Downtown San Diego is one of the newest dynamic metropolitan areas in the country, drawing visitors and residents alike with the tantalizing sights and sounds of a unique sophisticated city center. Framed by inland mountains and one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world, downtown San Diego's dazzling cityscape is a testament to years of redevelopment and urban revitalization.
Today, guests can check into a chic suite at the 35-room luxury urban Keating Hotel, designed by Pininfarina, the Italian design firm responsible for the international brands Ferrari and Maserati, or the 420-room 24/7 Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.
During the night, guests can party away in the eclectic Gaslamp Quarter, a 16.5 block historic district, ablaze with over 100 restaurants, 40 nightclubs and bars, entertainment, and retail opportunities galore. During daylight, they can visit the 42,000-seat PETCO Park and cheer on the hometown Padres, or climb aboard the USS Midway Museum to explore the city's rich Navy heritage.
Boutique shopping and trendy cafes abound in colorful Little Italy; outdoor recreation, public art and nautical history fills downtown's waterfront, and the region's rich arts and culture is on display in the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.
Downtown's multiple construction sites and cranes are evidence of a continuing building boom that includes new urban living, hotels, restaurants, retail, and art projects in its eight distinct neighborhoods: Columbia, the Core, Cortez Hill, East Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza, Little Italy, and Marina. The following is a list of these exciting developments that awaits visitors in San Diego's vibrant and diverse downtown urban center.
In the historic Gaslamp Quarter , consisting of 16½-blocks around Fourth and Fifth Avenues, grand Victorian-era buildings are home to more than 100 of the city's finest restaurants, 35 pubs and nightclubs and 100 retails shops, as well as theaters, art galleries, offices and residential/work lofts. When the sun sets, this downtown neighborhood attracts thousands of diners, shoppers, theatergoers, and nightclub patrons.
The 159-room luxury Andaz Hotel features 16 suites, two presidential suites and one signature suite boasting two levels with a spiral staircase leading to a private poolside cabana. Additional features include a personal butler on each floor; Ivy Nightclub , a four-level nightclub; Quarter Kitchen , a street-level restaurant seating 180 guests; Ivy Rooftop , a rooftop terrace and swimming pool, and 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The boutique-style 35-room Keating Hotel features modern and expressive Italian design by Pininfarina, the world-renowned Italian design firm behind famed luxury brands Ferrari and Maserati. Located in the Keating Building (circa 1890) with a Romanesque-Revival facade, the hotel is Pininfarina's first foray into hotel design and features a modern and sleek interior punctuated with historic details. The hotel also offers an on-call lifestyle concierge and an underground semi-private lounge.
The Victorian-style 132-room Horton Grand Hotel , comprised of two hotels of the 1880s, was once home to Wyatt Earp during his seven-year stay in San Diego.
The 282-room Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter's most unique feature is its 30 residential-style lofts.
Offering 64 rooms, the restored late-Victorian Gaslamp Plaza Suites was San Diego's first skyscraper when it was built in 1913 at 11 stories.
Croce's Restaurants & Bars , established by Ingrid Croce as a tribute to her late husband ‘70s singer/songwriter Jim Croce, is a local landmark combining live jazz and fine dining for more than 20 years.
With rich mahogany paneling and painted caricatures depicting famous San Diegans, George's on Fifth is housed in one of the most photographed historical buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter and serves American classics, seafood and steaks.Visitors can embark on culinary journeys around the world when dining in the Gaslamp Quarter's 100 restaurants. Cuisines to be savored include Afghan, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Persian, Spanish, Thai and more.
Located in an historic warehouse, Stingaree is a luxury restaurant and nightlife destination offering three stories, floor-to-ceiling waterfalls and translucent floating staircases leading to a rooftop bar retreat.
At Thin , partygoers perch on polished steel barstools and sip Cadillac margaritas in a futuristic setting. In the Onyx Room, located directly downstairs, urban beats move an energetic dance area and swinging lounge.
At Side Bar , hipsters gather for hip-hop beats and house music, cool cocktails and a laid-back, retro, sophisticated lounge atmosphere.
At Café Sevilla , the DJ plays Latin disco and hip-hop music while flamenco dinner shows heat up the stage on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Field Authentic Irish Pub & Restaurant offers traditional Irish music, imported draft beer, Irish whiskeys, and award-winning pub fare in a setting that was shipped piece-by-piece from Ireland.
Arts & Culture/Entertainment
The Horton Grand Theater is home to the Lamb's Players Theater which puts on award-winning productions year-round.
The William Heath Davis Historical House Museum is the Gaslamp Quarter's oldest surviving structure, a saltbox-style home shipped around Cape Horn and assembled in 1850 in San Diego.
The Shout! House features dueling piano players sitting face-to-face at grand pianos and performing classic rock ‘n' roll hits from the '50s to the present, driven by audience requests.
The Tim Cantor Gallery features oil paintings, writings and conceptual works of art; CJ Gallery showcases the work of contemporary Asian artists; Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts displays fine art and works from emerging national and international artists; and Brokers Building Art Gallery offers one of the largest gallery spaces in downtown.
The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation offers a vivid re-creation of the Gaslamp Quarter's history with a guided walking tour. Foundation guides share stories from the late 1800s when the area flourished as a red-light district.
ShoppingVisitors looking to expand their wardrobe can head to G-Star for all their denim needs, Lady Asher , a women's contemporary boutique, and The Lingerie Lounge .
Guests can decorate their homes with unique pieces from Kita Ceramics & Glassware offering imported wares from Italy and Japan, and Opium Gallery selling exotic furniture and gifts.
Mardi Gras in The Gaslamp Quarter on Fat Tuesday is the largest Mardi Gras party on the U.S. West Coast and features a Mardi Gras parade and outdoor block party with several stages offering live musical acts.
