Planning a visit to San Diego and found a lovely holiday rental in la mesa. Is it a good area to stay in for visiting the local area or are we better in San Diego itself?
La Mesa is a town that is about 40min to 1hr from the ocean. What are your plans while here?? When are you coming?? The temp is at least 10deg.F hotter in that area.
What is your budget?? The rental is probably less expensive than others because it is not near the ocean.Edited: 12 October 2014, 23:42
<<Is it a good area to stay in for visiting the local area >>
In a word "no."
It's too far away from the sights and you'll be in rush traffic. And a very hot place to be in summer.
yes, for the most part you are better off staying in san diego to cut down your time in the vehicle. however, i sort of like la mesa. if i found a rental a a great price with a pool and wanted to spend some mellow days just relaxing around "home", i'd consider it. also, in may or june when the coastal areas can sometimes be overcast, going inland a bit you can get clear skis. as mentioned, la mesa will be hotter then along the coast which can be a positive or negative depending what time of year you are there. also, do some research on when "rush hours" are. that freeway - 8 - can get very, very busy during rush hour so plan your days accordingly.
La Mesa now has the very convenient San Diego Trolley system which takes visitors and commuters from its several stops in La Mesa directly to downtown San Diego and most tourist sites. People even use the trolley system to get to La Mesa from the airport. Parking is very limited in the downtown area and tourist sites. Taking the trolley saves aggravation and disappointment in not be able to find parking for your car. For budget minded travelers, the disadvantage of higher inland temperatures may be well worth La Mesa's lower rental rates. If visiting anywhere in San Diego area (other than directly on the coast) during the summer you need air conditioning. This is true whether you are in North Park and other areas within San Diego City proper or in the east county La Mesa neighborhood.
I live close to La Mesa, so I am going to give you a different answer. La Mesa actually could actually be a great base for exploring San Diego. It's a nice suburban area of older homes, with a great little downtown that has cute shops and restaurants. If you want to see how the locals live, and not be surrounded by tourists, La Mesa could be very nice.
In terms of distance to major attractions, it will depend on where in La Mesa the rental is. If you look on google maps, look to see if it is south of the I-8. If it is, then you can easily get onto the I-94, which will take you right to downtown in under 20 minutes. I live about 10 minutes east of that area, and I can get to Balboa Park in 30 minutes from my house (both of these are non-rush hour of course).
On the other hand, if the rental is north of I-8, you'll have a longer drive to downtown. However, the I-8 is a straight shot to beach areas from La Mesa.
As mentioned above, the SD Trolley also runs through La Mesa. There are two Trolley stops in La Mesa so check their proximity to the rental. The Trolley will take you a little longer than driving, but you won't have to worry about parking downtown.
The only section of La Mesa that I wouldn't recommend is off of university avenue and El Cajon near the San Diego border.
If you do stay in La Mesa, two things to check out while staying are Mount Helix at sunset (one of the most beautiful views in San Diego) and Mission Trails Regional Park, which has some great hiking, a lake for fishing, and great scenery. From La Mesa, you might also consider heading out to Cuyamaca State Park for the day if you enjoy a change of pace from big city life in downtown.
Now, is it more convenient to stay in downtown or in an area like Little Italy if you want to see tourist spots? Yes. But, I wouldn't immediately dismiss La Mesa, especially if the rental has pluses that you won't get closer into the city.
Anyhow, just a little different perspective.
La Mesa is a town that is about 40min to 1hr from the ocean.
I frequently see recommendations that people stay in downtown and take the ferry over to Coronado to go to the beach. That will take just as long as driving to a beach from La Mesa.
I wonder how many people saying La Mesa is "hot" and "far from everything" have ever actually been to La Mesa? It's closer to downtown than a lot of places frequently recommended here.
I think it all boils down to personal preference. If you want to stay in an urban environment, stay in downtown or Little Italy. If you want to sleep with planes going overhead from the airport, stay in Liberty Station, Point Loma or Ocean Beach. If you want to be close to Legoland, try Carlsbad or Oceanside. If the beach is your main priority, stay in Pacific Beach or Mission Beach
But if you want to stay in a nice suburban area with its own cute downtown and be relatively close to everything in central San Diego, La Mesa would not be a bad choice at all.
But, this is just my opinion -- again, it all comes down to personal preferences.