The Top 10 Neighborhoods in San Diego, California [2021 Edition]

Top 10 Neighborhoods To Live in San Diego, CA

San Diego is an exceptional city, nestled along the Pacific Ocean in the sunny state of California. Known for its stunning beaches, ideal climate, diversity and amenities, San Diego is the type of city you visit and immediately fall in love with.

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There are just over 1.4 million residents who call San Diego home. Dotted throughout the city are numerous neighborhoods offering everything from cozy, suburban-style subdivisions to trendy and iconic urban communities. Below is a glimpse of some of the best neighborhoods found in San Diego and a bit about what makes them so great!


Nestled in the heart of the LGBTQ community is the vibrant and exciting neighborhood known as Hillcrest. Ideally located near many of San Diego’s most attractive amenities, Hillcrest is the perfect neighborhood for those who wish to live among the hustle and bustle of the city.

Real Estate in Hillcrest

Homes for sale in Hillcrest are an incredible mix of upscale condos, luxury apartments, beautiful single-family homes and more. Newly renovated lofts to craftsman-style homes, the Hillcrest community caters to a wide range of buyers.

Hillcrest is considered part of San Diego’s uptown district for the purpose of community planning, which includes neighborhoods such as:

  • Mission Hills
  • Banker Hill
  • Park West
  • University Heights

Education in Hillcrest

There are a number of school districts that serve the students of Hillcrest. Well-rated schools offer exceptional education from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and beyond. Schools located in and near Hillcrest include:

  • Florence Elementary School | 3914 1st Ave, San Diego, CA
  • Francis Parker Lower School | 4201 Randolph St #1398, San Diego, CA
  • St. Vincent de Paul School | 4077 Ibis St, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Hillcrest

Hillcrest is ideally located near many of San Diego’s best amenities and attractions. From medical services to exciting parks and recreation facilities, Hillcrest residents are a stone’s throw away from both everyday necessities and unique city features.

Some amenities and attractions surrounding Hillcrest include:

  • UC San Diego Medical Center
  • Scripps Coastal Medical Center Hillcrest
  • Balboa Park
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Riverwalk Golf Club

There are a wide variety of restaurants and shops dotted throughout the neighborhood as well. Grocery stores, pharmacies, boutiques and more are mixed among delicious eateries, bars and restaurants.

Popular options in Hillcrest include:

  • Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
  • Cocina De Barrio
  • Hash House A Go Go
  • Walgreens
  • CosmoProf
  • Village Hillcrest
  • WholeFoods

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Carmel Valley

A beautiful, family-friendly community, Carmel Valley is located about 30 minutes north of San Diego’s downtown. Considered one of the top neighborhoods in the city, Carmel Valley is a quiet and safe community that is highly sought after.

Real Estate in Carmel Valley

A suburban planned community, Carmel Valley is a mix of residential and commercial real estate. The majority of homes for sale in Carmel Valley range from beautiful condominiums, spacious townhomes to expansive single-family detached dwellings.

Prices for homes for sale in Carmel Valley can range from the mid to upper $600K’s for a modest condo unit to well into the multi-million dollar range for luxury single-family properties.

Education in Carmel Valley

There is an overlay of a number of school districts that serve students of Carmel Valley. The northern section of the community is served by the Solana Beach School District, whereas the southern portion is offered education by the Del Mar Union School District. High school education is administered by the San Dieguito High School District.

Schools located near Carmel Valley include:

  • Ashley Falls Elementary School | 13030 Ashley Falls Drive, San Diego, CA
  • Ocean Air Elementary School | 11444 Canter Heights Drive, San Diego, CA
  • Solana Pacific Elementary School | 3901 Townsgate Dr, San Diego, CA
  • Del Mar Pines Elementary School | 3975 Torrington St, San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Valley Middle School | 3800 Mykonos Ln, San Diego, CA
  • Pacific Trails Middle School | 5975 Village Center Loop Rd, San Diego, CA
  • Torrey Pines High School | 3710 Del Mar Heights Rd, San Diego, CA
  • Canyon Crest Academy | 5951 Village Center Loop Rd, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Carmel Valley

There are so many things to see and do in Carmel Valley! The beautiful community lies just 20 minutes from the stunning beaches of Torrey Pines, La Jolla and Del Mar. For those who enjoy further outdoor activities, Carmel Valley is filled with plenty of opportunities such as the Torrey Pines State Natual Reserve. The expansive park offers beautiful trail networks to hike throughout.

