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Guide to San Diego's Beachside Hotels That Dole Out Good Vibrations

  • Beachside Hotels
  • La Jolla Shores Hotel
  • Best Western Plus Blue Sea Lodge
  • Catamaran Resort
  • Beach Terrace Inn
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Southern California’s coastline was the Beach Boys' muse for hundreds of songs. With such inspiration it’s easy to see why Rolling Stone magazine listed the group number 12 on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” At first glance all the beaches seem similar, but a closer look reveals a study in cultural diversity. Each has its own features; San Diego alone offers Del Mar and the dichotomous OB. Industry and urban encroachment has touched some more than others. But most offer luscious sand and a bounty of shoreline hotels. Have a look at the following seaside shanties. One in particular is profiled in the above video.

Pacific Terrace [as seen in video above]
610 Diamond Street San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 581-3500
Aptly named because of its location on a terrace 30 feet above the Pacific. The view aesthetically challenges any hotel in the vicinity. It sits on the quieter periphery of Mission Beach, three miles north of the craziness. All of the 73 guestrooms open onto a private balcony or poolside patio, and a set of stairs from the hotel leads to the beach. Guests can master the waves with borrowed Boogie Boards gratis at the front desk. A laid-back option is beach chairs and umbrellas, also on loan. “The boardwalk,” although more of a cement path, runs directly in front of the property. Four miles long, it’s perfect for skating, jogging and biking; the latter available for rent at the hotel. At the end of a sun-drenched day, whirlpool tubs and plush terry bathrobes await. (Room rates start at $420 per night)

La Jolla Shores Hotel
8110 Camino Del Oro La Jolla, CA 92037 (877) 346-6714
If the Shores Hotel were any closer to the ocean, guests could swim to their room. It sits within the confines of exclusive La Jolla, on two acres of beachfront nirvana. Family owned and operated since 1970, the 128 rooms are fashioned after a Mexican hacienda with red-tile walkways and adobe textured exteriors. The San Diego Underwater Park, a 6,000-acre ecological reserve and marine life refuge, nudges the property. Two artificial reefs lure snorkelers and scuba divers and the kelp beds on the outer edges of the park are popular fishing spots and great for observing seals and birds. Depths up to 600 feet make it perfect for migrating whales. Land lovers will be equally enthralled with all the sand appurtenances on hand at the hotel for relaxing in the sun, or with the courts at the Shores sister property, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. (Room rates start at $339 per night)

Best Western Plus Blue Sea Lodge
707 Pacific Beach Drive San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 488-4700
Eyewitness Traveler vetted this Pacific Beach mainstay and designated it one of San Diego’s “Top 10 Waterfront Hotels.” The 1970’s architecture houses a utilitarian blue and white décor. Seashore affordability is usually an anomaly, but for those seeking a more down-to-earth vacation spot, Best Western obliges. The Surf Package includes accommodations, free breakfast for two, and surf lessons from PB Surf Shop, where they’ve been teaching people to hang-ten for almost 50 years. (Room rates start at $237 per night. The Surf Package $424 per night )

Catamaran Resort
3999 Mission Boulevard San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 488-1081
The Catamaran is the next best thing to a Hawaiian vacation. For 11 years the Polynesian playground has hosted a seaside Summer Sunset Luau. Tuesday and Friday evenings an island theme commandeers the shores of Mission Bay with blazing tiki torches, bartenders waving mai tais and pina coladas, and grass-skirt clad dancers gyrating to Hawaiian Pahus. A roasted Kalua Pig is presented on a bed of pineapple by men wearing wrap skirts and puka shell necklaces. Guests not keen on pork have options of miso glazed salmon and guava chicken. The event crescendos with songs and firey batons, prompting a 100-yard stroll back to the guestroom lanai for a nightcap. (Room rates start at $269 per night. Summer Sunset Luau runs July 26 through September 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. Luau hotel guest rates: $37 for adults, $15 for children, free age 5 and under. Non-guest rates: $58 and $25)

Beach Terrace Inn
2775 Ocean Street Carlsbad, CA 92008 (760) 729-5951
Views of natures crystal blue magnum opus are stunning from this Carlsbad inn. No need for superfluous activities when, outside the guestroom, dolphins leap and pelicans dive for salty treats. Private access to Carlsbad State Beach via stairs allows guests to dip their toes in the onrushing waves. “Towel valets” buzz around the pool deck assisting both chlorine and salt water swimmers. More motivated visitors can practice yoga on the beach with an on-call instructor. The Love Is An Ocean Package includes a picnic basket with imported semi-soft and hard cheeses, crisp flat breads, fruit, nuts and cookies. A complimentary bottle of Beach Terrace Inn family vineyard Monterey County Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon adds a luxe touch. (Room rates start at $399 per night. Love Is An Ocean Package $419 per night)