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Where to Stay and Explore in Downtown San Diego

The people of Expedia love to discover what makes a popular destination, like San Diego, truly unique. They are excited to report their findings on where to stay and explore when visiting Downtown San Diego with their recommended stops at The Headquarters and Seaport Village. This is a fantastic guest blog to help vacationers narrow down the options on what to see and do while they are here. We can't wait for you to check it out!

-Boardwalk Betty

When it comes to deciding where to stay and play on your trip to San Diego, the options can seem overwhelming, thanks to the city’s sprawling postcard-worthy scenery and countless attractions. Here at Expedia.com, we wanted the best of both worlds—access to entertainment and ocean vistas—so we decided to make our home base at the hotels in downtown San Diego, within minutes of the waterfront shops and restaurants.

To help us build our travel itinerary, we teamed up with Seaport Village. Below we’ve listed our favorite ways to spend time in downtown San Diego, from lounging around the hotel pool to eating finger-lickin’ good tacos. 

Hotels Just a Stone’s Throw Away
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is the closest hotel to Seaport Village and the Headquarters, the dining and retail complex. Less than a five-minute walk away, this hotel features guestrooms overlooking the bay, a breakfast buffet, and a sky lounge with striking views of the city. You’ll find not only a family pool, but also an adult-only pool, along with an on-site spa, rooftop tennis courts, and a 24-hour gym.

Another spot for getting some shuteye is The Sofia Hotel. Just under a mile from the village area, this accommodation is within walking distance of the waterfront shops and restaurants. The pet-welcome hotel is equipped with a yoga studio, fitness center, and health spa. Order an in-room massage and sip on coffee from the in-house café before venturing down to the nearby attractions.

For lodging located closer to the heart of downtown, consider the Keating Hotel. It sits northeast of the waterfront area, just a 20-minute stroll away. The historic hotel was built in 1890, and it still has a functioning wired cage elevator, which is the first and longest running one of its kind in San Diego. Since undergoing renovations, the boutique hotel offers spacious guestrooms and suites with walk-in rainfall showers, goose down feather beds, and spa services upon request. Get a good night’s sleep and feel well rested for your San Diego adventures.

Sunny Scenery and Fiery Goodness 
During your stay, get into the SoCal state of mind at Aaron Chang’s gallery, where the photographer showcases his surf-inspired work. Turquoise rip curls, cotton candy-colored sunset skies, and surfers carving waves are just a few of the prominent subjects in Chang’s masterpieces. The Headquarters’ galleryeven displays artwork that incorporates actual surfboards. 

Can you stand the heat while you’re in town? We’re not talking about the weather. Put your taste buds to the test and see how San Diego does spicy. The Hot Licks shop in Seaport Village sells fiery sauces and snacks, which may have you reaching for a glass of milk. The local SoCal store turns up the temperature with a serrano extra hot sauce and habanero chili lime popcorn, and it even claims to have an extract so peppery that you have to sign a waiver before purchasing it.

After exploring some oceanic artwork and practically burning your taste buds off, step outside and soak up the views from Seaport Village’s waterfront. Chances are the sun will be shining and the skies will be clear, so you’ll be able to see straight across to Coronado Island and along the San Diego Harbor. Mosey along the boardwalk and check out the curve of the 2.12-mile Coronado Bridge, and scan the water for cruise ships. You may even catch a glimpse of a curious California sea lion frolicking in the bay. 

Big Bites and Fancy Treats
The San Diego Pier Café in Seaport Village juts out over the water with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, showcasing the harbor scenery and lapping waves below. Ocean views call for seafood meals, and this restaurant serves just that: an array of surf options, including Parmesan crusted tilapia and mahi-mahi paninis. There’s also a selection of turf cuisine, such as BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and vegetable Pomodoro.

For a hefty meal during your stay, head to Puesto and indulge in some authentic Mexican cuisine. Tacos are the name of the game at this Headquarters’ restaurant, where you can mix and match your favorite ingredients—chicken verde and potato soy chorizo are just a few of the many selections. Pair your taco trio with a frozen horchata or shot of tequila, and you’ll feel like you’ve slipped just south of the border.

Round it all out with a dose of sweetness at Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes in Seaport Village. Almost too pretty to eat, these decadent desserts are more than just eye candy, they’re absolutely scrumptious. The salted caramel apple cupcake entices with its apple compote center and caramel buttercream topping, while the s’mores treat dazzles with chocolate cake packed with marshmallow filling and a graham cracker crust. Between the lemon poppy seed and dark chocolate chili pepper, it’s safe to say you might as well order one of each.

When it comes to choosing where to stay in San Diego, the downtown area is the one clear choice. Pick one of these hotels and get ready to spend your vacation exploring the bayside attractions and noshing away at Seaport Village and the adjacent Headquarters.

Written by Expedia Staff Writer