Happiness Is Calling: Top 10 Hotels Near San Diego Zoo - Updated 2024

| 8 min read

Reputed as the number one zoo in the world and one of San Diego’s most-visited attractions, San Diego Zoo has much to offer with more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals under its care. Located within Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is also near to a good number of other sights too.

If you are planning to visit the zoo (and you should!), do consider an accommodation near this area. From swanky all-suite boutique hotel to family friendly accommodation with relaxing pools, read on for the top 10 hotels near San Diego Zoo!

We handpicked these listings carefully, considering (wherever possible) Superhost status, recent guest reviews, location, accommodation type, prices, availability of dates, decor, and amenities. The image galleries get refreshed with the latest updates regularly. They were last updated on May 13, 2024.

1. Quality Inn San Diego Downtown North

Editor’s Note: Establishment is permanently closed.

Located only a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from San Diego Zoo, Quality Inn San Diego Downtown North will provide you with such a comfortable stay, you won’t want to leave. You get a free hot breakfast buffet every day, free Internet, and great customer service. It is situated fairly close to other attractions, like the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the downtown area is just five blocks away. You can be sure you’re paying for a luxurious room and a good bed.

Quality Inn San Diego Downtown North also has its own fitness centre for those who need a good workout after spending the day before cheating with San Diego’s irresistible food. If not, you can head down to Missions Beach or Pacific Beach relatively nearby for some water sport fun of water skiing and parasailing.

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2. Red Roof Inn San Diego Downtown (from USD 83)

Red Roof Inn San Diego Downtown is a basic hotel with traditional rooms. However, their rooms are clean and comfortable and the best part? Children aged 17 year old and under get to stay for free!

The hotel is just 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) away from San Diego Zoo and a walk away from downtown, the waterfront, and the Gaslamp Quarter. There is also a convenience store right opposite for any last-minute buys or late night snacking.

At Red Roof Inn San Diego Downtown, there is complimentary continental breakfast, airport shuttle service, and hot drinks for you in the lobby. A half size tub and shower take up space in the tiny bathroom. Even so, the good outweighs the bad at this hotel.

Take a trip around Red Roof Inn San Diego Downtown in the evening for a drink at Beach Bar at the W, or some dessert at Extraordinary Desserts before bedtime. Beach Bar at the W has a nice rooftop section where you can enjoy the laidback atmosphere and catch up with friends over a beer.

At Extraordinary Desserts, their desserts are truly nothing less than extraordinary. Sweeten up your vacation with their flourless chocolate cake, or a refreshing lemon ricotta. The trendy cafe is not only pleasing to the eye but also cosy enough to make you want to stay longer.

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Baymont by Wyndham San Diego Downtown

6.8 User Rating Wifi Available

Address: 719 Ash Street
2.03 km (1.3 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Non-smoking rooms Business centre Dry cleaning Facilities for disabled guests Family rooms Internet services

3. Four Points by Sheraton Downtown San Diego (from USD 179)

Four Points by Sheraton Downtown San Diego has spacious, clean rooms with comfortable beds and fresh linens. Located 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) away from San Diego Zoo, this is a gem in San Diego!

There is an outdoor swimming pool and free shuttle service to San Diego Airport. If you’re bored and could use a reason to get off their free Internet, take a walk down to nearby Little Italy and pick one of the countless restaurants available.

There are small grocery shops nearby too if you need to get a quick breakfast in the morning before heading to the zoo. Above all, be swept away by the amazing hotel staff who are not only friendly, but ready to help with whatever you may need.

Pop by the Montfield Bar in Four Points for their Best Brew Program where they try the best local brews in San Diego. If you’re in San Diego during spring, summer or early fall, you can support local further by heading down to Petco Park nearby to catch a match in support of San Diego’s local baseball team.

