It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful and vibrant city center than Downtown San Diego. As the core of the picturesque California county, the downtown area pulsates with activity with a fantastic mix of cultural attractions, dining options, historical sites and shopping destinations. It quite simply “has it all.”
One of the most celebrated parts of the downtown region would have to be the famous “Gaslamp Quarter Historic District;” an area named for the original gas lamps that were commonly used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (In tribute to those bygone days, several new gas lamps are now in place at the intersection of Market Street and 5th Avenue.) As you stroll through the 16-1/2 blocks of the district, you’ll come across a unique array of boutiques, great restaurants like Searsucker or the Ocean Air Seafood Room and stunning Victorian architecture from the turn of the century.
To the west of downtown is the Embarcadero district, which is aligned with the east side of San Diego Bay. This is the spot for strolls along the waterfront, champagne brunch cruises, grand events like the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s closing night and seafood dining at the legendary Anthony’s Fish Grotto. Other downtown districts include Little Italy (where you’ll find some of the best Italian fare in the west) and Old Town (brimming with quaint shops, historical sites, fabulous restaurants and galleries), as well as attractions like the world-famous San Diego Zoo, baseball at Petco Park (Go Padres!) and museums like the gorgeous New Children’s Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in Embarcadero.
For those looking to make Downtown San Diego their home, there’s a variety of stunning lofts and condos by the waterfront and breathtaking homes just minutes from the charms of downtown.
See: Whether you’re a history buff or not, the U.S.S. Midway Museum is a must-see. This “floating city at sea” is actually the 20th century’s longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier. Admission gives visitors access to 60 exhibits (see the crews’ sleeping quarters, engine room, jail, etc.) and allows them to view 29 restored aircraft from WWII all the way to Operation Desert Storm. The tour really is unforgettable so don’t miss it.
Do: Attend the San Diego Film Festival between October 2 and October 6 for a chance to view up-and-coming film debuts, exclusive events, film panels, special tributes (i.e. A tribute to director Judd Apatow happens October 3) and more. Advanced ticket prices range from a single day pass for $60 to a V.I.P. pass for $350.
Eat: The Gaslamp district’s Cafe 21 an absolute must for food lovers. Their locally sourced goods make for rave-worthy meals with dishes like Shrimp Corn Cakes, House-Made Crepes and Tiramisu Pancakes for brunch and Curry Seared Scallops and Fontina Fondue for dinner. Prices aren’t cheap, but devoted fans say the food (and drinks) are worth every penny.
Stay: The Hotel Indigo® Gaslamp Hotel is the first LEED-certified hotel in Downtown San Diego—which in this eco-conscious time is a pretty nifty quality. The smoke-free, sustainable accommodations are a big hit with guests, with features like hardwood floors, “spa-inspired showers” and ultra comfortable bedding. Hotel amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center, a rooftop bar and a wonderful (no-deposit-necessary) pet policy. Prices for rooms range from approximately $199 per night to $290.
Live: Settle down in the heart of downtown in a beautiful sky-rise condo. The two bedroom/two bath unit is gorgeously furnished and features amazing views of the ocean and city. Priced at $727,000.