ALA MAR BY THE SEA
102 W. Cabrillo Blvd.; (805) 962-9208, www.alamarmotel.com.
Price: $129 to $199, plus tax, for weekends, double. $119 to $375 high season. Cancellation until 48 hours before stay.
Amenities: Free wireless Internet service.
Pros: Across the street from the beach and within walking distance of Stearns Wharf. Second-floor patio overlooking the water. You can literally chuck a rock from its balcony into the Pacific, but without exorbitant seaside hotel prices. Rooms small but comfortable, with tile floors, ceiling fans and a tropical décor. Bring an ice chest, your favorite grilling meat and a jar of barbecue sauce to take advantage of the second-story patio that is stocked with lawn chairs and a barbecue. Free parking.
Cons: Small rooms with no pool, no hot tub and tiny lobby.
931 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; (800) 648-6708, www.cabrillo-inn.com.
Price: Doubles $89 to $199 (winter rates); $159 to $299 (June). Two-night minimum on weekends. Cancellation, at least seven days prior, by phone. Two-bedroom, two-bath vacation cottage rentals are available weekly or monthly.
Amenities: 41 rooms with TVs, air conditioning, swimming pool, complimentary continental breakfast. Second floor features ocean views and sun decks.
Pros: This place offers a great location at a decent price (provided you don't choose the pricey ocean-view suite): It's a few blocks from East Beach and a short drive (or longish walk) to Butterfly Beach. The rooms are airy; some have refrigerators.
Cons: No online reservations accepted; must book by phone.
22 Castillo St.; (800) 965-8570 or (805) 965-8527, www.sbcastilloinn.com.
Price: Doubles $110 to $250 (winter rates); $175 to $300 (high season); $10 off with AAA or AARP memberships midweek only. Two-night minimum on weekends. Cancellation until 48 hours before stay.
Amenities: 20 rooms with TVs, air conditioning, refrigerators.