Less than an hour from the border of Mexico, San Diego is a Californian city with a vibrant historical past and stunning natural scenery. With a warm and dry climate all year round, San Diego is the perfect destination for those interested in outdoor activities.
With 70 miles of pristine beaches and a whole host of family activities, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California, you’ll find plenty of things to do to keep the kids occupied during your Californian holiday.
With the sheer number of things to do in this city, you’re going to need a comfortable base to come back to after a busy day exploring. So, while you start planning your vacay, we’ll help you out with the best vacation rental options in San Diego. From stunning downtown apartments to charming Spanish-style villas, San Diego has it all.
In our list of top recommendations for holiday homes in San Diego, you’ll find a vacation rental suitable for you – no matter what budget you’ve got in mind, or if you’re travelling as a couple or with a huge group of friends, we’ve got something for all types of vacations.
Let’s jump right in…
Quick Answer: These are the Top 5 Vacation Rentals in San Diego
Designer, Modern 3BR Home
- > $$
- > 9 Guests
- > Beautiful designer home
- > Located close to tourist attractions
Sparking Clean Rental, Close to the Beach!
- > $
- > 6 Guests
- > Steps away from the beach
- > Located in Mission Beach
Straight Out of a Fairy Tale!
- > $$$
- > 12 Guests
- > Storybook style home
- > Located in the heart of Pacific Beach
Luxury Family Home
- > $$
- > 6 Guests
- > Stunning Bay and Point Loma views
- > Located in beautiful Mission Hills
4 BR Home For a Group
- > $$
- > 8 Guests
- > Combines two oceanfront units
- > Located in Mission Bay
Unlock Our GREATEST Travel Secrets!
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best travel tips delivered right to your inbox.
Looking for other types of accommodation? Check out our guide to Where to Stay in San Diego!
Types of Accommodation in San Diego
Before we get into our top 20 vacation rentals in San Diego, let’s quickly talk about the most common types of accommodation available to choose from. This should make it easier for you to pick out which type would suit your travel style the best.
Units and Apartments
San Diego’s Downtown is the best place to look for a great self-catering holiday rental, if you’re the type of traveller who likes to be in the midst of all the hubbub. Downtown San Diego is the newer part of the city, and hence is home to more urban developments that are all things modern and convenient.
Of course, Downtown San Diego is also home to the famous Balboa Park. Balboa Park is the perfect combination of Spanish architecture, beautiful museums, and themed gardens that are almost straight out of the sets of The Good Place.
Downtown apartments are great for families or friends who aren’t travelling in large groups. With modern appliances, cozy interiors, and some great city views, be prepared to be wowed by some of these holiday rentals in San Diego’s Downtown area.
Villas and Cottages
If you prefer your vacation base to be somewhere more unique, then a charming cottage or an elegant villa that offers privacy and space will certainly impress you.
The areas you need to consider for these types of vacation rentals are Little Italy, Bankers Hill, and La Jolla.
Little Italy is a great neighbourhood for some smashing restaurants and bars. It is also home to many upscale boutiques and fantastic shopping to take back a little bit of San Diego home with you. La Jolla is a great base for those wanting to explore the stunning Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Beachside Vacation Rentals
Beachside vacation homes are probably the most common type of accommodation available to rent out if you’re considering a vacay in San Diego.
The gorgeous 70 miles of pristine coastline of San Diego attract a fair number of tourists here every year, so it isn’t surprising that the number of beachside vacation rentals has considerably increased over the years. Though with such a huge length of beach, it doesn’t feel too crowded, either.
These holiday homes are great for families and larger groups, as many of these houses can accommodate groups of 8 and above. Location-wise, it is difficult to ask for more stunning views, especially during sunsets.
There are beachside holiday rentals to suit almost all budgets, including some uber-luxurious condos and a few relatively more affordable homes.
The Top 20 Vacation Rentals in San Diego
Now that you know the different types of holiday rentals in San Diego, you’re probably eager to jump into our top 20 recommendations for you. Can’t really blame you there, we’re pretty excited too! Let’s take a look…
Best Overall Holiday Home in San Diego | Designer 3BR Home
With a full, modern kitchen, three bedrooms with queen or king beds, and another king bed in the living room, this home is our best overall pick because of its value for money. The property is also super close to several awesome things to do in San Diego such as Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo, as well as some great dining spots.
