12 Best Resorts in San Diego for Vacations & Staycations

My picks for best San Diego resorts are for guests who want their vacation needs fulfilled by a wide range of amenities and services without leaving the property. Through my deep knowledge of San Diego hotels and resorts, I’ve used specific criteria to select the true resorts in town that are popular with families, couples, solo, and even business travelers.

In our new era of travel, which is right around the corner, I also predict that the best resorts in San Diego will receive a lot of staycation traffic from residents — which I encourage and applaud.

What Is the Difference Between a Hotel and a Resort?

The line that differentiates hotels and resorts is often blurred, but here is the difference. Resorts offer a more self-contained, relaxing experience and are typically spread out across more acreage rather than bound tightly by city streets. Resorts have pools with food and drink service, spas, planned guest activities ranging, and multiple dining outlets — more things to do than a typical hotel. San Diego resorts are also bordered by golf courses, trails, groves, or beaches which provide even more opportunities for leisure activities.

Be a VIP Guest! Don’t forget that you can use my Virtuoso and other VIP program benefits to add value to your stay at most of these resorts. VIP guests also receive my four-part San Diego vacation email series that is timed to check-in dates and kept updated with what is happening around town seasonally. I may be compensated if you book using the links below.

Rancho Valencia

Location: Rancho Santa Fe
Category: Luxury

The pool bar at Rancho Valencia, the best luxury resort in San Diego
Sip poolside cocktails. (Photo courtesy of Rancho Valencia)

Surrounded by 45 acres of lush greenery and magnificent olive groves, Mediterranean-inspired Rancho Valencia Resort is an idyllic retreat that many people do not leave. This is the top luxury San Diego resort for world-class hospitality, wellness activities, and opulence. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks it as the best resort in California.

This sanctuary boasts 49 spacious Mediterranean-style casitas with private patios and fireplaces where fresh orange juice and a newspaper are delivered each morning.

A highlight is the spa and fitness center which is also home to a stunning yoga pavilion. Class schedules also include high-performance cardio such as spinning and TRX. All are included with a guest stays.

Play tennis on one of the championship tennis courts or take advantage fo the other sports courts, bocce ball court, croquet or take one of the resort bikes out for a spin. This San Diego resort’s location is also in proximity to some of the most prestigious members-only golf courses in the state. Relax in the saltwater main pool or adults-only spa pool after a full day in Southern California sunshine. The drive to Del Mar beach takes about 15-20 minutes depending on which beach is your final destination.

Good to know: It’s for guests who want to be spoiled by true five-star luxury and those looking for wellness retreats. It’s popular for staycations and those within driving distance (Orange County and Los Angeles) who just want a Southern California getaway.

Make Rancho Valencia reservations with these included Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom (maximum $40 credit per person)
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit, (Not valid in Sheridan, the resort’s boutique. Not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
Check Availability*

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the footer and click “Full Site” to access rates and online booking.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Location: East Del Mar
Category: Luxury

View of the main pool area with palm trees at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, one of the best resorts in San Diego.
The main pool. (Photo courtesy of Fairmont Grand Del Mar)

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego is another Mediterranean-style paradise that has earned an exclusive Forbes Fifteen Stars. Its selection of beautiful accommodations includes deluxe villas, spacious rooms, and even an adults-only section surrounding an adults-only pool. All with large marble bathrooms, deep sigh-worthy tubs and breathtaking garden views.

I think it’s the best resort in San Diego for families who enjoy luxury. You can read more about why families choose Fairmont Grand Del Mar but it’s mostly because it’s win-win for parents and kids. Enjoy a day at the award-winning spa or a round of golf on the Tom Fazio-designed course while kids enjoy the year-round, state-of-the-art kids’ club. Book date night at the Michelin-starred Addison. Hit the hiking trails on a bike (the resort has kids’ bike, too), a guided tour, or horseback — there is an onsite equestrian center as well.

