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    Marina District and Embarcadero: the neighborhood on the bay of San Diego

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    Martí Micolau
    @martímicolau
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    San Diego is among the main centers of the Pacific coast and, like all seaside cities, it is developed around the port. Therefore it goes without saying that its coastal neighborhood is among the most interesting to visit during a stay in the city.

    To the north and south of San Diego, tourists storm the long beaches, a surfer's paradise, to which we have dedicated a special article, but in front of the central districts of Gaslamp and Little Italy stands the Marina district. Between aircraft carriers and luxury yachts, fish market and classy restaurants, here you can alternate a historical-cultural walk during the day with a pleasant romantic evening.



    Index

    • Where is it and how to get there
    • What to see in the Marina district
      • Embarcadero Marina Park
      • Seaport village
      • Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
      • Commemorative monuments
      • USS Midway Museum
      • Maritime Museum
      • Waterfront park
      • San Diego Food Markets
    • Whales and romantic dinners: all the ways to sail the bay
      • Whale watching
      • Seals and sea lions
      • The romantic San Diego Bay
      • Adrenaline on the jet-boats
    • Accomodation

    Where is it and how to get there

    This area is well connected to every other neighborhood in the city. The main hub is the Santa Fe station: The main train station in downtown San Diego - from which trains run to coastal cities throughout the rest of California - is also one of the stops on the green Line del Trolley and is located 2 steps from the main attractions of the Marina district.

    The same line also stops at the Seaport Village and the Convention Center, with the two stops of the same name. American Plaza, just behind the Santa Fe station, is the terminus of the blue line, while 12th & Imperial Transit Center is the reference stop for the orange line, although slightly more uncomfortable than the previous two.



    If you are staying in an area not connected by the trolley, you may need the bus. In this case, to reach the Marina refer to bus 923 and 992, which stop on N Harbor Dr, or ai bus 280 and 290 which stop on Pacific Hwy.

    What to see in the Marina district

    The coastal neighborhood of San Diego is one of the most pleasant to walk around due to the sea view and its green areas, but it is also full of monuments, museums and points of interest. Walking along it from south to north, it allows you to connect the historic district of Gaslamp with the lively and edgy Little Italy. Let's see how you can visit the whole neighborhood on foot without missing out on anything it has to offer.

    Embarcadero Marina Park

    Il San Diego Convention Center - famous for hosting Comic Con annually, as well as countless other events - separates Gaslamp from marina of San Diego, better known by the Spanish name of Embarcadero. To start your visit from here, you can arrive from the gas lamp district or get off the green line of the Trolley at the Convention Center Station.

    My advice at this point is to literally climb over the Marriott hotel: yes, this large hotel has a staircase that allows you to pass it from above, offering a nice view of the boats moored from its outdoor terrace.


    The mooring piers teeming with sailboats and large yachts are enclosed between two green areas, respectively Embarcadero Marina Park North e South. The southern park is home to the open-air theater of the San Diego Simphony, which in the summer evenings comes alive with concerts and events. The northern one, on the other hand, you will find it from morning to evening full of people jogging and families bringing their children to play in the meadows: especially if you arrive here early in the morning or at sunset, when the warm California sun is not too strong. worth a few minutes for a walk.


    Seaport village

    Seaport Village's central fountain fills with pumpkins on Halloween!

    Continuing the walk along the coast to the north, you will come across the Seaport village. Around a fountain develops a round square surrounded by shops and restaurants, which develop in two concentric circles. This sort of open-air mall is a quaint enough area to walk through not only for shopping, but also because it is usually quite lively. Walking through it you can stop to see the paintings of the Wyland Galleries or take a ride on the carousel Seaport Village Carousel, but it is also an ideal area for a bite to eat.

    A stone's throw from the Seaport Village are some of the most renowned fish restaurants in the city, such as theHarbor House Restaurant and San Diego Pier Cafe. If you want to know all the places to eat in the neighborhood, find a dedicated paragraph in our article on where to eat in San Diego.


    Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

    Are you in San Diego on a Saturday morning? You can't miss the fish market set up along this pier. Every Saturday, from 8 to 13, small fishing boats dock here and sell the catch of the day directly to the public, some of which serving fish ready to be tasted on the spot.

    The group of fishermen who set up the market also sets itself the goal of spreading the culture of good fishing. In addition to practicing sustainable fishing with techniques that respect the marine environment, they set up between one stall and another demonstration stands to which you can see (and touch!) seaweed and molluscs, learning more about the local marine fauna.


    Commemorative monuments

    The heart of the neighborhood lies in its commemorative monuments, dedicated mainly to the theme of war and the navy.

    USS San Diego Memorial
    Unconditional surrender
    Salute to Bob Hope
    • USS San Diego Memorial. The first monument you come across while walking along the waterfront is the memorial to the USS San Diego: one of the US Navy cruisers that most influenced the victory of the Second World War. The large granite tombstones are positioned to form the prow of a stylized ship, enclosing the design of the seas crossed by the cruiser.
    • Aircraft Carrier Memorial. A few steps away, in the center of a green area, we find another memorial, this time in the shape of a small obelisk. If the preceding is dedicated to sailors, this is reminiscent of pilots who served during the war, fighting in the sky.
    • National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military Memorial. Bob Hope was a British comedian, singer and actor, but who has always lived in the United States. He regularly supported US military missions with his art, particularly during World War II. He received four Academy Awards for Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Merit, and President Johnson awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After his death - exactly 100 years old - he was remembered with this memorial that represents him with the microphone in his hand while speaking to the troops.
    • Unconditional surrender. One of the symbolic statues of the US Navy is the one that reproduces the kiss between a sailor and a Red Cross nurse, immortalized in Times Square on August 14, 1945. In truth, this statue was originally installed by the artist Seward Johnson in Sarasota, Florida. It was then moved several times and other copies were made, so that today we can also admire it here, in San Diego Bay.

    USS Midway Museum

    Have you ever been on an aircraft carrier? Walking on a floating take-off runway, surrounded by war fighters, can be a truly fascinating experience, as can discover the details of the life of sailors who spend months in the middle of the ocean.

    Over 30 airplanes perfectly restored they welcome you in the hangar of the gigantic ship, and you can climb into the cockpits, as well as discover the aerial battles through interactive screens. Another twenty or so aircraft instead it is positioned on the bridge. Below deck you can explore every corner where the sailors worked, slept, ate, played: from the canteen to the chapel, passing through the cabins, you will have fun learning a lot about life spent in the waves. The museum ship is particularly recommended for families with children (but not only), which certainly will not be bored.

    The aircraft carrier museum it is open every day from 10 to 17 (last admission at 16pm). The full ticket costs $ 26. Reduced prices are available for children up to 12 ($ 12), over 62 ($ 22) and students up to 17 ($ 18). Children up to 5 years do not pay.

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    Maritime Museum

    The Maritime Museum consists of a set of historic ships, clearly visible from the quay, on which it is possible to go up and visit the interiors. The main one is the Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship in the world, which has been sailing since 1863. Three other ships - Californian, San Salvador and HMS Surprise - alongside two steamships - Berkley and Medea - and two submarines: the 555 USS Dolphin and a Soviet B-39.

    Sea charts, navigation instruments and historical photographs help you to fully immerse yourself in the visit aboard the historic ships, while the messinscena “Man-of-war” aboard the HMS Surprise transports visitors back in time 200 years to the world of naval combat.

    The museum is open from June to September every day from 9 to 21. The ticket costs $ 20, but there are reduced rates for children aged 3 to 12 ($ 10), students up to 17 ($ 15) and over 62 ($ 15).

    Waterfront park

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    In the scorching Californian summer, there is nothing better than jumping barefoot into a fountain! Well, here at least the children do it without problems. Opposite the Maritime Museum is the large Waterfront Park, a very large rectangular public garden, at the center of which stands the San Diego County Building.

