Little Italy has grown from a small fishing village to one of San Diego’s buzziest neighborhoods, known for its food, shopping and culture. And although this downtown hotspot is filled with enticing eateries, there’s more to do than mangia.

The streets in this happening neighborhood are lined with a mix of old and new restaurants dating back nearly 70 years. The oldest still in operation is Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. Other eateries offering classic Italian cuisine include Civico 1845, Mimmo’s, Bencotto Italian Kitchen andMonello next door, where you can have your pasta tossed tableside in a cheese wheel. But several non-Italian restaurants have moves into the neighborhood over the years too, like the popular chicken-and-egg cafe The Crack Shack, seafood spot Ironside Fish & Oyster, celebrity chef-owned Herb & Wood and vegetarian hotspot Café Gratitude. Also check out new and much talked about steakhouse Born and Raised and Cloak & Petal, which serves Japanese small plates under lush flowering cherry blossom trees.

Little Italy is also home to a number of boutiques, galleries and antique shops. Shop for unique furniture and art pieces at Take Me Home, check out various artists’ works at 1805 Gallery, Mee Shim Fine Art and JDC Fine Art. Ready to shop ‘til you drop? Look for surf gear at Atacama, pet-friendly fashion at Be Boutique, statement jewelry pieces at Crema, fashion-forward clothing at Little Apple, edgy gifts at Love & Aesthetics and fun accessories from Rosamariposa.

After all that culinary and retail therapy, head down to the Waterfront Park, officially operated by the County of San Diego with water features (feel free to splash around), play structures, grassy knolls, a snack shack and secure public restroom. It’s home to various concerts, movie nights, art fairs and other events almost every weekend.

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