Downtown San Diego
Gaslamp Quarter © Judith Duk
The active downtown area of San Diego is compact and easy to walk around. It encompasses the business district, the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the post-modern Horton Plaza pastel-coloured shopping mall, and the waterfront Embarcadero with boardwalk shops, museums and restaurants. The Gaslamp Quarter was the first commercial district in San Diego and is now a trendy 16-block area of historic buildings and old-fashioned wrought-iron street lamps, antique stores, shopping centres, art galleries, chic coffee houses, restaurants and jazz bars. The Horton Grand is a reconstruction of a 19th-century hotel with Victorian décor and costumes, well worth a peek. San Diego is one of California's most important centres for the performing and visual arts, and its artistic and musical heritage is celebrated annually with the opening of artists' studios and galleries to the public, as well as its numerous Blues and Jazz festivals. Summer evenings are the liveliest time to visit, when people flock to the outdoor tables, bars and clubs and wander the streets. However visits after dark should be confined to the populated, well-lit areas.