The community is also home to a number of restaurants and shops which residents enjoy frequenting. Popular options include:

  • Snooze
  • Bistro 39
  • Salt and Straw

Located at the corner of El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Road is a light commercial plaza that offers a wide variety of retailers and stores. Shoppers can choose from:

  • Rite Aid
  • Lululemon
  • Ralphs
  • Tillys

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Rancho Penasquitos

Rancho Penasquitos is a charming and friendly community that falls between Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo. A safe and affordable neighborhood, Rancho Penasquitos offers attractive housing opportunities for young families, seniors and working professionals alike.

Real Estate in Rancho Penasquitos

The majority of homes for sale in Rancho Penasquitos are single-family detached dwellings. A large number of the properties are spacious two-level homes with single-story homes mixed throughout. A variety of styles can be found including modern bungalows and Spanish-inspired exteriors.

Prices vary in Rancho Penasquitos depending on size, style, location and condition of the property. Generally, homes begin over the $1 million mark and climb along with size.

Education in Rancho Penasquitos

There are a handful of excellent schooling options which serve the students of the Rancho Penasquitos community. The Poway Unified School District governs the schools located in the neighborhood and offers education for students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Schools located in Rancho Penasquitos include:

  • Canyon View Elementary School | 9225 Adolphia St, San Diego, CA
  • Deer Canyon Elementary School | 13455 Russet Leaf Ln, San Diego, CA
  • Rolling Hills Elementary School | 92128, 15255 Penasquitos Dr, San Diego, CA
  • Park Village Elementary School | 7930 Park Village Rd, San Diego, CA
  • Black Mountain Middle School | 9353 Oviedo St, San Diego, CA
  • Mesa Verde Middle School | 8375 Entreken Way, San Diego, CA
  • Mt. Carmel High School | 9550 Carmel Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA
  • Westview High School | 13500 Camino Del Sur, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Rancho Penasquitos

Located in the northeastern portion of San Diego, residents of Rancho Penasquitos are only roughly 30 minutes from downtown. They are able to quickly access the city’s business district, bay areas and many popular attractions, restaurants and shops.

Closer to home, there are a handful of excellent recreational opportunities, as well as shopping and dining options to choose from. In the northern section of the neighborhood, the Black Mountain Open Space Park offers exceptional outdoor adventures which include sightseeing, birdwatching and hiking.

Other parks located in Rancho Penasquitos are:

  • Adobe Bluffs Neighborhood Park
  • Twin Trails Neighborhood Park
  • View West Neighborhood Park
  • Rancho Penasquitos Skate Park

A few stores and retailers are located within Rancho Penasquitos such as Vons and Armstrong Garden Center. Further shopping is only a short distance away and can be quickly reached via the Ted Williams Freeway, which runs through the community.

Some popular restaurants in Rancho Penasquitos include:

  • Cafe Luna
  • Golden Bagel
  • Rodrigo’s Taco Shop

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Del Mar Heights

Nestled along the stunning coastline is the beautiful neighborhood of Del Mar Heights. An upscale community, Del Mar Heights offers exception views and access to the ocean, a safe and welcoming atmosphere and some of the best schools, recreation areas and more found in San Diego.

Real Estate in Del Mar Heights

Homes for sale in Del Mar Heights are on the higher end when it comes to real estate in San Diego. Due to its ideal location and great views or access to the beach, homes generally see asking points that start over $1 million.

There is a mixture of styles and sizes available for prospective buyers to choose from in Del Mar Heights. From expansive single-family detached homes to luxury waterfront townhomes, the real estate landscape is varied.

Education in Del Mar Heights

The Del Mar Unified School District governed primary level education (K-6) for students who reside in the neighborhood. Dotted around the community are other schools which also serve students.

