Nothing says fresh-faced, new, and vibrant better than the East Village district of Downtown San Diego. Before the arrival of Petco Park, the San Diego Padres Major League Baseball stadium, East Village was the forgotten ugly sister to Downtown’s popular Gaslamp Quarter. It is the largest of the Downtown districts, bordered by Interstate 5 to the east, the Core and Cortez Hill districts and the Gaslamp Quarter to the west, Barrio Logan to the south, and Balboa Park to the north. This eclectic neighborhood is now an edgy mix of reclaimed warehouse chic and new construction ultra-modern, and has been likened to Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
East Village History
East Village has come a long way from its industrial roots of the 1850s. In its earliest days, the neighborhood was predominantly a commercial area of warehouses, vacant lots, and public utilities, with a smattering of residential properties. By the 1980s it was a picture of urban blight with a dwindling population, shuttered and deteriorating businesses, and a large homeless population. The 1990s saw a small resurgence of interest in the district as artists began to populate repurposed warehouse spaces and social services moved in to meet the needs of the community. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that the construction of the Padres’ stadium became the neighborhood’s saving grace.
East Village Highlights
Petco Park, the $450 million state-of-the-art baseball stadium, is the unrivaled anchor attraction of this trendy neighborhood. The best way to catch a game, of course, is to buy a ticket and enjoy the energy and amenities that go along with great live baseball. For an old-time outside the fence experience though, you can bring your own blanket and snacks to “Park at the Park” off K Street and watch the game on the big screen or through the chain link outfield fence on a grassy hillside for $5. Get a birds-eye view of the field from the comfort of a rooftop bar, or even a friend’s condo balcony if you’re lucky. The stadium’s main entrance is conveniently across from the Trolley station on Harbor Drive. Two more entrances are on K Street at 7th and 10th Streets.
If you think visiting the library on vacation is odd, you haven’t seen the shiny, new San Diego Central Library in East Village. Located on J Street between 11th Avenue and Park Boulevard, you’ll find the main entrance on Park. In keeping with the modern vibe of the neighborhood this multi-storied, domed, architectural wonder is a sight to behold. There are docent guided architectural tours highlighting the garden courtyard, dome, and more, as well as art tours of 150 individually installed art pieces. Docent led general tours include, among other highlights, the Dr. Seuss-themed children’s library, beach-themed teen Center, 3-D printing lab, and Qualcomm Dome Terrace. Check their website for events like film festivals, concerts, or public classes like Coding Camp or Memoir Writing.
The uniquely stylized Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge connects Petco Park, East Village, and the Gaslamp Quarter to the San Diego Convention Center and the 2,000-space Port of San Diego Parking Garage. At 550 feet, it is one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world. The nautically themed bridge is an extension of East Village’s modern and sleek architectural style. It offers great views of the city in all directions from a vantage point of 130 lofty feet in the air. The stainless steel bridge features a beautiful curved deck lit from above and below. Stroll onto the bridge at night for stunning photographic opportunities.
East Village Things to Do and See
For the optimum East Village experience, why not stay in a local independent hotel? Solamar is located at 6th and K Streets on the edge of East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter and is within walking distance of both Petco Park and the San Diego Convention Center. This cool, urban hotel has a rooftop pool and terrace, serves a complimentary craft beer, seasonal cocktail, or glass of wine each evening, and even has a yoga mat in every room.
These are just a few of the highlights of East Village, but there are countless reasons to visit. The Village is one of the premier shopping destinations in Downtown San Diego. Hip and urban East Village boutique shops like Ma Cherie, Mango, and G-Star Raw Store will satisfy even the most voracious shoppers. The bars and restaurants of reclaimed warehouses like Knotty Barrel, Basic, and Table No. 10, are can’t miss eateries in the Village. Their rooftop counterparts, LOUNGEsix, Ivy Rooftop, and Altitude Sky Lounge serve up sassy nightlife with a view atop trendy, new condominium buildings. You’ll never run out of new places to shop, eat, and drink in East Village. Check out the East Village neighborhood website for ongoing events like their annual Opening Day Block Party each spring for the first Padres game of the season.