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San Diego’s 7 Waterfront Areas

The San Diego Bay is lined with seven waterfront areas along 34 miles of spectacular Southern California shoreline. Each area offers unique restaurants, shopping, marinas, hotels and parks that prove to be a great outing for families, couples or solo travelers. View the public art, walk along the miles of beaches, or rent a bike or car to soak in all seven sights in one fell swoop.

1. The Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is a wonderful walkway with restaurants, hotels, tours and museums, all set against the beauty of the Bay and the downtown cityscape. You will find the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, an architectural gem that hosts events when ships are not in port, and further south is Seaport Village featuring bistros, restaurants and boutiques. The Embarcadero Marina Park is divided into two sections: North and South. Embarcadero Marina Park North is found just after Seaport Village and Embarcadero Marina Park South is adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center. If you’re staying at a downtown San Diego hotel near Little Italy, you can easily walk to the Embarcadero and back, enjoying the views all along the way.

2. Harbor Island

This “island” is right next to the San Diego Airport, close to downtown San Diego. The park-like setting allows you to view the sweep of the Bay and the skyline of the city. You can enjoy a day of pampering at luxurious hotel spas or grab delectable fare at Sierra Pacific Restaurant & Bar or the functioning Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. For classy cocktails head to Tapatini-Tapas & Martini Bar or opt for C-Level which sits directly over the bay for unbeatable views.

3. Shelter Island

Shelter Island may have been created to accommodate military ships 50 years ago, but today it is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. This resort-style peninsula features world-class dining, nightlife and scenery. Touted at San Diego’s “Hawaiian getaway”, many locals even make an effort to staycation here! From spa services and shopping to outdoor concerts and parties, this waterfront destination truly has it all. We recommend starting your afternoon with drinks and appetizers at Vessel Restaurant & Bar before grabbing dinner at Bali Hai Restaurant and eventually ending the night with drinks and dancing at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge.

4. Imperial Beach

If you enjoy San Diego’s beautiful, year-round weather, you must not miss a visit to the uncrowded beaches here. Watch the surfers, lie out in the sun or enjoy a dip in the refreshing Pacific Ocean. The adjoining wetlands and the Tijuana Estuary are full of wildlife for viewing. You can take in the public art, public parks and nearby shopping for a fun-filled day in IB. Further south, you will discover the Dunes Park with a spectacular view of the Coronado Bay Bridge.

5. Coronado

Coronado is San Diego’s “enchanted island” and is something not to be missed. To get here, you’ll either have to drive across the beautiful bridge or take an affordable ferry. The island has a quaint village where you can visit shops, restaurants and art galleries. Visitors are urged to enjoy the award-winning beach where you might see Navy Seals in practice, savor fine dining options at such places as Mistral and Peohe’s, and catch the stunning San Diego sunset from Hotel Del Coronado’s outdoor lounge.

6. Chula Vista

San Diego locals enjoy the uncrowded Chula Vista bayside marinas, parks, and restaurants. The Bayfront Park offers plenty of space for picnics, play or a leisurely stroll. Oftentimes you can find a classic car club sponsoring an event where vintage vehicles are put on display. Don’t miss the Nature Center where you can learn about the Bay, local wetlands, marine life, and geology of the San Diego area. Once arriving at Chula Vista’s waterfront, visitors can participate in everything from pier fishing and boating to casual dining and bird watching.

7. National City

Here you will find a working waterfront with world trade activity, naval operations and maritime ship building. The 5.5 acres of Pepper Park can be found alongside the channel, where you can view the Bay and the hustle and bustle of activities that take place at the marine terminal. While you’re in the area, don’t skip town before grabbing a famous In-N-Out Burger, milkshake and fries combo just down the street!


As you can tell, there is more than enough to see and do along San Diego’s many waterfront areas. Pick a few to explore that are close to your affordable hotel. If you’re interested in staying just blocks from the San Diego Bay and less than two miles from the Embarcadero, call (619) 232-7551 to book your stay at the Marina Inn- one of the top hotels in Little Italy San Diego.