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Ultimate Guide to the Gaslamp Quarter

Ultimate Guide to the Gaslamp Quarter

The heart of downtown San Diego is the historic Gaslamp Quarter. From past to present, business deals continue to be brokered, food consumed, photos taken and stores shopped while culture winds through the streets. From port city to today’s designation of “America’s Finest City,” San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter thrives. Architecture delights passersby as they wander the blocks and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the region.

Pulsing with people from morning to night, visitors and locals walk side by side in the 16.5 blocks of the Gaslamp Quarter. All 12 months of the year visitors flock to this city by the sea to take in shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, sporting arenas, conferences, concerts, Comic-Con and more. Over 150 years old, from gambling halls and brothels to boomtown tourism mecca, this area has seen an incredible transformation.

Image of Gaslamp Quarter Sign in Old Town San Diego

A Little Bit of History

Years ago, San Diego’s center was Old Town. In the late 19th century, optimistic visionaries such as Alonzo Horton and William Heath suggested a move to the Gaslamp District. Turning a port city that acted as a “red light district” into a friendly neighborhood took time, effort, energy and almost 100 years. The charm of the brick sidewalks, the antique likes of the buildings’ Victorian architecture and the brilliant glow of the artificial gas lamps continue to contribute to the historical feel of the new city center.

Outside the San Diego Convention Center with its adjacent carefully manicured lawn

Find Your Convention

Yearly conventions take place at the San Diego Convention Center. Travel shows, conferences and other events fill the city with visitors and locals daily. In July, Comic-Con envelops the city with the likes of Hollywood royalty, animators and avid fans. The long weekend of shows, signings, surreal performances and speaking engagements unleashes incredible creativity and costumes in the city.

Seaside Living

A few blocks from the Gaslamp Quarter lies the seaport. Wander along the esplanade for a bit of exercise or enjoy taking in sights of the super yachts and Dole boats. If you like, hop on the ferry to Coronado for a visit to the famed Hotel Del Coronado. Check out the shops and eateries at Seaport Village and the Headquarters or spend an afternoon going back in time at the Maritime Museum or the USS Midway. On July 4th, head to the area to watch a stunning spectacle as the city lights up the sky with a festive fireworks presentation.

The Gaslamp Quarter provides a cozy spot for retail therapy. Here, candy shops and vintage toy stores mix with local boutiques and national chains. If nothing strikes your fancy, head towards Horton Plaza’s outdoor shopping mall to find the likes of Macy’s, Victoria Secret and Claire’s along with Jimbo’s Natural Food Grocer and 24 Hour Fitness.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Whatever you crave, you’ll find it in the Gaslamp Quarter. From casual to fancy, eclectic to traditional and everything in between, the restaurants in the district take your taste buds on a culinary journey. Fast food, healthy food, diners and street-side cafes mix with fine dining establishments causing delicious aromas to waft through the streets. Be it steakhouses like Lou & Mickey’s, the Persian flavors of Bandar, Mexican cuisine of La Fiesta or the exotic essence of Asia at Royal India, visitors won’t be disappointed.

Let them Entertain You

All year long, the Quarter provides something to see. Try taking in the musical talents of the San Diego Symphony and be delighted by the waterfront musings of the Symphony’s Summer Pops concert concluding with its signature fireworks. Broadway San Diego astounds guests nightly in productions at the Civic Center and Balboa Theatre.

Sleep in the Heart of America’s Finest City

Accommodations range from boutique hotels to world-renown brands. Find an elegant inn, a long-term stay or a water view room just for you. There’s Marriott, Hilton, Omni and Hard Rock (to name a few) next to the local favorite, The Horton Grand. Whether you’re looking for a place to lay your head, a multi-generational family gathering or a waterside wedding venue, the Gaslamp Quarter has it all.

Exterior of Petco Park adjacent to the highway system in Downtown San Diego

Play Ball

Smack in the middle of downtown sits San Diego’s Major League Baseball stadium, Petco Park. Blocks from the Gaslamp Quarter, nightly entertainment takes place all season. With food vendors from craft beer to fish tacos, Petco Park has something for everyone. In 2015, Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones graced the grounds as well as baseball stars from across the nation. In December, spend an evening wandering through the Holiday Wonderland complete with lights, festive cheer and their very own reindeer.

Out on the Town

From Shout’s dueling pianos to the dynamic sounds of The House of Blues, San Diego’s nightlife doesn’t disappoint. There’s a bar or club for all seasons. Evening entertainment at Dublin Square Irish Pub, live music at Tin Roof as well as events at The Hard Rock bring music center stage. Holidays find bars and clubs open late with energetic party-goers. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day bring some of the biggest crowds and best people-watching spots to the Gaslamp Quarter.

Choose Your Own Adventure

From 4th to 6th Avenues and Broadway to Harbor Drive, the Gaslamp Quarter flourishes. Come for a conference or stay for a SEAL Tour. Whether on foot, bus, train, trolley, bike or Segway, it’s easy to get a feel for this city. Merging a bit of history and sights with sunshine, ease and the laid back attitude of San Diego, there are many ways to visit the city.