A few things come to mind when you think about San Diego: breakfast burritos, gorgeous beaches, tech jobs, the military and college culture.
You’ll encounter a bit of everything when you call Southern California home. To help you find the right community for you, we’ve rounded up the best neighborhoods in San Diego.
Located just north of the downtown area, Balboa Park is a place with a rich history and historic homes. It’s also San Diego’s mecca for arts and culture. Enjoy world-class museums, yummy restaurants, awe-inspiring architecture, beautiful gardens and the world-famous San Diego Zoo whenever you want.
During the holiday season, the Zoo sets the stage for Jungle Bells, a winter wonderland of festive sights and sounds complete with jazzy carols, light sculptures of animals and 3D projections.
East Village is an attractive and upcoming neighborhood in the Downtown area that’s close to San Diego City College, public transportation (bus and train lines), delicious eats, Petco Park (where the San Diego Padres play), bars and nightlife.
This area doesn’t disappoint if you love to get out and stretch your legs. You’re within walking distance of the Gaslamp District and Seaport Village, which are fun places to visit, especially on the weekends.
Are you looking for a place with a fun and diverse social scene? Then Hillcrest is the spot for you. This neighborhood typically attracts college students, young professionals and single folks. It’s also well-known for its LGBTQ community.
It has thriving upcoming bars, plant-based eateries, unique street fairs, farmer’s markets and exciting clubs. You’ll want to check out Lemonade for healthy meals and Bronx Pizza for some of the best thin-crust slices in town.
There’s another bonus living in this neighborhood. You’ll only be a few minutes away from Balboa Park and a short ride from the downtown area.
Chic, upscale Little Italy is in its own little corner of the downtown area. Attracting more established professionals, the neighborhood is known for its delicious Italian restaurants, cocktail bars and weekly farmer’s market. It’s also only a short drive away from San Diego International Airport, a bonus if you’re a frequent flyer.
The city added Waterfront Park to the area a few years ago. Besides offering breathtaking views of the San Diego harbor, this park hosts festivals and concerts and is usually the starting point for political marches.
Linda Vista is a beautiful mesa community that overlooks Mission Valley and Mission Bay. If you choose a place up on the hill, you’ll have a nice view of the beaches and the city.
This neighborhood is home to the University of San Diego, which naturally draws young academics. You can easily hop onto the freeway to go to downtown, SeaWorld or nearby beach communities and get there in a flash.
Mission Bay Park offers easy access to SeaWorld and Fiesta Island beach. You’re also just a few miles north of downtown, which is convenient for the many young professionals who live here. You can exercise around Mission Bay Park and relax at the beach year-round because of the Mediterranean climate.
It’s important to note that you’ll have to travel to adjacent communities, such as Pacific Beach, Clairemont Mesa, La Jolla or Mission Valley, to stock up on essential items.
This neighborhood is ideal for any college student because it’s close to San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. You’ll also encounter professionals in their late 20s and 30s, along with young families drawn to great school districts.
In addition to the universities, Mission Valley is home to two popular malls (Fashion Valley and Westfield Mission Valley) and an essential shopping plaza with Target, Costco and IKEA. You won’t have to travel too far for must-have items. You also have easy access to the main freeways, so you can quickly get to where you need to be.
North Park is a popular neighborhood among more established professionals in their 30s. Known for its modern and historic architecture, this unique enclave features plenty of coffee shops, craft-beer bars and indie boutiques along University Avenue.
There are also delicious brunch spots, upscale pubs, taco shops and sushi lounges. Nightlife in North Park often revolves around the Observatory North Park, which hosts rap, rock and electronica shows. Don’t miss The North Park Thursday Market, which also features live music.
Are you looking for a place with some spunk? Ocean Beach has it, along with easy access to the beach. Visit Newport Avenue, where you can shop small businesses and enjoy a burger with fries and a shake at the popular Hodad’s.
Keep in mind that parking is not the greatest here. Not all apartment complexes offer parking so you’ll have to find a spot on the street, which can be especially challenging during the summer months.
More low-key than North Park, South Park is a charming urban neighborhood with coffee shops and unique shopping experiences. It’s also well-known for its health and wellness services.
Walk around this small tree-lined community and admire the beautiful old-school homes. It’s just east of Balboa Park, so you can easily enjoy more cultural experiences, too.
Find the best San Diego neighborhood for you
Life’s beachy in San Diego, and there are plenty of apartments in terrific communities throughout the city. Meanwhile, if you’re still on the fence about which neighborhood is right for you, we recommend you take this quiz.