San Diego is the ultimate family playground with so many things to do all over the city. From visiting the famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park to relaxing on any of the amazing beaches, you will not be at a loss for things to do in San Diego. The city itself is quite easy to get around, which is helpful since there is not one place that tourists tend to stay.
No matter what is on your to do list or where you stay, you won’t be near everything. We have stayed in La Jolla, Coronado and on our most recent trip, Sunset Cliffs. While they all have their benefits, I have to say that the best area to stay in San Diego for families has to be Sunset Cliffs. This neighborhood is conveniently located near various attractions and provides a sense of living in San Diego rather than just visiting which is great for a stress free family holiday away.
Best Area to Stay in San Diego: Sunset Cliffs
The neighborhood of Sunset Cliffs is on a little peninsula just past Ocean Beach a bit before you reach Cabrillo National Monument. Ocean Beach is the more well known of the two, however even with it’s hippy beach town feel, we had heard it is a bit more gritty with homeless and inebriated folks cruising around.
Even though Sunset Cliffs is near, it has a totally different feel. If you know Los Angeles at all, Sunset Cliffs feels a bit like the upmarket areas of Venice Beach, with gorgeous cliff views rather than sprawling sandy beaches. As we walked around the neighborhood we were met by so many families who were extremely helpful in pointing us in the right direction for meals or things to do. This sense of community makes it a relaxing, down to earth place to stay, especially for families.
Keeping with the small town, non-commercial atmosphere, Sunset Cliff Village has a lot of casual delicious restaurants that are good for picking up a bite. We particularly loved the Little Lion, Sunnies and Jake & Eggs for breakfast. They are small family owned restaurants where the food is all made to order while you wait.
If you like to be near the ocean, listening to the waves crash on the cliffs while sitting outside at night, this neighborhood is perfect. Located just steps from the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park means perfect opportunities for the kiddos to explore and soak up the sun. You can walk all the way down the trail/oceanside path as well to get a little exercise or to just reveal in the beauty. There are several sections with easy access beaches along this path as well as some cool tidepools to explore during low tide.
If you love collecting junior ranger badges like we do, then you will love being so close to the Cabrillo National Monument just down the road! If you haven’t been, make time to visit the super cool lighthouse and amazing tidepools while also filling out the Junior Ranger Booklet to get your badge.
Wanderlust: Sunset Cliffs Vacation Rentals
In keeping with the non-commercialization of the area, this area of San Diego is best experienced through Sunset Cliffs vacation rentals. While you will find plenty of options on sites like AirBnb or VRBO, considering booking with a local specialist like Wanderlust Vacation Homes. Wanderlust is a female owned boutique San Diego vacation rentals company focusing entirely on the Sunset Cliffs area. They currently have 9 properties ranging in size from 750 square feet cottages to 5000 square feet homes that can sleep up to 15.
Wanderlust Vacation Homes provided us with a family cottage so that we could check out their services. Our Sunset Cliff vacation rental was perfect for our small family and even had its own playscape which kept my son and his friend totally occupied while we mom’s got some down time!
Why Use Wanderlust Vacation Homes?
The great thing about going through a local boutique service like Wanderlust rather than Airbnb is the personalized service you receive as well as potential savings by cutting out the middle-man so to speak. In working with Wanderlust, I was able to ask advice on which property would best suit our needs as a family with a small child. I was also able to meet with Lisa, the owner, upon arrival to get a walk through of the property which was super helpful. This was not just a VIP service, rather is a service that Lisa often provides to guests staying at her properties.
Apart from child friendly amenities at the home we stayed in, cute little touches like s’mores kits, bikes to use, a jacuzzi and wonderful indoor/outdoor settings are common features throughout the homes provided by Wanderlust Vacation Homes making guests feel at home in luxury.
Another great feature of Wanderlust’s San Diego vacation rentals is how each property is supplied with an iPad loaded with local information to make your stay more enjoyable. This is something I always have said I would do if I had my own place to rent out on Airbnb as I find it so valuable being a newbie to the neighborhood or city.
Photo Tour of Wanderlust Vacation Homes
I know that booking home rentals online is often quite overwhelming, so here are some photos of the various properties that Wanderlust offers including the one we stayed in with a kids playscape!
INSIDE THE PROPERTIES
The properties vary from traditional and casual to high end and quite chic.
INDOOR/OUTDOOR USE OF SPACE
While there are a ton of amazing areas to stay in San Diego, we really felt that the Sunset Cliffs area was ideal for a family looking to explore San Diego at leisure. This area is within minutes to some of the city’s main attractions (Sea World and Ocean Beach Pier are both literally down the street!), but far enough away to also leave guests feeling like they were able to relax rather than be part of the daily hustle and bustle of city life. Everywhere we visited was no more than a 15 minute drive with almost no traffic – which for us Angelenos that itself is heaven! I would also highly recommend checking out the properties offered by Wanderlust Vacation Homes as they have a great corner of the market in this adorable neighborhood.
Have you been to San Diego? What is your favorite area to stay in?
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