27 cool kid-friendly hotels in San Diego

Last updated on November 24, 2023

Inn at Sunset Cliffs

Our guide to the coolest kid-friendly hotels in San Diego. From stylish San Diego family resorts to hip, boutique hotels, and unique Airbnbs, we have it covered.

San Diego is one of those places that people want to move to (I’ve lost count of how many people have told me this dream!). It’s among the most desirable locations in the USA, blessed with year-round sunshine, a spectacular coastline, and a size that makes it manageable (in comparison to the sprawl of L.A.). It’s popular with residents and tourists alike, and is one of our favourite places to visit in California with kids

We’ve written a full guide to things to do in San Diego with kids (there are so many big ticket family attractions as well as more low-key things to do), and this post is here to help you find somewhere to stay, showcasing all the best family-friendly hotels in San Diego.

First things first, you’ll need to decide which area will suit you best. Do you want to be in the city centre or down by one of the beaches? Or is there a particular attraction, like Legoland, that you want to be close to? I’ve broken down this guide into different areas, detailing the pros and cons, and then suggesting places to stay in each one.

As always, we’re focussing on stylish and unique accommodation, rather than bland and soulless hotels. Sure, we’re recommending a few chain hotels, but all have something special about them.  

So here’s our guide to the coolest kid-friendly hotels in San Diego…

Guide to choosing the best family-friendly hotels in San Diego

Where is the best place to stay with kids in San Diego?

Here’s a run-down of the different neighborhoods in San Diego and why you might want to choose each one for your San Diego family vacation…

Downtown San Diego

If you want to be in the heart of San Diego and closest to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, consider staying in downtown San Diego. This is also where I’d recommend staying without a car.

Ocean Beach

If you’re looking for hotels in San Diego directly on the beach, Ocean Beach is one neighborhood you’ll want to look at. It’s also home to several smaller inns and family-owned hotels, as opposed to the big chains and resorts found in other parts of San Diego.

North Park

If you’re looking for the hipsters in San Diego or are just the type of traveler that seeks out the best coffee shops and breweries, North Park is the neighborhood for you.

Kensington

We loved getting a taste of local San Diego life when staying in Kensington. We were there for Halloween, which was amazing (it’s known for being one of the most OTT Halloween neighborhoods, and we can definitely vouch for that reputation!). 

It’s just north-east of the city centre, and has a somewhat quaint village charm with tree-lined streets, local boutiques, and family-friendly parks.

Del Mar

Del Mar is located in north San Diego and makes an ideal spot for a beach getaway. It’s a bit further from the attractions like the zoo and aquarium but still within easy driving distance.

Mission Bay and Beach

Mission Bay is one of the most well-known areas in San Diego and for good reason. The beach is wide and long and it’s the perfect place for both watersports and relaxation.

Coronado

Coronado is famous for two things – the beach and Hotel del Coronado. It’s known as a “resort city” so you won’t find much here besides hotels and the beach but you’re still close to everything San Diego has to offer.

La Jolla 

La Jolla is, in a word, fancy. It’s known for its gorgeous beaches, upscale boutiques and general chi-chi vibe. It’s a good pick for families as there are some lovely family-friendly beaches with tide pools and the chance to see seals and sea lions. 

Oceanside

Oceanside is located on the northern end of the San Diego coastline and, as the name impliesa, famous for the ocean. The beaches are wide, so perfect for playing in the sand, and it’s a bit more relaxed (and cheaper) than other San Diego neighborhoods.

Carlsbad

Carlsbad is located just outside San Diego, between the city and Orange County. Its biggest draw is Legoland – if you’re planning a visit there, Carlsbad is the most convenient place to stay.

The best kid-friendly hotels in San Diego (by neighborhood)

Kid-friendly hotels in downtown San Diego

Pendry San Diego

It’s probably no surprise that Pendry San Diego is both one of the most hip hotels in San Diego and one of the best for families, as the Pendry chain is well known for a combination of luxury and style.

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Pendry San Diego is located in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. Rooms are bright, modern, and stylish with a classic “California cool” vibe. Of the amenities, perhaps the most important for those traveling with families is the outdoor pool, lined with plenty of loungers and umbrellas to relax under.

