San Diego is a beach-walker’s paradise. First recognized for its endless miles of soft white sands and year-round mild climate, San Diego was awarded the title “America’s Finest City.” Let the sand of any one of San Diego’s 20+ beaches squish between your toes and you won’t doubt the claim. Today, San Diego is the second largest city in California and home to 1.4 million adventure seekers, earning a new name: San Diego – the City in Motion. As you explore San Diego’s multitude of parks, beaches, museums, and eateries, you’ll get a sense of just how appropriate a title “City in Motion” really is.
Wondering where to stay in San Diego? Stay Alfred travel apartments are all chosen to be just steps from the the city's best attractions, so when you stay with us, excitement is easy to find. Oh, and every Stay Alfred travel apartment comes with not only a personal kitchen but also a private washer and dryer, making sticking to your schedule as simple as ABC.
San Diego’s evolution proves it is truly a city for everyone. Whether you’re in the city for work, windsurfing, family, or simply the chance to experience America’s Finest City, we’re here to provide you with the perfect home base during your stay. Be careful though – a trip to San Diego in one of Stay Alfred’s amenity-packed travel apartments may leave you planning a permanent move.
San Diego Sights to See
It's not easy deciding where to stay in San Diego. The one downside to staying in a city with a beautiful urban sprawl is that no matter how ideal your travel apartment’s location is, it’s impossible to be within walking distance of every awesome attraction. For example, two of the biggest crowd-pleasers in San Diego are the USS Midway Museum and Seaworld San Diego, which are a full seven miles apart. But this sprawl is actually a positive thing. Most cities just have a downtown with a few blocks packed full of everything tourists want to see, but if you want to experience all that the City in Motion offers, a bit of exploring is advisable. So while each of Stay Alfred’s San Diegan travel apartments is within walking distance of a plethora of attractions (discussed below), we want to let you know about the pieces of America’s Finest City that everyone should see – regardless of where they decide to stay. Then, we’ll give you a rundown of our two favorite neighborhoods: The Gaslamp Quarter and East Village.
Now I know we just finished telling you about how San Diego’s urban sprawl means you can’t go to any one place to experience everything. That’s true. But there is one place you can go to experience a lot. Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego and features a world-renowned zoo, seventeen museums covering everything from dinosaurs to automobiles, countless opportunities for outdoor sports, and much more. If you’re trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego, and if it were actually possible to stay within the park, we’d advise that. But,since the zookeepers object to finding people sleeping next to the leopard enclosure, we’ll just say this: If you only have one day in the City in Motion, this is the place to spend it. Balboa Park is where culture and nature come together. See performers in plays, orchestras, heritage dances, and ballets; then explore the lush grounds, including gardens, fountains, forests, and gorgeous architecture from the Spanish Colonial Revival. Plan on spending a good portion of your day here, because there’s simply too much cool stuff to make Balboa Park a quick stop on the San Diego tour.
Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo, one of the best zoos not just in the U.S. but in the world. This 100-acre zoo has a collection of some 3,700 rare and endangered animals spanning 650+ species and an impressive 700,000+ plants in its botanical collection. Just touring the San Diego Zoo is guaranteed to be fun for the whole family, but you can kick it up a notch from there by enrolling in one of the zoo’s “upgraded experiences.” You could spend a couple hours helping socialize the zoo’s two new pandas, Xiao Liwu and Bai Yun, in the Early Morning with Pandas experience. Or you can try out the Animals in Action experience and get up close and personal with some big cats. Not only do you get to watch the cats jump and climb: you’ll get to go behind the scenes to touch, feed, and train some of the animals! Each animal also has a unique personal story you can read/listen to if you want to get some perspective on the animals’ histories. Remember your camera, but keep it out of the lemur’s reach!
