A Visitors’ Guide to the Gaslamp Quarter and Coronado Island
San Diego is one of America’s most exciting and vibrant cities. And a big part of what makes it so unique is its many fascinating neighborhoods. Each has its own distinct character, vibe, and personality.
Two of our favorite areas of San Diego are the Gaslamp Quarter and Coronado Island. Each is a fantastic area to visit while on vacation in “America’s Finest City.” Read on to get a quick overview of each area and a look at why you’ll want to check them out.
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter (usually called “The Gaslamp District” or simply “Gaslamp” by locals) is a historical neighborhood within San Diego’s Downtown area. It’s so named due to the rich, pre-Industrial Revolution past of the region. Gaslamp’s history began in the mid-1800s as “New Town.” However, it wasn’t long before the area’s proximity to the docks began its turn-of-the-century evolution into the city’s de facto red light district. Gambling halls, bars, tattoo parlors, and other houses of ill repute speckled the facades of its roughly 17-block footprint.
Sometime in the early- to mid-1970s, interest began growing in preserving the buildings and character of the neighborhood while maintaining its quirky character. An urban renewal effort was launched that focused on rehabilitating both the area’s structures and reputation. The effort saw some very early success. So much so that by 1980, Gaslamp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gaslamp’s renaissance has continued to the present day. Visitors to the neighborhood today will discover an electric character, a welcoming atmosphere, and no end of things to see and do. More than 200 restaurants, shops, boutiques, nightclubs, art galleries, cafés, and — yes — tattoo parlors have turned Gaslamp into a place where San Diego’s elite meet to eat and greet. When you go, you’ll discover delightful surprises around every corner. It’s truly a must-see when visiting San Diego!
Gaslamp Quarter Points of Interest:
- GoCar Tours (2.6 miles)
- Rockin’ Baja Lobster (2.7 miles)
- Gaslamp Burger (4.5 miles)
- Gaslamp Pizza (4.6 miles)
- Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop (4.6 miles)
- Café 21 (4.7 miles)
- USS Midway Naval Museum (5.4 miles)
As one of the city’s most beautiful regions, Coronado Island’s stunning vistas and relaxed, resort vibe draw countless visitors each year. While the name “Coronado Island” is something of a misnomer — as the region is connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land called the “Silver Strand” — a distinct island vibe nonetheless permeates the area. The recorded history of the island dates back to the mid-1500s to about 1600, when Spanish explorers first charted the area (although archeological finds in the area indicate sporadic periods of population that date far earlier). The U.S. government obtained a large parcel of land on the north-northwest side of the island and established an air base in the mid 20th century — a use that persists to this day in the form of the U.S. Naval base North Island.
Coronado Island’s rich history (and promising future) has made the area a popular place for both San Diego visitors and locals alike. Many historic buildings remain in use today, and the unspoiled beaches are some of the city’s loveliest. The island is home to two world-class golf courses, an endless array of incredible restaurants, fascinating museums, scenic bike trails, gorgeous green park spaces, theaters, breweries, and even a famous creamery with gourmet ice cream. Beautiful Coronado Beach, with its tide pools, bike tours and other outdoor activities always draws visitors. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Coronado’s famously stunning view of the downtown San Diego skyline is second-to-none. This captivating community is one you should definitely visit on your trip to San Diego!