The Gaslamp Quarter is quite large - several city blocks wide and high - and in my experience it is mostly restaurants, bars, and hotels. It's a great place to walk around during the day and drop in on the unique stores (souvenir shops and big brands like Lucky Brand or Quiksilver.) There are cafes, a few yogurt shops, and bakeries which could be nice during the day.
In the evening, especially on weekends, the streets fill with adults coming to drink and party at the bars. Not a bad thing - just not a place I would want to take my kids to. It was hard enough to walk the streets with just my husband because it was crowded, loud, and with shady characters, but I wouldn't want to come with my kids!
The two star rating is just the perspective of whether it is kid-friendly or not.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Gaslamp Quarter. It has changed so much (for the better) over the years. Now there are trendy, delicious restaurants, shopping and boutique hotels. All price ranges seem to be represented. I usually park at Horton Plaza (one of San Diego's big shopping malls) and walk into the Gaslamp. They have validation machines inside the mall that provide 3 hours of free parking, even if you aren't shopping there.
Favorite restaurants and bars include Syrah Wine Parlor (award winning design and great wines), Analog Bar (1980s throwback bar), Saltbox (Inside the Palomar San Diego hotel. Think lobster corn dogs.) and The Lincoln Room (indoor/outdoor casual vibe and nice owners. However, there are so many more!
The thing is, I never take my daughter down here. She'd get bored. It's more of an adult, date night type atmosphere. That is, unless you're staying at a hotel. Palomar San Diego is even pet friendly!
We stayed in a great hotel in the Gaslamp District. We had such a great time. I loved the farmers market. My son loved watching all the big city trucks and cars from our big picture window in our hotel room. The restaurants were fabulous. There was also a nice outdoor concert one evening which was great. I would definitely com back again.
On our trolley ride, we stopped at the Gaslamp Quarter. Lots of walking involved but beautiful quaint stores, restaurants and other attractions more suited to pre-teen or older kids. This is the beauty of San Diego, the Old seamlessly mixed in with the New. Loved our visit here!
This is a fun place to walk around if you like small shops. There are lots of little shops with knick knacks and souvenirs. There are also places to eat. This is a fun evening activity if you just want to have a nice place to walk around. There are places to eat and it is next to the water. However, with you kids you might want to watch out in the shops because there are things that are breakable. You'll have to keep a close eye on them.
we love the gaslamp quarter. you can find so much to do and there is so much different stuff so everyone can be happy. Not too much to do for kids unless you are going for lunch. TGI Fridays is a nice restaurant for the whole family It fun to walk during the day to shop, or at night to hit the bar scene or a local restaurant. Take a bike taxi to be able to see everything and beat the traffic!
So you are coming to San Diego for a convention or vacation and staying downtown (can anyone say – Gaslamp Quarter?). Oh wait, you’re coming with the kids. Don’t despair, there are actually quite a lot of things to do that entertain both parents and kids alike.
What to do:
Children’s Museum and Children’s Park –
Children's Museum at night
This museum is great for kids 10 and under. They do have a tween/teen area, but I have found kids under 10 get the most out of it. There are some really great interactive exhibits, and when the weather is nice, they open their doors and you can’t tell if you are inside or out. Be sure to make and take home your very own clay sculpture!
Seaport Village – With 54 specialty shops and over 15 restaurants (and not to mention the awesome bayside location) Seaport Village is a great stop downtown. There is a carousel and other fun activities for kids. On the weekends be sure to look out for the balloon artist. He has made some of the best balloon animals/objects we have ever seen! He is definitely worth the wait.
Embarcadero Marina Park – Located adjacent to Seaport Village, Embarcadero is a great spot to picnic and watch sailboats go by. You can also walk the length of the park, which extends all the way around, to the USS Midway Museum.
USS Midway Museum – This is actually one of my favorite spots for kids and adults of all ages. Visitors can experience “life at sea” by touring galleys, officer’s quarters, engine rooms as well as getting inside real planes and helicopters.
Horton Plaza – If you have any tweens/teens in your group, this mall will not disappoint. With a movie theatre and more than 100 shops and dining options, as well as a festive European open-air atmosphere, Horton Plaza is sure to please even the most discerning teens.
