Explore San Diego's Little Italy (2023)

Once home to San Diego's flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood with cozy patio cafés, international restaurants, craft brew stops, urban wineries, art galleries, sophisticated shops, boutique hotels, and the festive Piazza della Famiglia.

San Diego's Dynamic Culinary Hot Spot

Today, San Diego's most dynamic food and drink scene is centered in Little Italy. It's a place where the past meets the present, where Top Chef alums have set up shop next to old-school eateries that remain treasured landmarks.

A slew of luminary chefs have gravitated to Kettner Boulevard, giving it the moniker of "Top Chef Alley" with distinctive eateries including , , Born and Raised, The Crack Shack, Herb & Wood and Kettner Exchange. India Street is lined with restaurants featuring cuisines of both Southern and Northern Italy, including the classic Filippi's Pizza Grotto, featuring an old-fashioned Italian dining experience.

No Little Italy neighborhood would be complete without a true Italian market and Mona Lisa Italian Foods fits the bill. The deli offers a selection of foods, wine and delicious deli sandwiches.

Since 1934, the Waterfront Bar & Grill has been a favorite local watering hole serving locally brewed ales and burgers. And the British-owned and -operated Princess Pub and Grille serves British and Irish beers, along with traditional pub fare such as fish and chips for patrons watching soccer and rugby via satellite TV.

Craft Beer is also in the spotlight here with establishments such as Ballast Point Brewingand Bottlecraft Beer Shop & Tasting Room. And for wine lovers, Carruth Cellars Wine Gardenand Pali Wine Co.are perfect places for local wine tasting.

The Heart of Little Italy

The central gathering point in Little Italy is a European-style piazza known at Piazza della Famiglia. The 10,000-square-foot plaza connects India and Columbia streets and features a dramatic tiled fountain. Enjoy an afternoon stroll across the cobblestone street while relaxing before dinner. The piazza, in the "heart" of Little Italy, is dedicated to the past, present, and future families of the Little Italy neighborhood.

Just steps from the plaza, savor the flavors of Italy in the Little Italy Food Hall. This new social dining concept offers six locally-driven food stations and a full bar with local beers and craft cocktails.

Shopping and Farmers Markets

Little Italy also features some great local boutiques including Rosamariposa, Vocabulary Boutique, and Stroll where you can find fun women’s fashions and handmade local items, and the NoLi Art & Design District which encompasses a group of retail shops, design stores and art galleries. Klassic and Architectural Salvage are both worth a visit for home goods and unusual finds.

Each Saturday from 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM, several blocks of Little Italy are shut down for the weekly Little Italy Mercato—a dynamic farmers marketwhere locals shop for fresh produce along with gourmet goods, flowers, crafts and ready-made foods.

Events

Little Italy San Diego is also known for several fun festivals including the Mission Federal Artwalkeach Spring.

The aroma of fresh baked bread and Italian seasonings should be enough to get you close to Little Italy. But on a more practical sense, Little Italy is nestled between the downtown core and San Diego's glistening waterfront. If you're arriving from the North, exit on Front Street, and immediately turn right on Cedar. Welcome to the neighborhood! From the airport, take Harbor Drive to Grape Street (turn left) - you're in the center of Italian cuisine bliss. You could walk from downtown, or grab a pedi-cab for a romantic ride to your favorite Italian spot, but however you get there, save room for cannolis. Mangia!

Explore San Diego's Little Italy (1)

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Little Italy is just a short walk from San Diego's big bay and the activities along the embarcadero.

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Don't miss Saturday mornings at the Little Italy Mercato farmer's market.

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(Video) SAN DIEGO - LITTLE ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE

Sep 27, 2022 - ongoing

Breezy palm trees, captivating coastal vistas, postcard perfect cliffs, colorful beach umbrellas, hidden sea caves, picturesque ocean coves, crashing waves... Need we say more? This is the quintessential southern California beach and seascape tour you’ve always wanted to do. On this private tour, check out the affluent lifestyle of La Jolla with its Mediterranean architecture, unmatched coastline and delightful wildlife. Experience primo Southern California beach culture at a bustling three-mile boardwalk filled with skateboarders, runners, inline skaters, bikers, and sun worshippers as well as one of the top surfing spots on our 70 miles of picturesque coastline. Step back in time viewing Coronado’s charming beaches, elegant residences; and partake in other seaside surprises!

