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Gaslamp District - San Diego

Nineteenth Century Charm Persists in San Diego's Gaslamp

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The Gaslamp area is the heart of San Diego history – and convention-goer central. People who go there without knowing much about it can end up irritated and unhappy. This guide will help you avoid that, no matter you’re looking for.

©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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Victorian Architecture in the Gaslamp

©2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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Historic Heart of San Diego

©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

The Gaslamp Quarter is an area of great architectural charm, its streets lined with original nineteenth-century buildings and others moved in from other parts of the San Diego, all restored to their original exuberance. Restaurants, shops and clubs occupy former brothels and saloons. A random walk will give you a sense of the place and it's only a few blocks in each direction - enjoy the nice buildings, do a little shopping and have a meal.

If you plan to stay in the area, check the recommended places to stay. A cadre of shiny new hotels stand on the edge of the district, but a few are also located in historic buildings.

Scenes from the Gaslamp

Enjoy our best shots on a Photo Tour of San Diego Gaslamp District

What's the Big Deal About the Gaslamp District?

San Diego's Gaslamp District draws visitors to its shops, restaurants and night clubs. While San Diegans may not heap the same disdain on it that San Franciscans do on Fisherman's Wharf, there are similarities - and it seems fewer and fewer residents find their way to the area. You'll find boutique shops offering interesting wares alongside t-shirt shops and souvenir-sellers and Horton Plaza is the local shopping center.

When energy fails, you'll find more than 70 restaurants and clubs to refuel at.

Ghostly Tours in History offers a night-time ghost tour of the Gaslamp, a good alternative if you want to be out at night and aren't a nightclub-goer.

Gaslamp District History

The San Diego Gaslamp District got a slow start. The city's earliest residents shunned the waterfront, choosing instead to build at the elevated location of today's Old Town. An early development venture nearer the waterfront failed, so utterly that the area came to be called Rabbitville, in honor of its primary inhabitants. In 1867, entrepreneur Alonzo Horton built a new downtown near the water and soon, the area was booming. Gamblers and prostitutes moved in. The legendary (but by then retired) Old West sheriff Wyatt Earp ran three gambling halls here. Over the years, commerce moved toward Market Street and all that remained was a red-light district known as the Stingaree. The Gaslamp District languished for many years before its current renaissance.

For a deeper look into the Gaslamp's roots, take a self-guided guided walking tour from the William Heath Davis House at 410 Island Avenue (Fourth and Island).

Practicalities

Public restrooms are located at the corner of Third and C Streets.

There are lots of restaurants in this small area. Use a practical approach to choose one: stroll around and preview the menus. Unfortunately, a full restaurant is not always a good place to eat in the Gaslamp, with many eateries spending more energy to get people in the door than on providing them a good value for money once they're inside.

Where Is the Gaslamp District Located?

San Diego Gaslamp District
San Diego, CA
619-233-4692
Gaslamp District Website

The Gaslamp District is located in downtown San Diego near the Convention Center. Officially called the "Gaslamp Quarter," the rectangle-shaped, sixteen-square-block area is bounded by Broadway and K Streets between Fourth and Sixth Streets.

You'll find plenty of ways to get there:

  • If you're at the Convention Center, walk across Harbor Blvd. at 5th Avenue - you'll be facing the entry arch.

  • If you're at Seaport Village, walk away from the waterfront on Kettner Blvd., crossing Harbor Blvd. and turning right onto G Street. You'll be there in a few blocks.

  • Take the San Diego Trolley to Gaslamp Station or 5th Avenue Station.

  • Hail a pedicab (an open-topped, bicycle-powered vehicle). They charge a flat fee for a point-to-point trip, and rates are somewhat negotiable when they're not busy.

  • If you're using a GPS system, set it to 207 5th Avenue, which is at the entry archway. You'll find a 550-space parking garage at Sixth and Market.

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