I played around for you using your price range, location (not in the heart of the city), and being "vacation like" which to me means beautiful landscaping and nice pool area. I've lived in LA and San Diego, but also know Orange County well which is also a very good option for you because it's between LA county and SD county. I just used Priceline Express to get an idea.
Using your dates:
4 star Mission Bay for $122 a night would most likely either be:
Hilton San Diego- I used to go bike riding in front of this hotel all the time. Beautiful property, pool area nice.
Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Mission Bay- I've used the spa facilities here (they have a good deal going on with TravelZoo right now for a massage). The hotel is a little out of the way from other hotels and restaurants, but their restaurants on the property are good, and they have an awesome pool and water slide which overlooks Mission Bay. It does have mixed reviews on Tripadvisor but I love Hyatt and think I would love this hotel if I stayed there (I could use my free night there when I go back 2 days before you for a day, but they already sold out of those gold days sadly). The property is an older Hyatt though so if you really want a newer more modern hotel, you may not really like it.
Paradise Point- I went here for a party. This to me feels the most "tropical" out of all the places. Would have no problem being here either. Pools look nice.
THESE ARE ALL REALLY NICE PROPERTIES!! They do not include the resort fee and parking fee, but given your price range you would be fine and have $$ left over. Maybe use the extra $$ for an upgrade to a bay view. Mission Bay is a good area to consider because it isn't industrial and really just has the beach, the bay, and some mid to high end hotels.
La Jolla has a 4 star showing up for $150 which looks like it probably would end up being La Valencia which is a beautiful, boutique hotel. You would be walking distance to La Jolla Cove, shopping, art galleries, and restaurants, but the area is definitely cramped.
Carlsbad has a 4 star showing up for $133 which seems like it could be the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort (not really sure on that though). Property and pool looks amazing but given the proximity to Legoland you could have kids all over the place (may not be a factor to you, but I don't like being around kids during my vacation time).
If you consider Orange County:
4 star Newport/Huntington Beach for $97 (maybe they are doing renovations to be offering it that cheap?) looks like it may be The Fairmont Newport.
I honestly would go with the 4 star Mission Bay hotels. I think if you used the Express feature you would get a great price on a nice property, in a good area, and have it feel like a real vacation. You could probably also upgrade for a nicer room.
I tried doing Coronado for you too but the only have one 4 star hotel left and it's way above your price range.