The Gaslamp Quarter, located in the heart of downtown San Diego, has come a long way since its start in 1867. It is home to some of the finest restaurants in San Diego, and is an ideal place to spend an entertaining weekend. Go shopping at The Horton Plaza, see a Padres game at Petco Park, or see a play at the Civic Center, all while admiring the unique, historical architecture of the city.
A Weekend Away in San Diego
Although San Diego has much to offer including the miles of surf and sand, the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, and the world famous theme parks and zoo, this list keeps you in the heart of the city. The Gaslamp District and its surrounding neighborhoods are where one will find the most "hustle and bustle" in this laid back chilled out city. Here you'll find the historical charm and hip night life, while the beaches and Taco Tuesday specials are just minutes away.
The San Diego trolley is a great way to get around to the good places in San Diego. You can go to the shopping malls in Mission Valley, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Seaport Village, Old Town, Convention Center, downtown, the Embarcadero, and the U.S. border with Mexico.
The trolley is really easy to use, and a good idea if you are planning to attend any of the dozens of festivals, street fairs or farmer's markets that are happening here throughout the year.
Why deal with the traffic when you can sit in a newly renovated trolley?
What fascinates me the most about Balboa Park is that it was built as a series of temporary structures during the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. And they are still standing today. The structures have been slowly replaced with more permanent concrete additions. Regardless, the whole park was supposed to be temporary!
Inside the park are 17 museums, 19 gardens, the Old Globe Theatre (a working theater that is a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London) and much more. There are two restaurants, my favorite being the Del Prado, and there's an arboretum, which is where this image was taken.
Many festivals are held here, a popular one is December Nights, which is usually held in the second weekend of December and is a huge event, attracting thousand of San Diegans & tourists. The Earth Day festival is also held here.
Don't miss the...
Seaport Village is located right on the waterfront, and has more than 70 shops, restaurants, and attractions. Its location right next to the bay in downtown San Diego makes it an easy walk from most downtown hotels. My mom loves this place, and I take her here every holiday that she visits. The stores are really interesting—sea shells, fabulous handmade candles, hat shop, soap shop, kites, belt buckles, jewelry and more.
There's an olive oil tasting room, and at another store you'll find the hottest sauces in the country. Next to an eclectic bookstore is a neat gallery—there's always something in there I enjoy. My husband and I come here several times a year for breakfast and to walk around one of the little parks nearby.
After a couple hours walking around, you can sit in any of the restaurants located by the water, and have a drink or order lunch. There's some great people-watching...
This is my favorite shop in the San Diego community of Little Italy. Regina DiSilvestro is a chemist and herbalist and has created a line of skin and hair care products.
Everything is made and packaged right there in the back of the shop. They also carry handcrafted jewelry and a selection of bulk herbs.
There's a little sink so you can try out the various products. You can check out their class schedule before you get in town as she holds lotion-making, lip-balm-making and herbal certification classes right there in the shop.
Altitude Sky Lounge is located on the 22 floor of the San Diego Marriott hotel in the Gaslamp district. From here you can see Mexico, Coronado Island, Coronado Bridge, Point Loma and even the Coronado Islands if you come before nightfall. And, you can also see PetCo Ballpark and this place gets packed during a Padre's game. Even if you don't drink, it's worth it just to come check out the view. Of all the sky bars in San Diego, this one has the most to offer.
We usually start our night on the town here around 8 or 9 pm. You can grab a bit to eat downstairs in the restaurant and then head up for a drink. There is a huge firepit and the atmosphere is fun with different colored lighting and there are cushioned couches and seats for lounging. the bar is interesting with a huge water feature running behind it. We usually sit by the wall where we can look over the lights flickering from...
A very cool, Top Chef-owned dining experience in San Diego's Gaslamp District, Searsucker is a great spot, whether you are stopping by for a drink and small bites or decide to try out the entrées—you will not be disappointed. Besides sensational food, the design aesthetics of the modernly outfitted restaurant will please the eye and the hip crowd will keep you entertained.
This is my favorite pub in San Diego. The owner confided in me once that he never thought of this type of business, but one day took an impromptu trip sponsored by Guinness to Ireland to learn about owning a bar. He enjoyed it so much that when he returned to San Diego, he purchased this location and remodeled it to look exactly like a pub in Ireland called Tynan's pub, built in 1702 in Kilkenny. In 2001, the two pubs were twinned in a ceremony held in Kilkenny that was attended by the mayor and several prominent families.
I love the Old World feel of this place and enjoy sitting outside on the patio—an excellent place for people-watching. It gets a little full, but never feels crowded, and they often have live Irish music on the weekends. You can come early for lunch or dinner and they have evening bar food. But I like to come here and have a couple beers before heading out for a...
Whenever I go to San Diego, I spend Saturday morning at the farmer's market in Little Italy, or, as it's called, The Little Italy Mercato. It's in the downtown area and a 10-minute walk from the Gaslamp Quarter. Vendors sell everything from seafood, crepes, and pizzas to organic fruits and vegetables, sauces, teas and coffees, and clothes and jewelry. The weather is always sunny and warm, there is always great live music playing, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby to sit down and people watch.
The ferry from San Diego to Coronado is less than $10 for a round-trip ticket. The ferry landing on the San Diego side is downtown near Sea Port Village. So you can walk around the Village and then take a ferry ride across the water.
This is the least expensive way to enjoy fabulous views of downtown San Diego from the water. Not only will you see our skyline, but also a look at the Coronado Bridge and see the Navy shipyards.
If you're lucky, the ferry will have to stop for a pickup at the Navy base. Although you aren't allowed to take any photographs (for security reasons)—they will take your camera if you have it out—it's a thrill to see the Navy ships and property up close.
At Coronado, the ferry landing is surrounded by shops, restaurants and a beautiful park.
I recommend doing both a nighttime, and a daytime crossing if you have the time. In the evening, the city lights make for a...
Jsix is a beautifully decorated restaurant located in the Gaslamp District in San Diego. Every dish is made from scratch, using ingredients from local farms. On Sunday mornings, one-hour yoga classes are held up on the the rooftop. On the weekend evenings, the rooftop lounge is packed with professionals and hipsters enjoying an evening on the town.
There's parking immediately in front, they start serving at 7 a.m. (we like to eat early), but this restaurant gets busy during peak hours, so I definitely recommend making reservations for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (unless you come really early for breakfast like we do)!
I'm an eggs Benedict girl and judge a place by this dish. If that passes, I'm back for more. The avocado and tomato in the Benedicts here are the freshest I think I've ever tasted.