    The park's strong point is its large fountains, which cool passersby and create a pleasant setting in which to stroll to recover from the heat. Part of the park is fenced and can only be accessed from 6am to 22pm. The fountains are open from 11am to 19pm.

    San Diego Food Markets

    In the block that separates the Santa Fe station from the sea, the Lane Field Park, while the Seaport Village and the memorial area are connected via the Ruocco Park. Both of these green areas come to life particularly at the weekend, when the market is located there.

    Numerous stalls they offer food and drinks, while relaxation areas are set up on the lawn with carpets, deck chairs and umbrellas. Often local bands perform live to make it even more pleasant to stop and eat something in these parks.

    The market in Ruocco Park is held every Saturday from 10am to 17pm, the market in Lane Field Park is held every Sunday from 10am to 16pm.

    Whales and romantic dinners: all the ways to sail the bay

    Numerous tours also depart from the docks of the Embarcadero to make the most of all the beauty that San Diego Bay has to offer. Here are the best things to do if you want to leave the mainland for a few hours.

    Whale watching

    To live the thrill of seeing whales there is no need to freeze to death while sailing the icy seas of the Arctic. Between December and April, approx 20 thousand gray whales migrate along the Californian coast and if you're in San Diego around this time, taking advantage of this tour might be one of the best ways to return home with lasting memories. Spotting cetaceans is very easy and there are several tour options, here they are :.

    • Tour of about 4 hours in a large boat with all services on board. It also includes a documentary video on the way. Check the prices.
    • Approximately 3 hour ride on a Coast Guard boat. Check the prices.
    • Tour of about 4 and a half hours, aboard a sailing ship. Whale watching is guaranteed and snacks and drinks are included along the way. Check the prices.

    Seals and sea lions

    One of the major natural attractions of the coast, in particular in the area of La Jolla, are the seals and sea lions that populate the beaches and rocks. With this half amphibian you will be taken to see these cute animals in their habitat. A tour especially suitable for families with children. Check the prices here.

    The romantic San Diego Bay

    If visiting San Diego as a couple, a special way to spend an evening can be to have dinner aboard a ship that goes around the bay, or to sail at sunset as the sun dips into the ocean. Here are some options to make your stay unforgettable.

    • Cruise with dinner and dancing. Why dine in a restaurant, when you can do it admiring the Cabrillo National Monument from a unique view, passing under the spectacular Coronado Bridge and watching the friendly sea lions resting on the rocks?
    • Sunset sailing experience. What more romantic place than a sailboat to admire the sunset over the ocean? On this 3-hour tour you will enjoy a decidedly fascinating view of the bay at the most suggestive moment of the day. You will meet the marine animals of the coast up close and take breathtaking photos.
    • Sunset aperitif cruise. San Diego's only floating happy hour, it's a less adventurous alternative to sailing, for those who prefer a more comfortable situation. It is active every Friday and Saturday in summer.

    Adrenaline on the jet-boats

    You know those small boats so fast they look like missiles flying on the surface of the water? Well, in San Diego Bay you can experience the thrill of getting on board. Here are a couple of options for an experience definitely unsuitable for the faint of heart!

    • 30-minute ride on the Patriot Jet Boat. Check prices.
    • Two-hour rental of a fast speedboat. Check the prices.

    Accomodation

    The Embarcadero neighborhood is one of the best to stay overnight in San Diego, both for its centrality with respect to all the major attractions of the city, and for the services it offers, starting from the restaurants. There is not a huge choice of budget hotels: here there are mainly large chains or luxury hotels.

    For a range of recommended accommodations in this area you can read our article on where to sleep in San Diego, where you can find our specific recommendations on both the Marina / Embarcadero and the other neighborhoods most suitable for an overnight stay in San Diego.

    Where to sleep in San Diego neighborhood by neighborhood

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