Best San Diego Neighborhood Guide For Your Friend Group Getaway

As the second-largest city in California, San Diego is the perfect destination for planning a getaway with your whole crew. It’s a diverse destination filled with charming quirks, and a little something for everyone in the group. The neighborhoods that make up the city each bring their own unique spin to the famously relaxed and welcoming California culture, adding to the eclectic local vibe. From the cool surfer feel of Ocean Beach to the club scene of Hillcrest to the lively East Village, get to know some of the best areas in town with our San Diego neighborhood guide for friend-group getaways.

Pacific Beach/Mission Beach (1.2 miles from the hotel)

Your whole squad will have a great time immersing themselves in the classic California beach boardwalks of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach (locally known as PB). You could all easily spend days exploring the area shops, hanging out at the beach bars, and riding the roller coaster at Belmont Park. This coastal community is famous not only for the popular boardwalk, but also for popular eats such as the Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, Cannonball Sushi, and The Mission

Ocean Beach (2.5 miles away)

A laid-back beach town just north of Point Loma, the funky “hippie” neighborhood of Ocean Beach has everything your group needs for the perfect beach day in San Diego. Whether folks want to surf or just soak up the sun, Ocean Beach offers visitors can’t-miss hangouts such as The Pier and Dog Beach. For some post-beach fun, you can all head over to Culture Brewing Co. or OB Noodle House Bar 1502. Fun fact: the film “Almost Famous” was shot in this local neighborhood! 

Mission Hills (4.7 miles away)

Located just north of downtown San Diego, Mission Hills is a historic neighborhood with a modern edge. Take your friends on a walk through this neighborhood, and you’ll discover streets lined with stately homes and mansions. Outside of the residences, visitors will also enjoy an assortment of restaurants, bars, and shops that are slowly transforming the area into one of San Diego’s most desirable areas to visit. Hungry? Don’t miss El Indio, Saffron Thai, or Fort Oak. And the audiophiles among you can still have an old-school record-store experience at M-Theory Music

La Jolla (5.9 miles away)

Quaint seaside towns simply don’t get more charming than La Jolla. Her streets are dotted with shops offering things you simply won’t find anywhere else. The sunsets are the stuff of legend. And for the more adventurous members in your group, the sandstone caves are even explorable via kayak. While there, don’t skip seeing Scripps Pier, the Cave Store, and the famous colony of playful La Jolla seals.  

Hillcrest (6.1 miles away)


Hillcrest is the center of the LGBTQIA+ community in San Diego and is absolutely brimming with incredible nightlife. If anyone wants to dance, then they simply need to open their ears and follow the beat. You’ll all find a world-class farmers market here, as well as outstanding fashion retail. Thirsty? Stop in at Hillcrest Brewing Company — “The First Gay Brewery in the World” — and hoist a few pints of craft beer. You’re also very near the museums of Balboa Park while here, which are amazing destinations for group outings.

Bankers Hill (6.2 miles away)

(Photo: @misterasrestaurant)

Also found near the popular Balboa Park, Bankers Hill is a largely residential community with no shortage of beautiful scenery. Take in the neighborhood views from sky-high restaurant Mister A’s, or enjoy nightcaps at the cozy local wine bar, Wet Stone Wine Bar & Cafe. Those visiting Bankers Hill can also take in the sights of famous Little Italy, just a 15-minute walk away. And speaking of Little Italy…

Little Italy (6.3 miles away)

(Photo: @littleitalySD)

Considered by many to have the best restaurant scene in “America’s Finest City,” Little Italy also has boutique shops you and your friends won’t find anywhere else, the largest farmers market in San Diego, and the gorgeous Waterfront Park, which is popular year round. While there, be sure to stop by the San Diego Firehouse Museum, the M Winehouse (built inside a historic Victorian home), and take a souvenir group snap in front of the area’s landmark illuminated sign.  

Gaslamp Quarter (6.9 miles away)

(Photo: @gaslampquarter)

As you may guess from the name, the Gaslamp Quarter (usually referred to as “Gaslamp District” by in-the-know locals) is one of the most historic neighborhoods in San Diego. Originally established by some of the city’s earliest settlers as an entertainment district, this vibrant collection of restaurants, shops, clubs, and theaters still offers locals and residents alike a never-ending array of options for having a good time. Everyone in your squad will find something to love about this lively area. 

East Village (7.3 miles away)

(Photo: @EastVillageSD)

San Diego’s favorite spot for eating, drinking, and entertainment, the East Village is not to be missed. East Village is a thriving cultural hub filled with countless fantastic bars and restaurants. If there are sports fans among your friends, you’ll also find PETCO Park — the home of the San Diego Padres, as well as concerts and cultural events — in this awesome area. If you’re all looking for a good old-fashioned night of fun out in San Diego, the East Village should definitely be at the top of everyone’s list.

Normal Heights (8.2 miles away)

(Photo: @BlindLadyAleHouse)

Don’t let the low-key name fool you all into thinking this area is a ho-hum place to visit. A hidden gem among San Diego’s neighborhoods, Normal Heights is a diverse combination of families, multi-residential apartments, and students. So you know you’ll find incredible restaurants, unique shopping, and niche coffee shops. You’ll also want to make the trip here for some of the best shareable pizzas in town (don’t miss the pies at DiMille’s, Zia Gourmet Pizza, and Blind Lady Ale House). and the thriving dive-bar scene.

South Park (8.7 miles away)

(Photo: @TheRoseSouthPark)

An eclectic mix of locally owned businesses and restaurants, South Park is a rapidly growing neighborhood located just east of Balboa Park. South Park was one of the first suburbs of downtown San Diego in the early 1900s. Today the neighborhood features a range of boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Stop by to check out the neighborhood favorites, including Kindred, The Rose, and Thread + Seed.

North Park (9.3 miles away)

North Park is among the coolest neighborhoods in San Diego. This hipster’s paradise is a mix of residential and urban areas, and an absolute must-see during your stay in San Diego. Don’t miss out on the bustling area surrounding 30th Street and University Avenue — here, you and the crew can enjoy everything from craft brews and lively brunch spots to live music. 

Barrio Logan (9.8 miles away)

As the art hub of San Diego, Barrio Logan is rich with vibe and history. Barrio Logan is known as an epicenter for Mexican-American culture, full of public art, galleries, and authentic Mexican restaurants. Neighborhood highlights include Chicano Park, Barrio Dogg, and Por Vida. Don’t miss stopping by Mercado del Barrio for authentic art and collectibles, as well as live music and even livelier festivals. 

Coronado (11.8 miles away)

Across the bay from downtown San Diego, you’ll discover Coronado Island — a coastal neighborhood with a unique local flair. Coronado offers visitors some of the city’s best beaches, delectable oceanfront dining, and historic sights. You and your friends should consider touring the island by bike and getting a glimpse of some of the stunning million-dollar homes. Then stop at one of the renowned local restaurants, like Brigantine or Saiko Sushi. And don’t miss stopping at Coronado Brewing for a taste of the local beer culture.

No matter which neighborhood you and your friends plan to visit, The Dana on Mission Bay is the ideal “home base” for your adventures. Visit our Offers & Specials page to check out travel deals like our Brew Hop Package, or the Sea World & Friends offer, and start planning your group getaway!