Historical Buildings in Downtown San Diego

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Location: Downtown San Diego (Gaslamp Quarter)

Guided Tours: 11AM on Saturdays.

Cost: $10 ($8 for Seniors, Students, and Military)

Features: More than 90 Buildings in and around the Gaslamp Quarter are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a tour of their architecture and learn the history of downtown San Diego, including some of its notable residents like Wyatt Earp.

View of Gaslamp Quarter architectureGaslamp Historical District Highlights: Most of San Diego has been developed in just the past few decades making it one of the most modern cities in America. Most people automatically assume that Old Town is the only historical area of San Diego worth noting. However, Downtown San Diego also has rich history that can be found if you know where to look.

Over 90 buildings in and around the Gaslamp District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a guided walking tour of downtown San Diego to learn about San Diego’s early history and see remnants of historical architectural styles. A member of the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation will help point out the various styles of architecture, including Victorian, Baroque, Classical Revival, and Spanish Renaissance.

What to Expect

  • Tours take about 2 hours and include admission to the William Heath Davis House, where you will see displays on the history of downtown San Diego.
  • Interior of a Gaslamp District building

  • The area is flat so walking should be easy for most.
  • San Diego offers the largest collection of restored Victorian Style Commercial Buildings on the West Coast.

Self-Guided Tour Map – If you can’t make the tours offered once a week, you can take yourself on a tour using a map provided by the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. Several of the 90+ points-of-interest include links to pop-up pages offering additional information.

Food – The are a dozens of restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Information on Touring the Gaslamp Quarter

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking will range from $0 – $8 (See more parking information below.)
  • Tours cost $10 ($8 for Seniors, Students, and Military).

Architecture in the Gaslamp DistrictDirections from Google Maps to 410 Island Avenue in San Diego, CA 92101. (At the William Heath Davis House on the corner of 4th Avenue.)

Parking – Metered Street Parking is available near the William Heath Davis House and runs about $1.25 per hour with a limit of 2 hours. There are also nearby parking lots that charge up to $10 per day.

Traffic – Getting in and out of downtown using highways I-5, SR-163, and SR-94 is relatively easy. Downtown San Diego is not a major employment center and thus there is very little rush hour traffic. Watch for slower traffic on the I-5 where it does a tight S-curve through downtown San Diego near the SR-163 interchange. When heading southbound on SR-163, stay to the left side unless you want to get on the I-5. (You will encounter a slight delay getting on the I-5 from SR-163.) You will also encounter a slight delay on SR-163 going into downtown when there is an event at Petco Park. If the San Diego Padres plays a daytime game, it usually start at 1:05PM. Even though traffic backs up a little on SR-163, it continues to move along. When leaving downtown, remember that:

  • 1st Avenue will get you to the I-5 North,
  • 11th Avenue will get you to SR-163 and the I-5 North,
  • E & J Streets will get you to the I-5 South, and
  • G Street will get you to SR-94.

The traffic lights on these streets are synchronized and will generally move you along without delay. (Learn how to get the latest highway traffic updates.)

Once you are downtown, you will find most of the streets are one-way, on an alternating basis. (You can see them if you zoom in on Google Maps.) Broadway and Market Streets are both two-way streets running east-west. You will find that at several intersections you are not allowed to make a left turn off of Broadway or Market. Thus, if you need to make a left turn, it is often better to use a one-way street rather than Broadway and Market Streets. In front of the William Heath Davis Museum, Fourth Avenue is a one-way street heading south while Island Avenue is a two-way street. (However, portions of Island Avenue are one-way.)

All of the streets downtown move along quite well. The only exceptions are 4th and 5th Avenues through the Gaslamp Quarter in the evenings and around Petco Park before and after events. One other exception is crossing train tracks that run along Harbor Drive in front of the Convention Center. You can cross over the train tracks at Market, Front, 1st, and 5th. Sometimes, freight trains block the latter few crossover streets. If you see them sitting still, it means they are checking their brakes, so it could take a while. Don’t wait. Move farther north towards Market Street to cross over the tracks.

Transit - Both the Blue and Orange Trolley Lines move through Downtown San Diego and get you within four blocks of most attractions. The Orange Line stops four blocks away from the William Heath Davis House at the Convention Center Station. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map and information for the online Transit Planner.) Walking around Downtown San Diego is easy since it is flat with the exception of the northeast corner near Cortez Hill.

Related Attractions – You may also be interested in taking a guided tour in the adjacent Asian Pacific Historic District or join the Harlem of the West walking tour in East Village.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *San Diego Tours & Sightseeing*, Architecture, Gaslamp Quarter |

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