Situated along the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is a breathtaking coastal city surrounded by natural beauty – from hidden sea caves and majestic marine life to sandstone formations and scenic cliff sides. The blend of a thriving, urban downtown with unique neighborhoods boasting beach bungalows, tree-lined streets, and green spaces make this city one of a kind.
San Diego is home to many unique, fascinating, and historic neighborhoods. And with all the neighborhoods San Diego has to offer, you may be curious which area you should rent an apartment or buy a home in. If you don’t know which neighborhood is right for you, or even where to begin your search, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are 19 San Diego neighborhoods you may just want to call home.
1. Bankers Hill
As its name implies, Bankers Hill is perched uptown on a hill that overlooks downtown San Diego and enjoys sweeping views of the San Diego Bay. It’s also conveniently situated next to Balboa Park, a beautiful 1,200-acre historic park that’s home to gardens, multiple museums, the San Diego Zoo, and gorgeous open green spaces.
Bankers Hill is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego, with a Walk Score of 94. Strolling through Bankers Hill, you’ll immediately notice that the neighborhood has its own unique character and charm where beautiful historic houses meet its modern and growing business center. There are many newly-added restaurants, coffee houses, and boutiques alongside the wide range of restored homes, such as Victorian, Craftsman, and Queen Anne styles. Those living in Bankers Hill love how easy it is to walk around and explore the area.
2. Carmel Valley
Carmel Valley is a great area to live in if you are looking for a suburban neighborhood in San Diego. This flourishing neighborhood is largely residential, but there are quite a few shopping and dining options for its residents. Carmel Valley is also home to several schools, parks, and recreation facilities. Carmel Valley homes are a mix of single-family homes, large and stunning modern mansions, and many new-construction apartments and condos. Many of these newer construction buildings offer a plethora of amenities for its residents, such as relaxing resort-style pools with cabanas and lounge chairs, and expansive gym facilities.
3. East Village
East Village is an evolving neighborhood conveniently located in downtown San Diego. There’s a variety of local businesses and shops, warehouses, hotels, and sleek high-rise buildings throughout the neighborhood. With Petco Park nearby, you’ll also find plenty of breweries, rooftop bars, and restaurants around East Village. Public transportation in East Village is excellent, and the neighborhood is very bike-friendly, with a Bike Score of 82. You can also get around on foot easily with a Walk Score of 95, so you won’t need a car for daily errands in East Village. East Village is primarily home to a mix of mid-rise and high-rise condos and apartments. Many of these buildings are new construction and offer incredible amenities such as gyms, game rooms, rooftop pools, and more.
4. Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in San Diego. Located in the center of the city, Gaslamp Quarter is the fifth most walkable San Diego neighborhood. With excellent public transportation as well as many bike lanes, getting around the neighborhood without a car is a breeze. Home to Petco Park, hundreds of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, as well as local shops and galleries, this neighborhood has its own unique and energetic atmosphere. However, it’s relatively quiet during the daytime in comparison to the neighborhood’s active nightlife. Gaslamp is also known for being a historic area with a mix of Victorian-style architecture and modern buildings.
5. Golden Hill
Golden Hill is a charming community that’s located just south of Balboa Park and east of downtown, which are easily accessible by foot or public transportation. Because of its central location, the neighborhood boasts gorgeous views of the city, the bay, and the Coronado bridge. This historic San Diego neighborhood is adorned with eclectic and varied architecture. If you take a stroll through the area, you’ll see various home styles, such as Tudor, Art Deco, contemporary, and more, which give Golden Hill its unique character. There’s also a thriving restaurant and social scene here, which can be primarily found on 25th street. From delicious dining options to trendy bars, Golden Hill has plenty of options to choose from. Known for its historic and stunning architecture, Golden Hill is home to a variety of architectural styles, including Victorian, Craftsman, Mid-century Modern, and Spanish Colonial Revival. There is a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, and apartments, as well as a few commercial businesses.
The vibrant and charming neighborhood of Hillcrest is known for being San Diego’s LGBTQ+ hub and for its lively atmosphere, both day and night. For those who love a “Sunday Funday,” a diverse neighborhood, and incredibly welcoming neighbors, Hillcrest may be the San Diego neighborhood for you. You’ll find a plethora of global cuisines, adorable coffee shops, and a wide range of small boutiques and shops. The neighborhood is also home to the weekly Hillcrest Farmers Market, dozens of buzzing bars and nightclubs, and several green spaces within walking distance. Hillcrest is primarily made up of apartments and condos, with some single-family homes as well.