The airport is also relatively close by, being only 6.4 kilometres away.
The holiday home also mentions that free parking is available, making this a great choice if you are planning to hire a car in San Diego. The laundry facilities available make it convenient for families travelling with children or infants.
Best Budget Home for a Couple in San Diego | Charming Bungalow
With modern décor elements and all the necessary comforts one expects from a vacation rental in San Diego, this little bungalow is great for a couple travelling on a budget. Located close to some excellent restaurants and bars, this house is located in the perfect spot.
Little Italy and Gaslamp, two very vibrant San Diego neighbourhoods are only a short walk away, giving you the opportunity to explore the city’s rich culture.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is less than a kilometer away, as is the Copley Symphony Hall.
Best Holiday Home with a Jacuzzi in San Diego | Oceanfront Home
This stunning home has king-sized beds in all three bedrooms and boasts of jaw-dropping views from almost every corner of the house. There is a full kitchen with high-end appliances if you decide to whip up a feast. It also has a huge oceanfront deck with a fire pit and a gas BBQ and grill, not to mention the Jacuzzi.
The house features an outdoor shower for you to rinse off after a swim in the ocean. With luxury linen and bedding all supplied, the only thing you need to do is check the availability of this house to make sure you don’t miss out on these insane views overlooking the best beaches in San Diego!
We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.
Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!View on Osprey View on REI
Best Vacation Rental for a Family in San Diego | Luxury Family Home
If you’re travelling as a family, we understand that costs can quickly escalate, and more often than not, it is essential to keep accommodation costs down.
Capable of sleeping six guests in its three bedrooms, plus it has a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and comfortable living space – all for a low price. Well, we’d say this was a steal of a deal for an active family vacation.
Throw in the fabulous views of the city that this place offers, along with three bathrooms so there is no need to fight over who gets to go first in the morning. Parents, I say we have a winner!
Most Unique Holiday Home in San Diego | Exclusive Dome House
If you are the sort that loves staying in a unique place that is a far cry from the usual hotel or motel room, you’re going to fall head over heels in love with the Dome House.
Capable of sleeping four guests, this home is great for two couples travelling together or a small groups of friends or family. With all modern comforts, this place has great valley views and also allows small pets, albeit for an extra fee.
Originally built in 1967 as an Art project, the house was later renovated and opened to short term travellers. If you like unique spaces that offers tons of character, you definitely want to check this one out.
Most Centrally Located Vacation Rental in San Diego | Modern Loft
As mentioned earlier, Little Italy is a great neighbourhood to set up base in when vacationing in San Diego. It has some amazing eateries (including top-rated Filippi’s Pizza Grotto), bars, and boutiques if you want to get a touch of shopping done.
The loft itself comes with free private parking and high-speed Wi-Fi. It also features a fully-equipped kitchen if you want to save some money by not eating out.
The views from the loft overlook the city and the ocean in the distance. With lots of natural light, the loft feels airy and bright. This place is worth checking out if you want a holiday home close to all the tourist attractions.
Best Holiday Rental for a Weekend in San Diego | Oceanfront Home
If you’re in San Diego for a relaxing weekend, it is unlikely that you will be rushing around the city, cramming in all the sights you can see. Instead, you’d probably want to relax by the ocean, sit by a fire pit with your travel buddies and drink some wine. If this sounds like your weekend getaway idea, this home is a perfect match.
With 55’ of direct ocean frontage, a BBQ, and a fire pit, this rental is great for someone who wants to surf or swim and generally relax. This place also features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two-car garage, a fully equipped modern kitchen, and tastefully decorated interiors.
Most Beautiful Vacation Rental in San Diego | 4 BR Home in La Jolla
Measuring almost 3,000 square feet, this vacation rental is spacious enough to give all eight guests enough space during your vacation.
