The rich history and colorful culture of the Gaslamp Quarter make it one of San Diego’s must-see destinations. As home to the annual Mardi Gras in Gaslamp, the Street Science Music Festival, Taste of Gaslamp and the St Patrick day celebration, ShamROCK, the Gaslamp Quarter is the beating heart of San Diego’s cultural scene. Even if you visit on one of the few occasions the Quarter isn’t hosting an event, you’ll still find plenty of interest in its many retail, dining, cultural and historical experiences. If you need any more convincing to head downtown, read on to discover 10 reasons to visit the hugely engaging Gaslamp Quarter.
1. It’s a food-lovers paradise
Whatever your preference, you’ll be sure to find something to tantalize your taste buds in the Gaslamp Quarter. The district offers everything from casual al fresco dining opportunities to intimate dinners for two, from eating amongst the stars at a rooftop lounge to dining by candlelight at a basement restaurant. Once you’ve eaten your fill, don’t miss out on an after-dinner chaser at one of the many pubs and wine bars – the fairy- tale underground lair Vin de Syrah Wine Parlor and the exuberant Monkey Paw Brewery come particularly recommended.
2. It’s a great place for retail therapy
If you love to indulge your passion for shopping, a trip to the Gaslight Quarter is a must. With 16 blocks packed with every kind of boutique, chain store and shopping outlet you could possibly imagine, you’ll need to have a strong will if you intend on leaving empty-handed. Even if you’d rather keep your wallet at home, you can still have a great time browsing the 82 outlets offering everything from accessories to clothing, from art to furnishings, from tobacco to books, and from music to jewelry.
3. It’s got an amazing nightlife
If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife, you’ll find one at the Gaslight Quarter. One of the top picks of its many nightclubs, bars and restaurants is the Parq Restaurant and Nightclub, a premier destination that welcomes you to enjoy the delights of Chef Marcus Twilegar in its open-air restaurant before hitting its impressive nightclub, an extravagant affair that offers aerial dancers, 19 VIP tables, a huge HD LED wall and some of the hottest DJ’s in America.
4. It’s a showcase for local artists
For fine-art lovers, a visit to the Sparks Gallery in the Gaslight Quarter is a must-do on any trip to San Diego. The gallery’s new exhibit for 2019 features selected works from the Oceanside Museum of Art’s affiliate group “Artist Alliance”, giving you the chance to check out the best on offer from San Diego’s local artists. Sonya Sparks, a curator at the museum, explained her vision for the exhibit to the Gaslamp Quarter’s official website. “While there were many different themes in the works submitted for this show, I found myself drawn towards pieces which feature the artist’s observation of human encounters with nature, as well as those that show our social encounters with one another,” she said. “These themes served as a guide for my selections. Some works are traditionally crafted, while others are abstract or surreal.”
5. It’s full of culture
With exciting theater, intriguing museums, and diverse art galleries, the Gaslamp Quarter is THE place to visit for culture-vultures. If you want to take in some history, drop by the engaging San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. Established in 1996, the museum is one of the nation’s foremost institutions for promoting and displaying Chinese art and culture. With a wealth of exhibits, a Chinese-style garden with koi fish pools, and frequents special events and lectures, you’re guaranteed to come away both inspired and informed.
6. It’s fun for all the family
If you’re looking for a fun day out for all the family, you’re sure to find one at the Gaslamp Quarter. With a host of family-friendly dining opportunities, the chance to take a spin in the high-speed Patriot Jet Boat, fun (and educational) museums with plenty of interactive activities, and more kid-friendly shopping opportunities than you’ll be able to pack into one day, the district has everything needed to keep the kids happy and entertained.
7. There’s always something going on
Whatever day and whatever season you visit the Gaslamp Quarter, you’ll find some form of event taking place. Whether its Comic-con, the Major League All-Star Game or a music concert, if something’s going down in San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is usually at the heart of the action. Upcoming events for 2019 include Comic-Con International (July 18, 2019 – July 21, 2019), San Diego International Film Festival (October 16, 2019 – October 20, 2019), WCKD Village (October 27, 2019), Halloween in the Gaslamp (October 25-31, 2019) Fallback Festival (November 3, 2019), The San Diego Union-Tribune Gaslamp Gala presented by GBOD Hospitality Group (November 7, 2019), Toast of Gaslamp (December 8, 2019) and Christmas in the Gaslamp Quarter (December 24-25, 2019).
8. There’s a weekly market
Each Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, the Gaslamp Quarter opens its doors to a host of local artisans, crafters, and retailers eager to offer up their goods to the district’s enthusiastic customers. With plenty of browsing opportunity’s, as well as the chance to sit back and relax with a beer and some tasty local delicacies from one of the many food vendors, the Artisan Market is the ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
9. It's full of history
The Gaslamp Quarter is one of San Diego’s oldest districts. If you’re a fan of architecture, a meander through the Quarter’s 16.5 blocks will give you the perfect chance to take in over a hundred years of architectural history. Some of the keys buildings to watch out for are the Yuma Building, Spencer Ogden Building, Old City Hall, Keating Building, Louis Bank of Commerce, St. James Hotel, and the Royal Pie Bakery Building. If you’d like some insight into the district’s rich and diverse history, book yourself a place on one of the Quarter’s many guided tours.
10. You might see a ghost
If you’re interested in the paranormal, don’t miss a visit to the legendary Davis-Horton house. Described by sandiego.org as the most haunted house in the Gaslamp Quarter, the house (and museum) will give you the perfect opportunity to put your ghost-hunting skills to the test with a guided tour of the historic building.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson