Pacific Beach San Diego hotels suit travelers looking for a casual beach vacation with easy access to nightlife. Four recommendations on this list are oceanfront and one is bayfront, yet steps from the ocean. These five hotels, in our opinion, are the best hotels in Pacific Beach.

Pacific Beach, or “PB,” is a great place to be for the right type of traveler. This lively neighborhood rests between La Jolla and Mission Beach. It’s full of flip-flop-friendly restaurants and bars that cater to the many young people who live here and call Pacific Beach home.

Find them within walking distance of hotels along the beachfront boardwalk—a favorite spot for running, biking, skateboarding, and scootering—or on Garnet Avenue. The vast stretch of beach on both sides of the scenic Crystal Pier attracts sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers alike year-round.

And, you can stay in the thick of it.

Note from Katie: We independently choose all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned are popular with our readers or ones we think offer the best value. If you book through select links, we may earn a commission and appreciate you supporting our business. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.

1. Tower23 Hotel

Address: 723 Felspar Street, San Diego, CA 92109

In-room bathtub in the Tower23 Serenity Suite, a top pick for Pacific Beach San Diego hotels.
Photo courtesy of Tower23 Hotel

Those who prefer boutique hotels should stay at the chic Tower23 Hotel, named after the lifeguard tower 23 in front of the hotel.

It’s a lifestyle property located on the Pacific Beach boardwalk near Crystal Pier. Guests can check out bikes and skateboards to ride, book private yoga sessions, and enjoy in-room spa treatments to round out a perfect San Diego beach vacation (the hotel does not have an outdoor pool).

Inside the 47 comfortable guest rooms and suites, expect minimalist décor and modern amenities like rain showers, flat-screen televisions, and platform beds. You’ll want to opt for beachfront accommodations or an oceanfront suite which put you right over Pacifi Beach to take in the majestic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean from your terrace.

With Happy Hours, a Supper Club and Summer Wine series, the on-site restaurant, JRDN, is also popular with San Diego locals and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu features California cuisine from acai bowls to a raw bar in the evenings. You won’t miss the 70-foot wave wall that reflects the ocean amid color-changing lights. A drink or dinner at sunset on the outdoor patio while perched over Pacific beach is also a treat.

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2. Pacific Terrace Hotel

Address: 610 Diamond St, San Diego, CA 92109

View over the Pacific Terrace Hotel swimming pool to the beach and ocean.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Terrace Hotel

Recipient of the prestigious AAA Four Diamond award, Pacific Terrace Hotel is located on the northern end of the San Diego Pacific Beach boardwalk. Guests rave about this Pacific Beach hotel’s service and comfortable guestrooms, which each have a patio or balcony and Tommy Bahama style décor.

The modest resort fee includes beach chair, umbrella, boogie board, sand toy rentals, pool and beach towels, beverage refreshment station, daily fresh-baked cookies, and two-hour beach cruiser rentals. Extras that guests can book include s’mores and in-room spa treatments.

The heated outdoor pool isn’t large, but the great location of this San Diego beach hotel translates into a spectacular view of the boardwalk and ocean while being steps away from Pacific Beach. Nosh on lighter fare poolside such as a charcuterie board or chips and guac, or enjoy a sit-down breakfast at the brand new Terrace Cafe (open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) which serves up the likes of Lemon Ricotta pancakes and Praline Walnut french toast. 

Surfers tend to stick toward Crystal Pier and north at Law Street Beach, so it’s easier to swim in front of the hotel here. This is also the quieter end of the Pacific Beach boardwalk.

Directly south of the Pacific Beach hotel is where things start to get a little grittier. A few steps north of Pacific Terrace, though, is Law Street Beach, where many La Jollans take their kids to the beach.

They have a garage for self-parking for a fee. I can also speak from personal experience that this San Diego Pacific beach hotel has great customer service from the front desk and beyond. Free Wi Fi (in public areas) is also available.

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3. The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Address: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

An aerial view over the bay and Catamaran Resort Hotel to the ocean and Pacific Beach.
Photo courtesy of Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa.

The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa boasts a prime location steps from the ocean beach and right on a Mission Bay beach, providing guests with the best of both worlds.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly Pacific Beach San Diego hotel, this is the best choice as it offers the most activities of any hotel or resort in the area.

In addition to a full-service spa, fitness center, fantastic on-site restaurant, and pool, guests can take advantage of the myriad water sports rentals. Take a kayak, sailboat, stand-up paddleboard, or powerboat (for water skiing or wakeboarding) and more out on Mission Bay.

Summer activities include luaus, beach movies, and bonfires right the beach. Kids will like the resident tropical birds in addition to the ducks and turtles that cruise around the property’s water features.

Guests also have access to bike rentals on-site to explore nearby Mission Bay Park or ride up the street to Pacific Beach. A grab-and-go cafe ensures you have all you need for a picnic out on Mission Bay or the beach.

It’s a casual three-star resort with rooms that have recently been refreshed. My favorite accommodations there are the ground floor Bay Front Suites for direct access to the sand, Mission Bay, and grassy areas. They are very popular, so if you see one available, grab it.

