We’re back in California today to one of America’s favorite cities, San Diego. I took this photo in one of my favorite entertainment spots in the country—The Gaslamp Quarter. This photo is looking down E Street toward Horton Plaza, the gigantic downtown outdoor shopping center.
The Gaslamp has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants and bars in the country—many of them with outdoor seating. Outdoor seating is a good thing to have in a city with such beautiful weather. There are dozens of ethnic restaurants and a wide assortment of bars and clubs for any type of nightlife lover. The downside of the Gaslamp is its elitist feel. It seems to be geared toward tourists and is very expensive. Don’t be fooled by some people calling it a tourist trap, however, as many locals also hang out here. I had such a blast and the people were incredibly friendly, though I’ve heard the opposite from locals.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that San Diego is a walkable paradise. There are many walkable neighborhoods in the San Diego region. The trolley system is pretty good. The new high rise condo and apartment towers exploding all over downtown is astounding. But, this region still has an addiction to the automobile, and in particular, freeways.
There is a freeway everywhere you look in the region, and where there is not a freeway, there’s a pedestrian-hostile arterial waiting for you. Many of the TODs you hear about are TADs in reality (transit-oriented development versus transit-adjacent development). There is just a lot of concrete everywhere.
I really do like San Diego, but I place it behind San Francisco, Sacramento, and maybe a few others for my favorite California cities. San Diego can easily become one of the most walkable cities in the world, and it’s on its way in some regards. The focus really needs to turn from the car to the pedestrian. It will (hopefully) always have the great walking and biking weather.
This article is a part of the Exploring the Walkability of America in 30 Days photo series.