It’s a Dog’s World: San Diego’s Little Italy

If you’re like me and prefer to take your best furry friend with you wherever you go, follow along as my dog Astra and I explore San Diego’s neighborhoods.

On a recent Saturday, we set out for Little Italy, near Downtown and not far from the airport. A blend of residential and commercial, Little Italy is best known for its many restaurants and shops. Strolling the neighborhood is a wonderful way to spend a day, with great food, shopping, dog-friendly parks, and a view of the waterfront. It’s a bit hilly, so you get a work out, too!

We began our tour at Tazza D’Oro on India Street. I grabbed a cup of coffee for me and a free dog treat for Astra. We sat outside where many dog lovers, with and without dogs, stopped and chatted with us. Other dogs socialized at Sogno DeVino next door.

Making Friends at Sogno DeVino

Making Friends at Sogno DeVino

Once fortified, we walked over to West Date Street to the Mercado Farmer’s Market (open Saturday’s 8 am to 2 pm), which lines West Date from the cul-de-sac at Kettner Boulevard up to Front Street. Only service dogs are allowed in the market – a designation that seems to be loosely interpreted. The market is crowded, so any dog should be leashed, well-behaved, and closely watched. Even if you don’t have a service dog, the market is in the street and you can walk the five blocks on the sidewalk. A few of the vendors sell dog treats; Astra particularly liked Evolution Dog Treats’ organic hand-made snacks.

A helper at the Little Italy Farmers Market

A helper at the Little Italy Farmers Market

Yum! Evolution Dog Treats

Yum! Evolution Dog Treats

At the top of the market on Union Street is Amici Park, which is shared with an Elementary School, so it is only open during non-school hours. Although the posted sign requires leashes, this too seems to be ignored. There were many dogs gleefully playing as their owners chatted and enjoyed their coffees.

Amici Park

Amici Park

Amici Park is also the start of a one-mile walk through Little Italy. Plaques every 1/8 of a mile direct you down Columbia Street by the dog-friendly Porto Vista Hotel and the Amici Pet Hospital.The walk ends at the Piazza Basilone (Corner of India & W. Fir Streets) where you can sit at one of the tables by the fountain and enjoy the day and streetscape.

Sit at the Piazza and enjoy the day

Sit at the Piazza and enjoy the day

After taking a break in the Piazza dreaming of Venice, Astra and I headed across Grape Street and down Kettner to North Little Italy, a rapidly developing area. There are many home décor and antique shops in this area and they all welcomed Astra. Her favorite place, though, is Hairy and Merry’s, a new doggie day care, boutique and self-service dog wash. We picked her up a dog nail polish and lots of treats. They sponsor the dog waste stations in the neighborhood and their water bowls are found in front of many of the area’s stores. Then we stopped into San Diego Cellars, a dog-friendly winery, where I enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Astra enjoys SD Cellars

Astra enjoys SD Cellars

Next we headed south to Grape and turned towards the water. Next to the SD Administration building is the new Waterfront Park. It is lovely, with native plantings and long rows of fountains that feed into shallow pools in which kids can play. Dogs are not allowed, but Astra cannot read and stole away for a quick dip.

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

Fountain fun!

Fountain fun!

We walked back up Grape and along India Street where some of the restaurants with outdoor seating welcome dogs. Astra pulled me back to Landini Pizzeria’s doggie deck, where we enjoy the yappy hours on the first Tuesday of the month, benefiting local rescues. She was disappointed that there was no event going on, but I caught a few minutes of the Padres game, which was showing on the big screen TV.

Landini's Pizzeria

Landini’s Pizzeria

Quite pooped after this long hike, we stopped at Craft and Commerce for a beer and a snack. While I ate a veggie burger, Astra enjoyed a small order of corn dogs.

Craft & Commerce

Craft & Commerce

Although we did not have time to stop in everywhere, here are some of the other dog-friendly businesses in Little Italy:

Eating

Shopping

  • Rosamariposa: Women’s boutique; 611 W. Fir St
  • Vocabulary: Clothing boutique; 414 West Cedar St
  • Mixture: Furniture; 2210 Kettner Blvd
  • Footwear etc.: Footwear;
1680 India St
  • Antiques on Kettner:
Antiques; 2400 Kettner Blvd #106
  • Architectural Salvage: Antiques; 
2401 Kettner Blvd

If you have a favorite place to go with your pup in Little Italy that we left out, us know. And check back as we explore all the other wonderful neighborhoods in SD County!

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