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Hard Rock Hotel

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego offers everything you’d expect from a Hard Rock Hotel – crisp, contemporary designs with elements of rock n roll through. While some of the onsite restaurants (like Nobu sushi) may be more appealing to the adults, kids will love Maryjane’s restaurant which serves up classic American food.

Other fun amenities at Hard Rock include the ability to borrow a guitar for your stay, free music downloads to create your own playlist, and a rooftop pool.

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More family-friendly hotels in the Gaslamp Quarter

Two other hotels for families in downtown San Diego worth checking out are the Staypineapple Hotel Z and and the US Grant San Diego.

  • Hotel Z offers a hip and fun atmosphere, as you can probably guess from the bright yellow and blue exterior. The colour scheme continues into the rooms, offering a pop of colour against white and gray walls. We stayed in a Stay Pineapple hotel in San Francisco and loved it.
  • The US Grant is part of the Luxury Hotel Collection from the Marriott chain and well-worth the splurge. The historic hotel is filled with luxurious details, from the blue and gold colour scheme to the amenities and close to all major attractions.

Kid-friendly hotels in Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado is one of the most well-known hotels and resorts in San Diego. Located right on Coronado Central Beach (one of the best beaches in California), it’s also become a bit of a hot spot for the rich and famous, with various Hollywood stars and even U.S. Presidents making it a habit to visit.

The full-service resort has been open since 1888. With kids’ club activities on-site, it’s easily one of the best hotels for families in San Diego – especially if you’re going for a relaxing beach vacation.

Some of the family activities at Hotel del Coronado include movies on the beach, bonfires, virtual reality snorkeling, surf lessons, and an Ocean Explorers program. They also have seasonal Halloween and Christmas activities.

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1906 Lodge Coronado

1906 Lodge Coronado is the perfect option if you’re looking for something a bit smaller than Hotel del Coronado and more of a bed and breakfast feel than a resort.

The charming inn is located just 5 minutes from the beach, so you can take full advantage of a beach vacation while being tucked away in a peaceful oasis. Rooms are spacious and cozy and most of them come with their own fireplace. A large breakfast buffet is included with the stay as well.

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Kid-friendly hotels in Ocean Beach

Inn at Sunset Cliffs

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs is one of the few truly oceanfront properties in San Diego. Recently updated in 2018, the inn offers just 24 rooms for a quieter, more relaxing experience than other hotels in the area. The design of the hotel was inspired by Santorini, Greece with lots of white and blue throughout and epic views from every room.

The heated pool is the perfect place to relax year-round and when you’re ready to venture into the city, you’ll find attractions like Little Italy and SeaWorld nearby.

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More family-friendly hotels in Ocean Beach

Other hotels in Ocean Beach worth checking out are Ocean Beach Hotel, Sea Harbor Hotel, and Half Moon Inn. Ocean Beach Hotel is located right on the ocean, while Sea Harbor Hotel and Half Moon in are located near the marina. All three boutique hotels offer spectacular views, stylish accommodation, and central access to popular attractions.

Kid-friendly hotels in North Park

The Lafayette Hotel and Club

The Lafayette Hotel is a trendy, hipster paradise in the North Park area of San Diego. Rooms reflect the glitz and glamour of the 1940s, with lots of red, greens, and patterns throughout the designs. You’ll even find some four-poster beds.

One of the primary draws to The Lafayette is the pool area. Even if you don’t stay here, you can buy a day pass just to the pool. And they also have a bowling alley!

It’s one of those places where you can bring kids, but the other guest smight raise their eyebrows if they’re particularly noisy!

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North Park Spanish Style Home

For a cosy, private option consider this North Park Spanish Style Home. Bright and spacious, it’s within walking distance to many different attractions and restaurants.

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Kid-friendly hotels in Kensington

We loved getting a taste of local San Diego life when staying in Kensington. We were there for Halloween, which was amazing (it’s known for being one of the most OTT Halloween neighborhoods, and we can definitely vouch for that reputation!). 

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It’s just north-east of the city centre, and has a somewhat quaint village charm with tree-lined streets, local boutiques, and family-friendly parks.

