San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego’s historic heart has shed its seedy past to emerge as one of the city’s premier dining, shopping and entertainment hubs.

Named after the gas lamps that were installed when this area was developed in the 1860s, the Gaslamp Quarter endured a period of economic hardship soon after it was built. A notorious red-light district emerged here, and for a long time the district was known for its gambling dens and seedy bars. That changed when the area was revamped in the 1980s and the Gaslamp Quarter, covering 16 blocks in downtown San Diego, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today it’s both the cultural and commercial heart of San Diego. The original Victorian buildings have been restored and now house many of the city’s restaurants, shops and galleries. By day, flit between high-end boutiques and well-known chain stores, or take some time out to ponder works of art. The Chuck Jones Gallery is notable for its collection of early cartoon sketches of characters such as Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. Learn about the area’s history at the Gaslamp Museum, located in the William Heath Davis House, the Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest surviving structure.

The options for night-time entertainment are diverse: take in live music at a traditional Irish pub, sip cocktails in up-market bars, or dance the night away in a Latin-themed nightclub. 

The Gaslamp Quarter hosts a number of vibrant festivals throughout the year. The colorful Mardi Gras, which kicks off in February, is the most well-known, followed by St Patrick’s Day in March. Sure to entertain is the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade in December, where owners and their pets don matching costumes and wander the streets.

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