Location: Downtown San Diego (Horton Plaza / Core District)
Cost: Ranges from $15 to $200
Features: Home to One of the Top Opera Companies in the Country; See Pop-Stars in Concert; View Productions from Broadway San Diego, the Classical California Ballet, and Tour Companies from Around the World.
Civic Theatre Highlights: Civic Theatre is the largest performing arts theatre in San Diego, seating up to 2,967 guests. It was built in 1965 and is part of the San Diego City Hall Complex. It is home to the San Diego Opera and hosts other local and international touring companies. Local theatre companies, including Broadway San Diego and the California Ballet hold productions both here and at the nearby Balboa Theatre. Visiting performance groups include symphonies like the Philadelphia Orchestra and pop stars like Enrique Inglesias. View the Civic Theatre Schedule for the full list of upcoming events. The following local production companies host numerous performances at the Civic Theatre.
San Diego Opera
San Diego Opera is regarded as one of the top 10 opera companies in the country. Started in 1950, the San Diego Opera’s stellar reputation and the local creative climate attract many of the top international stars to perform here in San Diego. Each season runs from January to May with the San Diego Opera performing at least five productions. View the current season schedule and buy your tickets online. Ticket prices range from $35 – $200.
Broadway San Diego
Watch the latest Broadway hits in San Diego. Each year, Broadway San Diego produces about a dozen performances of the most widely acclaimed productions. Shows often include some members of the original casts who performed in New York. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch the Broadway shows for the first time or to see them again. Shows are offered during the evenings from Tuesday through Sunday. Additional matinee performances are given on weekends. View the upcoming productions for Broadway San Diego. You can buy your tickets online. Ticket prices generally range from $15 – $77. Download the current season brochure from Broadway San Diego for information on discounts. Note that some productions are at the smaller Balboa Theatre and others are at the larger Civic Theatre, which are two blocks apart.
The California Ballet has been entertaining audiences since 1968. It focuses on recreating full-length classics. The ballet company has a long history of working with international ballet stars, particularly from Russia and Eastern European countries. They have assisted in the training of students who have gone on to perform with ballet companies around the world. The California Ballet offers four productions each season, running from October to May. They are split between the smaller Balboa Theatre and the larger Civic Theatre, which are two blocks apart. Ticket prices range from $25 – $80. Visit the California Ballet web site for their upcoming schedule.
Nearby Dining – There are plenty of dining options within walking distance of the Civic Theatre. Across the trolley tracks on the south side of the Civic Theatre are a few restaurants that are popular for the theatre crowds looking for upscale dining. They include The Westgate Room in the Westgate Hotel, the award winning Grant Grill in the U.S. Grant Hotel, and Dobson’s Bar and Restaurant, a long-time favorite for city business leaders and politicians. Horton Plaza, two blocks away, also has a few fine-dining restaurants. For a list of restaurants in the nearby Gaslamp Quarter, visit the Gaslamp Quarter Association web site. After theatre, you will find plenty of nightlife in the Gaslamp. One particular attraction for the after-theatre crowds is the Plaza Bar in the Westgate Hotel, an intimate piano bar where you will often see amateur and professional performers sharing their talents after the shows. (The entrance to the Plaza Bar faces the San Diego Trolley tracks. Sometimes the doors at this entrance are locked so you will need to go to the main hotel entrance on Second Avenue, which is to the right side.)
Information on Visiting the San Diego Civic Theatre
Directions from Google Maps to 1100 Third Avenue in San Diego, CA 92101.
Parking – The Civic Theatre web site recommends patrons park in the Concourse Parkade, at the corner of 1st Avenue and A Street. Parking costs about $10 for weekday evenings after 5:30PM and on weekends. You will have a few minute walk to get from the Parkade to the Civic Theatre entrance.
Another option is to park in the lots along 3rd Avenue. This way, you will not have to deal with the heavy traffic getting out of the parking garage after a performance. The lots south of A Street fill up quickly since they are across the street from the Civic Theatre entrance and generally cost about $10 – $12. The lots north of A Street usually have plenty of parking spots and generally cost about $8 – $10. You will only have a two block walk to reach the theatre entrance.
You may also want to consider street parking, which is free after 6PM. However, these spots fill up quickly.
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 play a daytime game, it usually start at 1:05PM. Otherwise, games start at 7:05PM. 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, which runs along the north side of Horton Plaza, and Market Street 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.
To reach the Civic Theatre, those coming from the west side of the city will probably want to drive along A Street and then turn north or south on 3rd Avenue to find parking. Those coming from the east side of the city will probably want to drive down B Street and then turn north or south on 3rd Avenue. Otherwise, pay close attention and be patient as you drive your way around the Theatre because there are a number of one-way streets and dead ends. For example, C Street is closed to vehicle traffic next to the theatre and B Street ends at the theatre. Also note that 3rd Avenue is a two-way street only when running alongside the Civic Theatre and the Westgate Hotel. Otherwise, it is a one-way street heading north.
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. Both lines stop at the Civic Center station on C Street behind the Civic Theatre. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map and information for the online Transit Planner.)