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The Native’s Guide to Pronouncing and Abbreviating San Diego Place Names

How to speak, name-drop, and navigate your way through San Diego

By Erin Meanley Glenny

There are over 100 zip codes in San Diego County, and just as many neighborhoods and city names. Our place names generally have a Spanish influence, so unless you’re fluent, some might be hard to pronounce. But there’s good news: If you don’t know Spanish, living in San Diego will make you better at it. (Your iPhone’s Siri and the robot giving directions on your map app like to butcher Spanish, so don’t listen to them.)

San Diego has few -burgs, -lands, and -villes, and a lot more Ranchos, Missions, and Vistas. Want to sound like a local? Don’t shorten. Say California, not “Cali.” Say Solana Beach, not “Solana.”

We’ve compiled a glossary of neighborhoods and street names that might read or sound difficult, followed by some of the most common abbreviations. When two pronunciations are given, the former is Anglicized, while the latter is the original Spanish.


Bonita: “Boh-NEE-tah”

Calle (as in street): “CAI-yay”

Chula Vista: “CHOO-lah VIH-stah” / “CHOO-lah VEE-stah”

Coronado: “COR-oh-NAH-doh”

Del Cerro: “Del SAIR-oh”

Del Mar: “Del MAR” (not “DELL mar”)

Dulzura: “Dull-ZUR-ah” / “Dool-TSOOR-ah”

El Cajon: “ELL kah-HONE”

Encinitas: “EHN-sih-NEE-tahss”

Escondido: “ESS-kahn-DEE-doh” / “ESS-kohn-DEE-doh”

Jacumba: “Huh-KUM-buh”

Jamul: “Huh-MOOL”

Jamacha: “HA-muh-shaw”

La Jolla: “LAH HOY-yah.”

Leucadia: “Loo-KAY-dee-ah”

Mira Mesa: “MEER-ah MAY-sah”

Navajo Road: “NAH-vah-ho”

Olivenhain: “Oh-LEE-vin-HINE”

Otay Ranch: “OH-tie RANCH”

Pala: “PAUL-uh”

Pauma Valley: “PAH-mah VALL-ee”

Poway: “POW-way”

Quince Street: “KWINTZ” (not “KEEN-say”)

Rancho Peñasquitos: “RANCH-oh PEN-yah-SKEE-tohss”

Rancho Santa Fe: Longtime residents usually drop the T, making it “RANCH-oh SAN-nah FAY”

San Ysidro: “SAN ee-SEE-dro”

Santa Ysabel: “SAN-nah IZ-ah-bell” / “SAHN-tah EES-ah-bell”

Santee: “San-TEE”

Solana Beach: “Soh-LAWN-uh BEACH” (does not rhyme with “banana”)

Upas Street: “YOO-puhss”

Via de la Valle: “VEE-uh day lah VAI-yay”

Abbreviations and Nicknames:

Imperial Beach: IB

Ocean Beach: OB

Pacific Beach: PB

Rancho Bernardo: Often RB (not “Rancho,” which is short for Rancho Santa Fe)

Rancho Santa Fe: Sometimes “Rancho,” “RSF,” or—obnoxiously—”The Ranch” or “The Covenant”

The Native’s Guide to Pronouncing and Abbreviating San Diego Place Names

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