By Miranda Mattson
San Diego was recently listed in Forbes Travel Guide as one of the top 14 places to visit in 2019, along with other cities like Istanbul, Amsterdam, and Singapore. In addition to our plentiful sunshine and relaxed beach life, San Diego is gaining attention for a whole lot more.
Trending new cuisine and a thriving craft beer scene make this “an up-and-coming foodie city,” according to Forbes. Of course, a quick search will lead visitors to Downtown events like Comic-Con, and iconic, must-see spots like the USS Midway. But within our urban core is a myriad of opportunities to enjoy unique dining, art, and the great outdoors. For both visitors and residents looking to explore more of the city, this is a list of Downtown gems.
Arts and culture
If you are looking to explore San Diego’s art scene, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is a great place to start. The museum has over 4,700 works of art, ranging from photographs to sculptures, that were created after the year 1950. The Museum is located on the corner of West B Street and Kettner Boulevard. It is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily where general admission is $10.
Downtown San Diego also has a number of murals to explore and discover. A popular mural for pictures is the “Smile You’re in San Diego” mural, located on the corner of W. C Street and First Avenue. You can swing by the “Be Dynamic Be Downtown” mural while you’re in the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and Ash Street or trek on over to Park and J Street to see the “Crushing It” mural in East Village.
While you’re there, check out Window Stories on Park and E – a modern approach to public-art storytelling. This installation is almost like seeing a movie. Passersby can observe a window-like narrative unfolding with room for their own interpretation.
The only problem with San Diego dining is it’s hard to choose! Enjoy one of San Diego’s newest Latin-influenced restaurants, Lola 55, on F Street in the IDEA1 building. Pair your favorite fresh taco with an equally fresh cocktail and soak in the light, airy atmosphere.
Le Parfait Paris is a European-esque café in the Gaslamp Quarter that serves delicious pastries, desserts, crepes, and coffee. It’s a great place to start a Saturday morning, get a caffeine fix in the afternoon, or meander to for a post-dinner sweet treat.
Beverage and drinks
Downtown has more than a few hot spots for drinks, but a unique twist for your next Friday night out is the Prohibition Lounge Bar. This bar is actually a speakeasy, located on the corner of Market Street and Fifth Avenue, and may be a little tricky to find, as its entrance is disguised as a law office. This bar offers live music to go along with their craft cocktails and 1920s vibe, which brings people out from all over.
If you are looking for a more casual night out, Nason’s Beer Hall located in the Pendry Hotel is a perfect spot for you. Nason’s was mentioned in the Forbes Magazine article as the place to get a taste of San Diego’s strong craft beer scene. This is because Nason’s has over twenty of San Diego’s most popular craft beers on tap. Enjoy your favorite local craft beer with small bites from their menu or with live music every Friday night.
Get a coffee to-go on your way to work or in between all of this eatery hopping. If you’re a bit pretentious about your coffee, don’t miss Copa Vida in East Village next to Petco Park as well as on Broadway. The light and chic interior is a great place to people watch or get some work done — and the drinks aren’t bad either.
The great outdoors
From East Village to Marina, explore Downtown San Diego by renting a bicycle. There are shops all over town where you can rent a bike for the day, or just find yourself a dockless bike. The Downtown Bike Loop is marked by painted bicycle symbols with arrows that allow the rider to explore all the different neighborhoods while also getting views of the bay.
The Downtown San Diego Partnership also offers a free yoga class every Saturday at various locations throughout the city. The class is held from 9 to 10 a.m. and is open to all ages and skill levels. Be sure to check the website (dowtownsandiego.org) for the location that week!
— Lana Harrison is the communications coordinator for the Downtown San Diego Partnership. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.