Welcome to downtown San Diego, a vibrant neighbourhood filled with exciting attractions, delicious dining options, and a rich cultural scene. Whether you're a local looking for a fun day out or a visitor exploring the city, downtown San Diego has something for everyone. Here is a guide to help you maximise your time in this dynamic area.
Explore the Historic Gaslamp Quarter.
The Gaslamp Quarter is downtown San Diego's historic heart, known for its Victorian-era buildings, vibrant nightlife, and diverse dining scene. Take a stroll along the bustling streets and consider these notable establishments:
Sink your teeth into one of the best burgers in town at Hodad's. Known for its juicy patties and piled-high toppings, this local favourite will satisfy any burger craving.
The Tipsy Crow:
Step into The Tipsy Crow, a lively gastropub offering craft beers, handcrafted cocktails, and a vibrant atmosphere.
Enjoy live music, pub trivia, or catch a game on one of their large screens.
The Shout! House:
If you're in the mood for entertainment, head to The Shout! House, a duelling piano bar. Talented pianists perform popular hits while engaging the audience in a sing-along experience.
More Things to Do in the Gaslamp Quarter for Different Types of Visits
The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego offers a diverse array of activities and attractions that cater to various interests and preferences. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a food lover, a shopaholic, or a nightlife seeker, the Gaslamp Quarter has something for everyone. Here are some suggestions for different types of visits:
For History Enthusiasts:
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House:
Immerse yourself in the history of the Gaslamp Quarter at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House. Take a guided tour of the beautifully restored Victorian-era house and learn about the district's fascinating past.
William Heath Davis House:
Step back in time at the William Heath Davis House, a preserved 19th-century home that offers a glimpse into the early days of San Diego. Explore the exhibits and artefacts that tell the story of the city's pioneer history.
Gaslamp Quarter Dining:
Indulge in a culinary adventure in the Gaslamp Quarter, where you'll find many dining options to satisfy your cravings. From trendy gastropubs to upscale restaurants and international cuisine, there's something to suit every palate.
Enjoy modern American cuisine with a playful twist at Searsucker, a popular restaurant known for its vibrant atmosphere and innovative dishes.
The Lion's Share:
Delight in exotic and unique flavors at The Lion's Share, a cozy gastropub that offers a menu featuring exotic meats, creative cocktails, and a warm ambience.
San Diego Desserts:
Don't forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to some of the Gaslamp Quarter's renowned dessert spots.
Treat yourself to decadent desserts at Extraordinary Desserts, where you'll find a delightful selection of cakes, pastries, and other sweet creations.
Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop:
Indulge in delicious ice cream and chocolates at Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, a favorite destination for dessert lovers.
Gaslamp Quarter Shopping:
Explore the Gaslamp Quarter's vibrant shopping scene, where you'll discover a mix of trendy boutiques, unique shops, and speciality stores.
The Westgate Hotel Shops:
Browse the exclusive shops at The Westgate Hotel, offering a curated collection of luxury goods, fashion, and accessories.
Visit Horton Plaza, a multi-level outdoor mall, for a wide range of shopping options, from popular retail brands to unique local boutiques.
For Nightlife Seekers:
Gaslamp Quarter Nightclubs: Experience the vibrant nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter with its plethora of nightclubs, bars, and lounges.
Dance the night away at Bang Bang, a lively nightclub known for its energetic atmosphere, Asian-inspired decor, and talented DJs.
The Tipsy Crow:
Enjoy a mix of live music, DJ sets, and lively ambience at The Tipsy Crow, a popular bar that offers multiple floors of entertainment, including a speakeasy-style basement.
Take in breathtaking city skyline views while sipping on crafted cocktails at one of the Gaslamp Quarter's rooftop bars.
ALTITUDE Sky Lounge:
Located atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge offers panoramic views of downtown San Diego, signature cocktails, and a sophisticated rooftop experience.
Enjoy a chic rooftop setting at The Nolen, featuring sweeping city views, handcrafted cocktails, and a relaxed atmosphere.
