Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Day Guide to Downtown San Diego, CA: Things to do

San Diego may be a beach town, but it also hosts several cities within the city that each have their own personal character. For this day guide, I focus primarily on a list of things to do and restaurants and coffee shops to enjoy in
Downtown San Diego and Little Italy. Get ready for ocean front views, charming streets, and delicious food.

Coronado Island
Coronado ferry and coronado views from downtown San Diego
Gaslamp District

Seaport Village
Seaport Village

Balboa Park


1. Explore Coronado Island

Start the day right with a hearty breakfast at Richard Walkers in downtown San Diego. You do have to get there early in order to avoid a long wait. Then head over to the ferry landing to take a ferry ride to Coronado Island. Walk along the shops at the pier before renting a bike and biking along the island. Park your bike near the famous Coronado hotel for a stroll along the sandy beach. On a hot summer day,  a small ice cream shop can be found in the hotel.

2. Explore downtown San Diego and Little Italy

Walk through Seaport Village for shops and views of Coronado Island and downtown San Diego before taking the trolley into the downtown Gaslamp District for some architectural beauty. If you're hungry, perhaps stop by Puestos (at Seaport Village) for some refreshing tacos, vibrant guacamole, and agua frescas or head downtown to the Coffee and Tea Collective coffee shop for a latte and an acai bowl from Juice Saves (which shares the same space). Then hop on the trolley to Little Italy and stroll through cafes, restaurants, and shops. If you're looking for some gelato or another dose of caffeine, head into Pappellecco, where you'll be greeted with "Bonjour"! If you haven't yet had lunch, Queenstown Public House, just down the street, has a charming interior and exterior for enjoying a delicious meal.

3. Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park boasts beautiful architecture, gardens, and several museums where one can easily pass a few hours by. After smelling the roses in the Rose Garden, and taking in the entertainment of musicians and artists, head back downtown for a meal in the urban setting of Double Standard or take in the seafood scene at Ironside in Little Italy.



1. Richard Walkers Pancake House

This place is perfect for a large breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I personally like their chocolate chip pancakes.

2. Cafe Chloe

A French restaurant, with a classic interior, this place is great for brunch. Although I don't particularly like mussels, their moules frites is incredible.


3. Puestos  (Seaport Village, Downtown San Diego)

A vibrant setting, along Seaport Village, this place is the place to go for tacos and guacamole.

4. Queenstown Public House (Little Italy)

For a charming and quaint atmosphere, Queenstown Public House provides a lovely setting for an afternoon bite, especially during the weekend, when the farmer's market takes place. My favorite item on the menu is their Lamb Hash.


5. Iron Side Fish and Oyster Bar (Little Italy)

Seafood is their specialty in this hip and rustic restaurant. Although it is on the pricier side, it is well worth it. My favorite dish is their lobster.

6. Double Standard (Gaslamp District, Downtown San Diego)

I tend to order the same thing at this urban setting in the heart of the gaslamp district – lasagna pizza and brussels with bacon. You can't go wrong with this combination.


1. Coffee and Tea Collective (Gaslamp District, Downtown San Diego)

With a minimal and simple interior, this location serves great coffee, alongside avocado toast with a whipped goat cheese. They also share the space with Juice Saves, which serves healthy and refreshing smoothies and acai bowls.

2. Pappalecco (Little Italy)

"Bonjour!" is always the first thing I hear when I walk into this small, but friendly cafe. As you walk up to the register, you are met with a pastry bar filled with croissants and sandwiches. Their chocolate croissant and Toscana panini is a must.

3. James Coffee (Little Italy)

For a more hipster spot, James Coffee is located in a collective space with small boutique stores. So why not take a break from your computer and stroll through the specialty shops?


  1. I was so excited to see the title of this post because I'm headed to SD next month and I always love your recommendations! So I've added these to my list. :) Thanks! <3

    1. Yay! I'm so glad to hear! I wish I was headed there myself. I miss the food...and my family. :) I didn't include it on this list, but California burritos are a big thing in San Diego. It's basically a burrito with carne asada, french fries or potatoes, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. It's really good and you can find them all over. I just don't know a good spot in Downtown San Diego for them.