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Romance Is in the Air: Where to Staycation in San Diego

Leave reality behind for a weekend with these 6 romantic local getaway ideas


Windansea Beach

Perhaps one of the worst things about living in San Diego is not getting to enjoy it as a vacation destination. Imagine how great it would be if you didn’t have to return home from that relaxing weekend bike ride along Mission Bay or stroll on the Prado in Balboa Park to nagging piles of laundry and other domestic chores you should be doing.

But, lucky us — the advent of online vacation rental platforms like Airbnb are making it easy and super-affordable to have a romantic weekend “getaway” and explore new neighborhoods, leaving real life behind for a few days without spending a fortune.

We put together this list of six short-term rentals across San Diego — most under $150 per night — for a romantic weekend free of travel hassles, but with plenty of getaway fun.


Love in a Loft

The Anchor Loft in the heart of Little Italy is the perfect place to wake up and slip right downstairs for a walk through the Mercato, held every Saturday morning, and pick out primo produce, cheeses and specialty foods at arguably the city’s best farmer’s market. Browse the boutiques, have lunch on the sidewalk patios of one of the fabulous trattorias along India Street—or grab a sandwich from Mimmo’s and picnic on the grass at Amici Park while watching Italian grandfathers play bocce.

For dinner, many of the city’s top-rated restaurants — Herb & Wood, Bracero, Juniper & Ivy — are all an easy walk away, but if you want to stick with the Italian theme, try the upscale Bencotto or the romantic Buon Appetito.

Round out the perfect evening with real Italian gelato from Papalecco’s and maybe a nightcap from Sogno di Vino.


Park West-Side Story

If you and your love share an appreciation for arts and culture, immerse yourself in it at this remodeled historic home just a few blocks west of Balboa Park. Guests rave about its cleanliness and comfort, with a full kitchen and modern bathroom.

You could spend all Saturday in the park, share a bottle of wine and hors d’ouvres in the shade of trees on the patio at The Prado restaurant and make dinner in the well-appointed kitchen. On Sunday, walk through to the east side of the park for brunch at Trust, a hot new restaurant with food to back up its popularity, and enjoy some of the Sunday shows by buskers along the East El Prado—or take a nap in the grass next to the reflecting pool.


Love’s a Beach

Whether you lived in OB in your single days or missed out on the experience, you’ll enjoy the upgraded, but still very casual and comfortable, experience at this ocean-view casita a short walk from the beach.

OB is filled with casual eateries — and that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on the quality of the cuisine. Hodad’s has some of the best burgers in town and a fun atmosphere, or for something a little more upscale, try the Wherehouse for great craft cocktails and unfussy fine food.

If you’re a beer lover, there are numerous craft breweries for a brew-crawl. Just be sure to get back to the casita by sundown to catch nature’s show from the sunset-view terrace, and wind down in the hot tub or around the patio fireplace.

Don’t stay up too late, though. The guest reviews on this Airbnb listing rave about the ultra-comfy California King bed with luxurious bedding.


Cozy Cottage

Just up the coast in La Jolla, this sunnily decorated cottage is the perfect respite from real life. Despite the charming and comfortable décor, the main attraction is two blocks away at Windansea Beach, one of San Diego’s most beautiful and romantic sandy spots.

It’s also close to the great restaurants of Bird Rock — try Beaumont’s for California cuisine or Lupi’s for Italian — but also in the delivery zone for Mandarin House, some of San Diego’s best Chinese food outside the Convoy/Kearny Mesa neighborhood. What’s more romantic than takeout and a movie in a sweet little beach cottage?


Hideaway on the Hill

This cozy retreat in Golden Hill feels like a treehouse — but the advanced amenities are quite civilized. The soaker tub and double shower heads are great for relaxing, and the elevated home offers maximum privacy to escape the world. This is the kind of place to hole up and shut out the world, but if you must go out, there are plenty of things to do — golf at Balboa Park, for instance — and places within easy walking distance to dine. For a slightly weird but truly spectacular dinner, try out Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate, which offers delicious Russian food in an interesting and eclectic space. Or head to Kindred in nearby South Park for fantastic cocktails and vegan food that even the most avid carnivores appreciate.


Heart of the City

If being right in the middle of the action is your idea of romantic, look no further than this condo right in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. The complex has a deck with a pool and hot tub, and right outside the lobby door is all downtown San Diego has to offer — but with an average nightly rate of under $100, the price can’t be beat.

There are always new restaurants and bars to try in downtown, but for a brand new urban entertainment experience, check out the ambiance-filled bars, restaurants, and lounge-style nightclub at the newly opened Pendry Hotel.

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