The scent of freshly baked pizza is in the air in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood, where the streets are dotted with red-and-white-striped restaurants. Crowds file in and out of the area's quaint shops, stopping to grab a quick cup of espresso at one of the cafés on India Street. Steps away from the vibrant shops is the stucco-fronted Porto Vista Hotel; Frommer's characterized the spot as "retro-Italian cool."
Upstairs, cozy queen rooms are dominated by an ultra-mod, floor-to-ceiling photograph taken by a local San Diego artist. The outsize image hangs over cushy pillow-top beds wrapped in crisp, white linens.
On the fourth floor of the Porto Vista, chefs at the Glass Door restaurant use local and seasonal ingredients to concoct inventive dishes such as duck-fat fries and prosciutto-seared salmon. Meals are served at communal tables amid wrought-iron lanterns and wall-to-wall waterfront views. Elsewhere, you can unwind during a Sunday morning yoga class, get styled in the attached Evolve Salon, or explore the happening neighborhood just outside the Porto Vista's front doors.
San Diego: Foodie Heaven with Vibrant Neighborhoods
Little Italy's streets hum with tourists and locals alike who come to sample the good eats around every corner. Handmade gelato and golden pizza pies fill the storefronts of classic, Italian-style eateries. One dessert café, run by a Paris-trained pastry chef, regularly sees lines forming down the block in the early morning, when the shop starts selling the day's croissants and scones.
Less than a mile from the hotel, the massive USS Midway Museum lets visitors wander through a navy aircraft carrier and get to know life on the high seas. To observe San Diego's funky neighborhoods up close, you can shadow a local mailman or rent electric bikes for full- or half-day adventures. The San Diego Trolley also provides access to areas throughout the city, including Little Italy.