Named after John Morley, Balboa Park’s superintendent from 1911 to 1939, the Morley Field Sports Complex has become an essential part of San Diego and the Balboa Park. This complex is called home by many local athletes, from teens playing competitive basketball to adults in a chill co-ed kickball league.Because it’s outdoors, the complex is a chance to experience all the activities that the rest of Balboa Park can’t provide. You could easily spend an entire day in Balboa Park without leaving this one spot. Morley Field Sports Complex offers 25 tennis courts, the Bud Kearns swimming pool, a senior center, a tiny tots play area, group picnic tables, an archery range, and a multi-purpose ball field. Any activity you can’t find in your Stay Alfred travel apartment gym, you can find in the Morley Field Sports Complex. Get in a workout with a familiar sport or head on over to the archery range and take the first steps that lead down the road to becoming a master archer.
For those in your group looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies, Balboa Park is home to the Fleet Science Center. The goal of Fleet is to get all of San Diego to “connect to the power of science,” and they’re doing a good job of it. The Center offers more than 100 interactive exhibits spanning the museum, and it regularly hosts events outside of the museum as well. Check out the Center’s newest exhibit, Pause/Play, which encourages adults to recapture their youth through the nostalgia of playground playfulness while still putting a scientific spin on things. Clock your speed going down a 31-ft slide! See if you can ride a square-wheeled tricycle! Play hide-and-seek...with color distortion lenses! If that isn’t an electrifying enough experience for you, come be a human-battery in It's Electric, an exhibition all about bringing electricity to life. For a less interactive show, you can always become immersed in the big screen in Fleet Science Center’s huge IMAX theater. Enjoy the film!
No, that wasn’t a typo earlier. There really are 17 museums just in Balboa park. Each one of these institutions is worthy of your time, but if we talked about all of them we’d probably be here all night. So let’s talk about three of Balboa Park’s most essential museums. The San Diego Air and Space Museum details the history of planes, rockets, aviators, and astronauts, making it ideal for groups with a hunger for knowledge. While the kiddos have fun in the Kid’s Aviation Action Hangar, you can learn about some of history’s most impressive female pilots from the museum’s special exhibit, American Women of Flight. Of course, our soldiers deserve just as much recognition as our aviators. That’s why Balboa Park also has a Veteran Museum, detailing the accomplishments of the brave men and women who have been so influential in making our country what it is today. The museum honors all who served by preserving their legacies in the form of documented experiences and shared personal stories. Come learn about the exciting adventures of some of the most impressive men and women to ever live, including a multitude of former U.S. presidents. Coming back to more traditional museum themes, we have Balboa Park’s San Diego Natural History Museum. The museum offers historical lessons on California-based wildlife in addition to exhibitions on water supplies, fossil mysteries, the now extinct megalodon, and much more. Although this museum is naturally kid friendly, youngsters can also stay in The Back Yard, an area where kids ages 0-5 can explore and learn about the natural world through play. If none of those museums are for you, don’t sweat it – there are still fourteen left to explore just within Balboa Park.
Clearly, Balboa Park has an almost limitless number of potential activities for you and your crew to take part in; but sometimes you just want a nice quiet place to reflect. That’s why Balboa Park also features the immaculate Japanese Friendship Garden. This garden features traditional Japanese flowers, trees, plants, and architecture. Take a quiet stroll through the grounds of the outdoor gardens and then head inside to look at the fascinating artistic exhibitions the garden hosts, such as Rocco's Amazing Space. The exhibit looks at the work of famed artist Rocco Satoshi, affectionately known as “the father of Japanese street art,” and the gardens also feature work by other notable Japanese artists.
Fun in the Sun
Gleaming white beaches filled with sand so soft it deserves a thread count. Sunny days perfectly balanced with a light breeze. Pleasantly temperate ocean swimming conditions. These are the telltale signs that you’ve made it to America’s Finest City. Have you ever noticed that most popular vacation destinations rely on one of two things to draw people in: either having an exciting city (like Paris) or having beautiful natural surroundings (like Hawaii)? San Diego has both. And now that we’ve shown you to the best indoor attractions in the city, we here at Stay Alfred would be honored to introduce you to the best beaches, hottest hikes, and sealife sights in the City in Motion.
