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The 8 Best San Diego Airbnbs to Rent

By Archana Ram

Mar 3, 2021

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In San Diego’s buzzy, restaurant-packed Little Italy neighborhood, this top-floor escape, "Urban Retreat for Foodies in Little Italy" pairs industrial chic accents with signature West Coast flair.

Courtesy of Airbnb

In San Diego’s buzzy, restaurant-packed Little Italy neighborhood, this top-floor escape, "Urban Retreat for Foodies in Little Italy" pairs industrial chic accents with signature West Coast flair.

Live like a local in San Diego by basing your stay at one of the city’s top neighborhood Airbnbs.

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Sure, on its surface San Diego seems like one big beachy getaway, but zoom in further and this SoCal city is more accurately a collection of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own vibe, architecture, and food scene. There are cool-kid boutiques and craftsman homes in North Park, buzzing restaurants in bustling Little Italy, and Chicano art galleries lined up alongside traditional taquerias in Barrio Logan—and that’s in addition to the Pacific-fronting beaches and aquatic adventures that await in coastal enclaves like La Jolla and Carlsbad.

Whether beaches within walking distance, funky architecture (we’ve found one Gaudí-esque estate), or unique amenities (like wine on tap or loaner surfboards) are more your speed, here are eight of the very best San Diego Airbnbs at which to base your stay.

1. Room A at The Dutra Inn

  • Neighborhood: Little Italy
  • Sleeps: Up to 2 guests
  • Book Now: From $185 per night, airbnb.com

Overlooking San Diego’s buzzy, restaurant-packed Little Italy neighborhood, this top-floor, one-bedroom escape (pictured above) claims an “Airbnb Plus” designation, meaning it adheres to higher standards of quality and comfort. Little wonder, given its industrial chic accents and signature West Coast flair, like potted succulents and earthy sage on hand to burn.

Huge windows bathe the unit in San Diego sunshine, which you can also soak up from the private patio boasting bay views. The hosts are veterans of the local culinary scene, so expect fine foodie-primed touches like vintage glassware, San Diego–roasted coffee, and wine on tap; plus, the couple can help secure tough-to-get reservations at certain restaurants and bars. Just take note: It’s a five-flight walk-up with no elevator.

The outdoor area at this Airbnb includes a fireplace and Jacuzzi.

2. Unusual Architectural Escape

  • Neighborhood: Carmel Valley
  • Sleeps: Up to 8 guests
  • Book Now: From $280 per night, airbnb.com

If Dr. Seuss, Gaudí, and the designers of Mexico’s Airbnb-listed Seashell House collaborated, they might just turn out this sculptural abode near Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Accommodating large groups—pets are welcome, too—this spot includes a full kitchen lined with mosaic tiles; a cozy, dome-ceilinged living room; and enough beds for eight guests. The one-acre outdoor area is perhaps an even bigger draw, with multiple seating areas surrounded by eucalyptus trees, a fireplace, an outdoor shower, and a Jacuzzi. It’s a more secluded stay, in the quiet residential neighborhood of Carmel Valley, but an easy 20-minute drive to upscale La Jolla’s beaches, restaurants, and shops.

This funky studio is set near Chicano Park and the trendy taquerias and art galleries in Barrio Logan.

3. One Bunk Barrio studio

  • Neighborhood: Barrio Logan
  • Sleeps: Up to 2 guests
  • Book Now: From $95 per night, airbnb.com

The 500-square-foot One Bunk Barrio studio in the heart of Barrio Logan (a hub for San Diego’s Mexican and Chicano community) combines midcentury-modern furniture with reclaimed accents and a king-size Casper mattress set under a handmade headboard. Perks include a free beer in the fridge (from Tijuana brewery Insurgente) and use of bikes, plus yoga mats and a bocce set on the charming patio.

It’s just 1.5 miles to downtown, but don’t skip exploring your home base, known for both traditional and trendy taquerias, art galleries, and Chicano Park, where more than 80 murals adorn the girders of the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

This one-bedroom Airbnb is only one block from the beach.

4. Family-Friendly Beach Digs

  • Neighborhood: Mission Bay
  • Sleeps: Up to 4 guests
  • Book Now: From $181 per night, airbnb.com

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Travelers with little ones in tow needn’t look any further than the Rockaway House—an Airbnb Plus property equipped with a full kitchen, travel crib, high chair, beach gear, and games for all ages—without sacrificing style. The one-bedroom unit touts a clean, minimalist design and a photogenic, subway-tiled bathroom. It’s situated one block from the beach and a few minutes’ walk from Mission Bay, known for its bayside walking path and water-bound activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s even free parking right on the premises, a rarity in the neighborhood.

This 1920s bungalow maintains most of its original exteriors.

5. Stylish Spanish Revival

  • Neighborhood: Hillcrest
  • Sleeps: Up to 4 guests
  • Book Now: From $199 per night, airbnb.com

A short walk from the center of San Diego’s LGBTQ scene and University Avenue (a lively strip lined with restaurants, bars, and consignment shops), this one-bedroom bungalow in the Hillcrest neighborhood was built in the 1920s and retains much of its original exterior design, including half-round arches, tilework, and wrought iron fixtures. The interior, meanwhile, is pleasantly refreshed with a renovated kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Be sure to make time to sit on the patio, shaded by tall cacti and olive and palm trees.

Design geeks will love staying at One Bunk Beach.

6. One Bunk Beach

  • Neighborhood: Ocean Beach
  • Sleeps: Up to 4 guests
  • Book Now: From $406 per night, vrbo.com

The team behind the One Bunk Barrio unit has followed up with One Bunk Beach, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom stunner. Despite an address in the bohemian surfer community of Ocean Beach, the home is an homage to modernism; design geeks will spot furniture and decor by Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Isamu Noguchi.

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The open floor plan lends itself to natural light and is centered around an indoor conversation pit with a gas-powered fireplace. It’s just a few steps to the beach—the home is stocked with complimentary beach towels and loaner snorkeling masks—but one look at the pool and private backyard area with its barbecue grill and we’d understand why you might want to sit and stay awhile. Sorry ’rents: You’ll have to keep the (young) kids at home for this one; children under 10 aren’t permitted.

The beach is 50 steps from the front porch of this San Diego bungalow.

7. Retro Bungalow in Ocean Beach

  • Neighborhood: Ocean Beach
  • Sleeps: Up to 4 guests
  • Book Now: From $136 per night, airbnb.com

This 1930s beach cottage is steps from the sand in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood and comes with charming retro details like turquoise tile in the kitchen. It’s best for couples or small families because there’s only one bedroom and a fold-out couch in the living room for guests. With more than 500 five-star reviews, you’ll need to book far in advance to secure a weekend getaway at this in-demand property.

This downtown loft also includes a parking space.

8. Historic Loft

  • Neighborhood: Downtown Gaslamp Quarter
  • Sleeps: Up to 2 guests
  • Book Now: From $144 per night, airbnb.com

This light-filled loft is located in the heart of the lively Gaslamp Quarter in a 1920s converted department store. Inside, you’ll find modern details including 16-foot ceilings, open shelving, and polished concrete floors. Peloton fans will be delighted to have access to the host’s bike during their stay, and all guests can enjoy San Diego’s near perfect weather on the building’s common roof deck. This Airbnb also includes a parking space for guests.

This article originally was published in November 2018; it was updated on March 2, 2021, with current information.

>> Next: The Best U.S. Beach Houses on Airbnb to Book This Summer

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