Live the California Dream!

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Jun 15, 2022 - ongoing

Raise your photography to the next level with a private photography training session or a photography tour led by Julie Kremen, an award winning professional photographer and certified tour guide. Read the reviews and see why she is top-rated on TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

The instruction is completely customized to your abilities, interests, and goals; so you get the maximum amount of one-on-one instruction tailored to suit your needs. Personal instruction and the ability to shadow a skilled professional photographer allows you to receive immediate feedback as you shoot and get on-the-spot guidance as to how to improve.

Julie works closely with you before the session to nail down exactly what you want to concentrate on so you can get the most out of your experience. Contact us to book a private session and your boost your shooting skills!

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(Video) TOP THINGS TO DO IN LITTLE ITALY SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA | Travel Guide

Dec 3, 2022

Join us as we transform Little Italyinto a winter wonderland with Christmas twinkle lights down all the streets, our beautiful urban neighborhood will be adorned with 10-foot tallnutcrackers and kinetic tree holiday displays on street corners, Christmas songs and more.

Family, friends, and neighbors are invited to come together to experience true holiday joy at this family-friendly event and enjoy the neighborhood’s festive décor—including two Christmas trees,Joshua Hubert’sAuroratree at Piazza Basilone and the permanent 25-foot tree at Piazza della Famiglia, seasonal vendors, live music and entertainment, holiday treats, a traditional Italian tree lighting ceremony, and a special message from Santa that you don't want tomiss!

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May 3, 2022 - ongoing

Journey with award winning tour guide Julie around San Diego’s cultural and historic sites—on a private tour of fun and informative must-see sightseeing hotspots.

OLD TOWN: Take a trip into the past and learn about our rich Spanish and Mexican heritage and why we are the “Birthplace of California.” Experience our original city—colorful and festive now, but find out why it wasn’t always that way.

DOWNTOWN:Explore these San Diego Downtown essentials: scenic San Diego Bay’s Embarcadero waterfront, the famous and vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, hip and historic Little Italy, and Petco Park.

BALBOA PARK:The cultural heartbeat of our city; you will fall in love with the country’s largest urban cultural park and be dazzled discovering its origins as you take in its incredible vegetation, gorgeous flowers and ornate architecture.

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(Video) Exploring San Diego, Monello Italian Little Italy - FOX Ch.5 San Diego

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Where the culinary past meets the present

Once home to San Diego's flourishing tuna fishing industry in the early 1900s and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy is a charming cultural hub that edges downtown and the harbor. Today, San Diego's most dynamic food and drink scene is centered in this bustling neighborhood, home to quaint cafes, al fresco eateries, craft beer stops, urban wineries, and myriad restaurants. Colorful Little Italy is a place where locals dressed in white play bocce ball in Amici Park and Top Chef alums have set up shop next to old-school eateries serving authentic Italian fare.

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With These Fireworks and Celebrations

Whether you're traveling with friends or family, San Diego is everyone's first choice for 4th of July celebrations. Even locals can't think of anything better than relaxing with loved ones on a long stretch of sand and watching an extraordinary show of lights in the sky. Below is a list of our favorite stretches of sand, spectacular fireworks shows around and places to watch the fireworks in San Diego.

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Treat Dad to a San Diego Adventure

Let's face it: Dad's toolbox is already full, and he doesn't need another tie! Instead, treat your old man to a San Diego adventure. From kayaking in La Jolla to taste tasting local craft beers, there are endless ways to celebrate Dad this Father's Day.

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Attractions

Not to be missed!

San Diego is packed with great things to see and do including these top theme parks and attractions.

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(Video) 🇺🇸 Little Italy in San Diego California USA 2022 | Walking Tour & Travel Guide

FAQs

Is Little Italy worth visiting * San Diego? ›

walking tour is a great way to get to know Little Italy, San Diego - one of the chicest neighborhoods in the Downtown area. With many unique boutiques, historic buildings, and luxury high-rises, this area is known today as a great area to stay and find some of the best food and drink establishments in all of San Diego.

