Things to do in Downtown San Diego

Downtown is the heart and soul of San Diego, always bursting with activity, energy, and excitement. There are plenty of things to do in Downtown San Diego, and it’s easy to get immersed in the landscape of restaurants, bars, and nightlife activities that beckon you around every corner. Never fear! We have highlighted a number of popular and unique spots to check out and things to do in downtown San Diego!

SIGHTSEEING AROUND SAN DIEGO

Get out and enjoy the beautiful sites America’s finest city has to offer. Whether it’s day or night, San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is a visually striking community with several different quirky neighborhoods, a beautiful path along San Diego Bay, and much more.

  1. San Diego Tours
    What better way to get an all-encompassing tour of downtown San Diego than… take a tour! Hang with an expert who knows the ins and outs of downtown and can showcase the best this unique neighborhood has to offer. If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego’s Gaslamp District specifically, you must check out So Diego Tours’ Brothels, Bites, and Booze tour, which takes you through the interesting buildings and history of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter while providing plenty of delicious food and drinks along the way
  2. Foot
    Downtown San Diego’s ideal weather and convenient walkability factor make exploring by foot an achievable feat. It may take up a whole afternoon, but you can easily access Horton Plaza, Little Italy, Seaport Village, and more by foot—three highly recommended destinations that could take up a whole day individually. The USS Midway Museum is also reachable by foot and a definite “must” if you’re a museum fanatic. During your walk to the USS Midway Museum, you will also be able to see the San Diego Convention Center and Seaport Village.
  3. Cycle
    Take a spin around the city on a San Diego bike tour and combine your sightseeing with a bit of exercise! Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the embarcadero to enjoy interesting boats and historical ships or brave the busier streets of downtown to explore shops, restaurants, live music, and interesting characters.

DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO DINING

Don’t know what to do Downtown San Diego? Well, you can’t go wrong with food! The culinary landscape in Downtown San Diego has a delectable variety of options—everything from casual comfort food to classy upscale restaurants. Here is a taste of some trending dining options in the area.

  1. Café Chloe
    Located in San Diego’s hip East Village, Café Chloe is a cozy, neighborhood café with French bistro classics alongside gourmet coffee, tea, and wines. Whether you’re looking for a quick coffee shop, a Sunday brunch, or a romantic dinner, this is the place. The Hache Burger, the Monday-only special at Café Chloe, is definitely worth the visit!
  2. Cucina Urbana
    Cucina Urbana, a farm to table joint located in Banker’s Hill with California-inspired Italian food, uses fresh ingredients from local farmers. While this isn’t your traditional Italian restaurant, Cucina has a variety of inventive gourmet dishes focused on pasta and pizza with Italian spices. The restaurant combines a rustic look with a hipster aesthetic, creating a very community farmhouse feel.
    Cucina Urbana is located just outside of Balboa Park, so after your fill of Italian food, you can check out the zoo and the neighboring museums.
  3. Top of the Market
    Located above San Diego’s finest fish market, this waterfront restaurant lets you enjoy views from Point Loma to the Coronado Bridge, while serving seafood specialties and distinctive desserts in an intimate, elegant dining setting. Using only the freshest catch of the day, the chefs guarantee cooked-to-perfection pieces, from the crab cake appetizer to the swordfish.
  4. Bang Bang
    This Asian fusion restaurant has done a bang of a job with their design, from the entrance staircase looking like a Tokyo subway station to the canopy of lanterns on the ceiling. The pop culture elements don’t stop there, as a trip to the bathroom surprises guests who excitedly discover wall decorations of Godzilla, Ryan Gosling, and more in their bathroom stalls. Try their crispy wonton & tuna tartare tacos for a true Asian fusion experience. With endless specialty drinks and foods, Bang Bang is a spot you won’t want to miss.
  5. Little Italy
    Little Italy is a lively neighborhood just north of Gaslamp District bustling with outdoor cafes, a farmer’s market on Saturdays and Wednesdays, boutique shops, galleries, and more. Alongside Filippi’s Pizza Grotto and Bencotto Italian Kitchen, Buon Appetito is a very well-reviewed restaurant in the heart of Little Italy, featuring traditional Italian courses and an extensive wine list.

NIGHTLIFE IN THE GASLAMP QUARTER

Downtown and the Gaslamp Quarter make up the best landscape of San Diego nightclubs and bars in the area. From classy wine bars and live music to hip, happening clubs, you’re sure to find a spot that fits your mood, occasion, and more. Here’s a look at a few of the unique nightlife spots San Diego has to offer to all of its guests. Want to plan a San Diego pub crawl for your friend’s bachelor or bachelorette party? We’ve got just the tour for you! 

  1. Vin De Syrah
    Considered a hidden gem in Gaslamp, Vin De Syrah is an underground wine bar with an Alice in Wonderland theme, starting from the hidden door entrance to the décor inside. The interior design is truly fantastical, whether it’s the wine barrels being used as lighting, the faux trees coming out of the walls, or the suspended umbrellas from the ceiling. Enjoy the cheese and dessert selection as you appreciate the ambiance inside.
  2. Neighborhood
    With an industrial, modern look to it, Neighborhood is a hit for its extensive list of craft beer. The food items are definitely appetite-satisfying, and the spicy Cajun burger, sweet potato fries, and the bourbon butter pecan milkshake are among menu favorites!
  3. Basic
    Basic is a trendy warehouse-style bar with a hipster atmosphere and late night hours. It’s not just a place with great drinks and cocktails—the thin-crust pizza options here are both original and delicious. The mashed potato pizza, filled with mozzarella, mashed potato, and bacon, is out of this world. The bar is a convenient place to mingle with friends before heading over to Petco Park for a game!
  4. Tipsy Crow
    Located on the most popular block in Gaslamp, Tipsy Crow is a gateway into a wide selection of craft beers and quality cocktails. One of the best parts of Tipsy Crow is The Drink Exchange, where drink prices go up and down depending on their popularity. If you need a break from the dance floor, Tipsy Crow’s three-floor set up has board games, video games, and pool, shuffle, and foosball tables for some good old-fashioned fun.
  5. Altitude Sky Lounge
    Perched on the rooftop of the San Diego Marriot Hotel overlooking Petco Park, Altitude offers breathtaking views of the skyline of historic Downtown San Diego, the San Diego Bay, and Coronado Island. The rooftop’s modern lounge furniture and cozy fire pits give it a trendy, comfortable atmosphere for any social gathering. And to top it off, there is no cover to get in!

ENTERTAINMENT

  1. The Shout House
    Popular for all types of special occasions, The Shout House is the go-to entertainment place for its dueling pianists playing music from the 90s to now. The whole audience gets to participate in the show through song requests, helping to drive the entertainment and good vibes. If you’re looking to switch it up from the typical nightlife scene, The Shout House will keep you entertained all night long!
  2. The American Comedy Company
    This locally owned comedy club hosts nationally acclaimed stand-up comedians, and you can expect a different experience every day. Get your daily dose of hearty chuckling or tears of laughter! You can check out the upcoming lineup and show times from their website, and pricing for show tickets usually range from $10-$30.There’s always something fun and exciting to do in San Diego’s beautiful downtown. Whether you’re new to the area, a long-time local, or a traveling tourist, get out and enjoy what America’s Finest City has to offer!

Brothel Bites and Booze