Downtown is San Diego’s oldest and newest hot spot. With over 12,000 housing units just built or in the works, downtown is once again becoming the center of San Diego. Walking distance finds an ever-growing abundance of old, new and exciting restaurants among shops, theatres, the bay, Seaport Village, even a large outdoor mall. Downtown’s newest addition is Petco Park, the new home of Padres baseball. The ballpark, opened spring 2004, is creating new revenue and another reason to head downtown during summer months.
Downtown San Diego real estate is booming with apartment and condo housing shooting up into the sky. Dilapidated buildings and neighborhoods have given way to upscale hotels, condominiums, restaurants, shopping centers and night spots. The community is rapidly growing, as Downtown condos fill up quickly and neighborhood gyms and coffee shops settle into the 8 distinct areas of the city.
Downtown San Diego neighborhoods include Columbia, Core, Cortex Hill, East Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza, Little Italy, and Marina.
Bay-side Seaport Village shopping center is a twist on the Cape Cod tradition with open air eating and specialty shops. The Victorian section has been restored and renamed the Gaslamp district –full of trendy restaurants, bars, antique stores, galleries, lofts, night clubs, brick sidewalks and of course gas lamps. Embarcadero Marine Park on North Harbor Drive is a 22 acre man made park extending into the bay with great views of the marina. Open air concerts are staged here in the summer.
Horton Plaza is San Diego's third most popular tourist attraction (behind the Zoo and Sea World). There are 150 or so stores (the goliaths being Nordstrom's, Macy's and Mervyn's) covering 6-1/2 city blocks (that's 11-1/2 acres!), divided up into seven different levels. Just north of Downtown, Balboa Park has many museums including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Museum of Man, Museum of Art, Automotive Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater & Science Center, the Museum of San Diego History. The San Diego Zoo is also here.
Many of Downtown’s other enticements include the city's largest theater, Civic Theater, the 1929 Symphony Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the San Diego Children's Theater, The Star of India and its Maritime Museum, the circa 1911 Spreckles Theater, the newly expanded San Diego Convention Center, the Central Library, and the San Diego Cruise Terminal.
Many of the county's best hotels are here including the Marriott Hotel & Marina, Pan Pacific, Embassy Suites, U.S. Grant, Horton Grand and Hyatt Regency. Downtown is also the city's transportation center with the Santa Fe Depot train station, Lindbergh Field, the area's major airport, and the San Diego Trolley's main station which connects downtown with the Mexican border, Old town and Qualcomm Stadium.