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Best Suburbs of San Diego

Best Suburbs of San Diego

Thinking of moving to the San Diego metro area? America’s Finest City has plenty of amazing suburbs with great arts and entertainment, outdoor recreation, top schools, and so much more. Check out these five best San Diego suburbs!


Tan home with stone facade and Spanish-style roof in Carlsbad, California

Photo via @jodyschmauss

  • Home Price: $674,400 median purchase price; $1,830 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 71% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Bordered by gorgeous beaches and lagoons like Tamarack-State Beach and Terramar Beach, Carlsbad is well known for its natural beauty. This popular San Diego suburb also boasts a wide variety of things to do for people of all ages, from outdoor recreation like golf and watersports to indoor attractions like music venues and museums. Many annual events, like the Carlsbad 5000 footrace and the California Wine Festival, also take place in the suburb. Carlsbad’s amenities—including some of the best schools in San Diego county—are another major draw for people moving to SoCal. Families living in Carlsbad can feel confident sending their kids to quality institutions like Sage Creek High School, Carlsbad High School, and others within the award-winning Carlsbad Unified School District. With a low unemployment rate and local employers in industries ranging from communications to biotechnology, Carlsbad’s job market is also impressive.

Things to Do in Carlsbad

Catch some waves with a rented board, or take surf lessons to hone your skills at SoCal Surf Lessons. Tune in to musical history with exhibits on how instruments are made and used, or jam out to live concerts performed at the Museum of Making Music. Experience more than 60 LEGO-inspired rides and shows, visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium to see sharks, rays, and other ocean creatures, or see model U.S. cities in Miniland USA while spending a day at LEGOLAND California Resort! Tee off at the 300-yard driving range, where golfers of all ages and levels of experience are welcome at Carlsbad Golf Center. See acres upon acres of flowers in bloom each spring, find your way through the Sweet Pea Maze, or marvel at the Butterfly Garden at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. Wake up with a shot of Organic Espresso and a plate of Banana & Blackberry Pancakes or Wild Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast at The Naked Cafe. Take in panoramic views of the SoCal landscape over entrees like Arugula Pizza, Buffalo Pizza, and Chicken Wings at The Camp Store—the only bluff-top restaurant in the San Diego metropolitan area. Dig in to a plate of Pasta Primavera, Linguini O.G.T.B., Capellini Bolognaise, and other delicious Italian food at Gregorio’s. Or chow down on hearty American fare like a Texas Ranch Steak or Baby Back Ribs and enjoy live entertainment seven days a week at The Coyote Bar & Grill.

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Off-white home with green lawn and palm trees in Encinitas, California

Photo via @sethchalnick

  • Home Price: $820,400 median purchase price; $1,791 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 79% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Known as one of the best surf towns in the world—as well as the “Flower Capital of the World” for its many beautiful nurseries and botanical gardens—Encinitas is a truly unique San Diego suburb. Surfing enthusiasts living in Encinitas will love the suburb’s many beaches and surf spots, but riding the waves isn’t the only thing there is to do. Residents can spend their days hiking, relaxing at Moonlight State Beach, visiting art galleries and museums, shopping in the historic “Downtown by the Beach” district, or dining at amazing waterfront restaurants. From family-friendly activities like the Encinitas Street Fair to a thriving nightlife scene, Encinitas has something to offer everyone. Families will be glad to know Encinitas is home to great San Diego county schools like Flora Vista School, Diegueño Middle School, and San Dieguito High School Academy. Meanwhile, commuting young professionals will be glad to know the main San Diego metro area is a straight shot south via the San Diego Fwy, which runs through the suburb.

Things to Do in Encinitas

Get dressed up and attend one of the Friday midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, or see other cult classics like The Big Lebowski at the San Diego area’s oldest theater: La Paloma Theatre. Hang ten or work on your tan at the famous setting of The Beach Boys’ hit song, Surfin’ USA, at Swami’s Beach. Try stand-up paddleboarding like the locals with a rental board from Paddle Planet. Stroll through a four-mile trail of stunning collections of flowers and plant life, see North America’s largest public bamboo collection, or let your kids try the Scavenger Hunt at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Shop fresh produce, get your kitchen knives sharpened, or pick up a fresh bouquet from the Leucadia Farmers Market. Meet friends for an elegant seafood brunch from Herb & Sea, serving plates like Baja Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Avocado Louie Toast, and Shrimp & Polenta. Have a lunch of Yellow Corn Soup, Seared Salmon, or Sea Bass with Potato Pavé at Valentina Restaurant. Or quench your thirst with a Daybreak IPA, Scrimshaw Pilsner, or any of the other 25 beers on tap at Bier Garden Encinitas.


  • Home Price: $583,100 median purchase price; $1,497 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 94% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

People moving to the San Diego metro in search of a low-key lifestyle will love Poway’s peaceful vibe and safe streets. Though the suburb may be laid-back, there are still plenty of things to do and see—from golf courses and hiking trails to restaurants and breweries. Poway is known for its distinct, eclectic vibe, as exemplified by Old Poway Village—a prominent commercial district with a classic country aesthetic. Poway has many practical benefits that make it one of the best suburbs in San Diego. Young professionals moving to SoCal can take advantage of San Diego’s healthy job market and low unemployment rate, and retirees will appreciate the pension benefits offered by the city. Meanwhile, families living in Poway can feel confident in the education their children will receive at great schools like Chaparral Elementary School, Meadowbrook Middle School, and Poway High School!