Schools located in and around Del Mar include:

  • Del Mar Heights School | 13555 Boquita Dr, San Diego, CA
  • Del Mar Pines School | 3975 Torrington Street, San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Del Mar School | 12345 Carmel Park Dr., San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Creek Elementary School | 4210 Carmel Center Road, San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Valley Middle School | 3800 Mykonos Lane, San Diego, CA
  • Torrey Pines High School | 3710 Del Mar Heights Road, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Del Mar Heights

Del Mar is an outdoor enthusiast’s perfect neighborhood! Filled with recreational opportunities at every corner, residents of Del Mar can quickly enjoy hiking, biking, beaches and golfing! A few of the recreational areas around Del Mar include:

  • Torrey Pines Golf Course
  • Crest Canyon Park
  • Powerhouse Park
  • La Jolla Cove

Shopping and dining are easily accessed and thanks to the San Diego Freeway, all areas of the city can be reached quickly. Just a few minutes from home, residents can find grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, medical offices, and a plethora of restaurants. Popular dining options are:

  • Board and Brew
  • Jake’s Del Mar
  • Prep Kitchen
  • West End Bar & Kitchen

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Loma Portal

A family-friend neighborhood, Loma Portal is ideally located near downtown San Diego as well as the San Diego International Airport. Both affordable and safe, Loma Portal attracts families, singles, and seniors.

Real Estate in Loma Portal

Loma Portal is an older, established neighborhood which was originally developed in the early 1900s. Many of the homes are filled with character and showcase red clay tile roofs and stucco exteriors.

Prices vary in Loma Portal depending on the size and style of home. Generally, homes for sale in Loma Point fall between the mid to upper $600K’s to well over $2 million+. Everything from cozy, entry-level bungalows to sprawling modern estates can be found in Loma Point.

Education in Loma Portal

Loma Portal is ideally located near many excellent rated schools which offer students education from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The San Diego School District covers the jurisdiction of Loma Portal.

Schools located in and around Loma Portal include:

  • Dewey Elementary School | 3251 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA
  • Loma Portal Charter School | 2911 Cadiz Street, San Diego, CA
  • Florence Elementary School | 3914 1st Ave, San Diego, CA
  • Francis Parker Lower School | 4201 Randolph St #1398, San Diego, CA
  • St. Vincent de Paul School | 4077 Ibis St, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Loma Portal

Though located near the San Diego International Airport, Loma Portal residents rarely worry about air traffic noise besides using the “Point Loma pause”, which is a break in the conversation when a plane goes by.

Within the community, there are numerous shopping and dining options. Filled with light commercial areas, residents of Loma Portal can quickly run errands. Shopping centers located in Loma Portal include:

  • Midway Towne Center
  • Sports Area Shopping Center
  • Loma Square

Loma Portal set amongst the city’s most exciting activities! The world-famous San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, beaches, and parks are all within minutes of the community. Many restaurants and nightlife opportunities are also easily accessible from Loma Portal and include:

  • The Venetian
  • Corvette Diner
  • Slater’s 50/50
  • Cafe Coyote

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North Park

North Park is a centrally located neighborhood falling just northeast of downtown San Diego, beside Balboa Park. A vibrant and dynamic neighborhood, North Park is extremely attractive to young working professionals and those who love urban living.

Real Estate in North Park

Homes for sale in North Park, San Diego are a mixture of condos, townhomes and single-family dwellings. Being an urban neighborhood, property is hard to come by, however, there are options for homes which feature beautifully manicured lawns and greenspace.

Depending on the style and size of homes, prices range in North Park. Entry-level condos can be found just below $300K, whereas spacious single-family detached homes begin over $1 million and can quickly climb depending on size.

