Basing a San Diego vacation in Mission Beach or Mission Bay has a number of benefits regardless of what kind of traveler you are.
First, let’s talk about where these neighborhoods are as they are often referred to interchangeably.
Where Is Mission Beach?
Mission Beach is a coastal neighborhood bordered by Pacific Beach to the north, Mission Bay to the East, Pacific Ocean to the West, and Ocean Beach to the south.
Finding a Mission Beach hotel can be confusing because online searches also pull up Pacific Beach hotels. The dividing line between Mission Beach and Pacific Beach is not well marked on maps. Therefore, it does make sense to include a few south Pacific Beach hotels on this list as they are very near the action in Mission Beach.
And, since west Mission Bay is in Mission Beach, it makes sense to include Mission Bay hotels on this list as well.
See also: Best Beachfront Hotels in San Diego
Reasons to Consider Mission Beach Hotels
Let’s talk about why you would stay in this part of San Diego.
Most Mission Beach hotels are less than 5 miles from San Diego International Airport. This means that these San Diego hotels are easy to get to and centrally-located to the city’s attractions in downtown and North County.
Mission Beach actually has two beaches. One has beautiful white sand and great waves to surf in addition to a fun boardwalk full of restaurants, shops and even a beachside amusement park (Belmont Park). The other beach surrounds Mission Bay, a saltwater lagoon or bay that is actually the largest man-made aquatic park in the country. The calmer waters here are good for young kids (it can be murky in spots though) and water sports ranging from waterskiing to aqua cycles.
If your family is looking for hotels near SeaWorld San Diego, this famous attraction is located on Mission Bay, too.
One important thing to note is that none one of these options suit luxury travelers. If this is you please read best San Diego luxury hotels.
See also: Best Kid-Friendly San Diego Hotels
Without further ado, here are the best Mission Beach San Diego hotels.
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina
Families love this San Diego hotel as it’s the only one in San Diego with multiple water slides. Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina four walkable blocks to Belmont Park and Mission Beach.
- No bay beach at the hotel
- Mission Bay Sports Center rents jet skis, kayaks, boats, water skis and bikes
- Pillow top Hyatt Grand beds
- Flat screen televisions and iPod docks in every room
- In-room coffee pot by request
- A full-service eco-friendly spa
- Three swimming pools
- Live music at the Red Marlin restaurant every Friday and Saturday
- Seasonal games like hula and Bingo at the pool
- An on-site market with coffee, bagels, snacks and more
- Pool bar and lounge
- Private marina
- Complimentary WiFi
Good to Know: Word on the street is that the rooms need some TLC. You can walk a few blocks to Mission Beach and Belmont Park from the hotel.
For stays of two nights or more, send me an email at [email protected] with your preferred room type and dates. I do have access to value-added amenities here through Hyatt Prive.
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa has the most amenities of any of these Mission Beach hotels (though technically located in Pacific Beach)from a fantastic spa loved by locals to a picturesque and perfect location on Mission Bay beach. The Pacific Ocean beach is also a few minutes’ walk across the street. It’s easy to explore the area by bike which you can also rent at the resort.
The resort is tropical in style so it almost feels like stepping into Hawaii. Dining is excellent especially at the signature restaurant, Oceana, and there are a number of on-property activities to take advantage of ranging from seasonal sunset luaus to chatting with the resort’s resident macaws.
- Seasonal SUP Yoga on the bay
- Summertime luaus and beach movies
- Beachside yoga
- Surfing, sailing and SUP lessons in addition to kayaks and wake boarding
- Beach chairs and umbrellas for guest use
- Beachfront restaurant
- Each guest room and suite has a private balcony or patio as well as water or tropical water views.
- Studios have kitchenettes
- The resort’s Bahia Belle Stearnwheeler boat takes guests on family hour and cocktail cruises
- A really fantastic spa based on Polynesian, Thai and a variety of other South Pacific traditions
- Bicycle and Segway rentals onsite
- Complimentary arcade
- Tropical bird show with resident birds
- Turtles and ducks to look at in the various tropical water features
Good to Know: This is a very popular choice for families. It’s an awesome location for taking advantage of both bay and ocean beaches while also being within walking distance of Pacific Beach restaurants. It is not fancy accommodations by any means. The buildings look a bit run down on the exterior but rooms have recently been refreshed with new Keurigs, beds and decor.
Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
Bahia Resort and Spa
The Bahia Resort Hotel was Mission Bay’s very first hotel and is another very good Mission Beach hotel choice. The Mediterranean-themed resort is located on a secluded 14-acre peninsula that juts out into Mission Bay and has its own private bay beach.
It’s a sister property to The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa which means there is transportation between the two. To get to the ocean at Mission Beach, guests need to walk a pleasant and easy 10 minutes. The walk passes Belmont Park, San Diego’s beachfront theme park, and drops you at the beach and boardwalk.
- Private bay beach
- Rentals of wetsuits, boogie boards and rafts, paddle boats, kayaks, powerboats, wave runners/sea-dos
- Seasonal summer beach concerts and clam bakes
- Complimentary cabanas
- Seasonal kids’ beach activities
- 314-rooms which include beach-front cottages, studios with panoramic views, and spacious bayside suites
- Bayfront suites have direct beach access and Studios offer full kitchens and dining areas
- Driver service to The Catamaran Spa
- Two complimentary lighted tennis courts
- Heated swimming pool with Jacuzzi
- The Bahia Belle Stearnwheeler boat which takes guests on family hour and cocktail cruises
- Pond with ducks and two rescued seals (kids will love them)
- No resort fees and complimentary parking
- A Moroccan-inspired lounge with live music
- Fitness center
Good to Know: The hotel has a reputation for fantastic service and is hailed as great value for money.
Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
Surfer Beach Hotel
Surfer Beach Hotel is in Pacific Beach, steps from the border of Mission Beach. The no-frills hotel sits on the boardwalk, which means that views are spectacular and ocean breezes are guaranteed. Rooms are comfortable and clean. World Famous restaurant is next door which equals easy access to great fish tacos and casual beachfront dining. The building is older but this is certainly one of the most affordable beachfront hotels in the area.
- Family rooms can sleep up to 6 people
- Suites with kitchens and separate living areas are available
- In-room coffee and microwaves are available in some rooms
- Complimentary wireless internet
- Complimentary hot beverages in the lobby
- In-room mini refrigerator
- Ironing boards and hair dryers on request in standard rooms
- Parking is $20
- Heated ocean view swimming pool
- Pets less than 50 lbs are welcome
- Coin-operated laundry
- An activity desk
Good to Know: There are incentives for booking directly through the hotel including the reduced parking rate mentioned above, complimentary bottled water upon check-in, and more.
Awards: 2016 Fido’s Favorite Award Winner
The Dana on Mission Bay
The Dana on Mission Bay is a casual, low-key hotel that also welcomes guests with a tropical atmosphere. It is actually the closest hotel to SeaWorld San Diego and about a mile to the heart of the action in Mission Beach. The 10-acre resort has two main buildings: Marina Cove and Water’s Edge.
- Adventure Watersports rentals which include jet ski’s, powerboats, paddle boats, bicycles (single and tandems), water-skiing, wakeboarding, motor boat rides, wave runners, aqua cycles, paddle boards, kayaks.
- Seasonal youth classes where kids can learn water sports
- Flat-screen HDTVs, refrigerators, microwaves, single cup coffee and tea makers in all rooms
- Wet bar, hand-crafted furniture, balconies and patios, water views in Water’s Edge section
- Pets up to 80 lbs are welcome (maximum 2 per room)
- Firefly restaurant is also pet-friendly
- Bayview infinity pool and spa; tropical pool and spa
- Onsite restaurant and seasonal pool bar
- Private marina with boat slips for hotel guests (reservations necessary)
- Laundry facilities
- Seasonal dive-in movies
- Lawn games
Good to Know: As mentioned above, the ocean beach at Mission Beach is about a mile away but you can walk or ride a bike there easily. It is an older property but also can be great value for money.
Paradise Point Resort and Spa
This secluded tropical resort experience is great for families. Paradise Point Resort and Spa is a 462-room bungalow-style resort set on Mission Bay that was established in 1962 by famous Hollywood Director Jack Skirball. The 44-acre resort actually feels like a secluded tropical island. Over one mile of beach circles the resort with its five swimming pools, tranquil lagoons and lush gardens.
The bay beach here is fun San Diego beach for kids and they do swim here (water can be murky). The ocean beach at Mission Beach requires a 2-mile drive around the bay to get there.
- Bonfire pits
- Beach games like volleyball, bocce ball, and horseshoes
- Beach toys and accessories available for purchase at the Island Market
- Paradise Surf Academy
- Five swimming pools including an adults-only pool
- 462 Balinese-inspired bungalow rooms including 73 suites with private patios, mini refrigerators, and in-room coffee (suites have wet bars and microwaves)
- A full-service marina with sailboats and ski boats
- Wakeboarding, waterskiing, kayaks, paddle boats and fishing
- 18-hole putting golf course
- Five dining venues including two waterfront restaurants
- Award-winning, island-themed spa with kids’ treatments
- Pet-friendly to 15 lbs or less
- Seasonal kids’ club
Good to Know: You’re going to read mixed reviews of this resort but reviews since its recent room renovation have been more on the positive side. The resort is quite large so there can be a decent amount of walking, though golf cart rides are available.
Blue Sea Beach Hotel
Blue Sea Beach Hotel is a good choice for people who want to be on the beach, in the middle of the action and in a recently-renovated boutique hotel. Simply step over the boardwalk and you’ll be on the sand. It’s not the fanciest Mission Beach hotel but it’s comfortable, cute and considered good value for its location and amenities.
- 126 Newly-renovated rooms and suites
- In-room coffee, mini refrigerators, 37″ TVs, free local calls, free WiFi
- Most rooms have ocean views
- Year-round heated pool and spa
- Fresh afternoon cookies and water
- Bike rentals
Good to Know: Pacific Beach is busy here and tends to skew a bit younger but guests report that noise is low in rooms that are away from the street. They also say that the partial ocean view is still fantastic.
Awards: TripAdvisor Hall of Fame
Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa
My daughter and I enjoyed a staycation here with another family (read our Hilton San Diego Resort review). It’s a great option for families who intend to explore Mission Beach and other parts of San Diego as the resort is next to the freeway. It also could be a good choice for those looking to redeem Hilton HHonors points. The Mission Bay boardwalk is right in front of the hotel as is a nice sandy beach. Some rooms have outdoor fire pits for cozy nights and s’mores.
- The Sandbox rents bikes (surreys, beach cruisers, kids bikes and trailers) to ride on the boardwalk and sand toys for use on the beach
- Action Sports Rental at the resort marina rents aqua cycles, Segways, stand-up paddle boards, pontoons and more
- There is a beach volleyball net (balls are available from the front desk)
- Choose between guest rooms, studios and suites (some have bay views) all with luxury bedding, small refrigerators and private balconies or patios
- Waterfront pool and wading pool for young kids
- Poolside cabana rentals and menu service
- Pets up to 75 lbs are welcome
- A nice market and boutique with plenty of grab-and-go food and wine for the room
- Fire pits in some rooms (s’mores kits are available in the market)
- Waterfront dining at Acqua California Bistro
- Full-service spa
- Championship tennis courts
- Seasonal kids’ club
- Seasonal dive-in movies
- Game check-out at the front desk
Good to Know: Like Paradise Point, the Hilton is on the opposite side of Mission Bay from the sand of Mission Beach. It is about a 4-mile scenic car ride around the bay. The upshot is freeway access is easy here.
Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and GreenLeaders Silver Level (for eco-friendly practices), 2016 OpenTable Diner’s Choice award for Acqua restaurant
FYI, booking on Hilton using the Hilton Honors rate (it’s free to join) is almost always the best way to go when it comes to Hilton Hotels in San Diego.