Is Little Italy San Diego walkable? ›

With 48-square blocks, San Diego's Little Italy is the largest in the U.S., Che Fico! As one of the top community hubs in the area, Little Italy prides itself on creating a neighborhood that is walkable and creates an enjoyable experience for people to stop, sit and enjoy all of what the area has to offer!

Is Little Italy worth visiting? ›

Is Little Italy worth visiting? Yes, it is one of the most iconic neighborhoods of NYC and offers a taste of New York Italian specialties hard to find anywhere else.

Does the San Diego Trolley go to Little Italy? ›

Old Town Trolley is a convenient way to explore Little Italy San Diego while maximizing your vacation time. Shop at the downtown farmers market, or dine like a Sicilian at one of the many restaurants down India Street.

Is parking free in Little Italy? ›

Parking is a breeze with Little Italy's Valet Parking. Rated at $12 a vehicle, this is one of many options that will help visitors.

Is Little Italy and Chinatown worth visiting? ›

The neighborhood is still well worth a visit, though, both for the Little Italy institutions that are still awesome and for its proximity to Chinatown's many edible wonders. The two neighborhoods are so closely intertwined that it's easy to do them both in a day, especially with this guide in hand.

How do you get from Little Italy to Old Town? ›

The best way to get from Little Italy to Old Town San Diego is to train which takes 8 min and costs $2 - $29. Alternatively, you can bus, which costs $1 - $45 and takes 10 min.

Is it better to stay in Gaslamp or downtown San Diego? ›

Overall, Downtown is the best area to to stay in San Diego because it is the most convenient location and it has a wide range of accommodations. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action, within walking distance to tourist attractions, as well as many shops, restaurants, and bars.

How much is the Ferris wheel at Little Italy? ›

The Attractions

The Feast's wheel cost $10 to Times Square's $22.60, but they are exactly the same thing. It is a ferris wheel.

Is Chinatown close to Little Italy? ›

Chinatown and Little Italy are adjacent to each other.

What should I wear to Little Italy? ›

Just come casual and ready to enjoy a great meal. Lissa G. People usually dress casual although you also wouldn't be out of place if you dressed up a bit.

What is special about Little Italy? ›

When Italian immigrants moved to this Manhattan neighborhood in the late 1800s, they brought their customs, food and language. That heritage remains evident today—Little Italy's streets are lined with restaurants serving Italian staples on red-and-white checkered tablecloths.

How much does it cost to ride the San Diego Trolley? ›

One-Way Fares
One Way FaresAdultReduced Fare
MTS TrolleyAdult Fare: $2.50Reduced Fare: $1.25
MTS BusAdult Fare: $2.50Reduced Fare: $1.25
MTS RapidAdult Fare: $2.50Reduced Fare: $1.25
MTS Rapid Express/Premium (Routes 280, 290)Adult Fare: $5Reduced Fare: $2.50
3 more rows

Can I pay cash for a trolley in San Diego? ›

Riders can pay for their MTS fixed-route bus and Trolley trips using the PRONTO app, a PRONTO card or cash.

How long does the San Diego trolly take? ›

The SEAL Tour is approximately 90 minutes long. 30 minutes on land and 60 minutes on San Diego Bay.

What time do things close in Little Italy? ›

Regular shopping hours 8-5.

Where can I park for free in Little Italy San Diego? ›

Top 10 Best Free Parking near Little Italy, San Diego, CA 92101
  • All "Free Parking" Results in Little Italy, San Diego, CA 92101. ...
  • Park-it-on-Market. ...
  • Ace Parking Garage. ...
  • Ace Parking - 6th & K Parkade. ...
  • Santa Fe Train Depot. ...
  • San Diego Public Library, Central Library. ...
  • County Center/Little Italy Trolley Station.

How do you park in Little Italy San Diego? ›

Self Parking
  1. Location: 610 W. ...
  2. Location: 1730 Columbia Street.
  3. Daily Rates: Rates may fluctuate. ...
  4. Monthly Rate: $220 (Limited Availability) ...
  5. Note: Overnight parking is allowed and access can be gained after hours with an active parking ticket.
  6. Location: 1536 Kettner Boulevard.
  7. Rate: $10 per vehicle.

