San Diego is a big deal among big cities — just ask the seasoned readers of Condé Nast Traveler, who have picked our sunny destination as the No. 2 big city in America for 2023 in the magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
The prestigious distinction, announced today, represents San Diego’s highest-ever ranking in the much-watched survey — up from No. 3 last year and No. 7 in 2021.
And it underscores what a desirable destination our city has become for visitors, as San Diego rated higher than such perennially popular cities as San Francisco, Honolulu and New York.
Here’s what the survey had to say about San Diego:
Several years ago, travelers headed to San Diego might have wondered what they would do in the city, besides hitting the beaches. No longer. With a recent string of hot hotel openings (like the Guild and the Carté) and a legit food scene that offers up some of the best Mexican dishes and seafood platters you’ll ever taste, San Diego has officially stepped out from the shadow of its big sister to the north, earning world-class destination status that goes well beyond the waves. Come for the sunshine, sure; but stay for everything else.
The record ranking for the city, though, is just the start of the honors for San Diego in the 36th edition of Condé Nast Traveler’s awards program. Three San Diego-area hotels also made the awards cut, along with five local resorts and two spas.
Here’s a full rundown of San Diego’s Readers’ Choice Awards haul in addition to the No. 2 Big City designation:
Pendry San Diego (No. 5 in Southern California)
You can’t get much close to the beating heart of San Diego’s nightlife and dining scene than the elegant Pendry, situated right in the center of San Diego’s historic and vibrant Gaslamp Quarter and just blocks from both Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) and the San Diego Convention Center. Of course, the Pendry’s own collection of a half-dozen restaurants and bars might make it tempting not to stray from the 317-guestroom hotel, but with all of the Gaslamp’s great restaurants and clubs just outside your door, a little exploration is a must.
Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton (No. 7)
The 135-year-old grande dame of San Diego hotels is one of Southern California’s most beloved landmarks, featured prominently in movies from “Some Like It Hot” to “The Stunt Man.” The Hotel Del is also perched on one of America’s most beautiful beaches, and its 900-plus guest rooms, suites, cottages and villas (plus a wide array of dining options) offer something for every visitor.
More Readers’ Choice Award Winners
- L’Auberge Del Mar (No. 10)
The Lodge at Torrey Pines (No. 10 in Southern California)
This tranquil getaway at the northern reaches of San Diego’s beautiful La Jolla community doubles up on the stunning views. Not only does it overlook the rolling expanses of the Torrey Pines Golf Course — site of the PGA’s annual Farmers Insurance Open as well as a two-time host of golf’s U.S. Open — but it also offers gorgeous vistas of the shimmering Pacific beyond. Visitors are enchanted by the blufftop setting as well as the 170-room hotel’s Craftsman-style architecture. And you won’t want to miss the on-site Spa at Torrey Pines, with its inviting array of signature treatments; as well as A.R. Valentien, considered one of the best hotel restaurants in Southern California.
More Readers’ Choice Award Winners
- Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa (No. 9)
- Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (No. 13)
- The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (No. 14)
Golden Door (No. 13 Destination Spa in the U.S.), Cal-a-Vie Health Spa (No. 14)
These two world-renowned spas are likewise both located in San Diego’s North County: Cal-a-Vie in Vista, and the Golden Door in neighboring San Marcos. And both are repeat Condé Nast Traveler honorees.