While it is also inland from the beach, guests can reserve beach valet service which will transport you to and from Del Mar’s 18th Street beach (15-minute drive) with umbrellas, chairs, and bottled water. Torrey Pines State Beach and Natural Reserve are also a short drive away.

Good to know: I think you can tell a lot about a resort by its behind-the-scenes service which is top-notch here. They are excellent at handling dietary restrictions and special requests.

Make Fairmont Grand Del Mar reservations with these included Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability (excluding suites)
  • Daily continental breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in Amaya or in-room dining (up to $70 per bedroom per day)
  • $100 USD Activity credit per stay, valid for golf play, golf instruction, the Spa services, and/or Explorer’s Club fees to be utilized during stay (cannot be combined, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full – not valid towards retail or Haim Salon Services)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
Check Availability*

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the footer and click “Full Site” to access rates and online booking.

Hotel del Coronado

Location: Coronado
Category: Luxury (with some caveats)

Red and white striped lounge chairs on the beach in front of Hotel del Coronado.
Del Beach in front of Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton is a historic property that opened in 1888 and has been frequented by U.S. presidents and Hollywood stars since then. I was married at this resort and have been an overnight guest multiple times. Hotel del Coronado is also the most requested and booked San Diego resort or hotel in my portfolio.

The reason is that people search for San Diego beach resorts because they want to take advantage of our sunshine and this one offers the most activities (highly recommend booking a s’mores roast), multiple restaurants, a stunning pool, food and drink service to Del Beach, the city’s best Sunday brunch, and you can walk to other Coronado restaurants and shops. Winter is also a popular time of year to stay to enjoy their beachfront ice skating rink and long roster of holiday activities.

You should read my detailed guide to Hotel del Coronado before booking in where I go over how to choose a room across the Victorian, California Cabana and Ocean Towers buildings, details regarding the ongoing renovation, and everything you need to know about staying there.

I also highly recommend Beach Village at The Del, the resort’s private enclave of cottages and villas, many of which are oceanfront. Beach Village offers an elevated level of service, privacy, and luxury with all of the benefits of staying at Hotel del Coronado. It is the most luxurious resort beach vacation in San Diego.

Good to know: The California Cabana building is open for booking starting in late June 2020. These rooms are brand new and priced accordingly. The fire pit rooms are my favorite but keep in mind that you can always book a beach roast separately. The historic Victorian building is the most popular (my favorite room is the Victorian Ocean View Studio King Suite). Do not book the Ocean Towers as they are the least charming and near some renovation work. For more details please read my guide. It’s not a bad choice for those who want to go carless. In addition to ride share apps, the Coronado ferry (on the other side of Coronado) helps guests reach downtown San Diego, Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter.

Make Hotel del Coronado reservations or Beach Village reservations with these included Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
  • Daily Buffet breakfast for two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
Check Availability*

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the footer and click “Full Site” to access rates and online booking.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa

Location: Carlsbad
Category: Luxury

Aerial view of the Park Hyatt Aviara pool deck before the resort renovation.
View of the pool before the renovation. (Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara Resort)

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa is in the middle of a very exciting renovation that is scheduled to wrap up by June 2020 (current events may delay this).

One of the most unique aspects is that the generous room size allowed them to transform two double bed rooms into two king bed rooms! Single king rooms have double sofa beds for families who don’t need that much bed space. In addition, there will be a much-improved family pool area with a splash pad and even a water slide. If you must have suite accommodations, so that you can sleep separately from the kids, this is one of the most reasonably-priced places to achieve this.

The award-winning spa is also not-to-be-missed with its indoor solarium and relaxation areas. I also enjoy the dining especially golf course views at Argyle Steakhouse and the breakfast buffet at California Bistro but also appreciate the grab-and-go market in the lobby.

This San Diego resort and spa is ideally situated for a warm and relaxing vacation adjacent to Aviara Golf Club, home to a championship golf course, and the Batiquitos Lagoon. It’s less than 10 minutes to the Carlsbad beach and a popular choice for golfers and families who are visiting LEGOLAND California.

