The Best Time to Visit San Diego Beach Hotels - 2 Dads with Baggage

The Best Time to Visit San Diego Beach Hotels

San Diego residents know that the best time to visit San Diego beach hotels may not be the summer. The summer months – all school break months really – are consistently popular with visitors. With that popularity comes more people and higher hotel rates, which is understandable to anyone who has learned about supply and demand.  As San Diegans, this is why we love to schedule staycations at local hotels. We know there will be fewer visitors from out of town, which means a quieter experience and lower costs.

This is not to say there aren’t great perks for visiting San Diego in the summer, or during other popular vacation times. It’s just that the beaches we know and love as locals are more accessible during the off-season. We recently had the opportunity to test out this theory with a fantastic staycation at the Tower 23 Hotel. Tower 23 sits right on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, with the sand and ocean just steps away. It was the perfect proof that the best time to visit San Diego beach hotels might be in the Fall and Winter months.

The beach is just across the boardwalk and down a wooden staircase.

If you are wondering how the hotel got it’s name, it’s paying homage to the beach. The hotel is built near the Tower 23 lifeguard station, perched on the sand outside the hotel. Lifeguard stations in San Diego are numbered starting in La Jolla and heading south. There are 44 total.

When is the Best Time to Visit San Diego Beach Hotels?

If you love San Diego and you’re looking for a quieter way to enjoy all the city has to offer, we suggest the best time to visit San Diego beach hotels is definitely the Late Fall/Early Winter. Not only are the crowds smaller, the weather is still amazing. In fact, the weather is better in the Fall than most of the Summer in San Diego due to local atmospheric phenomenons. Locals call it “May Gray” and “June Gloom” for a reason, because these two months are downright cold and cloudy. San Diego’s Summer does not really blossom until September, and the balmy weather and sunny skies last all the way into November and even December.

Average San Diego temperatures in May and June hover in the high 60s and low 70s Fahrenheit. The number of sunny days during these months is greatly reduced due to a marine layer that forms off the coast. Overcast days are caused by the warm air coming west from the desert areas when it meets the colder air above the ocean water. The condensation that results from this turns into low clouds.

Watching the sunset from Tower 23 Hotel is one of the highlights of staying here.

In September, October and into November, the ocean water is warmer and the desert air starts to cool. In these conditions, the clouds don’t form easily and days are sunny and clear. This is when locals like us head out to San Diego beach hotels to enjoy what our city is famous for – our laid-back beachy lifestyle.

Visit San Diego Beach Hotels

There are so many great hotels in La Jolla and San Diego, it can be hard to choose. Do you want a city center experience? Downtown San Diego or the village of La Jolla may be your best bet. Are you looking for a big brand hotel like Hilton and Marriott to redeem or earn loyalty points? There are certainly many wonderful options for that scattered across Greater San Diego.

But when it comes to beachfront hotels in San Diego? The choices become more narrow as your desired proximity to the sand and surf grows more important. In reality, there are very few hotels in San Diego that are really truly beachfront. Beachfront is what we wanted, and when we reviewed our list of options we chose to stay at Tower 23 Hotel for the first time.

As the sun begins to set in the West, the lighting gives Tower 23 Hotel a warm glow.

Tower 23 Hotel is the Ideal San Diego Beach Hotel

There are several reasons why we chose to stay at Tower 23 Hotel:

  1. Located right on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, just across from the beach and ocean.
  2. Great reputation for small boutique luxury with a laid-back So Cal vibe.
  3. Highly rated restaurant called JRDN that has garnered great reviews.
  4. Reasonable rates for an off-season stay.
  5. We had never stayed here despite it getting great reviews since opening in 2005!

We booked dates midweek when we knew rates would be lower and the area would be even quieter than the weekends. Average rates for this time of the year run from a low of $249/night, which is reasonable for the experience this hotel provides.

As it turns out, we were very happy with our choice.

The nearly empty beach outside of Tower 23 stretches on and on in either direction.

San Diego Staycation at Tower 23 Hotel

From the moment we pulled into the parking garage, the beach vibe of Tower 23 Hotel started to work its magic. We could smell the fresh, salt air blowing gently in from the ocean, and watched as several people with surfboards headed towards the sand on bikes, skateboards and on foot. As we entered the lobby and checked in, the beach theme continued to carry through in subtle ways. We were even offered complimentary beach chairs and an umbrella to borrow if we wanted a little time on the sand – which we did.

We borrowed chairs and an umbrella for some sun time at the beach across from Tower 23 Hotel.

Decorated in hues of blue and white, the hotel decor is more comfortable and homey than surf-schtick. It would have been easy for designers to go overboard with the beach theme. Instead their neo-modernist restraint makes the subtle nods to the ocean much more genuine and interesting.