The answer to “what’s the best beach in San Diego” is going to vary based on who you ask. But if you ask any San Diegan native for a list of their top three, you can bet that La Jolla Cove is going to make the cut. Like Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove offers so much to do that you can easily spend an entire day there and not have taken part in half of the total activities the cove offers. Squeal over the cuteness of the sunbathing sea lions and seals. Go snorkeling or SCUBA diving and appreciate the underwater world of La Jolla Cove (wetsuits can be rented for $10–$20 during the cooler months). Want to be on top of the water instead of under it? Head over to the nearby La Jolla Shores for canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding. And if you’d rather look at the water than interact with it, the cove offers a serene “historic coast walk” that takes you down winding trails with mesmerizing views of La Jolla Cove. As with the rest of San Diego, La Jolla Cove has a massive selection of high-class restaurants to choose from when you feel yourself getting peckish. Feeling overwhelmed by the amount there is to see and do in La Jolla? Let this La Jolla Cove Itinerary help you with some of the decision-making.
Of course, not every beach can be as jam-packed with exciting attractions as La Jolla Cove. But that’s for the best, because it also means not every beach is as crowded/popular as La Jolla. Stay Alfred understands that it can be nice to take a step back and have some space to yourself. Does 68 acres sound like enough? That’s the size of the equal parts quiet and lovely Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, which stretches out along the Pacific Ocean. Visitors to the cliffs regularly report seeing California gray whales in the midst of their annual migration, and the height of the cliffs affords some truly inspiring panoramic ocean views. Enjoy solitude and silence as you stroll along Sunset Cliff’s picturesque coastal bluffs and sea caves.
If the only words you’ve cared about in this entire article are “whale watching,” then Stay Alfred has got the deal for you. It’s time to go Whale Watching Aboard America. America is a 138-ft. sailing yacht that is used year ’round to take visitors out to see San Diego’s sleek whales. Whale Watching Aboard America has earned TripAdvisor Hall of Fame status by having a continuous 5-star rating for five years. It’s not hard to see why – last year the company made history by becoming the first whale-watching business in San Diego to have a 100% success rate for whale-viewing on their tours. Moreover, Whale Watching Aboard America is the greenest way to try whale watching, so you get to support the whales’ ecosystem while you watch them! Perhaps best of all, a purchase of a ticket to go aboard America entitles the buyer to free same-day access to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The museum was founded pre-1950 and holds one of the largest and most impressive collections of historic sea vessels in the United States. Just about the only kind of boat they don’t have is a yacht, so it’s good you get to whale watch on America before coming to the museum. Featuring exhibitions you can touch and board, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has sailboats, steam-powered ships, and even submarines!
San Diego’s Best for Last
You’ve already got a list of cool attractions comprehensive enough to keep you thoroughly entertained for days. Surely that’s enough, right? Wrong. Stay Alfred isn’t here to provided you with a place in the city, we’re here to provide you with your place in the city, and that means you need to be as informed as possible. So, outside of beach walks, here are the two attractions we consider to be the most essential to the San Diego experience.
Located in Navy Pier, the USS Midway Museum is one of the only museums in the world that has the museum itself as one of the exhibitions. The museum is literally the massive aircraft carrier USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. That alone makes this museum a must-see. Add in a series of educational programs, fascinating exhibits filled with military aircraft, a theater, and a cafe and gift shop, and what do you get? The most unique museum in San Diego, and perhaps in the world.
If it’s not obvious yet, San Diego excels at anything related to the ocean. So it should come as no surprise that Seaworld San Diego is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the city. How many aquariums also offer amusement park rides like Electric Eel, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in San Diego? How many aquariums let you swim with dolphins, interact with beluga whales, and hang out with penguins? I can only think of this one, and it comes with restaurants, waiting areas, and everything else your group might need during your visit to the aquarium.