Things to Do in Poway

Relax by the fountain, check out the Boardwalk Craft Market, or browse the Farmers Market on Saturdays at Old Poway Park. Get season tickets to see live local theatre at PowPAC, Poway’s Community Theatre. Hike through the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve for an intimate look at the local wildlife and SoCal landscape, or trek up Mount Woodson Trailhead to see unique Potato Chip Rock. Book a wine tasting and sample chardonnay, moscato, and other delicious wines all in a gorgeous outdoor setting at Bernardo Winery. Satisfy your Mexican food cravings with Carne Asada Street Tacos, a four-Piece Chicken Plate, or Enchiladas at Don Pollo. Hit up Happy Hour—Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.—and get $5 hand rolls like Spicy Tuna and Shrimp Tempura at Poway Sushi Lounge. Or bring the whole family together for an authentic Italian meal with dishes like Pollo Marsala, Linguini alle Vongole, and Vitello Piccata at Villa Capri.


Gray ranch home with a blue door in Santee, California

Photo via @acropolis_dev

  • Home Price: $363,000 median purchase price; $1,467 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 70% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

About 18 miles inland, Santee is an affordable suburb with a small-town feel and big-city recreation and amenities. From delicious restaurants and cozy breweries, to fun events like the Santee Street Fair & Craft Beer Festival, there are plenty of things to do in this thriving San Diego suburb. Active residents will particularly enjoy abundant outdoor recreation options, since Santee is nestled between Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Mission Trails Regional Park. The area has a lush, forest-like landscape, which sets it apart from other more coastal suburbs. Recreation aside, Santee’s low crime rates, affordable real estate, and a significantly higher-than-average median income make it a popular place to live in San Diego for families. People with school-aged children will particularly appreciate Santee’s great local schools, including Rio Seco School and West Hills High School, as well as higher education opportunities like Grossmont College.

Things to Do in Santee

Camp out under the stars, snap some photos while birdwatching, or go fishing at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. Earn an amazing view of the city when you climb to the top of the scenic Santee Boulders. Sample small-batch vodka, rum, and gin at the tasting room, or buy a bottle to bring home from Copper Collar Distillery. Experience the big screen outside when you pull your car up to watch hit movies at the Santee Drive-In Movie Theatre, which has been family-owned since 1958. Have a hearty breakfast of Steak and Eggs or Biscuits and Gravy at long-standing local staple, Jimmy’s of Santee. Share Fried Egg Rolls to start, then get Tom Yum Soup or Pad Thai for your meal at Sab-E-Lee Santee. See how Santee does barbecue in San Diego when you get a Half Chicken Dinner or Quarter Rib Dinner from Phil’s BBQ. Or sink your teeth into a Bacon Cheese Burger, Teriyaki Burger, or any of the other great sandwiches at Anny’s Fine Burger.

Solana Beach

Mid-Century Modern home with bushes and landscaping in front, located in Solana Beach, California

Photo via @mark_a_silva

  • Home Price: $1,045,900 median purchase price; $1,892 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 88% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families

Solana Beach was voted California’s friendliest beach town and is a fantastic place to call home for people moving to the San Diego area. As a coastal community, Solana Beach’s aesthetic is marked by seaside bluffs, hiking trails like Annie’s Canyon Trail, and beautiful beaches like secluded Tide Beach Park. Alongside this landscape, the neighborhood’s residential areas are full of stunning Contemporary and Mid-Century Modern properties, as well as sleek apartments and condos. This safe San Diego suburb does come at a slightly higher price point than some other surrounding cities, but Solana Beach’s gorgeous real estate, low crime rates, and stellar amenities make it well worth the cost. Additionally, this suburb is highly walkable, so residents can easily travel on foot to delicious local restaurants, fun boutiques, or even the beach. Speaking of getting around, multiple major roadways—like Hwy 101 and the San Diego Fwy—run through Solana Beach, offering quick access to the entire San Diego metro area for commuting professionals.

Things to Do in Solana Beach

Practice your kickflip and other skate tricks at La Colonia Skate Park. Wade in the water, picnic, or take your kids to the playground at Fletcher Cove Beach. Enjoy readings, live comedy, music, plays, and other eclectic and intimate live performances at the North Coast Repertory Theatre. Gather with friends for a private wine tasting of bottles like Russian River Chardonnay and Dry Creek Merlot at Carruth Cellars. Take a step back in time and see the very first Solana Beach home, still full of the original appliances and furniture its owners would have used, at the Solana Beach Heritage Museum. Indulge in fresh seafood prepared as savory entrees, like a Blackened Fish Burrito or Fried Oyster Sandwich, at Solana Beach Fish House. Sample unpretentious lunch offerings like Fish & Chips or The Veggie Burger in a hip, artsy setting at TAVERN. Immerse yourself in an elevated steakhouse experience, with offerings like Spiced Dry-Aged Pork Chop and Australian Wagyu Strip Steak, at Rare Society. Or get reservations to savor fine French-inspired cuisine like Crispy Half Duck or Duo of Game at Pamplemousse Grille.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.