7. Kearny Mesa
Kearny Mesa is a vibrant neighborhood in San Diego with a diverse population. The community is home to various businesses, including restaurants, shops, and services. Kearny Mesa is a predominantly commercial area and is home to many Asian grocery stores and restaurants offering authentic bites, from Korean food halls to delicious dumplings. The neighborhood is also conveniently located to many of San Diego’s attractions, including the zoo, Balboa Park, and the beaches. The homes in Kearny Mesa are varied, but most are single-family homes or small apartment buildings. There are some larger apartment complexes and condominiums in the area, but they are not as prevalent as in other parts of San Diego.
8. La Jolla
La Jolla is a beautiful seaside neighborhood known for its rocky coastline, luxury shops, upscale restaurants, and scenic views. La Jolla is home to some of the most beautiful and well-maintained beaches in San Diego, and several hiking trails that have breathtaking ocean views. Most notably, the area is home to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a 1,750-acre park with hiking trails for all levels, making it a great place for those that enjoy outdoor recreation. Many families, young professionals, and retirees call La Jolla home and enjoy its suburban, residential feel. From Mediterranean and contemporary styles to small bungalows and large mansions, the homes in La Jolla are quite varied. The area has a few condos and apartment complexes, but a majority of the homes are residential single-family homes or large, luxurious mansions, with many featuring stunning ocean views.
9. Little Italy
San Diego’s Little Italy is a historic neighborhood with a vibrant food and drink scene. San Diegans come to Little Italy for a plethora of dining options such as casual eateries and cafes, highly-praised authentic Italian establishments, and trendy upscale restaurants. You’ll quickly find that the neighborhood has a friendly atmosphere, beautiful piazzas with water fountains, and lively restaurant patios line the streets, giving Little Italy its charm. Not to mention, Little Italy is also the most walkable neighborhood in San Diego. The neighborhood also hosts a local farmer’s market each Saturday as well as a range of events and festivals throughout the year highlighting arts, culture, and food.
10. Mira Mesa
Mira Mesa is a large suburban community with a diverse population. The area is home to families of all sizes, young professionals, and retirees – there’s also a strong sense of community in Mira Mesa. There are plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options within the community, as well as outdoor recreation. Located nearby is Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, which has several hiking trails and a beautiful waterfall, making it a great place to enjoy the sun and outdoors all close to your home. There are apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes available in Mira Mesa.
11. Mission Hills
Mission Hills is a great place to live if you would like to be close to downtown San Diego but still have a quiet, suburban feel. The neighborhood is filled with beautiful, historic homes and is known for its tree-lined streets and views of the city and San Diego Bay. As a primarily residential neighborhood, it’s also a great place for families as there are several schools in the area. Most of the homes in Mission Hills are historic and range in style from Spanish Colonial to California Bungalow. Many of the homes have been beautifully preserved and feature unique architectural details.
12. Mission Valley
Mission Valley is home to Fashion Valley, an upscale outdoor mall that has many popular retail stores and restaurants. The neighborhood is conveniently located near many of San Diego’s major attractions and has a variety of entertainment and recreational facilities. Many of the apartment complexes and condos in Mission Valley offer one-stop shopping, dining, and services within walking distance, making it a great neighborhood to call home if conveniences like these are a priority. Because of the multiple shopping centers and dining options, Mission Valley can be a very busy and congested neighborhood that those living all over San Diego pass through.
13. Normal Heights
Normal Heights is a vibrant neighborhood with plenty of trendy restaurants, cafes, and lively pubs. Known for its close-knit community, Normal Heights is a primarily residential and suburban area that’s centrally located to downtown San Diego, the beach, the airport, and attractions such as SeaWorld. Residents love how pet-friendly and walkable the area is, as well as the diversity among those who call Normal Heights home. If you take a stroll down Adams Avenue, you’ll find antique shops, a handful of breweries and tap houses, and several restaurants offering global cuisines. There’s a wide range of homes in Normal Heights, from older historic homes to remodeled and modern townhomes.
