access to so many San Diego sights. We had a group of 9 people and we fit comfortably. ”
Mid Century Modern Retreat
Location: Fairmount Park
Vibe: Really cool suburban home of your friend that you used to love going to when growing up.
Amenities: Saltwater pool. Rather large outdoor space for hanging and grilling. Open-plan design. Basketball hoop.
Other things to know: It’s in a rather quiet neighborhood removed from downtown. Not far at all to nightlife and restaurants, but probably not walkable. This is the sort of place you’ll want to stay if you’re looking to relocate with the family for an extended period of time.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “The AC was crucial as we stayed during the San Diego heat wave of 2020! The spa and pool were clean and had been cleaned twice while we were there. Nice touch. The upstairs room was perfect for coffee and check in with work for a quiet morning. Water pressure was better than our own home with hot, comfortable showers. The street is a col-de-sac (sic) which provides quiet and plenty of parking for guests. I can’t say enough about the updated home and the room for our kiddos.”
Peaceful Casita in South Park
Location: South Park
Vibe: Transported from the heart of San Miguel de Allende to San Diego’s hipster neighborhood.
Amenities: Well designed and plant-filled outdoor area with a fountain. Great tile work. Small but nice.
Other things to know: It is just a studio, so no extra rooms. Also, there is not a full oven, so don’t book this if you’re looking to chef up extravagant feasts.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “My husband and I had a great stay at the Casita. Jason is a great host and is very easy to communicate with. The accommodation is conveniently located, it has EVERYTHING that you could possibly need for a great holiday and it is tastefully decorated.”
3-Bedroom With Harbor and Skyline Views
Location: Point Loma
Vibe: Your grandfather just bought a new three-bedroom property and it’s way nicer than you anticipated and you’re actually surprised. Plus it has a baller spiral staircase in the middle.
Amenities: Aforementioned baller spiral staircase, great patio space with hot tub and fire pit, very spacious kitchen and high ceiling in the common areas.
Other things to know: It is very close to the harbor if you’re into boats. The actual ocean is on the other side of the point. Not terribly far, but something to be aware of.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “We were so very pleased with our stay. The location on Point Loma was close to the airport, beaches and tourist activities we wanted to enjoy, plus a spectacular view of the city and bay. The space has a gorgeous and unique design, and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family by the fireplaces inside and out and in the hot tub.”
Oceanfront Elegant Condo
Location: Pacific Beach
Vibe: Your wacky, successful, older aunt decides to move from her apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to San Diego. She brings her design aesthetic and living preferences with her.
Amenities: Eighth-floor balcony with ocean views. Murphy bed. Beach cruiser bikes. Pool. 24/7 doorman.
Other things to know: This is in a condo building with what I can only assume are families and old people, so probably not the place to book if you’re looking to rage your face off. But it does look very nice!
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “We loved our stay here. The decor reminded us of a large motor yacht. You can’t be more oceanfront than this! Easy and secure parking. Wonderful snacks and coffee equipment provided. We hope to be back.”
Surrounding Beach Towns
Modern Minimalist Baller 2BR Beachfront
Location: Solana Beach
Vibe: Gwenyth Paltrow goop aesthetics in a beach house, minus the dubious wellness products. It’s just super nice, OK? Looks like it’s straight out of a furniture catalog that sells furniture you can’t afford.
Amenities: Being very nice. Beach essentials provided. Indoor fireplace. Literal patio on the sand.
Other things to know: It gets tons of natural light with large windows facing the beach. A good option for a couples beach vacation.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “The deck is large, the view incredible (!!!), and the floor plan open and comfortable. The hosts were also very responsive and kind. The location is peaceful and an easy walk to the beach. The town is charming. Everything you could want is available in the home or nearby. Don’t hesitate to book this property. Though please remember that everything is high tech, as described in the name of the property, for those that may be more technically challenged.”
La Jolla Shores Redwood Beach Cottage
Location: La Jolla
Vibe: English countryside cabin with a few hints of an Italian Villa, but in California and near the beach, obviously.
Amenities: You’re on a quarter acre of property. Huge backyard with beautiful trees. Great grilling area. Three blocks to La Jolla Shores beach. A hot tub!
Other things to know: In a rather quiet area, but near enough to restaurants and shopping. Perfect for walking to the beach during the day and relaxing under the stars at night.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “We had a wonderfully relaxing time. The house is perfect, blocks from a great little beach and numerous restaurants and bars…backyard is a lush oasis with a large hot tub and awesome outdoor shower that we primarily used. Would recommend it to any couple looking for a peaceful, romantic, private stay. Thanks, Chuck, we’ll be back!”
Luxe Penthouse Right On Beach In Oceanside
Vibe: The space is almost nautical themed, with white and blue stripes throughout the home, but not in an obnoxious way. Beach views abound.
Amenities: Two master suites. Large private deck overlooking the ocean, which is right outside.