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4. The Wayfarer

Address: 707 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

A chair on the patio overlooks Ocean Front Walk boardwalk and beachgoers at Pacific Beach.
Photo courtesy of Blue Sea Beach Hotel

The Wayfarer (formerly known as the Blue Sea Beach Hotel) is a no-frills boutique property with 118 guestrooms and 8 suites. It receives high praise for service and a convenient Pacific Beach boardwalk location in the heart of the action.

Along with the name change, the hotel underwent a facelift, and you’ll find surfer chic  San Diego coastal décor in the guest rooms, 65 ″ televisions, Lather bath amenities, and furnished private patios and balconies of which most have an ocean view. 

Of all the hotels in Pacific Beach, few boast direct access to the boardwalk from the pool deck, which also means you’re steps away from Pacific Beach. Did we mention ocean views yet? The heated pool and jacuzzi both boast San Diego ocean views for long, lazy afternoons lounging poolside.

Inspired by the Z-Boys and their skateboarding adventures, Zephyr cafe is also new to this hotel, where breakfast goodies like waffles and breakfast Sammys or quick afternoon bites and snacks along with craft coffee to wash it all down. Looking for a proper sit-down meal? With its great location, there are plenty of Pacific Beach restaurants awaiting within walking distance.

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5. Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages

Address: 4500 Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

Pacific Beach San Diego hotels: Crystal Pier Cottages

Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages sit on the privately owned Crystal Pier and are some of the unique accommodations in Pacific Beach and all of San Diego. Some cottages, depending on the tide, sit over the water.

This historic hotel was completed in 1927 and still draws crowds to this day. There is a two-night minimum stay during the winter, a three-night requirement in the summer, and a four-night minimum on all major holidays, so keep that in mind when booking and planning your San Diego Pacific beach vacation.

Opt for a studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom beach cottage on the pier with private patios overlooking the ocean and beach, kitchenettes, and parking on the pier for one car. Hotel rooms are located in buildings on the boardwalk.

Keep in mind that light sleepers might have trouble with the sounds of the ocean echoing under the pier. Crystal Pier is also open to the public and is one of the best places in San Diego to watch the sunset.

However, after the pier closes in the evening, only hotel guests have key access to it. Reservations open up 11 months in advance, must be made in person or by phone, and fill up quickly.

While there is free WiFi, it is only for web browsing and replying to emails. You must bring your own hotspot if you want to stream videos, the kids want to play online games, or you have to complete any tasks that go beyond basic internet surfing. 

Tips for Booking Pacific Beach San Diego Hotels

Here’s how to further drill down to see if staying at hotels in Pacific Beach is right for your San Diego vacation and some advice for choosing guest rooms.

Hotels in Pacific Beach for Families

Families frequently ask me whether Pacific Beach in San Diego is a good fit, and the answer depends on your tolerances.

Your kids might see and smell things along the boardwalk that might make you uncomfortable, but this is less of an issue on the sand.

It’s a party town, and while gentrifying due to investment and expensive real estate, it can have a spring break atmosphere during peak season. This is fun for some and disruptive for others.

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa’s location on Mission Bay insulates families from many of these issues, however, and I do have families who enjoy the Pacific Terrace Hotel. Check my list of best San Diego family hotels to learn more.

Advice for Luxury Travelers

If you are a luxury traveler who is used to staying in Four Seasons Hotels, for example, I suggest basing yourself in La Jolla or Coronado for a beach vacation. For more information, see which San Diego neighborhood is right for your vacation and best San Diego luxury hotels.

Booking Pacific Beach Hotels on the Boardwalk

Now for some critical advice for booking Pacific Beach San Diego hotels on the boardwalk. Please try to book an oceanfront or ocean view room at hotels along the boardwalk.

In addition to spectacular views, this helps avoid another problem that people face in the Pacific Beach district — noise.

Bars stay open until 2 a.m., and there are many in this area. Rooms at the back of these hotels may hear people and cars otherwise. Request a high floor as well. Put these requests in at the time of booking and follow up a week or so before check-in to reemphasize them.

Using the Boardwalk

All of the hotels on this list, except for The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa (but it’s only a few short blocks away), are located on Ocean Front Walk, aka the Mission Beach Boardwalk or Pacific Beach Boardwalk.

This 3-mile stretch is a fantastic place to jog, walk, or ride bikes, and why the top three Pacific Beach hotels offer bike rentals. It does have a Venice-beach-like atmosphere during the summer, which is positive or negative depending on the type of traveler you are.

In addition to restaurants and bars, on the south end, you’ll find Belmont Park San Diego, our seaside amusement park. You can rent fun gear like surfboards, bikes, inline skates, and skateboards from Belmonty’s there to use on the boardwalk.

Book Your Pacific Beach Hotel Early During Peak Season

Expect to pay a premium for these San Diego hotels during holidays and the summer season. During these times, book as early in advance as possible for the best prices and room selection. This applies to any hotels near the beach in San Diego, CA, and while we’ve included our favorite San Diego Pacific beach hotels above, there are plenty of accommodations in the area, from motels to apartments and larger chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Suites by Marriott San Diego, Fairfield Inn Suites.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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