I would tend to avoid all of the major brands and chain stores as they generally do not have the value or quality of local manufacturers. The Vera Wang by Serta is one of their “better efforts” but they too have too much polyfoam and/or in the comfort layer of the mattress and they are also overpriced compared to better options IMO.
I wouldn’t consider any Stearns and Foster at all because again they contain too much low quality polyfoam and are way overpriced. Their innersprings are good quality … what is over them usually isn’t and its the comfort layers that are the weak link of a mattress. Even their best efforts are poor value IMO.
There are a few local manufacturers and/or retail direct outlets within 50 miles that may be well worth including in your research. They are …
Mattress Makers Local factory direct manufacturer in San Diego. Makes a range of mattresses with many layering choices including latex (including organic latex), memory foam, and innersprings including custom builds. Pablo is the owner here and he is knowledgeable, open and transparent about the mattresses they make. Good quality and value and well worth including in your research and they are also a member of this site. They are a multi generational manufacturer that has been building mattresses for 45 years and have been factory direct for about 20 years.
Escondido Mattress Factory is a local factory direct manufacturer in Escondido. Makes a two sided 6" latex mattress in your choice of ILD and you can add a topper or use an “active” boxspring to adjust the feel and performance of the mattress in addition to choosing the firmness of the mattress. Also makes latex/innerspring hybrids and traditional mattresses that use higher quality polyfoam and cotton over the innerspring and they also make them 2 sided. Like many smaller manufacturers … they don’t make memory foam because they are reluctant to deal with some of the difficulties (and returns) that are connected to it’s use. They are a member of this site which means I consider them to be among the best quality/value available and have been in business for many years. They are knowledgeable and helpful, provide good service to their customers, and are “good people” to deal with. NOTE ADDED: On April 1, 2017, Escondido Mattress suffered a fire that destroyed their factory and showroom. They re-opened on July 15th at a new location near the old one, at 432 Venture, Escondido, CA 92029.
Euro-flex.com Local factory direct manufacturer in San Diego. Has 3 latex mattresses which are high quality and use good materials but also a little pricey compared to other similar mattresses.
Purerest.com Factory direct manufacturer in San Diego.Makes a range of Dunlop latex mattresses including choose your own layering and focusing on organic materials. Their retail outlets may have lower prices than the prices listed on their site. They are focused on using the “purest” materials they can find but this also comes with a premium in terms of price and value compared to other similar mattresses.
Comfort Touch Mattress And Adjustable Beds 8055 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111 - SP.com factory direct manufacturer in San Diego. Carries both their own design and several other latex mattresses. Some good choices in terms of variety and latex hybrid designs including 2 sided latex mattresses.
comfortpedicmattress.com Factory direct manufacturer with outlets in San Diego, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas, and San Marcos. Makes a range of mattresses including latex but tends to focus on “telling stories” and not so much on sharing information about the materials he puts in the mattress. Also seems to be “on the high side” in terms of pricing.
abedderbuy.com Retailer in San Diego. They carry some mainstream mattresses but also carry Spinal Comfort (including an all latex model) and Anatomic Global (memory foam) which both have better value. When I talked with Sonia the owner she was helpful and clearly ethical and informative and committed to providing the best possible quality and value for her customers. Good people that have been in the industry for a long time over several generations.
scrippsnatural.com Retailer in Carlsbad Village, CA. They sell several Berkeley Ergonomics mattresses including 100% natural Talalay latex and 100% natural Talalay latex/pocket coil component mattresses which all use high quality and durable materials.
davisworld.com/store Retailer in San Diego. Carries a wide variety of good quality mattresses including latex … some retail direct … from manufacturers such as Diamond (Ethos, Sweda) which I like. There is some “better than average” value here but they also carry some more expensive premium brands, some mainstream brands, and some lower quality/price imported brands as well.
mattressplacestore.com/stressopedic Retailer in Solana Beach. Carries SpringPedic and Therapedic
seagulldistribution.com Manufacturer San Diego. “Choose your own layers” Dunlop latex mattress with a 6" base and either one or two 2" comfort layers. All layers can be customized for firmness with a zip cover.
thefutonshop.com San Diego, CA. Carries a huge range of futons of all kinds including innersprings, latex, memory foam, polyfoam, and organic wool and cotton.
Ikea in San Diego See post #3 here for mattresses I would consider here.
There are also some wholesale manufacturers that make some better than average quality and value mattresses that have retail store finders on their site that may also have some stores in the area and be worth including in your research.
spinalcarebedding.net Spinal Care Bedding is a local manufacturer based in Gardena, CA that also makes some good quality/value mattresses that includes latex, memory foam, microcoils, and innersprings including some high quality pocket coils and two sided mattresses.
diamondmattress.com Local Wholesale manufacturer in Rancho Dominguez who is making some good quality and value mattresses but make sure you are able to find out the specs of the materials in their mattresses (see post #2 here).
stressopedic.com Regional west coast manufacturer based in Ontario, CA that makes a wide range of a mattresses and is committed to being completely transparent about all the materials in their mattresses.
puretalalaybliss.com Owned by Talalay Global and make a line of natural and blended Talalay latex mattresses.
The Los Angeles list in post #2 here also has some other options that may be in reasonable driving distance for some in the San Diego area.
I would suggest making a few calls to talk with these about what you are looking for and your budget range and to get a sense of what you can expect if you visit them. I would then visit the few that are the most promising as there is a fairly wide range of value and prices among the list for similar mattresses and each person may place more or less value on some of the differences between them.
Good luck and feel free to post with any questions along the way.