The Gaslamp Quarter is not just in the heart of downtown San Diego. It IS the heart of downtown San Diego. This safe, clean 16-block district claims over 150 restaurant and nightlife venues, 80 boutiques and shops, and more than 20 hotels in the neighborhood. Throw in the Padres' Petco Park and entertainment venues like House of Blues, Balboa Theatre, and The American Comedy Co. and you've hit pay dirt for a great night out no matter what anyone's interests are. The Gaslamp attracts both tourists and locals alike but by day, you'll find a more casual, window shopping, margarita-as-an-afterthought crowd vs. by night, when 20-something slicksters flood the streets dressed to impress and ready to get their drink on. A lively, buzzing environment is a given in the Gaslamp on a daily basis in addition to it playing host to annual street-party events like Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp and ShamRock.
Locals' tips: Start your Gaslamp good-time at the end of 5th Ave. (5th and L St.) where the Gaslamp Quarter arch is. If you take the Trolley (www.sdmts.com for Trolley info) in, the Gaslamp stop is right there. If you're driving, parking may be the most frustrating part of your Gaslamp experience so avoid parking right within the Gaslamp perimeter (between 4th and 6th). There are plenty of surface street lots around the Gaslamp where you'll find cheaper flat rates (~$10) and save yourself some stress. 5th Ave. is the main drag so take your time eating, sipping, and frolicking your way up 5th Ave. to Broadway then make a U-turn down 4th or 6th. Start again. Popular clubs: Fluxx, Voyeur, Ivy at Andaz. Cool (non-touristy) bars: Candelas, Gang Kitchen, La Puerta. Swanky rooftop bars: ALTITUDE, Jsix, SummerSalt, Float. Good eats: Searsucker, Gaslamp Strip Club- A Steak Place, Nobu, Tin Fish. Nightly live music ideas: Croce's, House of Blues, Sevilla, Patrick's II. While the Gaslamp really comes alive at night, if your window of opportunity to explore the Gaslamp is while the sun is still up, go. Many restaurants and bars open before or around lunchtime and shops open at 10:00am. Walking tours are available with focuses from architecture to local history to public art (check out the Gaslamp Quarter Association at 614 5th Ave. or the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation for free tours on Saturdays at 11am) to "Brothels, Bites, and Booze" offered by So Diego Tours (sodiegotours.com).
Hey Locals! What's your favorite resto or watering hole in the Gaslamp? Comment below!