Gaslamp Quarter – Primarily known for its nightlife, the Gaslamp Quarter is a great place to take a stroll, people watch and do a little shopping during the day. There are grand Victorian-era buildings which are now home to more than 100 restaurants, 35 pubs and nightclubs and 100 retail shops, as well as theaters and art galleries.
Where to eat:
Below is a list of some of my favorite places to take the kids downtown– however with over 100 restaurants in Gaslamp alone, feel free to find a restaurant that is perfect for you. Most restaurants post their menus outside so that you can see what is right for you.
Brickyard Café – Located just a block from Children’s Museum and Seaport Village, this café is a great place to catch breakfast or lunch outside. You will find mostly locals here. My kids love it because the Trolley stops in front of the café which keeps them entertained. Our favorite is their chili and grilled cheese sandwich combo. They also have a great coffee bar.
Maryjane’s - Located in the Hard Rock Hotel, this is an ideal spot any time of day. When the weather is nice be sure to sit outside and people watch. The menu includes a lot of diner style options. Be sure to try the fish tacos – they are great!
Buca di Beppo – This place screams kid-friendly and with good reason. With its family- style portions and festive atmosphere, it’s sure to please the kids.
Spaghetti Factory – Located right in Gaslamp, this restaurant is a popular spot, so expect a wait. The atmosphere is always festive and fun. On some days there is also a balloon artist out front to keep the kids entertained.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto – A mainstay in San Diego for over 50 years, this is an awesome place to experience San Diego’s Little Italy. The restaurant, located behind the deli, offers some of the best pizza in San Diego. Be prepared for a wait, but it’s worth it!
Pinkberry –If you haven’t tried Pinkberry, it’s worth the stop. Located in the Hard Rock Hotel, Pinkberry is my favorite yogurt shop in San Diego. Love the original with raspberries and chocolate chips!
Heavenly Cupcakes – For some reason on Friday’s, I always find a reason to be in the area to pick up some cupcakes. My favorite is the black and white. My son loves the mint chocolate.
Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop – Need I say more? This is for serious desert people. Located in the heart of the Gaslamp, it is open late and offers the best chocolate sundaes!
Tell us, what is your favorite activity downtown (with or without the kiddies)?
This is a great part of San Diego. There are tons of shops and great places to eat. The covention center in the heart of downtown followed by the Petco park. On game nights the streets are bustling with people all around. I highly recomend parking at Horton Plaza if you plan to be in the city for less than three hours as you can get validated parking for free. Otherwise parking can be a real strain on the pocket book!
At night time the gaslamp quarter is very beautiful with the lights and the marina i loved it and took a lot of pictures and I have been dying to go back there and if you want to go over to coronado island they have a water taxi which was so cool and you see all the boats in the marina!!!
For some years after California won statehood in 1850, San Diego remained a relatively quiet community with a Spanish and Mexican flavor. That changed dramatically when Alonzo E. Horton arrived in town from San Francisco in 1867. Buying up some 960 acres of waterfront land, he began the process of developing what was to become today’s downtown area. The Gaslamp Quarter, bounded by Broadway, Fourth, and Sixth Streets and Harbor Drive, is the historic 16-block quarter where Horton made his first land purchase and where his legacy lives on. A twenty-year restoration and cleanup campaign to return the Gaslamp Quarter to its gay 1890s splendor has paid off: The area sparkles with period streetlamps, old-time trolley stops, and, of more recent vintage, trendy restaurants, hotels, offices, artists’ studios, and nightspots. For complete information, including walking tours and audiotapes, contact the Gaslamp Quarter/Historical Society Museum, 410 Island Avenue; (619) 233–4692; www.gaslampquarter.com. Open Monday through Friday 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., Saturday 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., and Sunday noon to 4:00 P.M. Ask about the new Children’s Historical Walking Tour and the Virtual Learning Center.
The Gaslamp Quarter boasts lots of places to eat and they have all different kinds of cuisines available. Strolling around the area offers you the best of downtown San Diego. It's a great place to walk with little shops along the way. There are areas with fountains which is fun for the kids to see and explore.