Secret Garden Guesthouse

We loved staying at this secret garden guesthouse in the friendly, residential neighbourhood of Kensington. Susie is a perfect host and has decorated the suite with lots of gorgeous design touches (she’s an interiors expert and it shows!).

The garden is a highlight, filled with lush plants and with a beautiful seating area for relaxing. If you’re there for Halloween, it’s one of the city’s best areas for trick or treating!

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Kid-friendly hotels in Del Mar

Fairmont Grand del Mar

Fairmont Grand del Mar may be one of the best luxury family hotels in San Diego. With a property spanning over 400 acres next to the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, it feels a world away from the busy city.

They offer many different activities for families, including three different pools with underwater music, plenty of sand for building sand castles, cornhole, a Junior Golf Academy and a Kids Dining Program.

The suites and villas are bright and spacious, so there’s plenty of room for the whole family, and kids even receive their own kid-sized robes and slippers. If you feel like having a night in, enjoy playing one of the board games loaned out by the property.

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Del Mar Beach Hotel

Del Mar Beach Hotel is the only beachfront hotel in Del Mar. Open since 1968, the hotel features a coastal chic design throughout the guest rooms and bungalows, which is enhanced by the ocean view available from most rooms.

When you’re ready to hit the sun and sand, just inquire about the boogie boards, beach chairs, and umbrellas available to guests. There’s also a restaurant next door, so you won’t have to wander far for meals.

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Kid-friendly hotels in Mission Bay and Beach

San Diego Mission Bay Resort

San Diego Mission Bay Resort is one of the best family-friendly resorts in San Diego.

Located right on the beach, it has a beautiful pool with plenty of places to relax. And there are plenty of activities to entertain the kids as well, like life-sized checkers, ping pong, and board games. Plus beach bonfires to end the night with a s’mores or two.

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Charming Mission Beach rental

If you prefer a vacation rental to hotels, this 2 bedroom/2 bathroom rental is the perfect option for families in Mission Bay. Light and airy, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a small California beach home.

And beach home it is, with Mission Beach just steps away from the door! There’s a full kitchen and laundry, which is handy if you’re staying more than a few days, but plenty of restaurants nearby as well.

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Kid-friendly hotels in La Jolla 

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is somewhere to splash out on. The Five Diamond luxury resort overlooks a world-renowned golf course with views of the Pacific Ocean and has a classic, old-world elegance. We were lucky to stay in a suite that had no fewer than three fireplaces – one in the lounge, one on the spacious terrace, and another in the bathroom!

It was pure luxury and a wonderful place to kick back and relax, taking advantage of the spa and exploring the nearby state reserve. It’s certainly a treat, but a worthwhile one if you’re celebrating. Rooms start at $329 per night.

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La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores offers everything you’d want from a boutique beachfront hotel. Bright, airy rooms, balconies with incredible ocean views, and an overall laid-back atmosphere, plus an on-site restaurant serving up fresh seafood daily.

This is a great option for families as it’s not as upscale as other La Jolla properties and has a very family-friendly atmosphere. Definitely the spot if you anticipate running back and forth from the beach to the room – aka if you’re traveling with toddlers!

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Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

If you prefer garden vibes to beach vibes, while still being close to the beach, Estancia La Jolla Hotel may be for you. Located between Del Mar and La Jolla, it’s a lush and elegant hacienda-style resort. Despite having over 200 rooms and suites, it feels much more intimate than other nearby properties.

They have an expansive pool area with a heated saltwater pool and whirlpool, plus poolside cabanas and loungers. The spa is the perfect place for tired parents to relax and rejuvenate, and they have rotating events and activities as well.

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More family-friendly hotels in La Jolla

There are many hotels in La Jolla that are ideal for families, but besides the ones above, a few worth checking out include La Valencia Hotel and Spa and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Both are well-known landmarks along the La Jolla coastline and offer outstanding amenities and views.

Kid-friendly hotels in Carlsbad

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa has all the amenities typical of an Omni resort plus lots of fun amenities for the kids. Located just a few miles from Legoland, Omni La Costa is a popular hotel for families in San Diego.