Guest Rooms at Tower 23 Hotel

Our suite was spacious and airy, and was not overcrowded or decorated with too many things like some hotels feel they must do. We loved the clean lines and simplicity almost as much as we loved the comfy king-sized bed we seemed to have trouble getting out of. (Maybe it was those Egyptian Cotton sheets.) The bathroom was separated by the bedroom by a curtain, which was a little sexy and a little odd but we managed. A huge soaking tub and large walk-in shower with upscale amenities were nice features as well.

Guest rooms at Tower 23 are spacious and comfortable.

The balcony from our room was accessed via large sliding glass doors, and was large enough for us to sit outside with our morning coffee. Of course, the view was pretty spectacular with boardwalk, beach, ocean and sky all laid out for us to enjoy. The sunsets over the Pacific Ocean seemed like movie sets built just for our viewing pleasure. All of this reinforced our decision to stay at Tower 23, and clearly we picked the best time to visit San Diego beach hotels.

Early morning sunrise viewed from our suite at Tower 23 Hotel in Pacific Beach.

JRDN Restaurant

Much awarded as a San Diego dining establishment, JRDN Restaurant has earned a solid reputation on its own. The menu here is diverse, and of course leans heavily on seafood as a main staple. Beef, lamb, chicken and vegetarian choices are also strong suits at JRDN, and of course we had to sample a broad variety of their offerings.

Sitting at the bar inside JRDN, we had a front seat view of the action.

Sitting in the bar, we faced the sunset to enjoy all its rosy colors while we sipped our cocktails. I love an Old Fashioned with the big ice cube, and at JRDN they are branded with the logo frozen right into the ice. As the sun slowly descended into the horizon, we searched for the Green Flash (still never have seen it) while enjoying appetizers. The Shrimp Aguachile ($19) is not to be missed. It’s served with jalapeño, cilantro, avocado, radish,
pickled red onion and lime, with tortilla chips for scooping.

The Shrimp Aguachile appetizer at JRDN Restaurant, located inside the Tower 23 Hotel, includes radishes, avocado, slices of fresh jalapeńo and fresh cilantro served with two crispy corn tortillas for dipping and scooping.
The Shrimp Aguachile at JRDN Restaurant is one of our favorite dishes there. (photo: Tower 23 Hotel)

For main courses, we enjoyed the Lamb Lollipops with smoked eggplant pureé ($24) and the Tuna, Tuna, Tuna sushi roll ($20). Both were excellent. Chef Jerry Ranson has brought with him a focus on steaks, and we immensely enjoyed the tomahawk for two ($122). It was prepared medium rare with sides of chimichurri sauce and creamy horseradish. At 30 ounces, this was one big piece of meat that we could not finish. Good thing we could bring a doggie bag upstairs to store in our room frig. Believe me, it was as good left over the next day.

The tomahawk steak at JRDN Restaurant is one of the chef’s specialties. (photo: Tower 23 Hotel)

Pacific Beach Area Around Tower 23

Tower 23 is well placed on the edge of active Pacific Beach, without being too far inside all the action. Of course, during the week the area is more quiet. During the high season, this area is teeming with visitors and locals who are out to enjoy the area’s beauty, outdoor activities and nightlife. The upscale La Jolla community is positioned just to the north. The hotel is just eight miles from San Diego International Airport.

Looking south from our vantage point on Crystal Pier, just down the boardwalk from Tower 23 Hotel.

Some favorite moments as we explored the area around Tower 23:

  • Early morning coffee and a walk on Crystal Pier, jutting out into the ocean immediately south of the hotel.
  • Watching the surfers take on waves as they pulsed inwards towards the shore.
  • Taking beach chairs and umbrella down to the sand to sit in the warm sun and watch the world go by.
  • Shopping along the streets surrounding the hotel, visiting brand-name stores and little boutiques nestled side by side.
  • Strolling down the boardwalk while calmly dodging bicyclists, skateboarders, dog walkers, joggers, skaters, fast walkers and the occasional hoola hooper.
Looking back at the hotel from Crystal Pier.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for the best time to visit San Diego hotels, choose September or October and you won’t be sorry. Tower 23 is an excellent choice, and evidently the critics agree. Recent accolades include Wine Spectator’s 2022 Award of Excellence, Top 25 Hotels on the Water in the US by TripAdvisor in 2022, and Best Hotels in San Diego by TimeOut.

With just 44 rooms, Tower 23 is truly a boutique hotel which provides excellent service and a quiet experience. We highly recommend it, and you can find out more and book on the hotel website here.

Late afternoon sun shines down on JRDN Restaurant and Tower 23 Hotel along the Pacific Beach boardwalk.


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