Taking Liberty

Liberty Station is a growing retail and commercial district not far from San Diego's best marinas.

  Liberty Station is located on the waterfront on a boat channel off San Diego Bay, between Harbor and Shelter islands, just west of the airport. It was once home to the Navy Training Center, but after decades of operation, the end of the Cold War shuttered the center, which officially closed in 1997. After years of lying dormant, the old training center found new life when the city decided to create Liberty Station, a retail and commercial district and promenade focused on the community.

Given Liberty Station’s location, any of the marinas on Harbor or Shelter Island would work as a base for one’s boat. Sunroad Resort Marina, Cabrillo Isle Marina, Marina Cortez and the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina are on Harbor Island. On Shelter Island, boaters can check out the guest mooring situation at marinas including Point Loma Marina, Shelter Island Marina, Kona Kai and Half Moon Marina. If you’re a yacht club member, there might be reciprocal privileges at one of the clubs on Shelter Island.

A taxi ride from any of the marinas will take 10 minutes at most to get to Liberty Station. Downtown, Coronado Island and Mission Bay aren’t far, either.

The Liberty Station complex is composed of different “districts”: the NTC Promenade, Retail and Commercial District, the Educational District (including a group of public charter schools), the Residential District, which has military housing, the Hotel District, and the Office District. There is also a 52 Boats Memorial that honors the 52 submarines that were lost in World War II.

The Arts District is San Diego’s largest Arts & Cultural District, with 28 parklike acres home to nearly 120 museums and galleries, artist studios, dance companies, educational groups, multidisciplinary arts, fine dining, creative retail and other organizations that showcase San Diego’s creative community.

There are many classes to take and exhibitions to peruse, for any taste. From watercolors to a women’s museum to DIY classes to workshops and yoga to gymnastics to Pilates — even a golf course — there is something for everyone. Make sure you try the beer at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, and sample an array of local grub.

At the southwest tip of Liberty Station is a reminder of its former purpose. USS Recruit is a “dummy” ship that is landlocked now and was even when it was commissioned. It was used as a training ship by the Navy — it’s a destroyer escort built to two-thirds scale — and gave more than 50,000 recruits a year their first taste of life on a ship.

In addition to this burgeoning art scene, the Public Market 5 offers a bevy of small stalls with everything from Argentinian empanadas to Vietnamese pho. Many of the market booths offer happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, so make sure to check the website to find out if your favorite booth has any good deals. The market just opened a year ago, and the atmosphere continues to grow and evolve.

If you’d like to watch a movie with style, head over to The LOT 6 . What was originally the Naval Training Center’s LUCE Auditorium, the epicenter for troop training and entertainment, is now home to a beautiful restaurant and cinema space. You can have a meal and dessert while watching the latest blockbuster, reclining in your own leather seat.

On top of all that, there is much more. Vons and Trader Joe’s have what’s needed to supply any vessel with food and sundries. There’s a dry cleaner, several museums, optometrists, a brewery, fitness and yoga studios, a comic book store and more.

From ice rinks to summer art programs, there is always something new going on. There are different events happening every week, so make sure you check the website before you visit.



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