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The 9 Best Airbnbs to Rent in San Diego

By Archana Ram

Nov 20, 2018

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In San Diego’s buzzy, restaurant-packed Little Italy neighborhood, this top-floor escape 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 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 nine of the very best San Diego Airbnbs at which to base your stay.

1. Urban Retreat for Foodies in Little Italy

Book Now: From $166 per night (2 guests), airbnb.com

Overlooking San Diego’s buzzy, restaurant-packed Little Italy neighborhood, this top-floor, one-bedroom escape 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.

Located in a converted warehouse, with high ceilings, exposed brick, concrete floors, and a music motif, this spacious studio offers an edgy downtown option near the Gaslamp Quarter.

2. Rock ’n’ Roll Downtown Loft

Book Now: From $120 per night (up to 4 guests), airbnb.com

High ceilings, exposed brick, concrete floors, a music motif—this spacious studio offers an edgy downtown option near the Petco Park baseball stadium and nightlife-heavy Gaslamp Quarter. Located in a converted warehouse, the open-plan loft has a king-size bed and pullout couch, a dining area for six people, and an Insta-ready “You Look Good” wall decal. There’s a lively sports bar at the base of the building, or venture out to coffee shops, Mexican eateries, and cocktail lounges, all within walking distance.

3. Unusual Architectural Escape in Carmel Valley

Book Now: From $325 per night (up to 8 guests), airbnb.com

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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.

4. California-Cool Studio in Barrio Logan

Book Now: From $95 per night (2 guests), 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 mid-century 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.

5. Family-Friendly Beach Digs near Mission Bay

Book Now: From $244 per night (up to 4 guests), airbnb.com

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 just 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.

Base your stay at an airy two-bedroom Craftsman home in San Diego's hip North Park neighborhood.

6. Craftsman Cottage in North Park

Book Now: From $210 per night (up to 6 guests), airbnb.com

Besides craft beer and cool shops, the hip North Park neighborhood is just as well known for its Craftsman homes, like this airy two-bedroom bungalow. The Airbnb Plus digs are clean, comfortable, and colorful, with a spacious living room, a separate dining room, and a string-light-covered patio with a grill and plenty of seating. It also touts a prime spot between Morley Field—a park with tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, a dog park, and canyon walking trails—and the heart of North Park’s commercial district.

7. Stylish Spanish Revival in Hillcrest

Book Now: From $180 per night (up to 4 guests), airbnb.com

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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.

8. Postmodern Beach Pad in Ocean Beach

Book Now: From $561 per night (up to 4 guests), airbnb.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. 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 just 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.

Up to eight guests can pile into this three-story Carlsbad townhouse, set a half-mile from the beach.

9. Carlsbad Town House Near the Beach

Book Now: From $200 per night (up to 8 guests), airbnb.com

Beach houses can be shabby. That’s definitely not the case at this modern three-story town house set a half mile from the beach. Expect a game room (with foosball and loaner surfboards) and bedroom on the first floor, a roomy kitchen on the second, and a plush master bedroom on the top level. Each room has vaulted ceilings and windows that let in plenty of natural light, but with three floors, note that this Airbnb isn’t for the stair-averse. The location is 35 miles north of the airport, but it’s only a 15-minute or so drive to Legoland, a few minutes’ walk to Carlsbad Village’s restaurants, and a quick stroll to a commuter train that jets to downtown San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

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