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Skyline of tall buildings in Downtown San Diego.

Best Neighborhoods in San Diego for Families

Moving to San Diego? Not only is San Diego one of the best places to live on the West Coast—it’s also one of the best places to live near the ocean! With safe urban streets, good schools, tons of parks and playgrounds, and more, here are the five best neighborhoods in San Diego for families!

Carmel Valley

A Spanish Revival Home is pictures. Photo by Instagram user @direppucci.

Photo via @direppucci

  • Home Price: $800,133 median purchase price; $2,041 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 92% of San Diego neighborhoods

Located about 20 miles north of Downtown San Diego is Carmel Valley, one of the best areas to live in San Diego. Families love this neighborhood because it’s one of the safest in the city and close to highly-rated San Diego schools like Carmel Del Mar School and Torrey Pines High School. It’s also the perfect spot for active families since Carmel Valley is within a short drive of the beaches along Torrey Pines, Del Mar, and La Jolla. Residents can also take advantage of great hiking spots at the Carmel Mountain Preserve, with trails leading to an amazing view of the Penasquitos Creek Waterfall! Suburban life blends with urban exploration, as you’ll find restaurants, coffee shops, and more things to do just a short walk away.

Things to Do in Carmel Valley

Sign the kids up for Tang Soo Do Korean Karate, gymnastics, or other classes at Ocean Air Recreation Center. Teach your kids how to skateboard at Pacific Highlands Ranch Pump Track. Get a membership and practice your swing at The Grand Golf Club at Fairmont Grand Del Mar—one of the top golf courses in San Diego! Enjoy an amazing sunset while picnicking at Overlook Park. Grab a Turkey Pesto Sandwich, Parmesan Truffle Fries, or an Arden Pizza from Crust Pizzeria. Sample the Del Mar Roll, Baked Salmon Roll, Spider Roll, and other signature menu items during happy hour at Mizukiyama Sushi! Or try the Mahi Mahi Grilled Fish Tacos, Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, and Spicy Chicken Crispy Sandwich at Bistro 39.

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Del Mar Heights

  • Home Price: $1,102,320 median purchase price; $1,669 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 78% of San Diego neighborhoods

Do you and your family love the beach? Del Mar Heights might be the best place for you to call home. This San Diego neighborhood is nestled right along the coast and is ideal for families who just can’t get enough of the outdoors. Del Mar Heights offers beautiful forest views along hiking trails and paths at Crest Canyon Park—or you can head to Torrey Pines State Beach for diving, snorkeling, and some of San Diego’s best beachside restaurants! And with the Del Mar Fairgrounds nearby, you can have easy access to local events like the San Diego County Fair, featuring live music from famous entertainers, fun rides for the kids, and lots of funnel cake.

Things to Do in Del Mar Heights

Browse the variety of upscale shops and local restaurants at the Del Mar Plaza. Looking for outdoor activities in San Diego? Spend a day soaking up some sun on the beach or riding your bike around Powerhouse Park. See wetland preservation efforts in action and spot a variety of plant and animal species while visiting the San Dieguito Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area. Hike along the coast at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and watch for dolphins in the Pacific Ocean—or play 18 holes at Torrey Pines Golf Course, which is one of the best public golf courses in San Diego! Curb your seafood craving with an Ahi Poke Bowl and order a Roasted Turkey Sandwich for the little ones at Jake’s Del Mar. Try a Carne Asada Torta or Bean & Cheese Burrito from Roberto’s. Grab frozen yogurt and let the kids create their own delicious dishes like watermelon sorbet topped with boba and fresh fruit at Seaside Yogurt. Or pop into Le Bambou to sample Crispy Vegetarian Imperial Rolls, Hot and Spicy Shrimp Rice Noodle Soup, and Cornish Game Hen.

Loma Portal

  • Home Price: $537,748 median purchase price; $1,484 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 38% of San Diego neighborhoods

Want to live close to Downtown San Diego, the San Diego International Airport, and San Diego Bay? Consider Loma Portal! This highly sought-after neighborhood is a top destination for families on the go since it’s located near some of the most exciting family-friendly attractions in San Diego and green spaces like Plumosa Park. Local coffee shops like Kakawa Coffee and Moniker Coffee Co. are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood and make for perfect places to stop for snacks and caffeine. While living in Loma Portal, you’ll also have easy access to Liberty Public Market at Liberty Station, a public market open seven days a week. Loma Portal has affordable housing in San Diego, homes showcasing historic Spanish Revival architecture on tree-lined streets, and friendly neighbors. The area also boasts some of the best schools in San Diego like Loma Portal Elementary and Point Loma High School.

