Downtown's scenic Embarcadero is a perfect place to dine, shop, sightsee and play outdoors. Curling along San Diego Bay, the expansive waterfront area boasts a rich maritime history, eye-catching public art, restaurants with incredible views, and lots of opportunities for fun on and along the water.
Visitors can explore popular maritime sites, shop in charming bayfront settings and tour around San Diego Bay while taking in U.S. Navy ships, aquatic wildlife and spectacular sites. Here's a roundup of seven things that just have to be experienced during your visit to San Diego's picturesque Embarcadero.
Dine with Waterfront Views
Dining along the Embarcadero comes with spectacular views of San Diego Bay. Diners can choose from a variety of Coastal California specialties while gazing at the dramatic San Diego-Coronado Bridge, charming Coronado and sailboats floating along the water at the Edgewater Grill in Seaport Village. There are plenty of gorgeous views and meal options at the Portside Pier, including delicious surf and turf entrees at the Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar and tasty pub fare at Ketch Grill & Taps. Located near popular harbor tours, the USS Midway Museum and Maritime Museum of San Diego, Carnitas Snack Shack is known for its pork-centric menu and specialty crafted cocktails.
Engage with Art
Art and culture lovers can enjoy the Port of San Diego's extensive collection of public art while strolling along the Embarcadero. Playful sculptures and solemn memorials commemorate San Diego's international ties, cultural diversity, and military significance. Taking selfies with a loved one beside the Unconditional Surrender/Embracing Peace statue, located next to the USS Midway Museum is a "must do". The late French-American sculpture Niki de St. Phalle, a one-time resident of San Diego, adorned the Embarcadero with her majestic Coming Together sculpture near the San Diego Convention Center. Symphonic music fills the air during the San Diego Symphony Bayside Summer Nights series. The symphony's diverse programing from classical to film favorites is enjoyed under the stars with fireworks at its new bayfront, outdoor concert venue, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.
Climb Aboard Historic Maritime Museums
At the popular USS Midway Museum, guests can experience the exciting 47-year legacy of the celebrated aircraft carrier that was home to more than 200,000 servicemen. The Midway's flight deck features an extensive collection of fighters, bombers and helicopters that took naval aviation into the jet age. You can meet museum volunteers who proudly served aboard the carrier and bring the flight deck to life recounting stories of life on the high seas. The Maritime Museum of San Diego consists of several historic sailing vessels including the iconic Star of India, built in 1863. One of the museum's prized ships is the San Salvador. The 92-foot galleon is a historically accurate reconstruction of the ship that entered San Diego harbor in 1542 under the helm of Spanish explorer Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo.
Set Sail for Fun
San Diego Bay is one of the world's beautiful natural harbors and bustles with activity throughout the year. You can enjoy great views of active U.S. Navy ships, water wildlife and popular bayfront sites on relaxing sightseeing and dinner cruises or seasonal whale watching excursions that depart daily from the Embarcadero. For excitement and thrills, the Patriot Jet Boat Tour offers a fast-paced experience. It's a 30-minute ride that splashes and speeds through the bay’s scenic waters, carving 360-degree turns and reaching speeds upwards of 50 mph. Another fun tour is offered by San Diego Speed Boat Adventures. Guests take the wheel and become the captain of their own speedboat with this one-of-a-kind, memorable 1.5-hour tour around the bay.
Get Some Exercise
There are abundant opportunities along the Embarcadero to exercise and unwind outdoors. You can take a leisurely jog, brisk walk or fun bike ride, all with beautiful San Diego Bay views. A good 5-mile workout starts at the San Diego Convention Center and continues along the bayfront walkway to the Maritime Museum before runners and walkers turn around for a faster pace back. Afterwards, you can get in the spirit of Rocky Balboa running the 100-step staircase of the San Diego Convention Center. Located behind the center, the Embarcadero Marina Park South parcourse has stations for push-ups, dips and pull-ups along with benches and picnic tables perfect for step-ups and box jumps. Bicyclists enjoy the scenic paths along the Embarcadero, and there are nearby bike shops to rent a variety of types including electric bikes.
Play at Waterfront Parks
The Embarcadero features beautiful grassy parks to enjoy San Diego's year-round beautiful weather and relaxed lifestyle. Waterfront Park is a 12-acre green expanse for children of all ages featuring playgrounds, sweeping bay views and a spectacular 830-foot-long fountain with water jets. You can fly kites, relax on grassy lawns and picnic at Embarcadero Marina Park North and Embarcadero Marina Park South. Located across from the Cruise Ship Terminal, Lane Field Park is designed for visitors to discover hints of the site's history as the former home of the San Diego Padres. Parkgoers can search for home plate, the pitcher's mound and surrounding bases. The park hosts an artisanal street food market, held 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturdays and Sundays.
Enjoy Outdoor Shopping
No visit to the Embarcadero is complete without some retail therapy. Outdoor shopping is popular at Seaport Village with more than 50 themed shops featuring art, toys and souvenirs, plus casual eateries and fine dining restaurants. You can "fly before you buy" at Kite Flight specializing in kites, flying toys and other flying things. Hot Licks has “hot” food items including heat-packed sauces, salsas, seasonings, and snacks. Right next door, The Headquarters at Seaport is a trendy, open-air lifestyle center featuring specialty shops and restaurants. It was the former site of the San Diego Police Station, built in 1939. You can explore the restored eight-cell jail block that houses historic photos and police memorabilia.
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