Downtown San Diego
Stretching from the waterfront to Interstate 5, downtown San Diego is home to a wealth of recreational attractions, restaurants, walkable neighborhoods, and historical sights. It’s a great starting point to get oriented with the city before branching out to the beaches and surrounding areas.
Downtown San Diego sits just minutes from the airport, meaning you can enjoy a speedy start to your stay after arriving in the city. The Gaslamp Quarter is downtown’s most popular district, known for its lively atmosphere both day and night. You can also walk to Petco Park to catch a Padres baseball game, take your kids to the New Children’s Museum, stroll through the Embarcadero to the USS Midway Museum, or go shopping at Seaport Village.
If you’re looking for a guided experience, book a walking tour for an up-close look at the Gaslamp Quarter or another neighborhood, or opt for a Segway tour to cover more ground while still being outside.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Cruise ships dock at the piers downtown, so prepare for crowds of visitors getting off their ships if you happen to be visiting at the same time.
- Ferries to Coronado Island leave from Broadway Pier and the 5th Avenue landing.
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking through the Gaslamp or along the waterfront.
How to Get There
Downtown is sandwiched between San Diego Bay, Little Italy, Interstate 5, and Commercial Street. It’s easily reached by public transport, including the Trolley (light rail), the Coaster, and several city buses.
When to Get There
There’s always something going on, day or night. Major events include San Diego Comic Con every July, the Mardi Gras parade and celebration in the Gaslamp Quarter, the San Diego Film Festival, and the Monster Bash Halloween Party in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Just on the other side of Interstate 5 from downtown, Balboa Park is home to the lion’s share of San Diego’s cultural institutions, making it the next place to visit after you’ve covered downtown. Attractions include the San Diego Zoo, Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, and San Diego Air & Space Museum.
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
- New Children's Museum
- Petco Park
- San Diego Convention Center
- San Diego Air & Space Museum
- Little Italy San Diego
- San Diego Automotive Museum
- San Diego Sports Association
- San Diego Harbor
- Seaport Village
- B-Street Pier & Cruise Ship Terminal
- Maritime Museum of San Diego
- USS Midway Museum
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion