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 such as The New Children's Museum; take in a baseball game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres; or catch the San Diego 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 nightclubs, sizzling music venues and sky-high rooftop bars, there are 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, Seaport Village and The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the permanent outdoor home of the San Diego Symphony. Climb aboard to explore the ships at the USS Midway Museum, the Star of India at 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 The Headquarters at Seaport 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, plus trendy cafes, craft beer bars and a 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, flavorful fare are worth the trip.
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 and scooter programs including Circuit, Uber and Lyft provide great alternatives to move around town.
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