Where to live in Downtown San Diego

San Diego is a huge city, and even within each neighborhood, there are smaller, niche communities, each with their own flavor and flair, and downtown San Diego is one such place! The neighborhoods of downtown San Diego can be so diverse; they feel like they are in completely different cities. From the charm of Little Italy, to the historic and hip Gaslamp District, to the bustling East Village, there’s truly something for everyone. Downtown San Diego is alive and thriving with exciting things to do, delicious food, and plenty of culture, so let’s dive in and see what might be the perfect neighborhood for you!

Neighborhoods in Downtown San Diego


Little Italy

Little Italy sign at night, where to live in downtown San Diego (13)

This eponymous little town of course has plenty of Italian influence, but that certainly isn’t all you’ll find in Little Italy. Known as perhaps one of the “tastiest” areas of Downtown San Diego, there’s a plethora of small restaurants and dining options to be explored.

Little Italy is very walkable, and you’ll find everything from coffee shops to bars. There’s a Ballast Point tasting room, for the craft beer fan who wants to enjoy some local brew from this nationally renowned San Diego brewery. If you want a taste of history, stop in to The Waterfront Tavern, allegedly the oldest bar in San Diego, opening just after the end of the prohibition era.

Forbes Magazine has ranked Little Italy in Downtown San Diego to be number ten in the best cities for millennials in America, but don’t let that discourage you if you’re in any other age demographic, there are people of all ages and walks of life that love Little Italy and call it home.

Columbia District

Columbia District in downtown SD, where to live in downtown San Diego (15)

Primarily commercial, the Columbia District doesn’t present too much in terms of residences and dining. In recent years more of both have popped up, but it’s traditionally been high rise buildings and offices. The brand new Savina condo complex has brought some great housing options to the area, with its modern, city life appeal and sleek design.

For those working in the Columbia District, more and more housing options are showing up, which is attractive to those hoping to perhaps be able to walk to work and avoid the parking nightmare that you face in any big city.

Marina District

Seaport Village in Marina Distict of downtown San Diego, where to live in downtown San Diego (16)

If you’ve always dreamed of attending the world renowned San Diego ComicCon, you might love living in the Marina District, which is home to the San Diego Convention Center. It’s not just for big events, though! Also in the Marina District you’ll find the ever charming Seaport Village, with over 14 acres of shops, restaurants, cobblestones streets, parks and entertainment. Arguably, one of the best views in all of San Diego can be seen from the restaurant at the top of the Hyatt Hotel in the Marina District. Grab a bite to eat, or some after dinner drinks, and take in the view in style!

For the cinephile, also in the Marina District, is Kansas City Barbeque, a charming little establishment best known for being the filming location for many of the bar scenes in the 1986 blockbuster hit “Top Gun.” Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!

Cortez Hill

el cortez, neighborhoods in downtown San Diego

Moving back up the map and inland this time, we come to Cortez Hill. Differing from much of downtown, Cortez Hill has a very residential vibe. Perhaps the most “neighborhood like” area in Downtown San Diego, there are plenty of places to live in Cortez Hill where you can have a more suburban feel, but still be almost walking distance from places like Little Italy and the Gaslamp District when you’re looking for entertainment.

Cortez Hill has a lot of unique and historic architecture as well, as it’s the oldest historic district in San Diego, so strolling around town provides a feast for the eyes in this quirky little downtown city. Some of the most recognizable infrastructure in San Diego can be found in Cortez Hill, such as the St. Joseph Cathedral, built in 1875, and the California School of Law, which has been in Cortez Hill since the early 1970’s.

Gaslamp District

where to live in downtown San Diego (14)

Perhaps one of the most well known areas in all of San Diego, and endearingly referred to as the heart of San Diego, we’ve reached the Gaslamp District! Historic, and aptly named for the quaint gas lamps that line its streets, the Gaslamp District is an entertainment hub and extremely walkable. Some streets have even been entirely shut down to vehicles, allowing pedestrians to stroll the streets safely.  Restaurants, night clubs, movie theatres, small shops, everything you could need for a night out on the town can be found in the Gaslamp District.

Belying the historic flair of the rest of the Gaslamp District, Horton Plaza, a once massive shopping center, is being transformed into a campus designed to attract large tech from other areas in California, like Silicon Valley, to move some of their offices to San Diego. The projected finish date on the project is 2022.

East Village

Padres stadium in East Village neighborhood in downtown San Diego, where to live in downtown San Diego (11)

Looking to move to the San Diego area & need some help?

Let us help you get started!

Fill out our form here & we’ll schedule a call with you!

For the lover of America’s Favorite Pastime, East Village is home to the San Diego Padres stadium, so grab a hot dog, and let’s play ball! Petco Park is a huge stadium complex, but so much more than a ballpark. Condo buildings are dotted around, such as The Legend, which is actually built into the complex. Because all of Downtown San Diego is so walkable, you can walk from other areas of downtown, straight into the park for a game. This makes for perfect after game celebration as well!

East Village has plenty of options when it comes to dining and entertainment, so even if you aren’t a baseball fan, you won’t run out of things to do! East Village is growing rapidly, and more and more restaurants, bars, and breweries are popping up constantly, making it an even better option for those looking for the “live/work” environment.

Interested in living in Downtown San Diego?

There you have it- the neighborhoods of downtown San Diego! We love that this area of San Diego county isn’t overwhelming, as most other major cities can feel like. If you’re looking to buy or sell a property in downtown San Diego, we can help! Give us a call or email us today to get started.