Is Little Italy close to Central Park? ›

Yes, the driving distance between Little Italy to Central Park is 5 miles. It takes approximately 11 min to drive from Little Italy to Central Park.

Why is Chinatown so cheap? ›

The closeness of the wholesalers means the restaurants and retailers nearby don't have to invest in a lot of onsite storage at their locations, keeping their own costs low — so low that some shoppers falsely believe cheap Chinatown produce is poor quality.

Is taste of Little Italy Free? ›

It's the perfect social event for those looking for something to do in the city and best of all, it's FREE admission!

Is the trolley free in San Diego? ›

The 22-mile route runs along the state Route 78 corridor, serving 15 stations and running every 30 minutes. Adult one-way fares are inexpensive and children 5 and under ride free.

What day is Little Italy Farmers Market? ›

Join us at the Little Italy Mercato Farmers' Market every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and every Wednesday from 9:30am to 1:30pm, year-round, rain or shine. The Saturday market is San Diego County's largest, filling six city blocks on West Date Street from west of Kettner Blvd to Front Street.

How far is Little Italy in San Diego from the beach? ›

Yes, the driving distance between Pacific Beach to Little Italy is 8 miles. It takes approximately 9 min to drive from Pacific Beach to Little Italy.

What is the nicest part of San Diego? ›

Best Neighborhoods to Live in San Diego
  • Oceanside. The artistic beach community of Oceanside offers some of the most affordable coastal living in all of Southern California. ...
  • Carlsbad. ...
  • Pacific Highlands Ranch. ...
  • La Jolla. ...
  • Solana Beach. ...
  • Torrey Pines. ...
  • Downtown San Diego. ...
  • South Park.
27 Dec 2021

Is it worth visiting Old Town San Diego? ›

Old Town is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in San Diego, and it always has lots of interest from visitors. The great thing about Old Town, San Diego, is the sheer variety of entertainment and things to do in Old Town, San Diego. So we know you'll love it!

What is the nicest city in San Diego? ›

Perfect for young professionals looking for a luxurious and charming beach town in a prime location. La Jolla, or 'the jewel' in Spanish, is the most prestigious community in the city and an important part of San Diego's dazzling crown.

How much is a pizza at Little Italy? ›

Menu
PizzaMiniMedium
Cheese$4.40$8.75
1 Topping$5.00$9.80
2 Toppings$5.60$10.85
3 Toppings$6.20$11.90
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What time is tree lighting in Little Italy? ›

Grape Streets, where you'll find one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers and other holiday goodies from seasonal vendors and select Little Italy Mercato vendors. The festivities start at 4:00pm, with the Tree Lighting Ceremony taking place in the Piazza della Famiglia at 6:30pm.

What time does the taste of Little Italy start? ›

Saturday | 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Sunday | 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Is Chinatown worth visiting? ›

Is Chinatown in NYC worth visiting? Chinatown in NYC is worth a visit! It has some of the best and most affordable bars and restaurants in the city. The neighborhood is expansive, diverse, and bustling with people of different backgrounds and from all walks of life.

Why is Chinatown always next to Little Italy? ›

It might interest you to know that one of the reasons Chinatown is so close to Little Italy is because the Italian-Americans were one of the few groups willing to sell or rent real estate to Chinese American buyers back in the day.

Why is Mulberry Street famous? ›

Mulberry Street is a principal thoroughfare in Lower Manhattan, New York City. It is historically associated with Italian-American culture and history, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the heart of Manhattan's Little Italy.

Can I wear jeans with holes in Italy? ›

While Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans, you still can wear jeans in Italy. However, avoid acid wash and extremely distressed denim and opt for medium-dark blues and blacks.

Are shorts OK in Italy? ›

Also, apparently, some cathedrals will not let you enter wearing shorts. I am here to tell you, that this is incorrect. You can wear shorts in Italy and look perfectly normal.

Can you wear white in Italy? ›

Pile on the neutral colors

Meanwhile, the “no white after Labor Day” rule in Italy doesn't exist: Locals love winter white, especially for jeans and sweaters.

Are there still Italians in Little Italy? ›

Over 200,000 residents claim Italian heritage, representing over 40% of the total population, with Rosebank being the first Italian enclave.