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Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown Little Italy

Wifi Available

Address: 1617 First Avenue
2.22 km (1.4 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking Meeting/banquet facilities 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Non-smoking rooms Business centre Laundry Dry cleaning Facilities for disabled guests

4. Days Inn San Diego / Downtown / Convention Center (from USD 87)

The Days Inn chain may have inconsistent reviews but Days Inn San Diego / Downtown / Convention Center is one to trust. This cosy hotel is only 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) away from San Diego Zoo and a walkable distance from the Gaslamp Quarter and the USS Midway Museum.

You can enjoy a free continental breakfast and Internet everyday. The beds are surprisingly comfy and, apart from a clean room, you get a microwave and mini fridge. Friendly staff await your return, giving you the feel of a home away from home.

If you’re sick of hotel breakfast, you can travel nearby to San Deigo’s Donut Bar, where you can sweeten up your morning with amazing donuts, provided you don’t mind a queue. It is said to be worth the wait, and it can last a trip back home if you plan to share the delicious fried goods with your loved ones back home.

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Days Inn by Wyndham San Diego/Downtown/Convention Center

6.0 User Rating Wifi Available

Address: 833 Ash Street
1.99 km (1.3 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Terrace Non-smoking rooms Business centre Laundry Family rooms Internet services

5. Declan Suites San Diego (from USD 258)

Declan Suites San Diego provides spacious two-room suites with great views overlooking the city and harbor. They have a heated indoor swimming pool and free Internet for all you social media junkies.

The all-suite premier hotel is convenient and just 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) from San Diego Zoo. You can take a 10-minute walk downhill to town, or check out the Gaslamp Entertainment District. There are many restaurants and bars too that are easily accessible by foot if you need to get a meal.

If you’re in need of a peckish fix, head out to the burger joint just a stroll away. Whataburger is said to have one of the best burgers that are delivered fast and super delicious. The juicy homemade burgers are enough to satisfy you, you’ll go to sleep with a smile on your face.

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Marriott Vacation Club®, San Diego   

Wifi Available

Address: 701 A Street
2.13 km (1.4 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking Restaurant Meeting/banquet facilities 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Golf course (within 3 km) Non-smoking rooms Business centre

6. Porto Vista Hotel San Diego (from USD 161)

This hotel stands out as one of the more hipper ones and is 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) from San Diego Zoo. The rooms at Porto Vista Hotel are neat and clean, but are pretty small when it comes to the basic room. You can opt for a balcony on the upper levels for more space and a great view.

Families should consider getting the suite for the space and additional amenities. Porto Vista Hotel is also close to Little Italy and many other shops and restaurants. The hotel serves an amazing hot breakfast for free and provides a free airport shuttle and Internet for all guests.

If you need a break, you can book yourself a yoga lesson from the hotel itself. Stretch and relax in their rooftop yoga lesson. If you’re not into yoga, step out of the hotel instead and make use of downtown being nearby, where the nightlife is anything but boring.

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Porto Vista Hotel In Little Italy

Wifi Available Wheelchair accessible

Address: 1835 Columbia Street
2.41 km (1.5 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking Restaurant Pets allowed Meeting/banquet facilities Bar 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Golf course (within 3 km)

7. Best Western Plus Bayside Inn (from USD 174)

A bit further from San Diego Zoo, about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) away, is the Best Western Plus Bayside Inn. This casual hotel is just half a mile (0.8 kilometers) from the beautiful bayside and close to Little Italy.

Their large rooms, comfortable beds, and private balconies will make your stay a pleasant one. Enjoy free Internet, complimentary breakfast, and airport shuttle. They have an outdoor heated pool but it is only in use in the summer.

Also nearby to Best Western is The Firehouse Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Firehouse Museum appreciates the life-risking jobs of firemen and provides a fun learning experience for children. Children can climb the trucks and ring the bells, there is also a room where they have kid-sized hats and uniform to try on.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is another fun site, especially for folks into boats. They have a historical collection of sailing ships, submarines, a ferry and others, all with their own story to tell. They also offer a 45 min ride on any one of the boats available for a joyride around the harbor.

