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Downtown & Gaslamp Quarter

The hottest nightlife scene on the West Coast

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Discover San Diego's Urban Side

The heartbeat of every city lives in its downtown, and San Diego is no exception. Located only minutes from the airport, San Diego's thriving urban center offers an abundance of options for accommodations, activities, dining and cultural attractions, all easily accessible by foot, bike, car or public transportation.  In the historic Gaslamp Quarter, where modern architecture and Victorian-Age buildings stand side-by-side, you’ll discover eclectic galleries, chic boutiques, trendy nightclubs, rooftop bars, gastropubs, craft beer haunts and fine dining restaurants lining the streets. 

During the day, families can enjoy compelling cultural attractions in San Diego's downtown, like The New Children's Museum, take in a baseball game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, or catch the trolley to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. With plenty of places to eat, shop and explore, families can enjoy a true California urban safari.

After dark, the city transforms into a sophisticated playground for adults. With an endless variety of posh night clubs, sizzling music venues and sky-high rooftop bars, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy a memorable night on the town.

The waterfront Embarcadero (or "landing place" in Spanish) lines the western edge of  downtown. Its boardwalk hugs the San Diego Bay, home to the 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 style, hop on a harbor cruise and explore the bay,  while taking in the skyline views. For fun on land, head to the Headquarters at Seaport Village to grab a gourmet bite or browse for one-of-a-kind take-home treasures. 

If you're looking for some authentic local flavor, immerse yourself in San Diego's Little Italy district, just north of downtown, where you can grab a slice of pizza or an espresso and biscotti from a local café, or dine at one of the celebrity chef restaurants located on bustling Kettner Boulevard known as “Top Chef Alley."  Just south of downtown sits the vibrant East Village, a revitalized warehouse district with a hip social scene, and trendy cafes, craft beer bars and high energy vibe. East of downtown you’ll find Barrio Logan, the epicenter of San Diego’s Hispanic community, where art and food converge in a symphony of sights, sounds and tastes. The colorful murals and outstanding fare are worth the trip.

Getting to Downtown & Gaslamp Quarter

Downtown is the heart of San Diego and there's not shortage of ways to get into the action. All major freeways go through the city including Interstate 5 and 805, and State Highway 163. Unlike many cities, traffic during rush hour flows away from the city in the morning, and into the city at night - so for tourists, the trip is quick! San Diego's public transportation system is efficient and cost-effective. The Red Trolley crosses the city in several key areas with major connections at downtown's Santa Fe Station. Amtrak and the Coaster rail service connects North County and its quintessential beach towns to downtown action. And once you are in the city, ride share programs including Car-To-Go, DecoBike, and FRED (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown) provide great alternatives to move around town.

Discover Downtown & Gaslamp Quarter

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Barrio Logan

A Hidden Hub for Art

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San Diego's Historic Gaslamp Quarter

Not only is this area the epicenter of San Diego’s nightlife scene, it is also rich with cultural offerings

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San Diego's Embarcadero

A great place for a stroll along the water

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Downtown after sundown

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Fall in San Diego

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San Diego Restaurant Week

Jan 15 - Jan 22, 2017

This September, San Diego Restaurant Week will celebrate local by showcasing the fresh and delicious ingredients that our region is known for with Eight Days of Dining!

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Museum Month: Half-Off Admission

Feb 1 - Feb 28, 2017

Presented by Macy's, San Diego Museum Month invites everyone to enjoy half-off entry fees at 40+ museums throughout the county for the all of February.

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Buddy the Elf's Carols and Barrels

Dec 3, 2016

I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked over the Coronado Bridge, all to get to you for an afternoon filled with beer, wine, food, holiday cheer, and of course elves!

The best part is that your affinity for elf culture supports my favorite charity Cancer For College and gives cancer survivors the opportunity to realize their dreams of attending college through scholarships. I hope you'll join us for this year's Carols and Barrels and spread holiday cheer by singing loud for all to hear. Son-of-a-nutcracker, we are going to have a good time!

Your friend,

Buddy the Elf

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San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec 11 - Dec 18, 2016

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see.

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San Diego International Auto Show

Dec 29, 2016 - Jan 2, 2017

Where the cars are the stars! The San Diego International Auto Show features the widest variety of new vehicles under one roof.

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Joe Bonamassa

Dec 14, 2016

Hailed worldwide as one of the greatest guitar players of his generation, Joe Bonamassa has almost single-handedly redefined the blues-rock genre and brought it into the mainstream.

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Deals just for you

Activity

Save Up to $3 on Admission to USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum
Valid: Jan 1 - ongoing

Save $3 off on Adult Admission and $2 off Youth Admission at the USS Midway Museum.

Tours & Sightseeing

$5 off Sunday Champagne Brunch Cruise

Flagship Cruises & Events
Valid: Oct 28 - Dec 31, 2016

Save $5 and hop aboard a Flagship luxury yacht to have an amazing San Diego brunch cruise experience.

Accommodation

Airline Employee Special / ID Required

Porto Vista Hotel
Valid: Feb 6 - ongoing

10-15% discount, Breakfast for 2, and $15 Discounted parking. Airline Identification required at check-in to qualify for this rate. Airline Employee must be part of traveling party. Discount is non-transferable. 2 rooms maximum per Employee.

Related Articles and Features

Breweries

San Diego Craft Beer Walking Tour Itinerary

With so many breweries producing such a wealth of different beers, it can help to focus your plans around a geographic region or even by the types of beers you want to experience.

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Tours & Sightseeing

First Timer Trips to San Diego

Special 1-day itinerary highlights top attractions

To help you make the most of a first-time visit to San Diego, we've developed a special day-long itinerary highlighting some of the city's top attractions.

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Food & Drink

Ultimate Night Downtown

The definitive list of all the spots you should hit

This Ultimate Night Downtown will guide a reader from happy hour to dinner, then maybe a craft cocktail lounge, a rooftop bar and finally a pulsing nightclub.

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Biking

San Diego 24-mile Bike Route

The Bayshore Bikeway

Palm trees and the sun-soaked coastline make the Bayshore Bikeway an iconic ride, and a must if you’re looking for a memorable cycling outing during your stay in San Diego.

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Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

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