Columbia District

Rich Maritime History

A neighborhood that truly embraces San Diego’s rich maritime history, Columbia is located between the waterfront and F and Ash streets, and is filled with cultural and educational delights centered on the high seas. Stretching along Columbia’s western edge, beside the glimmering waters of San Diego Bay, is the waterfront Embarcadero. Its festive boardwalk is home to numerous museums, eateries, and events.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego boasts one of the most impressive collections of historic ships in the world, including the oldest known active sailing ship, the iconic Star of India. America’s longest serving aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, now the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, looms over the waterfront in stately elegance and provides visitors with knowledge of its storied history, often straight from the mouths of naval veterans who served aboard it and now act as docents. The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier is a flexible event space that plays host to live music events, photo trailers, and the seasonal Makers Arcade, which features more than 100 local makers offering an array of artisan goods for sale.

The Embarcadero also houses the Cruise Ship Terminal, a popular port for Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America. Sailing adventures that stick closer to home are available as well, with harbor cruises that explore the bay, and the Coronado Ferry which will transport you to the sunny peninsula of Coronado for a day of shopping and beachside lounging next to the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Natural spaces also populate this area, with Downtown Waterfront Park offering a grassy oasis with a unique modern playground for children and an interactive splash fountain. Thrilling annual festivals are held here, including the CRSSD Festival for EDM enthusiasts, and Boots in the Park for lovers of country music.

Further inland, art and history exist as one at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. It is housed in the former baggage building of the Santa Fe Depot and hosts an ever-changing array of provocative exhibits that invite visitors to experience themselves and the world around them through the lens of contemporary art. The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was originally constructed for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, as evidenced by its distinctive Spanish Colonial Revival-style exterior. Still an active transportation center, commuters can opt to hop on the San Diego Trolley, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus system, or the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train.

Scroll to Top