For Live Entertainment:
Theaters and Live Performances: Immerse yourself in the vibrant performing arts scene of the Gaslamp Quarter, which offers a range of theatres and venues hosting live performances.
The Balboa Theatre:
Catch a Broadway show, concert, or live performance at the historic Balboa Theatre, known for its elegant architecture and diverse lineup of events.
American Comedy Co.:
Laugh at the American Comedy Co., a renowned comedy club hosting local and national stand-up acts.
With its rich history, diverse dining scene, eclectic shopping options, vibrant nightlife, and live entertainment venues, the Gaslamp Quarter offers an array of experiences for every visitor. Whether you're seeking historical insights, culinary delights, retail therapy, thrilling nightlife, or live performances, the Gaslamp Quarter will captivate and entertain you during your time in downtown San Diego.
Visit the USS Midway Museum.
Explore the history and grandeur of the USS Midway, one of America's longest-serving aircraft carriers. Located in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum offers a fascinating journey through naval aviation history. Climb aboard the ship, explore the flight deck, and immerse yourself in interactive exhibits showcasing the aircraft carrier's role in shaping the nation's defence.
USS Midway Museum: Visit the official website for more information on tickets, hours of operation, and special events at the USS Midway Museum.
Enjoy the Seaport Village Experience
Located along the downtown waterfront. Seaport Village offers a unique blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment in a picturesque setting. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and consider these attractions:
Seaport Village Carousel:
Step back in time as you ride the beautifully restored carousel at Seaport Village. Perfect for families, this nostalgic attraction will surely bring a smile to your face.
Seaport Village Shopping:
Explore the diverse array of shops at Seaport Village, offering everything from unique souvenirs to trendy fashion and local artwork. Discover hidden gems and find the perfect souvenir to remember your visit.
Indulge in delicious seafood and waterfront views at Harbor House. With a menu featuring fresh catches and classic favourites, this restaurant provides a memorable dining experience.
Explore the Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is a scenic waterfront promenade stretches along San Diego Bay. It offers breathtaking views of the bay, the Coronado Bridge, and the downtown skyline. Here are a few things to do along the Embarcadero:
The Maritime Museum of San Diego:
Discover the rich maritime history of San Diego through a collection of historic ships, including the Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship. Explore the vessels and learn about their fascinating stories.
USS Midway Museum:
As mentioned earlier, the USS Midway Museum is located on the Embarcadero, making it easily accessible for visitors. Don't miss the opportunity to explore this impressive aircraft carrier and delve into its captivating exhibits.
Located along the Embarcadero, Waterfront Park offers a beautiful outdoor space to relax and enjoy the coastal atmosphere. The park features grassy areas, interactive fountains, and stunning views of the bay. Pack a picnic or simply unwind in this serene urban oasis.
While we mentioned Seaport Village earlier, it's worth noting that it is also conveniently located on the Embarcadero. Explore the unique shops, dine at waterfront restaurants, and soak up the lively atmosphere of this charming waterfront district.
Discover the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the Chinese community in San Diego by visiting the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. Located in downtown's historic Chinatown district, the museum offers a glimpse into the contributions and experiences of Chinese immigrants in the region. Explore the exhibits, artefacts, and artwork that showcase the vibrant heritage of the Chinese community.
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum:
Visit the official website for information on opening hours, exhibitions, and special events at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
Enjoy Live Performances at the Balboa Theatre
Experience the vibrant performing arts scene in downtown San Diego by catching a show at the historic Balboa Theatre. This beautifully restored venue hosts a variety of performances, including plays, musicals, concerts, and dance shows. Check their schedule for upcoming events and immerse yourself in the magic of live entertainment.
Visit the official website for information on current and upcoming shows, ticketing, and venue details.
Explore the Quaint Little Italy Neighborhood
Located just north of downtown. Little Italy is a charming neighbourhood known for its vibrant culinary scene and delightful atmosphere. Getting to Little Italy from downtown is easy and convenient. Here are a few transportation options:
Little Italy is within walking distance from downtown San Diego. Simply head north on India Street, and you'll find yourself immersed in the neighbourhood's charm in no time.