Good to know: A lot is about to change at this resort for the better and it was already great so I will update once the renovation is complete.

Make Park Hyatt Aviara Resort reservations with these included Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
  • Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Resort credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary daily Aviara Spa access for two guests including sauna, whirlpool, steam room and indoor solarium lounge.
  • Locally-inspired culinary welcome amenity
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
Check Availability*

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the footer and click “Full Site” to access rates and online booking.

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

Location: Carlsbad
Category: Moderate

Aerial view of The Edge adults-only pool and lounge chairs at Omni La Costa Resort in San Diego County.
The adults-only Edge Pool. (Photo courtesy of Omni La Costa Resort and Spa)

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa’s casual atmosphere is one of the reasons why it makes my list of favorite San Diego family resorts. It’s the only San Diego resort or hotel with a year-round kids’ club that offers a supervised program for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old that will allow parents to rejuvenate with a spa treatment or spend a few hours of alone time together.

The amenities spread out over 400 acres include two golf courses, the famous Chopra Center (where guests come to strengthen a mind-body connection), one of my favorite spas, multiple swimming pools, a kids’ splash pad and water slide area, tennis courts, state-of-the-art fitness center, multiple restaurants, family activities and much more.

Suites here tend to price well and the rooms are comfortable. For longer stays or families who need kitchens, look to the villas which are outfitted with designer appliances and feel like home.

La Costa is a residential neighborhood located in inland Carlsbad, about 10 minutes to the beach.

Good to know: This is a popular resort with fantastic amenities. The rooms are a bit dated, however, and could use some modernization.

Tips for making Omni La Costa reservations:

I have a couple of tips when it comes to making Omni La Costa reservations. They occasionally offer sale rates on their website that are better than what you can find elsewhere. However, we can add the following benefits to their Best Available Rate via Travel Leaders Select which sometimes (not all the time) outweighs sale rates:

  • 100 USD resort credit per stay
  • Complimentary full breakfast for two daily at VUE restaurant
  • Property will offer early check-in and late check-out upon availability
  • Property will offer upgrade at time of check-in, subject to availability
  • Basic Wi-Fi

In addition, the resort adds on complimentary valet parking. You’ll need to send me your dates to have these benefits applied.

Send Me Your Dates

San Diego Mission Bay Resort

Location: Mission Bay
Category: Moderate

A couple holding hands walks into the San Diego Mission Bay Resort swimming pool on a sunny day.
A couple walks into the bayfront pool. (Photo courtesy of San Diego Mission Bay Resort)

Formerly the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa, this rejuvenated Noble House property offers a beachy yet contemporary vibe that caters to travelers who want a more upscale resort experience at a reasonable price point.

San Diego Mission Bay Resort offers games and activities for the whole family from a nice bayside pool with cabana rentals and a kids’ pool to lawn games to a water sports rental facility at the shoreline out in front.

Rooms also received breezy updates in coastal palettes. Many ground-floor rooms have fire pits where you can roast s’mores (kits are available in lobby market) though they also offer this on the bay beach seasonally. The Mission Bay boardwalk is right out front and nice for bike rides, jogs, and kid fun like rollerskating. You can also relax at the full-service spa or play tennis.

Good to know: This San Diego resort and spa is located just off of the 1-5 freeway which is convenient for sightseeing — you can be at the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park in about 10 minutes. Know that you’ll have to drive around the bay to reach the ocean beach, however. Day guests can buy a ResortPass to use the pool.

San Diego Mission Bay Resort reservations:

I am a Noble Advisor so I can book you in with the Noble House VIP Package that includes a slightly discounted rate, breakfast in the restaurant for two daily, and an upgrade at check-in subject to availability. Check their website to see what kind of room you’d like and then send me your dates.