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Best Western Plus Bayside Inn

Wifi Available Wheelchair accessible Visual Aid: Braille Visual Aid: Tactile

Address: 555 West Ash Street
2.7 km (1.7 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Non-smoking rooms Facilities for disabled guests Internet services Lift Hot tub/jacuzzi

8. Inn at the Park (from USD 129)

This all-suite boutique hotel is just 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers) away from San Diego Zoo, overlooking Balboa Park. It has large bathrooms and comfortable Sealy posturepedic beds, and guests enjoy a full kitchen and free Internet, even in the most basic rooms.

The kitchen has a refrigerator, a microwave and two stove-top burners. The hotel is close by to many sightseeing spots and has a professional team ready to serve you.

Inn at the Park in San Diego is particularly good for families, as the rooms are big and spacious for the kids to play around. Parents can easily whip up a meal in the kitchen to save on costs too.

There are many restaurants nearby the hotel if you want need to grab a bite. Just a stone’s throw away, you can grab excellent Mexican food at Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe, or maybe a good cuppa for the morning at Cafe Bassam. For the vegans, you’re in luck! Just walk down a little further and you will find yourself at Evolution, enjoying one of the best vegan food you’d ever have.

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Inn at the Park

Wifi Available

Address: 525 Spruce Street
1.53 km (1.0 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Golf course (within 3 km) Terrace Non-smoking rooms Business centre Laundry

9. The Lafayette Hotel (from USD 399)

The Lafayette is a great little place that charms guests with 1940s-style architecture. It is named as one of National Geographic’s places to stay in 2016 in San Diego and for the right reasons.

Although it is the furthest from San Diego Zoo in this list, at 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) away, the Lafayette Hotel is pretty much central and close to a big handful of other attractions. Bars and restaurants are also just around the corner.

Within the hotel, you can use the free Internet, enjoy complimentary coffee in the lobby, or lounge in one of the chairs surrounding their historic Olympic-sized pool. If you’re driving up to the hotel, don’t sweat on parking - it’s free!

Lafayette has a gorgeous pool and it deserves all the attention you can give. Have yourself a mini retro pool party with your friends. Block yourself out a few hours and bring in cute giant floats that you can sit in while sipping on your cosmo. It’s not a fulfilled stay at Lafayette without a well used day of relaxing in the pool.

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The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows

Wifi Available

Address: 2223 El Cajon Boulevard
2.35 km (1.5 mi) from Balboa Park

Parking Restaurant Room service Meeting/banquet facilities Bar 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Terrace

10. Sommerset Suites Hotel (from USD 189)

Editor’s Note: Establishment is permanently closed.

Although its outlook seem somewhat dated, Sommerset Suites Hotel will promise you a clean and comfortable stay. This hotel is 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) from San Diego Zoo and is in the middle of everything, with shopping, restaurants, bars, and grocery stores at your convenience.

You are provided with a free continental breakfast every morning after a good night’s rest in your comfortable bed. Internet is free. They also have an outdoor heated swimming pool and a hot tub, which they keep extremely clean. You can opt for a room with a private balcony, or a 1-bedroom suite that has a full kitchen. A note of caution though, as the hotel is situated near the hospital complex, there will be occasional siren noises.

Step out of the hotel onto Hillcrest and join in on their lively scene of bars, restaurants and even vintage stores. Have a tea break at Peet’s coffee with their signature coffee, tea or blended drinks with the company of freshly baked goods, or get your hipster game on at the vintage clothing stores Flashbacks and Buffalo Exchange.

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Where will you stay?

Choosing the perfect accommodation isn’t going to be easy, and, especially when you’re taking the kids for the holidays, space and comfort is definitely key. Whether it’s just for the weekend or for the whole summer, this list of hotels is ready to give you more than just convenient access to San Diego Zoo.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Shairel is a student studying Linguistics and Multilingual Studies in Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. She loves travel and takes joy in documenting each experience. The countries...Read more

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