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Experience San Diego Arts with a Self-guided Tour

An itinerary that is rich in colors, flavors, and sounds

San Diego’s art and culture scene is a vibrant and ever-changing mix of offerings that engage diverse audiences all year long.

Bask in the Visual Beauty

See breathtaking waterfront views and one of a kind artwork from a 1898 Berkeley steam ferry, imagine the sounds of military recruits of the past while enjoying artisan chocolates and dance at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station, see how art and innovation can transform a neighborhood, taste the original craft beer of North Park after a show at a historic theater, see why Balboa Park is a model for creativity, innovation and collaboration, and get in touch with your inner artist at The New Children's Museum.

Barrio Logan: From the Streets to the Studios

In the early 1970s, this historic neighborhood became host to the world's largest collection of Chicano murals. This rich history is fueling its revival as an arts enclave today. Enjoy historic murals at Chicano Park, venture into unique design studios such as Glashaus, Bread & Salt and La Bodega and enjoy coffee at local Ryan Brothers. Immerse yourself in the buzz of street life in this bold, colorful neighborhood.

North Park Art: The New Urban Village

The historic urban neighborhood of North Park has evolved into a vibrant village, driven by architectural restoration, culinary creativity and a grassroots arts community. An eclectic array of farm-to-table restaurants, independent coffee shops, visual art galleries and dance studios can be found along the main arteries of 30th Street and University Avenue. Visit the historic Observatory North Park (formerly the North Park Theater), which reopened after major renovations in 2005. See an artist-run storefront exhibition space or sample some of the neighborhood's many notable craft beer pubs. Don't miss the monthly Ray at Night art and entertainment event happening along Ray Street on the second Saturday of each month.

Gaslamp Quarter: Red-Light District to Entertainment Mecca

Stroll through the historic Gaslamp Quarter and discover more than nightclubs and bars (not that those are bad!). Begin with a picnic lunch at Petco Park; visit Space4Art, a new collective of artist studios; tour the newly restored Balboa Theater; and visit the Asian Pacific Historic District. See how this downtown district has evolved since its days as a haven for saloons, gambling halls, and bordellos.

On the Waterfront

Head to the harbor toward the Maritime Museum of San Diego to take in the nautical themed exhibitions housed inside historic ships. Make your way a little further north along the waterfront and tour the San Salvador, a historically accurate replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's ship built by San Diego's Maritime Museum. End your tour at Little Italy and enjoy art galleries, funky furniture shops and cafes.

Report for Duty

Experience the ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station, a growing destination for San Diego's creative community with waterfront parks and Spanish Revival architecture, at the former Naval Training Center. Catch a class or watch a rehearsal of Malashock Dance, San Diego Ballet or San Diego Dance Theater at Dance Place San Diego. Stop in for hands-on art and music making at Bravo School of Art and the Recreational Music Center, sample artisan chocolates at Chi Chocolat and tour any of the many art galleries.

Contemporary San Diego: Art Inside & Out

First stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where you can take in the latest exhibition. Pass through the historic Santa Fe Train Depot, a stunning example of Spanish Mission Colonial Revival architecture on the way to the next stop, the San Diego State University Downtown Gallery, featuring important work by SDSU alumni and faculty. Finally, engage your inner-child with hands-on art-making at The New Children's Museum.

U of Art & Architecture

The University of California, San Diego is world-renowned for its scientific and engineering achievements, but the impulse to innovate is around every corner. Home to the La Jolla Playhouse, a Tony Award-winning theater; the Stuart Collection of site-specific sculptures; and ARTPOWER!, a presenter of international performers and artists, UCSD ignites dialogue between artists, students, scholars, and the community. Louis Kahn's neighboring architectural masterpiece, the Salk Institute, counterbalances the campus's own Brutalist-style Geisel Library.

Balboa Park

See why Balboa Park is an international destination for arts, science and culture. Experience the museums putting the latest audience research into action. Play Giskin Anomaly, a mobile phone adventure—best described as "part scavenger hunt, part information, part walk." Wind through the Park's Spanish Renaissance architecture and lush landscape with stops at the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego Air & Space Museum, Mingei Museum and more. Tired? Relax at a performance at one of the Old Globe Theatre's three stages.

With so much to see and do in San Diego County, guided tours can often be the best way to get a taste of San Diego from a local's point of view. From historic Gaslamp Quarter walking tours to snorkeling with the leopard sharks to a twilight sail on the Big Bay, or a Trolley Tour around town, experienced sightseeing guides are available to navigate the way.

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

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