San Diego Neighborhood Guide: The Gaslamp Quarter

By Vanessa Howard

If you are looking for a night out on the town while visiting San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be. Filled with flashy bars, delicious dining, and amazing architecture, this neighborhood is a nod to the city’s interesting past. The area is the oldest in San Diego and was originally developed in the 1860s and still features the original gas lamps as well as the intricately designed Victorian buildings. Keep reading for our neighborhood guide to The Gaslamp Quart of San Diego. 

Where To Stay 

Makai Mission Beach

A fantastic option for your trip to San Diego is Makai, the Hawaiian word for “towards the sea.” You’ll love the 2nd-floor patio and ocean view from this beachy duplex home. With its laid-back charm, thoughtful amenities, and absolutely unbeatable location, you’ll love staying at Makai. Makai North is a spacious one-bedroom, and Makai South is a two-bedroom. The house comfortably sleeps 8 if you rent the entire duplex. Makai offers garage parking and all of your beach essentials – towels, an umbrella, chairs, and sand toys. We look forward to hosting you soon at Makai!

The Rockaway House

This Mission Beach duplex can be rented as individual units (Rockaway North with 1 bedroom/1 bathroom and Rockaway South with 2 bedrooms/1 bathroom) or in combination to sleep up to 8 guests. Staying at The Rockaway House, you’ll be just steps away from the Mission Beach boardwalk. Rockaway South – a 1930s beach cottage – is full of charm and is perfect for your next beach getaway. Upstairs, Rockaway North is thoughtfully designed and inviting. Whichever space you choose, you’ll love the bright interior and the coastal boho vibes that Rockaway offers.

Did you know that The Rockaway House and Makai are next-door neighbors? So groups traveling with up to 16 guests can rent out both duplexes – perfect for multiple groups or families traveling together as you’ll be close by but everyone still has their own space to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

History Of The Gaslamp Quarter

It all began in 1867 when the real estate tycoon Alonzo Horton bought a large plot of land with the intention of creating a new city center closer to the bay. This area was previously known as New Town.  This commercial area became famous for nightclubs and gambling; there was an attempt to redevelop the Gaslamp Quarter. This unfortunately led to a period of urban decay.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a great effort was made to breathe new life into the district and it was during this period that it received its current moniker, despite the fact that there were very few gas lamps. Today the area is registered on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Gaslamp Quarter Historic District.”

Fun Fact: Locals prefer to call the area the Gaslamp District. 

Things To Do In The Gaslamp Quarter 

Stroll The Quarter To See The Old Buildings

Most of the historic buildings are located on Fifth Avenue, and there are three in particular that stand out.

Head to the Yuma Building, located at 631 5th Avenue. This stunner dates back to 1882. The red-brick Victorian building has Art-Deco influences and its façade makes it beautiful to photograph. Today the Yuma Building hosts cultural events.

The Nesmith-Greely Building, built in 1888, is another architectural landmark of the Gaslamp Quarter. Located on Central Street, it is not accessible to the public because it now houses private apartments. However, the Romanesque style is worth a visit to see the outside, and the building is unique because of the rows of white-edged windows.

Built in 1888, the Louis Bank of Commerce draws inspiration from Baroque architecture. The elaborate architecture features two turrets on the top of the building. 

Some Other Historic Buildings In The Gaslamp Quarter: 

  • Hubbell Building (813 5th Avenue)
  • Old City Hall (664 5th Avenue)
  • Bijou Theater (658 5th Avenue)
  • Broker’s Building (404 Market Street)

Eat At One Of The Extraordinary Restaurants

There are a variety of options when it comes to restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter. These restaurants offer everything from Persian cuisine to fresh seafood. The ambiance varies as well, but the restaurants here tend to be trendy with delicious cuisine. Some of our favorite restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter include…

STK San Diego 

This modern steakhouse and lounge is located inside the Andaz San Diego Hotel. A spot for social gatherings, the main dining room, bistro seating area, bar and patio make this place unique. The menu offers elevated American cuisine, and signature dishes include House-made Pappardelle Pasta with Short Rib Ragout and Grilled Summer Squash. This San Diego steakhouse uses only the best quality steak for their 10 cuts on the menu. 

STK San Diego| 600 F St, San Diego, CA 92101|  (619) 354-5988

Photo Credit: @werewolfsd

Werewolf is a New American pub with elevated food options at prices that are hard to beat! Head here for all-you-can-eat tacos on Tuesdays for $9.95. With a great atmosphere, the space is dominated by a bar with 33 beer taps and fantastic cocktails. The food ranges from salads to gourmet sandwiches to hearty breakfasts and is made from scratch. We recommend the short ribs and brussels sprouts or one of the delicious burgers.

Werewolf| 627 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101| (619) 234-0094

Gaslamp Fish House

Serving fresh seafood amid nostalgic decor, the focus is on the incredible food. Though we do recommend you try one of the premium drinks. Craft beers and signature drinks pair well with fresh fish. The lobster roll is a crowd favorite, and make sure to try the BBQ chips or the mustard-glazed salmon. With the option to dine outside you just can’t go wrong here. Happy hour is from 3:30 pm-6:30 pm daily and includes $5 house wines and 1/2 price appetizers.

Gaslamp Fish House| 411 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101|  (619) 795-3800

Fantastic Gaslamp Bar: 

Take A Guided Tour 

Taking a guided tour of the Gaslamp Quarter is one of the best ways to learn more about the neighborhood.  You can take a guided walking tour from the Gaslamp Foundation.  They begin at the Davis Horton House at 410 Island Avenue, home to the Gaslamp Museum. While you’re there make sure to visit the museum! 

The Gaslamp Foundation| 410 Island Ave. San Diego, CA 92101| (619) 233-4692 

Shop for One-Of-A-Kind Treasures at the Gaslamp Artisan Market

Every weekend you’ll see dozens of tents lined up by the intersection of Fifth and Island Avenues in the Gaslamp Quarter. Discover a wide variety of delicious food, hand-crafted goods, and other products from the independent artisans of the area. Stroll and check out the booths and find your own treasures, ranging from handmade crafts, wellness products, and stylish clothing.

While In Town Take In A San Diego Padres Game At Petco Park

If you’re a baseball fan then you can’t leave downtown San Diego without stopping by Petco Park. Named after the pet supply retailer Petco, the park is recognized as the home of the MLB’s San Diego Padres. The park has been recognized as “The World’s Best Ballpark in America’s Finest City.” The park is also a popular venue for concerts, soccer games, and rugby.

Petco Park| 100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101| (619) 795-5025

No matter what you choose to do during your time in the Gaslamp Quarter, you’re sure to have a great time with fantastic food! Whether you stroll the city to take in the history or check out the nightly bar scene – have a blast! After a night out, return to your Arrivls rental for some peace and quiet on the beach. 

For More San Diego Posts: 

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: North Park 

5 San Diego Neighborhood To Explore

San Diego Activities For Every Traveler

5 Can’t Miss San Diego Activities 

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