Greet The Gaslamp Quarter
Don’t let the other San Diego neighborhoods gaslight you into believing Gaslamp isn’t something special. This is one awesome Downtown neighborhood, with a bumping nightlife. Classy cocktail lounges? Check. Rockin’ dance clubs? Check. Dive bars where you can mingle with locals? Check. Victorian-style architecture that gives the neighborhood a fascinating look by day and an eerily beautiful appearance in the dark? ✔✔✔ Packed into 16 blocks of sheer San Diego fun, the Gaslamp Quarter is a walkable urban playground, complete with a series of original and chain restaurants on practically every corner. Not sure whether you’re in Downtown or the Gaslamp Quarter? No worries; the Gaslamp Quarter Arch marks the official entrance. Retire to one of Stay Alfred’s two Gaslamp Quarter–based travel apartments at the end of the night and bask in all the comforts of home...along with a few bonus comforts.
Meet Stay Alfred on Sixth Ave
There’s no end to the fun you can have in the Gaslamp Quarter, and Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue is the place for those travelers who like to be right in thick of it. You’ll be in the center of the Gaslamp Quarter, with easy access to some truly remarkable sights. But before we get to those, let’s chat about what all you get while you’re in-house. Forget cramped quarters; Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue apartments feature high ceilings and a surplus of square footage. Enjoy the rich artwork and modern style of your San Diegan home, all illuminated by natural light from your apartment’s large windows. What about the building? Eight smooth stories of glass and concrete, and the bottom floor is full of cool stores and restaurants for you to check out. Our decked out indoor/outdoor fitness center lets you choose between soaking up some vitamin D and chilling with the air conditioner while you get your sweat on. Once you’re showered up, come hang out in the 6th Avenue clubhouse (complete with a balcony and full kitchen), or just catch some TV in our downstairs lounge.
Take your time appreciating Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue, but don’t forget to go out and enjoy the Gaslamp Quarter! You’re just steps away from some of the best entertainment in the City in Motion. You can catch a delicious hotdog and watch the San Diego Padres take their bats to some balls at Petco Park, a gorgeous baseball stadium with space for you and 42,444 other fans. If you find the cheering of 40,000+ people to be somewhat overwhelming, you’re in luck – the San Diego Central Library is also within a mile of Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue. Book a tour through 250,000 volumes, and be sure to visit the library’s rare book room as well. To learn more about your immediate surroundings, pop by the Gaslamp Museum, the oldest structure in the Gaslamp Quarter. Speaking of old, the historic Balboa Theatre is as effortlessly classy today as it was in its original construction in 1924. Currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this theater now hosts nationally recognized shows. (Go see one!) To experience art with less movement than you typically get at the theater, check out the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. We’d describe it for you, but the name alone tells you everything you need to know. Finally, for a wild end to the night, check out OMNIA Nightclub and start feeling the beat. Don’t worry about having a drink or two, either – Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue is only a 4-minute walk away.
San Diego never could have earned its reputation as “America’s Finest City” without its huge supply of ethnically diverse restaurants. San Diego is well known for its large number of high-class restaurants offering assorted fun eating experiences. With nearly 4,000 restaurants in San Diego, finding you easy-to-reach delish dining options was a cinch. You don’t have to do much more than roll out of bed to smell the hotcakes being cooked up at Breakfast Republic, a straightforward breakfast spot right on the first floor of your building. As the day goes on, you’ll probably be out relishing San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter. For a lunch or dinner a little on the fancy side, head on over to Lionfish and dig into their fresh-catch seafood and top-notch steaks. (A note for couples: Lionfish’s calm setting and modern stylings make the restaurant a particularly good choice for a romantic date.) But where would San Diego’s fantastic restaurants be without the collection of bars that go right alongside them? Just a two-minute walk from Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue is The Shouthouse, a rollicking bar with dueling pianos that rock the night away. This laid-back pub is the perfect place to have a meet ’n’ greet with regular San Diego citizens and have fun in a low-pressure setting.
Meet Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue
If Stay Alfred on Sixth Avenue is in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, that puts Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue right in the pulmonary artery. And, like our other Gaslamp Quarter travel apartment, Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue has so much to offer you might find it hard to leave the grounds. You’ll experience the impressive Gaslamp Quarter from the comfort of a perfectly placed, plush, Stay Alfred travel apartment. No need to stress out about food or laundry; your apartment comes equipped with both a full kitchen and an in-unit washer and dryer. Building amenities include a courtyard with a large fire pit and accompanying leisure chairs, along with a patio area with cabanas and BBQs. You’ll also enjoy a state-of-the-art fitness center where you can keep up on your workouts. The hidden gem of this property, though,t is a speakeasy cleverly “hidden” on the grounds. It’s not actually too tricky to find, but we’ll leave a little mystery in the air and not point you straight there.
As you might have supposed, Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue is quite close to Stay Alfred on Sixth Avenue. All the Gaslamp Quarter activities that we mentioned in the Sixth Avenue section above, like Petco Park and the Gaslamp Museum, are also easily walkable from Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue. You’re also within a mile of some other pretty sweet spots:The USS Midway Museum is less than a fifteen-minute walk away. If you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket, walk on over to the Westfield Horton Plaza. This six-and-a-half-block shopping center is the perfect place to burn through some time and pick up some souvenirs for friends or family members who weren’t lucky enough to come to America’s Finest City with you. Known for its bright colors, unusual spacing, and quirky architecture, the five-story Horton Plaza is a great place for visitors of all ages and dispositions! There are plenty of places to grab a tasty treat in the shopping center as well. Also within a mile of Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue is the gigantic San Diego Convention Center. The convention center hosts some sort of fascinating show/exhibit/expo almost every day, so it might be worth looking up its events ahead of time. That way, you can coordinate your tour of this fascinating structure to line up with whatever else you might want to check out at the convention center.
When it comes to getting food, you’re going to have a good time. Whatever your favorite ethnic food is, it’s highly likely that you can find it in spades in San Diego. And while everyone has their own preferred style of restaurant, we want to offer up a couple of universally beloved options for you to try without having to wander far from home. Adults who are looking for a chill evening out can check out Bootlegger, an airy hangout offering comfort food and hand-crafted cocktails. Best of all, a visit to Bootlegger means not having to worry about finding an Uber or taxi, because Stay Alfred on Seventh Avenue is less than a five-minute walk away. For couples, we recommend an evening dinner at Sevilla Cafe. This romantic San Diegan restaurant is dedicated to providing authentic Spanish cuisine, culture, and music, and it does a marvelous job of it. Visiting the Sevilla Cafe is like visiting Spain, but without having to pay for an international plane ticket. Between happy hour, periodically offered salsa dance classes, daily doses of “Gypsy-King” music, and flamenco dinner shows on weekends, there’s no bad time to have a date at Sevilla Cafe. Finally, there’s the Punch Bowl Social, a nightclub with something for everyone. Arcade games, karaoke, food, drinks, bowling, board games, card games, giant Jenga, ping-pong, foosball, and billiards. That’s not everything the Punch Bowl Social offers, but those fun activities should give you a taste of what this nightclub is all about.
Greet East Village
Say hello to the neighborhood that was once the punkest place in San Diego. Now, though, we recommend it to families. To this day, there are two sides to East Village. While East Village doesn’t have the punk reputation it once did, the neighborhood is still recognized for its rocking nightlife. That nightlife includes old-school bars, hopping music venues, and hip restaurants. Daytime tends to bring out the more relaxed East Village crowd. With vintage shops to explore, charming boutiques to check out, and all the activities of Gaslamp Quarter within reach, East Village offers a tame place to call home during your stay in San Diego. Don’t let the friendly and quiet nature of East Village fool you though – with 700 businesses including movie theaters, restaurants, and galleries, this neighborhood is anything but boring.
