For thrift, exterior charm, and location, location, location, you can’t beat the Old Town Inn (4444 Pacific Hwy., 800/643-3025, www.oldtown-inn.com, $60–140). Built to resemble a rancho with a low profile and narrow columns, this motel sits across the street from the Old Town Transit Center, so you can catch a bus or trolley and get virtually anywhere in San Diego County from here.
The white-painted, red-tile-roofed exterior of the motel gives way to plain motel rooms inside, with muted pastels, dark carpets, and floral bedspreads. If you plan to cook your own meals, go for an efficiency room, which includes a two-burner stove, refrigerator, and microwave.
This family-friendly motel allows kids 12 and under to stay free, has a heated pool, and offers a free daily continental breakfast.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition