The Embarcadero is a lovely place to take a stroll. A bayside promenade stretches all the way down the waterfront, passing by museums and monuments and little marine parks that jet onto the water. Bask in the salty air and watch the clippers gliding across the harbor.
The best kick-back-on-the-grass place is Waterfront Park. A pristine grass lawn stretches around the San Diego City and County Administration Building. Lining the park are sculptures, gardens, playgrounds, and water fountains (feel free to kick off your shoes and splash around in them).
A wealth of historic vessels are docked at the Embarcadero. You’ll find the largest collection at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which comprises 11 historic ships.
Favorites at the Maritime Museum include the HMS Surprise (featured in the movies Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Master and Commander) and a Soviet B-39 submarine (not recommended for claustrophobes!). Some of the ships feature historical exhibits, while others take patrons on short harbor cruises.
San Diego’s most popular museum is inarguably the USS Midway Museum. Here’s your chance to explore a real life aircraft carrier, and a storied one at that.
You can march through almost every part of the ship: the galley, the engine rooms, the officers’ quarters, and even the bridge. The interior hangar deck is home to vintage World War II aircraft, flight simulators, and an on-board cafe. The flight deck is littered with Cold War-era jets and helicopters – you can even climb into the cockpit of a few of them!
It’s a museum that’s well worth your enlisted time.
San Diego’s military pride is on full display in the Embarcadero.
The Greatest Generation Collection is a series of elegant sculptures, obelisks, and engravings that commemorate those who served in World War II. The artworks are scattered about Tuna Harbor Park – a very fitting spot since that’s where the USS Midway sleeps.
The most popular statue at Tuna Harbor Park is the Embracing Peace statue (not part of the Greatest Generation Collection, but it fits right in). Embracing Peace is a gigantic recreation of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous V-Day photograph. It makes for an irresistible photo op – especially if you’ve got a significant other! Couples like to pose underneath the sculpture and re-create the kiss.
Go Sailing in San Diego
You’ll get some of the best views of the San Diego skyline, the Coronado Bridge, and San Diego’s naval bases on board a harbor cruise. There’s also a good chance your yacht will be escorted by dolphins and seals!
Both companies offer brunch, dinner, cocktail, and whale watching cruises (in season). Flagship also operates the Coronado Ferry, a fifteen-minute voyage across the bay to the Ferry Landing at Coronado Island. Whichever course you chart, you’re guaranteed spectacular views of the San Diego bay and skyline.
Locals tip: If you haven’t yet gained your sea legs, then pack some Dramamine to keep the seasickness at bay, or crack open a ginger ale.
Eating with the Fishes
The Embarcadero has the right atmosphere for a seafood lunch or dinner.
The Fish Market is the most beloved restaurant in the area and a neighborhood staple. The building protrudes over the San Diego Bay, making it one of the more scenic dining options in Downtown.
Other popular (and not-necessarily-seafood) restaurants include:
Where Do I Start?
If you’re interested in taking a harbor cruise, stop by the Hornblower and Flagship booths right away to scope out the cruise options and departure times.
Otherwise, you should check out the USS Midway Museum before anything else (on daytime visits). It’s the largest museum in the Embarcadero and you can easily spend 2-3 hours on board. From the Midway, you’re only a short walk to the Maritime Museum of San Diego (to the north) and Tuna Harbor Park (to the south).
When to Visit the Embarcadero
The Embarcadero makes for a great daytime or evening visit.
The USS Midway Museum operates in the daytime only. Street performers and vendors provide entertainment, food, and souvenirs under the shade of Tuna Harbor Park. The sunlight exposes the sheer beauty of the San Diego harbor and its inhabitants.
The Embarcadero is also a good spot to pass the evening if you’re waiting for the nighttime activities to begin in the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, which are close by. The Maritime Museum operates until 8 PM, in case you missed it during the day.
What better way to end the day than with a West Coast sunset? Watch it on board a sunset cruise or from the waterfront promenade. We promise that a stroll along the Embarcadero under orange skies is just as romantic as a sunset walk on the beach. And you don’t have to worry about getting sandy.