Skyline of tall buildings in Downtown San Diego.

Best Neighborhoods in San Diego for Families

Moving to San Diego with your family? If you’re looking for affordable areas to live that have safe streets, good schools, tons of parks and playgrounds, and family-friendly attractions close by, then you’ll want to check out these five best neighborhoods in San Diego for families!

  • Carmel Valley
  • Del Mar Heights
  • Loma Portal
  • Rancho Bernardo
  • Rancho Penasquitos

Carmel Valley

Tan house with red roof tiles in Carmel Valley, San Diego. Photo by Instagram user @nikolkleinhomes
Photo via @nikolkleinhomes
  • Home Price: $800,133 median purchase price; $2,041 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 92% of California cities

Located about 30 minutes north of downtown 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, has access to highly-rated schools like Carmel Del Mar School and Torrey Pines High School, and has tons of local parks. Additionally, Carmel Valley is within 20 minutes of the beaches along Torrey Pines, Del Mar, and La Jolla, so fun in the sun is easy to get to after school or on the weekends!

Things to Do in Carmel Valley

Hike along the coast at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to watch dolphins, see birds, and get amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Drop the kids off for dance classes at GC Dance Company. Drive to Del Mar to check out the Dinosaur Gallery, where you’ll find a huge assortment of fossils, minerals, crystals, and more. Visit the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to enjoy live music from famous entertainers, fun rides for the kids, and lots of funnel cake! Get your weekend brunch fix at Snooze, where you can try breakfast dishes with an upscale twist like Breakfast Tacos or Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes. Try the Mahi Tacos, Seared Salmon Salad, or Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Bistro 39. Or cool down with unique ice cream flavors like Carmel Corn on the Cob or Green Fennel & Maple at Salt and Straw.

Del Mar Heights

Tan house with lots of windows and brown trim. Photo by Instagram user @mikedayrealestate
Photo via @mikedayrealestate
  • Home Price: $1,102,320 median purchase price; $1,669 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 83% of California cities

Do you and your family love the beach? Del Mar Heights might be the best place for you to settle down! This San Diego neighborhood is nestled right along the coast and is ideal for families who just can’t get enough of the outdoors. With excellent schools like Del Mar Heights School and Del Mar Hills Academy, a friendly community, and tons of outdoor recreation throughout the area, it’s easy to see why families flock to Del Mar Heights!

Things to Do in Del Mar Heights

Practice your swing during 18 holes at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Go hiking or trail running through Crest Canyon Park. Spend a day soaking up some sun on the beach or riding your bike around Powerhouse Park. Head south to La Jolla Cove, where you’ll enjoy some of the Pacific Ocean’s finest diving and snorkeling, great beachside restaurants, and gorgeous sunsets. Grab frozen yogurt and let the kids create their own delicious dishes at Seaside Yogurt. Curb your seafood craving with an Ahi Poke Bowl and order Cheez-It Crusted Chicken for the little ones at Jake’s Del Mar. Or pop into Prep Kitchen to sample Lobster Rolls, Waygu Brats, or Avocado Toast.

Loma Portal

White house with red trim and red roof in Loma Portal, San Diego. Photo by Instagram user @willisallenrealestate
Photo via @willisallenrealestate
  • Home Price: $537,748 median purchase price; $1,484 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 48% of California cities

Want to live close to Downtown San Diego, San Diego International Airport, and the San Diego Bay? Consider Loma Portal! This highly sought-after neighborhood is a top destination for families, thanks to its affordability, its premium location near family-friendly attractions like SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, and its access to top-rated schools like Loma Portal Elementary and Point Loma High School.

Things to Do in Loma Portal

Experience thrilling rollercoasters or see dolphins and orcas up close at SeaWorld. Spend an afternoon at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, where you can see everything from pandas to crocodiles. Visit Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, where you can explore caves, check out scenic spots like Luscomb’s Point, and spend time on the beach. Go back in time with the whole family at Old Town Model Railroad Depot and see an expansive model train display. Dig into award-winning pizzas at old-world Italian restaurant The Venetian. Or stop into the Corvette Diner, where the 1950s come alive once with sassy waitresses, milkshakes and fries, and so much more!

Rancho Bernardo

Single story white house with red trim in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego. Photo by Instagram user @jmmccarthyhomes
Photo via @jmmccarthyhomes
  • Home Price: $553,456 median purchase price; $1,732 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 93% of California cities

If you’re looking for the best neighborhoods in San Diego, Rancho Bernardo should be at the top of your list. Part of the Poway Unified School District, Rancho Bernardo is home to excellent schools like Turtleback Elementary School and Rancho Bernardo High School, so it’s a great place to raise kids. Families will also love the neighborhood’s local parks and outdoor recreation spots, as well as its spacious single-family homes.

Things to Do in Rancho Bernardo

Grab a blanket and head out to Rancho Bernardo Community Park for Summer Movies at the Park. Spend a day at Pumpkin Station, a huge pumpkin farm that has a petting zoo, corn maze, and tractor rides. Get the kids involved at Step by Step Dance, a highly-rated studio that offers classes for even the tiniest of dancers all the way up to competitive dancers. Load up the fishing poles and reel in a big one at reservoir Lake Hodges. Try out Phil’s BBQ Restaurant to enjoy amazing barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. Plan a date night at The Cork and Craft, where you can order Braised Short Rib, Summer Fettuccine, and Pork Tenderloin with a bottle of wine. Or take the kids for customized ice-cream sandwich treats at The Baked Bear.

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 91% of California cities

Tucked between Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos offers a small-town community feel for families within half an hour of the downtown area. Not only is it a safe, affordable neighborhood in San Diego, but it also has good schools like Deer Canyon Elementary School and Westview High School, plenty of green space, and convenient access to I-15.

Things to Do in Rancho Penasquitos

Hike with the kids to the top of Black Mountain Open Space Park to see amazing views of the city. Visit Views West Neighborhood Park to play on the basketball court, play on playground, or have a picnic. Let the kids find their inner Picasso through a variety of art mediums at Global Art San Diego PQ. Spend the day at the Fiesta de Los Penasquitos and participate in arts and crafts. Grab a quick bite at Golden Bagel, a perfect breakfast and lunch spot known for their variety of bagel sandwiches and fresh salads. Have a family feast at Cafe Luna, a neighborhood favorite with delicious homemade pasta dishes like Fettuccine Bolognese and an expansive wine list. Or try Rodrigo’s Taco Shop, a Mexican restaurant hidden gem that serves up everything from Carne Asada Fries to California Burritos.

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Data from AreaVibes

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