Education in North Park

There are a handful of schools which are located in North Park serving students from Kindergarten through senior year in high school. Both private and public options are plentiful in North Park and include schools such as:

  • McKinley Elementary School | 3045 Felton Street, San Diego, CA
  • Jefferson Elementary School | 3770 Utah Street, San Diego, CA
  • The French Montessori School of San Diego | 4011 Ohio Street, San Diego, CA
  • Alba Middle School | 4041 Oregon Street, San Diego, CA
  • Alba High School | 4041 Oregon Street, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby North Park

North Park is centrally located offering residents access to many hot spots around San Diego. Directly to the southwest of the community is Balboa Park. The popular urban park is home to a slew of amenities such as:

  • Balboa Park Golf Course
  • Grape Street Dog Park
  • Morley Field Disc Golf Course
  • Balboa Tennis Club
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum

The trendy and thriving neighborhood is also home to some of the best eateries in the city. Residents enjoy being able to stroll down any number of the community streets and choosing from delicious bars, restaurants, bistros and more. Popular options include:

  • The Mission
  • The Friendly Tavern
  • HOPE 46
  • Pomegranate
  • Craft House Burgers
  • North Park Beer Company

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Mission Beach

A laid-back community, Mission Beach is a beautiful coastal neighborhood. Prime oceanfront location and stunning views make Mission Beach a popular and sought-after community. The epitome of “beach living”, Mission Beach attracts full-time residents as well as vacation property owners.

Real Estate in Mission Beach

The vast majority of homes for sale in Mission Beach are townhomes or row houses. These space-saving homes offer buyers prime locations, many of which are set directly oceanfront. There are a few luxury properties which can be found throughout the area. These homes are generally large, private and have some of the best views in the city.

Real estate in Mission Beach is considerably higher than in other areas of the city due to the location. Generally, homes for sale in Mission Beach begin past the $1 million point.

Education in Mission Beach

Though there are no schools directly located in the Mission Beach neighborhood, students need not travel far. Just north of the community, in Pacific Beach, is a handful of well-rated schools that offer excellent education.

Schools located near Mission Beach include:

  • Pacific Beach Elementary School | 1234 Tourmaline St, San Diego, CA
  • Barnard Elementary School | 2445 Fogg St. San Diego, CA
  • Pacific Beach Middle School | 4676 Ingraham St, San Diego, CA
  • Mission Bay High School | 2475 Grand Ave, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Mission Beach:

The most obvious draw for residents considering the Mission Beach neighborhood is the direct access to the ocean. Homeowners are able to quickly reach the stunning coastline and enjoy the sun-drenched shores.

Nearby other famous attractions include:

  • Mission Bay
  • SeaWorld
  • Fiesta Island Park

Dotted along Mission Blvd are a handful of tasty restaurants and trendy bars to choose from. Residents can take their pick of locations such as:

  • Olive Cafe
  • Miss B’s Coconut Club
  • NoW Sushi
  • The Mission

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Torrey Pines

Spanning roughly 2,600 acres, the Torrey Pines community falls along the northern coast of San Diego. From stunning beaches to world-class golf, Torrey Pines is a highly desirable, family-friends neighborhood.

Real Estate in Torrey Pines

Homes for sale in Torrey Pines are typically spacious, single-family dwellings. The family-friendly neighborhood is filled with one and two-story homes that have comfortable lots and plenty of living space!

Prices vary in Torrey Pines, considering factors such as size, location and condition. Entry-level condos and townhomes fall on the lower end of the spectrum, whereas larger, detached homes are over $1 - $2 million.

Education in Torrey Pines

The Del Mar Unified School District administers education to the students who reside in Torrey Pines. There are two elementary schools located in the neighborhood with middle and high schools falling nearby.

Schools in and around Torrey Pines include:

  • Del Mar Heights School | 13555 Boquita Dr, San Diego, CA
  • Del Mar Pines School | 3975 Torrington Street, San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Del Mar School | 12345 Carmel Park Dr., San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Creek Elementary School | 4210 Carmel Center Road, San Diego, CA
  • Carmel Valley Middle School | 3800 Mykonos Lane, San Diego, CA
  • Torrey Pines High School | 3710 Del Mar Heights Road, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Torrey Pines:

Torrey Pines is a great neighborhood for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. Parks, golf courses, beaches, trails and more are all ideally located nearby. Popular recreation areas throughout Torrey Pines include:

  • Torrey Pines Golf Course
  • South Fork Trailhead
  • Black’s Beach
  • La Jolla Trail

Interstates 5 and 805 both offer quick access to downtown San Diego and surrounding communities. Those traveling for work or play can reach many attractions throughout the city such as SeaWorld, the San Deigo Zoo, and Balboa Park.