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With just over 600 guest rooms on 400 acres, there’s no shortage of elegance at Omni La Costa. There’s plenty to do for the adults, such as relax in the spa or work on the golf swing, and they do offer a nursery for young children and many kids club activities for older kids.

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Legoland California Hotel

It’s no surprise that the Legoland Hotel makes the list as one of the best hotels for families in San Diego. What could be more exciting for any LEGO-loving kid than to stay in a LEGO-themed hotel room?!

Each room has a different theme, from Pirates to Kingdoms to LEGO NINJAGO. They offer in-room treasure hunts, separate kids sleeping areas, and nightly entertainment for the kids. They also have a heated pool and, most importantly, are just steps away from Legoland.

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Kid-friendly hotels in Oceanside

Seabird

The Seabird Resort is all about seaside living, with lots of open air spaces to enjoy the ocean breeze and views from many of the rooms.

If you’re looking for somewhere to kick back and relax, there’s no better place than The Seabird. Beyond the sea view, the main focus of The Seabird are the pool and spa. The resort was voted both #2 Best Hotel Spa and #3 Best Hotel Pool across the United States by USA today.

For the little ones, they offer a kids club on the weekends plus daily crafts and activities like Build a Stuffed Animal and Tie Dye Shirts throughout the week.

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The Green Room Hotel

Located in South Oceanside near Carlsbad, The Green Room Hotel was recently renovated with a bohemian surf theme running throughout the rooms. They even offer foam surfboards for those who want to hit the waves.

Rooms are clean and bright and offer a laptop workspace, making this a great option for those who have to do a little work on the road. And perhaps the best amenity of all is the cedar hot tub.

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Other kid-friendly hotels close to San Diego

While there are plenty of options for family friendly hotels in San Diego proper and the neighboring communities, if you want to go a bit further outside the city for something a little different, you have a few options.

Rancho Bernardo Inn

With many of the rooms recently updated in 2022, Rancho Bernardo Inn is an oasis tucked away in the hills outside San Diego. The resort spans 265 acres and the rooms are bright and cozy, with wood accents on the ceiling and throughout.

Amenities include a golf course, spa, three pools, and plenty of lawn games for the whole family to enjoy. Those who want to immerse themselves in nature can take advantage of the trails on the resort grounds and surrounding area too.

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Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Also located in the hills overlooking San Diego, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe blends the vintage with the modern. Recently renovated in 2023 by designer Steve Hermann, the ranch features vintage pieces curated from around the world, combined with a modern European flair.

Choose between guest rooms, suites, and bungalows depending on your needs, but either way, you’ll be surrounded by luxurious touches and plenty of space. Many of the rooms even offer fireplaces and semi-private patios and balconies.

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Map of kid-friendly San Diego hotels

Our California travel guides

We also have detailed guides to loads of California destinations that can help you plan even more. They’ll especially suit you if you’re a bit like us, keen on discovering the creative side of a destination and in pursuit of all the best cafes, ice creams, doughnuts, bookshops, murals and beauty spots. And we have lots of family guides if you’re travelling with kids.

Road trips: California Road Trip | Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip | San Francisco to Seattle road trip | San Francisco to Seattle road trip

Handpicked travel guides: Laguna Beach | Mendocino |San ClementeSan Diego  | Santa Barbara  | Santa Cruz|Shasta Cascade and Redding Sonoma |Tuolumne County Yolo County

California family travel guides: California with kidsLos Angeles with kids | Sacramento with kidsSan Diego with kids | San Francisco with kids

California accommodation guides: Joshua Tree Airbnb | Laguna Beach Airbnb | Hip Palm Springs Hotels | Palm Springs Airbnb | Palm Springs VRBO | San Diego Airbnb | Santa Cruz Airbnb | Santa Barbara Airbnb |Santa Monica Airbnb | Sonoma Airbnb | Venice Beach AirbnbHip San Francisco Hotels

California attraction guides: How to get the most out of Disneyland with toddlers | The ultimate guide to Universal Studios with babies and toddlers

If you’re heading elsewhere in the USA or even worldwide, see more of our family travel tips here.

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