Why is it called Little Italy in San Diego? ›

Little Italy originally took shape in the 1920s, as Italian fishermen and their families began settling there to be close to the city's tuna industry. For a time, San Diego was known as the "tuna capital" of the entire west coast, and the 6,000 immigrant families populating Little Italy were a huge reason why.

Why is it called Little Italy? ›

A "Little Italy" strives essentially to have a version of the country of Italy placed in the middle of a large non-Italian city. This sort of enclave is often the result of periods of immigration in the past, during which people of the same culture settled together in certain areas.

How do tourists get around in San Diego? ›

Getting Around San Diego On Vacation
  1. Hop on Old Town Trolley Tours. ...
  2. Ride the Red Trolley. ...
  3. Catch the Coaster. ...
  4. Take the Coronado Ferry. ...
  5. Call for a Water Taxi. ...
  6. Take a Taxi or Shuttle.

Where does the San Diego Trolley take you? ›

Light rail service that connects San Diego's Downtown with East County, UC San Diego, South Bay and the Mexico border.

Does the San Diego Trolley run 24 hours a day? ›

The San Diego Trolley runs from approximately 4:30 AM until 12:30 PM. During most of the day, trolleys arrive every 15 to 20 minutes.

What do you do if you don't have a trolley for a pound? ›

Promoted Stories

"If you don't have a pound coin or a trolley coin put two 20ps together and boom it will work."

Do cops ride SD trolley for free? ›

3 MTS operators will allow all local, state, and federal-sworn peace officers, in uniform or in civilian clothes, to ride on scheduled bus and trolley routes without charge. This is deemed as a benefit to both riders and law enforcement agencies.

Is it safe to ride the trolley in San Diego? ›

How safe is the San Diego Trolley? Statistically, the answer is clear. The number of reported crimes occurring on or near the trolley is extremely low.

How long is the Old Town Trolley Tour San Diego? ›

The tour covers approximately 25 miles and over 100 points of interest in a fast-paced two-hour narrative. Guests can hop on and off at a couple stops and tour at their own pace throughout the day.

Where can I park and get a trolly ride in San Diego? ›

Best Places to Park and Ride

New park & ride locations are available along the UC San Diego Blue Line at Nobel Drive, Balboa Avenue and Tecolote Drive stations.

Is Little Italy San Diego a nice neighborhood? ›

There are many things that those who live in Little Italy love about this neighborhood. From its gelato to watching fireworks at sea every night in the summer, those who made this neighborhood their home say it is filled with food, fun and culture. Little Italy is true to its name, historically.

What part of California is most like Italy? ›

Venice, California

The Venice Canal Historic District was built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney who wanted to recreate the look and feel of Venice, Italy. Another set of canals were built south of the original canals and they were known as the New Amsterdam Canals.

How far is Little Italy San Diego from the beach? ›

The distance between Pacific Beach and Little Italy is 7 miles.

Who lives in the yellow house in Little Italy San Diego? ›

Sometimes called Little Italy's Mayor, Nick Pecoraro has lived in the two-story yellow house on India Street for 53 years. 🇮🇹 He's raised three children with his late wife, Joann in this home and has seen Little Italy grow from a small fishing community to a destination location.

What is the hippest neighborhood in San Diego? ›

Two miles east of Hillcrest is North Park, San Diego's hippest neighborhood, with trendy thrift shops and retro bars – Coin-Op has dozens of vintage arcade games, and Polite Provisions is a smart apothecary and old soda shop-style bar.

What accent do Californians have? ›

It's not that Californians have an accent that takes some getting used to, as in Boston, or the American South. On the contrary, the standard-issue California accent is about as plain, mainstream American English as you can get.

Why is there a Little Italy in San Diego? ›

Little Italy originally took shape in the 1920s, as Italian fishermen and their families began settling there to be close to the city's tuna industry. For a time, San Diego was known as the "tuna capital" of the entire west coast, and the 6,000 immigrant families populating Little Italy were a huge reason why.

What US city is most like Italy? ›

Boston, Massachusetts - feels like England and Italy

Much like the melting pot that is the United States, Boston consists of cultures, architecture and food largely derived from Mainland Europe.

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