You can enjoy some seriously stunning La Jolla sunsets from the huge deck that looks out onto the ocean. The kitchen is fully stocked with everything needed to prepare a delicious meal from scratch, if you don’t want to dine out in the many nearby restaurants.
La Jolla is great for paddleboarding, kayaking, surfing, and snorkelling, so if you are an outdoor activity enthusiast, you’ll want to stay here. If not, the house has an outdoor, heated, and jetted pool with a swim up bar – this is so luxurious you won’t want to go home!
Most Romantic Vacation Rental in San Diego | Cute Storybook Home
While this house is a large five-bedroom, I couldn’t help including this as the textbook rental for a couple looking for a romantic vacation getaway, because it is so damn beautiful! I mean, look at the picture! Doesn’t it look like a place where the perfect couple lives, leading their absolutely idyllic life?
The interiors are just as stunning as the exteriors, with an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. There’s heaps of outdoor space, with a patio that makes for an ideal place for a glass of wine or cup of tea! Did I mention that there’s a little heated private pool too? Win-win!
Best Beachside Vacation Rental in San Diego for a Group | 3 BR Home
Wanting to vacay in San Diego to hit all the surf spots? This vacation rental is the perfect base for anyone wanting to be near the ocean, being only 100 feet away from the Bay.
The rental is built over two levels and comes with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. With bunk beds in the third bedroom, this would also be perfect for a family.
The bottom level has a fully-equipped modern kitchen, and a dining and living area that opens up onto a patio with outdoor furniture and gas BBQ. The bedrooms are upstairs; the nightly rate includes fresh linen and towels. This is a great budget option for a family or group of friends vacationing together in San Diego.
Best Views in a Holiday Home in San Diego | Luxury 2 BR Home
The first thing you’ll notice about this rental home in San Diego is the drop-dead, gorgeous views. Since it is located in the hills of the city, the views are endless and the sunsets are so picturesque that you might just cry!
The house is a two-bedroom apartment with a king and a queen bed, but the owners also provide two air mattresses. Therefore, if your group isn’t fussy, this rental can sleep up to six people.
The Balboa Park is only a 10 minute walk away, as are the neighbourhoods of Little Italy, Mission Hills, and Bankers’ Hill.
Most Affordably Luxurious Vacation Rental in San Diego | 4 BR Home
Combining two full-sized units into one super luxurious home, this is one holiday home in San Diego that will certainly catch your eye.
Located in the vibrant Mission Bay district, the house has beautiful views from both its patio areas. With four bedrooms, there’s more than enough space for everyone in this almost 3,000 square ft home. There’s also a private BBQ and outdoor shower. And did I mention the cosy fire pit?
Some beach gear is also included, such as boogie boards, beach chairs, towels, and sand toys, if you are travelling with children. It is also worth mentioning that if your group includes only adults, everyone must be above the age of 30 to be able to rent this home.
Most Accessible Holiday Rental in San Diego | 4 BR Home with Views
This four-bedroom vacation rental in San Diego is super accessible for wheelchair users. This is a single-level home with no stairs and wide corridors.
The house itself is built on the edge of a canyon, and has a large backyard with striking views overlooking the hills. The house also comes with a fire pit for those chilly evenings and a hot tub if you want to stay in. If you do venture out, you’ll find most of San Diego’s attractions only a short drive away.
Inside the house, you will find four bedrooms and four bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and an open-plan living and dining space. There is also a Jacuzzi outside.
Best Vacation Rental in San Diego for Relaxing | 3 BR Oceanfront Cottage
If you’re looking for a relaxed setting to your San Diego holiday, may I suggest checking out this absolutely gorgeous oceanfront cottage that has a delightful nautical decor theme!
The patio of this rental has three bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen and outside there are comfortable Adirondack chairs facing the ocean, perfect for sipping a glass of wine while watching the sunset on another beautiful day in San Diego.
Inside, the kitchen is stocked with all the essentials one may need. The backyard is another stunner, with elegant red brickwork, comfortable seating, and a luxurious spa area with your own fountain. Honestly, there’s nothing to not like about this cottage!