Meet Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue
When you’re done exploring East Village for the day, enjoy an evening of relaxation in your amenity laden Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue apartment. This stylish building’s exterior does justice to what the inside delivers on. In unit, you’ll be equipped with a flat screen TV with free cable, a full kitchen, an in-unit washer and dryer, and every other amenity you can think of. But it’s what you get out of unit that makes Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue truly exciting. We’re talking a courtyard with a firepit, a lounge with a pool table, outdoor BBQ stations, and a sundeck with a TV. That’s in addition, of course, to the community room with ping-pong, and our up-to-date fitness center. So come on down to East Village, book a stay in Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue and feel like you’re in an oasis of relaxation. With everything East Village has to offer, make sure you don’t get trapped in the coziness of your travel apartment!
East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter are neighboring neighborhoods, so many of the attractions mentioned above are easily accessible for those who choose to reside in East Village as well. If you aren’t living in Gaslamp Quarter, that makes a visit to the Gaslamp Museum even more worth the visit. In fact, one ancillary benefit of living in East Village is that you get to explore Gaslamp Quarter while still being able to pull away from it and retreat somewhere quieter if needed. You can also catch a ballgame and t a t-shirt fired out of a canon at the very close Petco Park, the best baseball stadium in San Diego. Part of what makes Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue the ideal travel apartment for families is that it puts you less than a mile from the San Diego Children's Museum, which offers creative classes for kids, along with climbable sculptures and the chance to participate in art. This is the best museum in San Diego for letting kids be kids, and they just might learn something while they're at it.
There's an uncountable number of restaurants and bars just in East Village, let alone San Diego. So let's see if we can't make a nice little restaurant itinerary for your first full day in Stay Alfred on Tenth Avenue. For breakfast, pop up one block to 11th avenue and you'll catch the beautiful scent of Bondar's Coffee and Sweets, a two-for-one bagel shop and coffeehouse with delicious treats on sale daily. For lunch, why not get something a little more substantial at East Village's Hodad's. This quality burger joint boasts about having the best burger in San Diego, and while we haven't quite been to every burger place in America's Finest City, we can vouch for the awesomeness of Hodad's. You might want to order extra napkins. If the adults get the evening to themselves, a romantic dinner at Sevilla Cafe, complete with Spanish cuisine and accompanying culture, might be in order.
Meet Stay Alfred on G Street
Like all good things, your list of top-tier travel apartments in San Diego must come to an end. At this point, you’re familiar with the best activities in San Diego, with an emphasis on activities near apartments in the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village. We know how good those spaces are, and we know if you’re still reading rather than booking, that means you’re looking for a truly special travel apartment.
It is our privilege to introduce you to Stay Alfred on G Street.
This apartment is so amenity laden it’s giving the Ritz a run for its money. We here at Stay Alfred have always had a hard time choosing between a swimming pool and a hot-tub, and if you’re the same way, then Stay Alfred on G Street is for you. The apartment’s swimming pool and hot-tub are the perfect places to work out the kinks after pumping iron in the building’s two-story fitness center. Or, you might want to follow your visit to the exercise rooms up with some chill time in our movie and game room! You could just as easily choose to chill in our clubhouse, or the outdoor lounge with accompanying dining areas … or on the rooftop deck. Enjoy the open floor plan and high ceilings of your unit at Stay Alfred on G Street, and feel free to walk around barefoot – our thick carpeting makes for ultimate foot coziness. With more entertainment options and amenities in house than you’ll know what to do with, Stay Alfred on G Street is perfect for people who like to take advantage of where they’re staying.
Well folks, there you have it. All the information you need to decide where to stay in San Diego. America’s finest city is just a few clicks away. The only thing left to do is decide what to take with you to the City in Motion. Fortunately, we’ve prepared this convenient packing list to give you a jump start on that whole process. Be sure to book your trip directly at the Stay Alfred Website to get the best prices.
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