Send Me Your Dates

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina

Location: Mission Bay
Category: Moderate

Two of the three pools and three water slides at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina, a top San Diego resort.
The outdoor pool deck. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts)

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina is popular because they have the most water slides of any San Diego resort (three). It’s located on Mission Bay, but just a few walkable blocks to the ocean at Mission Beach.

There isn’t a bay beach here but you can rent stand-up paddleboards and other water sports equipment from the marina here, which offers deep-sea fishing and whale watching excursions. View from the top floors are stunning and can include the city skyline, ocean, and bay.

Rooms were recently refreshed. Guests also rate highly the eco-conscious spa treatments at the resort’s Blue Marble Spa and dining at Red Marlin. The resort’s suites afford beautiful views of the surroundings and include upmarket features, such as Hyatt Grand beds, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies.

Good to know: The resort’s location means that it prices well and with the benefits below it’s a great value. It’s a moderate resort and a little corporate in feel. Day guests can purchase a ResortPass to use the pool.

Make Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina reservations with Hyatt Prive benefits (two-night minimum stay required):

  • $100 USD Property Credit
  • Room Upgrade*
  • Breakfast for Two
  • Welcome Amenity
  • Guest Welcome Letter
  • Early Check-In*
  • Connecting Rooms*
  • Free Wifi

* Subject to forecasted occupancy

Send Me Your Dates

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Location: Pacific Beach
Category: Moderate

View from Tower at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego
View over the bay from Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is another sought-after San Diego family resort located on Mission Bay but is also a few short blocks from the ocean at Pacific Beach, giving guests the best of both worlds. Its Polynesian theme, complete with ponds and streams full of turtles, koi, and ducks, makes you feel like you’re on a tropical getaway.

Out front is one of the nicer Mission Bay beaches where you can simply chill on the sand or take advantage of water sports. Bike rentals are available for exploring nearby neighborhoods, too. A game room off of the pool deck is popular with kids.

We also quite like the onsite Oceana Coastal Kitchen restaurant for breakfast and seafood favorites. Sit on the patio for water views or inside near the jellyfish tank. Summer guests will want to book the authentic sunset luau on the bay. This seasonal tradition involves Polynesian food, music, and festivities. 

Good to know: This San Diego resort hotel isn’t fancy but it sure is fun. Pacific Beach can skew young demographic-wise but you are insulated from this. The upshot is that the nearby dining is wallet-friendly.

Make Catamaran Resort Hotel reservations:

Catamaran offers some good book direct deals or you can bundle your hotel with attractions tickets on our aRes Travel partner site below.

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Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa

Location: Coronado
Category: Moderate

Loews Coronado Bay Resort Pool View Room.
A pool view room. (Photo courtesy of Loews Coronado Bay Resort)

The goal of Loews Coronado Bay Resort is to make it so that guests can experience the best of San Diego without ever leaving the property. The resort is located about 4 miles from the heart of Coronado Island (but there is a complimentary guest shuttle to downtown Coronado) on its own secluded San Diego Bay peninsula.

The gorgeous Silver Strand State Beach is just a 10-minute or so walk from the lobby but they have complimentary shuttle service to the sand throughout the day. A seasonal stand sets up complimentary chairs and umbrellas for resort guests.

Guest rooms are comfortably outfitted in a coastal palette with bay, pool, or resort views. Speaking of the swimming pool, there are several on the pool deck in addition to outdoor games, and a cafe that serves poolside food and festive drinks. Ingredients are sourced from the onsite garden and citrus trees in addition to local farmers and seafood mongers where possible.

Good to know: It is a secluded location so you will need to drive to outside restaurants and sightseeing. However, this also makes it a good staycation resort for those who just want to unwind.