14. North Park
Located just northeast of Balboa Park is the trendy, laid-back neighborhood of North Park. You’ll quickly know you’ve reached the area once you see the large neon North Park sign in the middle of University Avenue, which is lined with local coffee shops, craft breweries, and plenty of casual eateries. The restaurant scene in North Park is made up of upscale pubs, delicious taco shops, trendy brunch spots, and international cuisines. With Balboa Park just a few minutes away, there are plenty of green spaces and attractions in North Park. The homes in North Park are mostly small to medium-sized single-family homes and duplexes. Many of these are historic homes that have been renovated and updated, but some still retain their original charm. You’ll also find a few apartments and condos in the area as well.
15. Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach, often referred to as “OB,” is a beachfront community that boasts a vintage, classic Californian beach vibe. Known for its surf culture and Bohemian atmosphere, the neighborhood is made up of unique residential homes, quaint apartments, quirky shops, and casual eateries. Oftentimes you’ll find people fishing off the pier, surfing, soaking up the sun, or playing with their dogs at one of the many dog-friendly beaches. While the style of homes varies depending on the location within the neighborhood, most of the homes in OB are small, single-story houses or bungalows. Many of these homes were built in the early 1900s and have a vintage feel.
16. Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach is known for its laid-back atmosphere and beach culture. With its well-maintained boardwalk, you’ll find plenty of vendors, bars, and restaurants. Many people also run, rollerblade, and walk their dogs along the boardwalk, making it a great area to get outdoors and enjoy the San Diego sun. If the beach is too busy, residents venture over to Kate Sessions Park, where they lounge and enjoy sweeping ocean views. While the neighborhood tends to be more relaxed, Pacific Beach comes to life at night with its prominent bar-hopping scene. The homes in Pacific Beach are a mix of apartments, condos, and single-family homes. Many of the homes are beachfront properties or smaller bungalow homes.
Median Sale Price: $1,499,000
Homes for sale in Pacific Beach
17. Point Loma
Point Loma is known for its rugged peninsula and stunning ocean views. It’s home to the Cabrillo National Monument, the Point Loma Lighthouse, and one of the best spots to view the sunset, Sunset Cliffs. You’ll find a plethora of shops and dining options at Point Loma Marina, people fishing and surfing, and amazing tide pools here as well. But despite being a popular area for tourists and locals alike, the community feels close and tight-knit in Point Loma. The residential area of the neighborhood offers a variety of housing types and an urban feel. The homes in Point Loma are mostly single-family homes, although there are some duplexes and townhomes as well. You’ll find that there are many mid-century ranch-style homes, with a mix of new-construction modern townhomes too.
18. South Park
If you’re looking to live in a neighborhood with a lot of character, South Park is a great option. The neighborhood is known for its hipster culture and unique, independently-owned shops – there are over 70 small businesses in this charming yet eclectic neighborhood. South Park is also home to many restaurants and bars, so there is always a new place to try out. You’ll find a handful of craft coffee roasteries, farm-to-table restaurants, and rustic taverns serving up some of the best burgers. However, with its proximity to Balboa Park, the area can be noisy and crowded, making parking difficult to find. South Park has a variety of housing options. You can find both older and new-construction apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes for sale and for rent.
19. University Heights
University Heights is a charming neighborhood in San Diego with a small-town feel that is also close to all the amenities of a big city. The streets are lined with trees, and the architecture is a mix of Victorian, Craftsman, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. The neighborhood is conveniently located near shops and restaurants, and it’s also just a short walk from Balboa Park. The neighborhood is also home to Trolley Barn Park, which offers plenty of open green space to enjoy on a sunny day and offers live music and movies throughout the summer. If you love cafes and coffee shops, then you’ll be glad to know that there are tons in University Heights, in addition to the handful of restaurants and quirky shops. University Heights is home to a variety of housing types, from single-family homes to apartments and condos. There’s also a mix of home styles, but the most popular styles include Victorian, Craftsman, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles.
Methodology: All neighborhoods must be listed as a “neighborhood” on Redfin.com. Median home sale price data from the Redfin Data Center during October 2023. Average rental data from Rent.com during October 2023. Walk Score, Bike Score, and Transit Score from Walkscore.com during October 2023.