Other things to know: Everything is on one floor. Parking is provided.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “This place is even better than the pictures. The place is huge, the decor is really well done and the location is perfect. This place is five stars all the way. I liked the enclosed front deck so much that I slept out there and let my friends have the bedrooms. I fell asleep to the sounds of the waves each night.”
Modern Home With Direct Beach Access
Vibe: Lots of white walls and ocean views. Leather couches and day beds. In other words, a very nice place to spend the day.
Amenities: Beach access. Beach toys and essentials. Lots of TVs.
Other things to know: It’s not direct beach access — you have to walk out your front door and cross a two-lane road. But there isn’t another beach house on the other side of the road. So it kind of is.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “Views, views, views! This house is beautiful and has everything you need for a wonderful beach vacation. Beach access is directly across the street. Enjoy your morning coffee or evening cocktails on the roof deck overlooking the ocean. Close to town, Costco and fun shops and restaurants. A real treat!”
Mid-Century Architectural Gem
Location: Del Mar
Vibe: Frank Lloyd Wright all the way.
Amenities: Great kitchen. Ping-pong table in the astroturf backyard. And again, very cool mid-century FLW vibes. Natural light via multiple skylights. Right by the beach.
Other things to know: A good portion of the home is made with salvaged materials, so they’re down with that environmentally friendly home. Also right by Torrey Pines if you’re looking to hit one of the nation’s great golf courses.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “We had a fantastic stay at this tranquil and beautiful spot. Loved the easy walk to coffee or dinner, the proximity to gorgeous Torrey Pines beach and woodland paths. The space is set up perfectly with artistic touches everywhere. The kitchen had everything we needed to cook our meals. Slept great! I loved the succulent gardens and variety of places to relax outside.”
Outside of Town
Tranquil, Private, Spa Casita, Outside of Town
Vibe: Where your friend who is a borderline hermit but justifies his location by claiming to live on something akin to a wilderness retreat lives. It’s tranquil as all get out.
Amenities: 50 acres of avocado grove all to yourself. Hiking trails. Hot tub.
Other things to know: This is pretty far removed from things. As stated, it’s on a 50-acre avocado grove, so you’re not exactly in the heart of town. Friendly dogs may roam the property.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “Amazing place. So peaceful and serene. The pictures do not do this place justice. It is completely secluded and in the middle of nature. The house is fully stocked with everything you can need. Soaking in the jacuzzi in the middle of nature while watching the sunset from over the mountain ridge is like nothing else!”
Calle Cabernet Vineyard Retreat
Vibe: A place that you’ll certainly want to drink wine. A modern Spanish-style villa in wine country.
Amenities: Huge and very nice outdoor area for hanging while sipping the wine you brought back from the vineyards that you’re very close to. Great views of the countryside and hot-air balloons, which are common in the area.
Other things to know: Temecula is one of the most underrated wine regions in California.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “This is a beautiful property in a beautiful location. Everything was thought of to make it so welcoming and inviting. The property is in the heart of wine country but was extremely peaceful throughout our stay. We felt like we were staying at our friend’s house.”
5 Acre Estate w/ Lake, Pool & Hot Tub
Vibe: Your friend has a midlife crisis and decides to buy a bonkers house in the Southern California countryside. It’s super nice but also has lots of fun games and such.
Amenities: Pretty ridiculous pool and hot tub set up. Lots of activities available like foosball, ping-pong and board games. Huge property.
Other things to know: This is great for large groups. It’s also on five acres, so there’s plenty of outdoor space to explore, and there’s even a room with multiple bunk beds in case you need to bring along the children. Poor cell reception in the area.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “The house is just as pictured. We had a group of 15 and everyone fit comfortably. We were all blown away by the beauty and attention to detail. They have the kitchen fully stocked with utensils and the house has plenty of towels, blankets, and pillows. Plus the beds are extremely comfortable.”
The Glass House – A Nature Retreat
Vibe: A glass house in the wilderness. Pretty self-explanatory. It probably either feels tranquil or terrifying, depending on the last movie you watched.
Amenities: Mother Nature. Access to tons of hiking trails. Lots of natural light. Fireplace. Large covered deck with hot tub.
Other things to know: There is a home next door (same owners) with renters. But they don’t look into each other, according to the listing. The second bedroom is in a loft that’s not completely finished, as the hosts point out. But it has a bed, which is the primary function.
Actual thing a reviewer said about this house: “Stylish modern space with soaring ceiling and spectacular views of boulders, live oaks, and mountains in the distance. Our kids scrambled around outside all day then slept like rocks themselves in the “loft castle” while we had our own private cozy room. Had a brief snafu where we couldn’t figure out how to change the temp on the hot tub — Lisa was INSTANTLY communicative and solved it over text. Minor warning, we didn’t get cell service at the Glass House (though this was also a plus). WiFi was rock solid though so we were always in touch when we needed to be (did Zoom school and work for 1 day).”
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