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Rancho Bernardo

Considered a top San Diego neighborhood, Rancho Bernardo is a beautiful and friendly community that offers excellent real estate options, a great location, a slew of recreation options, restaurants, and much more.

Real Estate in Rancho Bernardo

One of the reasons Rancho Bernardo is a popular neighborhood for families is that it falls under the highly-rated Poway Unified School District. Home to excellent schooling options, students enjoy a wide range of extracurricular as well.

Schools located in and around Rancho Bernardo include:

  • Turtleback Elementary School | 15855 Turtleback Road, San Diego, CA
  • Westwood Elementary School | 17449 Matinal Road, San Diego, CA
  • Stone Ranch Elementary School | 16150 4S Ranch Parkway, San Diego, CA
  • Oak Valley Middle School | 16055 Winecreek Road, San Diego, CA
  • Bernardo Heights Middle School | 12990 Paseo Lucido, San Diego, CA
  • Rancho Bernardo High School | 13010 Paseo Lucido, San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Rancho Bernardo

A master-planned community, Rancho Bernardo is filled with family-friendly activities for all ages. The expansive Rancho Bernardo Community Park offers open green space, play equipment and routinely hosts events such as summer movies in the park.

To the southwest of the neighborhood is the Black Mountain Open Space Park which is filled with opportunities for hiking, biking, sightseeing and more.

For shopping and dining opportunities, Bernardo Center Drive is filled with options for residents to choose from. Tasty meals can be found at locations such as:

  • Rubio’s Coastal Grill
  • Rancho Viejo Mexican Food
  • Urge American Gastropub
  • The Shop: Pizza & Cocktails

View All Homes For Sale in Rancho Bernardo, CA >>>

Gaslamp Quarter

A lively downtown neighborhood, Gaslamp Quarter is a perfect area for those seeking a hip and trendy urban setting. Filled with beautiful condos, redesigned lofts and more, buyers can easily find a perfect home in Gaslamp Quarter.

Real Estate in Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter is a downtown neighborhood and as such the majority of the real estate is either condos, lofts or townhomes. Beautiful buildings and trendy units are abundant and range in size.

Depending on what one is in the market for, homes for sale in Gaslamp Quarter can range from the mid to upper $200K’s for an entry-level condo to over $1 million for a stunning penthouse suite.

Education in Gaslamp Quarter

Though no schools are directly located within the neighborhood, there are a handful of well-rated schools which are close by. Students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 can attend schools such as:

  • Perkins Elementary School | 1770 Main Street, San Diego, CA
  • Sherman Elementary School | 301 22nd Street, San Diego, CA
  • King-Chavez Community High School | 201 A Street, San Diego, CA
  • East Village High School | 1313 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA
  • San Diego High School | 1405 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA

What’s Nearby Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter is centrally located in the city and is within walking distance to a handful of restaurants, nightlife venues, stores, services and more. Residents of the community enjoy strolling throughout the city streets and stopping at popular venues along the way. Restaurants include:

  • Werewolf
  • Cafe 21
  • The Westgate Room
  • Pokez Mexican Resturant
  • The Broken Yolk

Residents of Gaslamp are also ideally close to the city’s many popular parks including Petco Park, and the impressive Balboa Park which is home to a ton of great recreational opportunities such as golf, disc golf, tennis and more.

View All Homes For Sale Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, CA >>>

Regardless of which neighborhood you are interested in, one thing is certain, San Diego is filled with some amazing options. From family-friendly, suburban-style communities to trendy, urban neighborhoods, the city boasts a place for all. Known for acceptance and diversity, there is no wrong choice when it comes to picking a San Diego neighborhood. Check out or latest blog post on living in Golden Hill, San Diego - Another amazing neighborhood.

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