The heart of every city lives in its downtown, and San Diego is no exception. Located only minutes from the airport, San Diego's thriving downtown districts offer a plethora of options for accommodations, activities, dining and cultural attractions, all accessible by foot or by trolley. Modern and historic buildings stand side-by-side, in the downtown historic Gaslamp District, housing shops and boutiques, trendy nightclubs, rooftop bars and fine dining restaurants.
During the day, families can enjoy various cultural attractions, like The New Children's Museum, or take in a baseball game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, or catch a ride on the trolley to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. With plenty choices to eat, shop and explore, families can enjoy a true California urban safari in San Diego's downtown district.
After dark, the area transforms into a sophisticated playground for adults. With an endless variety of posh night clubs, sizzling music venues and sky-high rooftop bars, you are bound for an adventurous and memorable night on the town.
On the west edge of San Diego downtown lies 3 miles of the Embarcadero district. Meaning "the landing place" in Spanish, the Embarcadero boardwalk hugs the east side of San Diego Bay, and is home to the San Diego cruise terminal, the Navy Pier and Seaport Village. Climb aboard to explore the ships at the USS Midway Museum, the Star of India, or the Maritime Museum of San Diego. If a moving sea vessel is more your flavor, hop on a harbor cruise and explore the San Diego Bay. For fun on land, visit Seaport Village to grab a bite or pick up a one-of-a-kind gift.
If you're looking for some local flavor, immerse yourself in San Diego's Little Italy district, just north of the downtown. Grab an espresso and biscotti from a local café, or dine alfresco with a plate of hand-made pasta and a glass of Chianti. To walk off that authentic Italian meal, stop into any one of the many art and design galleries in Little Italy, showcasing artwork by international to local artists and furniture designers.
With an array of hotels, attractions, restaurants and cultural venues close by, San Diego's Downtown is a great spot to base your San Diego vacation.
Downtown San Diego is host to every type of accommodation imaginable and to suit any traveler’s budget. From large-scale international hotels offering every amenity and service, to quaint boutique hotels that exude local flavor, to charming inns and intimate bed and breakfasts, you’ll feel right at home at any of the lodging options in this urban California destination.
Browse the list of lodging options below to find your perfect stay in downtown San Diego:
Downtown San Diego is a veritable foodie’s paradise, with plenty of options for every type of cuisine you can imagine. Many of San Diego’s downtown restaurants feature celebrity chefs, farm-to-table options, and fresh catches of the day. From the freshest seafood and sushi, authentic Italian, Mexican or Thai, to New American and California cuisine, if you crave it, you’ll find in downtown San Diego.
Find your perfect meal in San Diego’s downtown from a list of restaurants below and then plan your San Diego itinerary.
San Diego’s distinct downtown neighborhoods offer a diverse variety of activities for every visitor, from families to sophisticated urbanites, with plenty to see, discover and indulge. With the legendary Gaslamp Quarter nestled in its core, San Diego’s downtown sits next to the beautiful San Diego Bay, offering scenic views of the water as you walk through the bustling urban streets of this clean, friendly and accessible downtown district. From museums and bayside boardwalk communities, to posh nightclubs and high-profile restaurants, all accessible on foot, trolley, train or cab, you won’t be short of things to do during your stay.
These are just a few of the things you can do in Downtown San Diego. Browse the articles and listings below for more things to do during your visit and begin planning your San Diego itinerary.
Excitement and celebration never ends in San Diego’s downtown district. This California metropolis hosts a colorful variety of events throughout the year. From ShamROCK, the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration west of the Mississippi, to a bona fide Cajun Mardi Gras celebration, to the festive San Diego Bay Parade of Lights for the Holidays, downtown San Diego sure knows how to have fun!
On any given evening, downtown’s many live music and theater venues take center stage with concerts, performances, musicals and plays. For sports fans, don’t miss taking in a Padres baseball game at PETCO Park, or enjoy a Chargers game at any of the bustling sports bars in the city. Or attend a sophisticated gala or special event at the Museum of Contemporary Art or The New Children’s Museum.
From the North:
Take California I-5 South, exit on Front Street and continue south to Broadway.
From the South:
Take California I-5 FWY north to Sixth Avenue, following Sixth Avenue South off the exit ramp to Broadway.
From the East:
Take the 94 freeway west until it ends and turns into F Street. Follow F street west into the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown.
Most of San Diego’s public transportation options run through downtown allowing you to get there from almost anywhere. Plenty of express buses get you there even quicker. The Coaster and Amtrak trains also stop at downtown’s Santa Fe Station.