Make Loews Coronado Bay Resort reservations:

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Rancho Bernardo Inn

Location: Rancho Bernardo
Category: Moderate

The spa pool at Rancho Bernardo Inn, one of the best luxury resorts in San Diego.
Cabanas at the outdoor pool. (Photo courtesy of Rancho Bernardo Inn)

Rancho Bernardo Inn opened in 1963 as inn with a golf course and 30 rooms. Today it is very much one of the best resorts in San Diego with 287 casually-elegant and cozy rooms and suites, that very same championship golf course (designed by William bell of Torrey Pines and La Jolla Country Club fame), and one of my favorite spas in San Diego. It’s full-service with its saline pool, lounging facilities, and treatments that use skincare products with edible ingredients — what is more natural than that? You can even enjoy a treatment in an outdoor garden casita.

If you’re going to travel to tee off or use the spa, you should spend the night to take advantage also of the four dining options, including highly-rated Avant’s approachable wine country dining. Or sip a craft cocktail fireside at Veranda.

Rancho Bernardo Inn is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, a hotel and resort group that I trust immensely and use as a sort of stamp of approval when I look to book independent hotels worldwide.

Good to know: This resort is located about 15-minutes from San Diego Zoo Safari Park (this is my guide as we are involved with the park). Family-owned and family-friendly Bernardo Winery, which isn’t just a winery — there are boutiques, a coffee shop, and a restaurant — is also about 5 minutes away. I love this as a staycation option for San Diego residents and a fun weekend getaway for drive-market guests.

Reserve through Preferred Hotels and Resorts:

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Bahia Resort Hotel

Location: Mission Bay
Category: Value

Two kids swim in the Bahia Resort Hotel's outdoor swimming pool on a sunny day.
The outdoor pool. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Resort Hotel)

This bayside getaway is situated on a Mission Bay peninsula is renowned for its exceptional service, deluxe suites, and a prime location that allows guests to walk to the Pacific Ocean at Mission Beach from the lobby in about 10 minutes.

Bay and Garden View Studios are newly renovated with amenities like 65″ televisions and kitchenettes. Larger families may enjoy the Bay View Suite with two queen beds and a full-size sofa beds as better value to connecting rooms at other resorts (which can be hard to guarantee).

The secluded bay beach here is pretty much only used by resort guests. Other amenities include a small playground, shuffleboard, water sports, and an arcade.

There are several dining options on-site including an Airstream serving grab-and-go. Karaoke nights are also a regular feature at the resort’s Tangier Bar as a craft cocktails. From June to September, the resort beach comes alive with vibey music, delicious clambakes, and fiery BBQ. Guests use the spa a sister property, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.

Good to know: Of all San Diego hotels and resorts, I like Bahia for those who want a relaxing wallet-friendly vacation near the beach. However, keep in mind that it like the other San Diego beach resorts can price significantly higher during peak dates. They also offer free parking and WiFi.

Make Bahia Resort Hotel reservations:

Book direct or bundle with theme park tickets below.

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Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Location: Mission Bay
Category: Moderate

Interior view of a renovated junior suite at Paradise Point Resort & Spa San Diego.
Bayside bungalow and suites are my favorites. (Photo courtesy of Paradise Point Resort & Spa)

Paradise Point Resort & Spa on a 44-acre peninsula on Mission Bay with about a mile of sandy bay beach that wraps around it.

Added luxuries of Paradise Point include five swimming pools, beach bonfire pits, and a private marina with its various water sports options. The award-winning spa and different dining venues also make for a wonderful stay.

Yes, it is a very big resort but they do offer regular shuttle service from the lobby to various parts though you will park near your accommodations. It’s best for guests who mostly want to stay put as you’ll need to drive to the ocean beach, all sightseeing (other than SeaWorld San Diego), and to the ocean beach.

Good to know: This hotel will gradually transition to a Margaritaville property starting sometime in 2020. I am not sure what it will be like after that just yet. While it is on our list of hotels near SeaWorld San Diego, it still will take nearly 20 minutes to walk from the lobby to the park gates (it looks much closer on maps). The water here can be a little stagnant and none of us swam in it during our last visit. Falling off into it on a SUP or similar is definitely no big deal.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa reservations:

Make a Paradise Point reservation direct or book with a 7-days for the price of 1 SeaWorld San Diego and other theme park tickets below.

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