Occurring every St. Patrick's Day, shamROCK is an evening of Irish food, live music and lucky libations including “green beer” and pints of Guinness.
Once home to San Diego's flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy is a quaint and lively neighborhood filled with patio cafés, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, shops, hotels, and the beautiful Amici Park.
The 68-room, Mediterranean-style La Pensione offers quaint accommodations along with a bistro, open-air courtyard and Italian restaurant.
Little Italy Inn is a boutique bed and breakfast with 23 rooms, each with its own style and décor.
The Porto Vista Hotel , with its Italian-inspired, playful imagery and iconic Mediterranean design, offers 190 guest rooms.
India Street is lined with several restaurants featuring cuisines of both Southern and Northern Italy, including Sicilian dishes served with a modern flair at Trattoria Fantastica and sophisticated Italian food with a cozy ambiance at Buon Appetito . Filippi's Pizza Grotto features an old-fashioned Italian dining experience along with a delicatessen and market, which offers everything from prosciutto to mascarpone.
Caffe Italia offers street-side tables and a serene courtyard atrium along with paninis, salads and a wide selection of Italian gelato.
The menu at Extraordinary Desserts is an innovative melding of the owner's classic French background and her experience in the tropics of Hawaii and Mexico.
Indigo Grill's varied colorful motifs and cuisines of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Oaxaca, Mexico provide a unique dining experience.
At Anthology , a world-renowned chef creates California fresh masterpieces, while musicians set the rhythm in a state-of-the-art venue.
Since 1934, the Waterfront Bar & Grill has been a favorite local watering hole serving locally brewed ales and burgers.
British-owned and -operated British Princess Pub serves British and Irish beers, along with traditional pub fare such as fish and chips for patrons watching soccer and rugby via satellite TV.
Anthology is a contemporary version of the great supper clubs of the 30s and 40s. Nightly entertainment, which can be enjoyed on any of their three levels, includes some of the finest artists in the world in Jazz, Rock, Blues, Latin, Indie, Classical and Singer/Songwriter.
The Kettner Art & Design District encompasses a group of retail shops and art galleries that feature grand selections of home furnishings and fashion accessories. Among its 21 shops is Mixture, featuring a young and fresh take on contemporary furniture, and India Street Antiques, offering affordable European dressers, armoires, cabinets, and other collectibles.
Italian-inspired retail includes colorful sconces and sparkling chandeliers at Simply Italian and elegant Italian ceramics and gifts at Bella Stanza .
Fir Street Shops is a block of colorful cottages housing stylish and unique boutiques, such as the Carol Gardyne Gallery , which offers designer scarves and jewelry.
Architectural Salvage is a haven of vintage home décor and accessories like antique drawer handles.
Arts & CultureArt galleries include Scott White Contemporary Art , which promotes the works of emerging and mid-career artists, and Perry L. Meyer Fine Art , specializing in 18th-century art to contemporary works on paper.
EventsDuring the annual Mission Federal Art Walk in April, guests enjoy a variety of art media displayed in outdoor venues, studios, galleries, and local businesses, along with live entertainment.
Every October is the Annual Festa , a traditional street festival with music, fine foods and specialty crafts.
Held the second Friday of every other month, Kettner Nights is a progressive evening event featuring art and design exhibitions in the Kettner Art & Design District.
The Marina district is home to the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and the bayside San Diego Convention Center with its unique architecture and sail-roofed Pavilion.
HotelsThe 1,362-room San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina's two curved and glass-sheathed towers lend their distinctive features to the San Diego skyline. www.marriott.com/sandt
The double-towered, 1,625-room Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego features three restaurants and four bars, including The Top of the Hyatt on the 40th floor, offering panoramic views. www.manchestergrand.hyatt.com
Located across the street from Seaport Village, the Embassy Suites Hotel San Diego Bay offers 337 spacious suites and a seafood restaurant.www.essandiegobay.com
RestaurantsThe San Diego Wine & Culinary Center offers an urban winery experience with a wine and cocktail tasting bar; a bright, open kitchen for chef demonstrations; wine blending, and cooking classes. www.sdwineculinary.com
At Galileo 101 Ristorante and Bar , guests enjoy a European-fusion menu featuring fresh pasta and seafood specialties. www.g101.com
A local breakfast favorite, the funky Café 222 serves up a menu of stuffed omelets, various benedicts and their signature peanut butter waffles. www.cafe222.com
Film buffs love to visit Kansas City Barbecue , where bar scenes from the popular 1986 film " Top Gun " were filmed. www.kcbbq.net
The Fish Market offers visitors a casual dining experience with oyster and cocktail bars, while the fine-dining menu served at the second-floor Top of the Market is paired with views of Coronado and San Diego Bay. www.thefishmarket.com
SpasSpa Tiki is a South Seas-inspired day spa offering all the earthy elements and exotic allure of a tropical island resort. www.spatiki.com
ShoppingSeaport Village , a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex, recreates a California harbor setting of a century ago with four miles of meandering cobblestone pathways, ponds, fountains, lush landscaping, 57 themed shops, restaurants, and cafes. www.spvillage.com
Future DevelopmentsSlated to open late 2007, the Spinnaker Hotel will sit west of the San Diego Convention Center, near Embarcadero Marina Park South; the 20-story, 250-room hotel will feature a ferry/water taxi terminal and a pedestrian bridge connecting the hotel to the convention center.
The three-story Children's Museum/Museo de los Ninos San Diego , slated to open late 2007, will include art galleries, paint and design studios, a tech space, sit-down café, and an adjacent museum park with outdoor art pieces and space for children to create art. www.sdchildrensmuseum.org