Established in 1850, Downtown San Diego thrives as the city’s business, cultural and financial centre, and is also the place to go for eclectic entertainment, boutique shopping and diverse dining. Numerous hotels line the downtown area, perching perfectly near San Diego Bay, Balboa Park and the San Diego International Airport.
Tourists mix with locals in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, widely known as Downtown San Diego’s favourite gathering spot for nightlife, gastro pubs and live music. The boardwalk along the Embarcadero at San Diego Bay beckons with a lively waterfront and aquatic treasures such as the Star of India, the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Seaport Village bustles with more than 50 shops and eateries, as well as a hand-carved 1895 carousel, free outdoor concerts and a resident caricature artist.
Interstate 5, the main California roadway, slices through San Diego above the downtown area, with exits for reaching the primary thoroughfares of Broadway and Market Streets, Pacific Highway, Park Avenue and Harbor Drive. A generous public transportation system crisscrosses the neighbourhoods and includes the Coaster commuter train, the Amtrak rail system and the San Diego Trolley connecting east and south county communities with Downtown. Many of the districts are bike and pedestrian-friendly, particularly the Gaslamp Quarter and the boardwalk area along the bay.
San Diego’s earliest known inhabitants were the Kumeyaay people, dating as far back as 9000 years. Spanish colonisation gave rise to what are now San Diego’s most prominent listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Nestled within the Downtown area, these include the entire Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa and Spreckels Theatres, and both the Star of India and Berkeley historic ships berthed at B Street pier.