Downtown San Diego is located on San Diego Bay. Balboa Park encompasses several mesas and canyons to the northeast, surrounded by older, dense urban communities including Hillcrest andNorth Park. To the east and southeast lie City Heights, the College Area, and Southeast San Diego. To the north lies Mission Valley and Interstate 8. The communities north of the valley and freeway, and south ofMarine Corps Air Station Miramar, include Clairemont, Kearny Mesa, Tierrasanta, andNavajo. Stretching north from Miramar are the northern suburbs of Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch,Rancho Peñasquitos, and Rancho Bernardo. The far northeast portion of the city encompasses Lake Hodges and the San Pasqual Valley, which holds an agricultural preserve. Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights occupy the northwest corner of the city. To their south are Torrey Pines State Reserve and the business center of the Golden Triangle. Further south are the beach and coastal communities ofLa Jolla, Pacific Beach, and Ocean Beach. Point Loma occupies the peninsula across San Diego Bayfrom downtown. The communities of South San Diego, such as San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, are located next to the Mexico – United States border, and are physically separated from the rest of the city by the cities of National City and Chula Vista. A narrow strip of land at the bottom of San Diego Bay connects these southern neighborhoods with the rest of the city.
For the most part, San Diego neighborhood boundaries tend to be understood by its residents based on geographical boundaries like canyons and street patterns. The city recognized the importance of its neighborhoods when it organized its 2008 General Plan around the concept of a “City of Villages”.