The city’s East Village may not sound familiar to some tourists due to San Diego being primarily known for its miles of stunning beaches and many theme parks, including LEGOLAND and SeaWorld.
But this little part of San Diego city is home to the iconic Petco Park and spectacular San Diego Central Library, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Located between Seventh Avenue and 17th Street in downtown San Diego and spanning over 130 square blocks, the neighborhood is brimming with boutiques, eateries, fantastic street art, and urban parks. And the great part is you can walk most of the area.
So park up, or catch the train into town, and check out these East Village hotspots.
1. Take In a Game at Petco Park
It isn’t only baseball fans who head to San Diego’s famous Petco Park. The home of the San Diego Padres, this spectacular stadium, which seats over 40,000 people, also hosts music concerts and all kinds of interesting events, including science fairs, multiple sporting events, and even a Holiday Market around Christmas. It is one of the most popular things to do in San Diego.
The stadium is slap bang in the middle of the city, which makes it a fun walk once you park up (check this website for parking options) and head through the streets of the East Village toward whatever fun event you’ve booked.
2. Chill Out at Gallagher Square
Gallagher Square, also known as the ‘Park in the Park,’ is actually inside Petco Park, but it’s a great option for parents who know their kids may squirm around sitting in stadium seats for hours during a game.
The park features a grassy area of almost 3 acres, and it’s a great place to take in the action while also relaxing. You definitely get the stadium vibe, but you can also stretch out a bit more with freedom for the kids to roam. You can watch the game with limited views of the pitch here or on the big screen in the park.
You’ll need to purchase a ticket to enter Gallagher Square during the Padres games, but the ticket gives you full access to walk around the rest of Petco Park.
3. Discover Downtown San Diego Street Art
If you have a budding artist or want to get inspired yourself, the East Village is a great place to inspire young (or old!) minds alike. Stunning murals adorn walls around the neighborhood and be sure to check out the amazing work of Ladies Who Paint, a non-profit organization formed to further the work and recognition of female artists.
Founded in San Diego, LWP’s work features 12 fantastic street murals throughout the East Village. The founders plan to add 12 more murals to the area annually during their annual retreat, where invited artists collaborate and decorate our city with their unique work.
The murals are usually clustered in small groups so that you can view a few at a time. You can find out more about LWP, plus the locations and samples of the murals, via their Instagram account.
4. Visit San Diego Central Library
The San Diego Central Library is definitely worth visiting, for the building alone. And I mean inside and outside. Located in Downtown East Village, the spectacular 9-story building was designed by local architect Rob Wellington Quigley and only opened in 2013.
The unique architecture includes a steel-and-mesh lattice dome, which presides over a two-story rare-book reading room atop the building.
It’s a great place to take the kids and ride the escalators to marvel at this vast, impressive building. As well as the library’s massive book collection, visitors can view the second-largest collection of baseball memorabilia in the U.S.
And for those searching for some quiet time, pick a book from the shelves and pull up a chair in one of the library’s eateries or cafes. The library hosts all kinds of interesting events, and you can see their calendar here.
5. Take a Bike Tour
You can swap four wheels for two for a more adventurous way to explore the East Village and downtown. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition offers fun group bike rides led by certified tour guides that cover around 6-7 miles of the city.
The 4-hour ride both begins and ends at Broadway Pier, and the route takes in the East Village, Petco Park, the Gaslamp District, and passes by the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and Seaport Village. You’ll also stop off to eat and drink along the way.
It’s a great deal at $25 per adult and $15 per child.
6. Go Bowling
Tavern+Bowl in East Village is a great place to take the kids in the day, where you can enjoy a family bowl on one of their 12 lanes. There are also other games and pool tables.
But you’ll want to stick to adults-only in the evening when the party atmosphere is in full swing. The rules state you must be 21+ to enter the venue after 9 p.m.
The food menu features all the usual suspects, like burgers, tacos, flatbreads, salads, and great appetizers. They also have a kids menu and a weekend breakfast option.
Prices for bowling start at $30 per hour Sunday – Thursday and $35 on Fridays & Saturdays. Each lane takes up to 6 players. Shoe and sock rental costs extra. You can call (619) 677 2695 to book lane reservations.
7. Check Out The Quartyard
The Quartyard is a unique urban park in East Village, which was constructed from repurposed shipping containers. It’s a live music venue, art space, coffee shop, and beer garden all rolled into one. What more could you want?!
The Quartyard’s atmosphere is intimate, given its space, but definitely fun and laid-back. And another one for the grown-ups only.
Their live music calendar celebrates the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood, and the venue also features rotating art installations from local and international artists. Visitors can kick back at SeaHorse Coffee, munch on nachos or tacos, and sip on cocktails or over 20 tap brews on tap at the Quartyard Craft Beer Garden.
For something different, grab a group of friends and try out their Twisted Trivia nights– a combo of trivia, Family Feud, and… a beer chugging contest. Check out the latest events and happenings on their website.
8. Sip Cocktails at You & Yours Distilling Co.
You & Yours Distilling Co. is a great date night option or place to impress friends visiting from out of town. Nestled in the East Village, this is definitely a treat for cocktail lovers.
The bar has a full production distillery onsite, a tasting room where you can sip on spirits they produce in-house, and its world-class cocktail menu comprises various gin and vodka concoctions.
The bar has a warm urban décor, and you can sink into one of their plush velvet couches and enjoy a Rhubarbie’s Dream House, Follow The Yellow Gin Road, or even a Basically Vitamins (which it’s definitely not).
Children under 13 are allowed, but I say, get a babysitter and enjoy this one with friends!
9. Enjoy Live Music at Moonshine Flats
If country music is your thing, a trip to Moonshine Flats in the East Village is a must. Another one for the adults only, this live music venue attracts some of country music’s hottest acts.
Spanning 18,000 sq ft over two floors, Moonshine Flats has a spacious lounge alongside its massive dancefloor and stage area.
Get your boots on for line dancing lessons on Thursdays from 8 p.m. There’s a Happy Hour all night, and once you’ve learned the new moves, you can practice from 10 p.m. till closing time with the Late Night DJ.
You can also feast on a traditional BBQ menu and play giant beer pong or cornhole at the adjoining outdoor eatery, The Deck. Check out their upcoming gigs and events.
10. Get your Game On at Punch Bowl Social
Another fun option if you love bowling is Punch Bowl Social, which is located in the Makers Quarter area of East Village. The venue is actually Inside the Coliseum Athletic Club, which was once a famous boxing marquee.
You can take the kids or have a night out with friends there, thanks to its plethora of activities in addition to bowling. There’s shuffleboard, bocce ball, Giant Jenga, ping pong, a vintage games arcade, and even karaoke. Plus a great pub-style menu, of course.