Things to Do in Loma Portal

Have your pick of parks, trails, gardens, culture centers, and more at Balboa Park—including world-famous San Diego Zoo, where you can see everything from pandas to crocodiles. Find even more family fun in San Diego and experience thrilling rollercoasters or see dolphins up close at SeaWorld San Diego. Explore caves, check out scenic spots like Luscomb’s Point, and spend time on the beach at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Visit one of the oldest museums in San Diego to see expansive model displays at the Old Town Model Railroad Depot. Dig into artisan pizzas like The Florentine or The Genovese at Old World Italian restaurant The Venetian. Share a Charcuterie Board or Buffalo Wings with the family while enjoying San Diego’s nice weather at outdoor bar The Presley. Watch the 1950s come alive once again with sassy waitresses, milkshakes, fries, and so much more at the Corvette Diner! Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Banana Split Cupcake or Salted Caramel Cupcake from Cupcakes Squared.

Rancho Bernardo

  • Home Price: $553,456 median purchase price; $1,732 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 94% of San Diego neighborhoods

If you’re looking for the best neighborhoods in San Diego for families, Rancho Bernardo should be on your list. As one of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego, this dense suburban area has single-family homes with large grassy and xeriscaped yards. Here, it’s easy to mingle with neighbors while browsing through fresh, local produce during the year-round Friday Farmers’ Market at Bernardo Winery—or during the short walks to local parks and outdoor recreation spots! And as part of the Poway Unified School District, Rancho Bernardo is home to excellent schools like Turtleback Elementary School and Rancho Bernardo High School, making this San Diego neighborhood a great place to raise kids

Things to Do in Rancho Bernardo

Grab a blanket and head out to free events at the Rancho Bernardo Community Park, like Summer Movies at the Park. Spend a day at Pumpkin Station, a huge pumpkin farm with a petting zoo, corn maze, and tractor rides. Sign the kids up for introductory toddler dance classes or competitive dance at highly-rated Step by Step Dance studio. Dust off the kayak and spend the afternoon at the Lake Hodges reservoir. Savor home-style cooking with dishes like Eggplant Parmigiana and Homemade Lasagna from Mama Cella’s. Enjoy flavorful barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and chicken at Phil’s BBQ Restaurant. Plan a date night and order Braised Short Rib, Loaded Mac & Cheese, and Lamb Pita with a bottle of wine at The Cork and Craft. Or pick up an order of Cookies & Cream Brownies or Cinnamon Rolls from Milk & Honey Bakery!

Rancho Penasquitos

Single story tan house with white trim and red roof in Rancho Penasquitos, San Diego. Photo by Instagram user @jslomahan

Photo via @jslomahan

  • Home Price: $602,482 median purchase price; $1,678 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 93% of San Diego neighborhoods

Tucked between Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos offers a small-town community vibe for families living in San Diego. There’s a strong sense of community through the annual events hosted by the Rancho Penasquitos Town Council, like the Fiesta de los Penasquitos. Kids in this safe San Diego neighborhood are able to attend good schools like Deer Canyon Elementary School and Westview High School, and play at local neighborhood parks. But the most outdoor recreation is found in northeast Rancho Penasquitos, at Black Mountain Open Space Park—where you can hike, bike, and walk over 2,300 acres of land.

Things to Do in Rancho Penasquitos

Let the kids find their inner Picasso through painting, sculpting, sketching, and more art mediums at globalart San Diego PQ. Help your kids find their passion for music with private or group music lessons at Bach to Rock. Make a six-minute drive for a game of H-O-R-S-E on the basketball court, fun on the playground, or lunch at the picnic tables in Views West Neighborhood Park. Test out your skating skills with the family at the Rancho Penasquitos Skate Park. Grab a tasty bagel sandwich like the Golden Scramble, Reuben Bagel Melt, and Tuna Bagel Melt bite at Golden Bagel. Try dishes like delicious homemade pasta dishes like Fettuccini Bolognese for dinner at neighborhood favorite Cafe Luna. Or try delicious Mexican food in San Diego like Carne Asada Fries, California Burritos, and more at Rodrigo’s Taco Shop.


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Neighborhood statistics from AreaVibes

SAN DIEGO, CA 5 Best Neighborhoods for Families.