San Diego is a vibrant, metropolitan city with a laid-back, small-town feel, and no other San Diego neighborhood embraces this best-of-both-worlds spirit like downtown. Neatly packed into a single square-mile grid between the 5 freeway and the Harbor, downtown San Diego has it all: soaring skyscrapers bustling with big business, old turn-of-the-century buildings housing trendy new nightclubs, and peaceful parks perfect for a short stroll or a relaxing rest.
Visitors and residents alike can enjoy dining in Little Italy, shopping at Horton Plaza, taking in an opera at the Civic Center, exploring an aircraft carrier at the Harbor, and dancing in the Gaslamp Quarter, all in the space of a few dozen city blocks. Close to the international airport, cruise ship terminal, Balboa Park museums and world-renowned San Diego Zoo, downtown is a fine place to begin your visit to America’s Finest City.
Finding your way around downtown San Diego by car is fairly straightforward. But, as in any city, be prepared to navigate a few tricky one-way streets, and, once you get where you’re going, you’ll have to find a place to park or hire a valet service to find one for you. The best advice is to know before you go—figure out where you’re going, plan out your day, and map out your route. Make advance reservations for prime dining hours at popular restaurants. Carry cash and coin for the many self-pay lots and parking meters around town. There are also several large parking structures serving Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp District, the Ballpark and Convention Center.