Best Overall Holiday Rental in San Diego for a Family | Resort W/ Pool
If you plan on vacationing with your family and will be travelling with kids, you will be hard-pressed to find a better vacation rental than this beauty!
With four bedrooms, there’s heaps of space for the whole family to spread out. There’s a modern kitchen, as well as a home theatre, and a game room. The game room has amenities like a pool table and an electronic dartboard.
The best part of this vacation rental is the outdoor area of this home. With features like a heated pool, LED-lit water fountains, floating toys, a Jacuzzi, a mini golf course for the kids, they won’t want to step out of this paradise.
For the adults, there is a custom built wet bar with beverage coolers and a built-in 70″ high def TV. No one will blame you for wanting to stay in all day!
Best Budget Vacation Rental in San Diego | 6 BR Home near the Beach
Are you the sort of traveller who likes to save on accommodation costs, so that you can splurge on sightseeing in San Diego? If yes, this holiday home rental will tick all the boxes for you.
Capable of sleeping six guests, all three bedrooms have queen beds. The interiors are tastefully decorated with a prominent white décor theme and polished wood ceilings and floors.
Located only a few steps away from the beach, this is the perfect base for you if you love the ocean. Attractions like Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter are also a few minutes away.
Budget Tip: Dorms in San Diego start from $10USD per bed. They’re the cheapest accommodation in the city. Search for hostels in the area!
Best Vacation Rental in San Diego for Friends | Beach-themed 3 BR Home
What’s not to love about this holiday rental located in Imperial Beach! With your own private deck with expansive ocean views, soothing white and blue nautical themed interiors, a fully-equipped kitchen, and everything you could possibly need to be comfortable – this vacation rental has it all.
Capable of sleeping eight guests in three bedrooms, this is the perfect relaxation home for large groups.
While Imperial Beach can be considered slightly away from the main city, you can catch public transport from right outside your front door. This home is the perfect blend of comfort and a great oceanside location.
Best Holiday Rental in San Diego for a Family Getaway | 3 BR Home
If you’ve got a large family or are planning a family reunion in San Diego, this rental would suit you perfectly. With a large pool to keep the kids occupied and a jetted spa pool for the adults, the day will probably slip by before you know it!
The rental also has a full kitchen, with all the modern appliances needed to cook up a proper meal. There are three bedrooms but it can sleep up to ten guests comfortable.
The furnishings are all beautifully co-ordinated and add to the value of the place. If you do venture out, Sea World and other attractions are close by too!
Best Beach Side Condo Holiday Rental in San Diego | Spacious 3 BR Home
Imperial Beach was once voted as the top place to live in San Diego. With cute shopping options, interesting restaurants, and some lively bars, this beachside condo combines the best of everything you look for while booking a vacation rental in San Diego.
This property comes with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a fully-stocked kitchen. There are stunning views overlooking the beaches from the private patio and if you need to work or stream Netflix, it comes with Gigablast WiFi.
Super spacious and just minutes from the beach, this place is perfect for a chilled-out family vacation or a getaway with friends.
Best Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental in San Diego | Bungalow With Patio
If you would rather take your fur baby with you on all your holidays, you’re not the only one! With more pet parents wanting to travel with their pets, we understand the need to include vacation rentals in San Diego that are happy to accommodate your pet. T
his place, called Mermaid’s Cove is the perfect place with a fenced-in patio, to ensure your peace of mind.
The house itself is a three-bedroom, charming bungalow that has all the modern comforts that you may need. It is located super close to Mission Bay and is tastefully decorated in whites and blues.
Don’t Forget Your San Diego Travel Insurance
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.
The best part of a holiday in San Diego, and in all of California to an extent, is the wonderful weather, the diverse range of cultures and cuisines, and the sheer range of activities one can indulge in. Whether it is food, outdoor activities like surfing and swimming, art galleries or simply going out shopping, San Diego has it all.
There’s no dearth of places to suit every budget, and while everyone says San Diego can be expensive to holiday in, there are always ways to work around that. Here are some good guides to get you started.
We hope this list has made it easier for you to decide where to stay. Do you have a favourite from this list? Let us know in the comments.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!