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) offers bus and trolley services that connect downtown San Diego to Little Italy. You can check the MTS website for routes and schedules.
Once you arrive in Little Italy, there are plenty of places to explore and enjoy. Here are some highlights:
Piazza della Famiglia:
This beautiful piazza is the heart of Little Italy. It features a central fountain, outdoor seating, and a lively atmosphere. Enjoy a cup of coffee or indulge in a gelato while taking in the sights and sounds of this bustling square.
Little Italy Mercato:
If you visit on a Saturday, take advantage of the Little Italy Mercato, a vibrant farmers' market. You'll find an array of fresh produce, local products, crafts, and delicious food stalls. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community.
Little Italy is known for its fantastic Italian cuisine. Various restaurants serve authentic Italian dishes, from cosy trattorias to upscale dining establishments. Try the handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and delectable seafood options.
Little Italy is home to numerous art galleries featuring works by local and international artists. Stroll and explore the vibrant art scene, appreciating the diverse styles and creativity on display.
Little Italy Landmark Sign:
Don't forget to snap a photo with the iconic "Little Italy" landmark sign. It symbolises the neighbourhood's pride and heritage and is a perfect souvenir for your visit.
Little Italy is a delightful neighbourhood that offers a taste of Italy right in the heart of San Diego. From its culinary delights to its vibrant cultural scene, you will surely have a memorable experience exploring this charming district.
Links to some places mentioned: -
|Name||Type of Venue||Website||Comment|
|Hodad's||Restaurant||hodadies.com||Known for serving some of the best burgers in town.|
|The Tipsy Crow||Bar||thetipsycrow.com||Offers live music, pub trivia, and a vibrant atmosphere.|
|The Shout! House||Bar||theshouthouse.com||A duelling piano bar that provides an engaging sing-along experience.|
|USS Midway Museum||Museum||midway.org||Explore the history of the USS Midway aircraft carrier and its role in shaping the nation's defence.|
|Seaport Village Carousel||Attraction||seaportvillage.com||Enjoy a ride on the beautifully restored carousel, perfect for families.|
|Seaport Village Shopping||Shopping||seaportvillage.com/shopping||Explore a diverse array of shops offering unique souvenirs, trendy fashion, and local artwork.|
|Harbor House||Restaurant||harborhousesd.com||Indulge in delicious seafood and enjoy waterfront views at this dining establishment.|
|Maritime Museum of San Diego||Museum||sdmaritime.org||Discover the rich maritime history of San Diego through a collection of historic ships and exhibits.|
|Waterfront Park||Park||sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/regional/waterfront||A serene urban park offering grassy areas, interactive fountains, and stunning bay views.|
|Little Italy||Neighborhood||N/A||A vibrant neighbourhood known for its culinary scene, art galleries, and Italian charm.|
|San Diego Chinese Historical Museum||Museum||sdchm.org||Explore the history and heritage of the Chinese community in San Diego.|
|Balboa Theatre||Theater||sandiegotheatres.org/balboa-theatre||Enjoy Broadway shows, concerts, and live performances at this historic theatre.|
|ALTITUDE Sky Lounge||Rooftop Bar||altitudeskylounge.com||Offers stunning views of downtown San Diego, craft cocktails, and a sophisticated rooftop experience.|
|The Nolen||Rooftop Bar||thenolenrooftop.com||Features panoramic city views, handcrafted cocktails, and a relaxed atmosphere.|
|Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House||Museum||gaslampfoundation.org||Explore the history of the Gaslamp Quarter at this preserved Victorian-era house turned museum.|
|Searsucker||Restaurant||searsucker.com/san-diego||Enjoy modern American cuisine with a playful twist in a vibrant atmosphere.|
Downtown San Diego offers a myriad of experiences for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter to immersing yourself in maritime history at the USS Midway Museum and enjoying the picturesque waterfront attractions along the Embarcadero, there is something for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood. Don't forget to explore the cultural gems like the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum and catch a show at the Balboa Theatre. And for a taste of Italy, visit the charming Little Italy neighbourhood. Enjoy your time in downtown San Diego and create lasting memories of visiting this dynamic city.