While San Diego is rather spread out, you can find pedestrian-friendly communities interspersed throughout its limits. Here are 10 great neighborhoods within walking distance of prime San Diego attractions, including restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, entertainment, and nightlife.
The scores below came from Walk Score, which measures the walkability of any address using a patented system. It’s a useful tool in your home search when considering walking proximity to nearby services.
With a prime downtown location, the Core and the Columbia District encompass a pocket of high-end commercial, residential, and government developments. There are a number of newly built luxury condominium buildings – those along Pacific Highway are known as “Millionaire Row” – and more highrises under construction. The neighborhood also has development plans for its waterfront, including a boardwalk providing entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities in a beautifully natural setting.
Nearby attractions: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Santa Fe Depot, Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Considered by some as its own neighborhood (including the folks at Walk Score), Horton Plaza comprises roughly a dozen blocks at the heart of downtown’s commercial district. You’ll get much the same shopping, dining, and nightlife excitement as its parent Gaslamp neighborhood.
Nearby attractions: Balboa Theatre, Horton Plaza Park
In the northwest bay-side corner of the downtown area, the Little Italy neighborhood is a vibrant cultural village with great restaurants and shops. Residential opportunities include modern high-rise condominiums with views of the bay, mid-level contemporary row-homes, restored Victorian era buildings, and lofts.
Nearby attractions: Amici Park, Little Italy Mercato, annual festivals
The place to go for nightlife in San Diego, the Gaslamp is downtown’s most lively neighborhood with more than 100 restaurants and night clubs. There are also plenty of annual festivals that keep it hopping year-round. Condos and lofts are nestled into the Victorian era historic charm of the area as part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Nearby attractions: numerous galleries and Gaslamp Museum
A narrow sliver between Little Italy and the North Bay, this small section of downtown earned its own spot on Walk Score’s list and is the last neigborhood tied for 2nd with the score of 97. However, when looking for homes, you may as well search in Little Italy.
Nearby attractions: Waterfront Park
One of downtown’s oldest residential neighborhoods, you can expect Victorian-style home, condos, and apartments in Cortez Hill, just outside the bustling downtown area. This hilly section of town offers great views of the Bay and Balboa Park and easy access to the I-5 freeway.
Nearby attractions: Balboa Park
In a prime location adjacent to San Diego Bay, the Marina District features high-end living in luxury condos, lofts, and town homes all close to some of the downtown area’s best shopping and dining offerings.
Nearby attractions: Seaport Village, San Diego Convention Center, Martin L. King Jr. Promenade, historic Pantoja Park, Children’s Museum
Numerous studios, artist’s lofts, galleries, restaurants, and shops have turned this hip urban area into a cultural and artistic center in San Diego. East Village also comprises parks and schools as well as historic buildings that have been converted into residential space.
Nearby attractions: Petco Park, San Diego City College, San Diego Central Library
Village of La Jolla
This “jewel” located a dozen miles north of downtown inhabits prime territory in San Diego including 7 miles of the beautiful coastline. It is a pedestrian hot spot for upscale shopping and dining, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.
Nearby attractions: La Jolla Cove, Bird Rock, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego (UCSD), Stephen Birch Aquarium and Museum, Salk Institute
An up-and-coming neighborhood just outside of downtown’s east boundary along I-5, historic Sherman Heights has a history going back to 1867 and its original settler, Matthew Sherman. It is also an ethnically diverse community with primarily historic homes as well as schools and services.