Seattle has Pike Place, San Francisco has The Ferry Building, and San Diego has perfect weather and sandy beaches. Wait, hold up, that’s the old story. It’s 2016, and while the weather and beaches are still stellar, San Diego now has its own open space food emporium that rivals its big city peers in almost every way. Liberty Public Market is a 22,000-square-foot food mecca bringing a toddler’s dose of energy and buzz to the once sleepy Liberty Station in Point Loma. While the biggest question you and your family will have once you arrive is where to eat, we’re also helping answer what to do and what to see while you’re visiting this newly renovated local hot spot.

liberty public marketphoto: Jennifer H. via Yelp

Where to Eat: Market-to-Table Dining, Food Truck Favorites and Sweet Treats
Picky eaters (and their parents) rejoice! There are more than 25 food vendors that are willing and able to satisfy even the most particular diners. The best thing about a food emporium like Liberty Public Market is that everyone doesn’t have to order from the same spot.

Kids can happily munch on grass-fed burgers and mac and cheese from food truck favorite Stuffed while adults have the opportunity to order something more adventurous like a Fried Oyster Po Boy from Cane Patch Kitchen or Empanadas from Paraná.

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Bright red tables and chairs are set up outside of the market and are a great option for families. There aren’t many tables inside and space is limited so the option of outdoor seating is definitely preferable. But, be sure to venture back inside the market for something sweet from Le Parfait Paris, Scooped or Crafted after you’re finished with the main course.

If you’d prefer table service, check out The Mess Hall or Fireside by The Patio. For a full list of food vendors at Liberty Public Market, click here.

Insiders Tip: The market itself is not that big and it tends to get very busy, especially on the weekends. Be prepared for some lines and tight quarters if you’re bringing strollers. You can use the walkway between Stone Brewery and the market to get to the butcher, produce and fish area and avoid going through the main entrances. Fortunately, parking is plentiful so even when the market is busy, the parking lot still has plenty of spaces.

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What to See: San Diego History, Museums and Art Galleries
One of the coolest things about the Liberty Public Market is it’s location. Choosing to open at Liberty Station means that there is plenty for visitors to see and do after they satisfy their hunger pains. Grounded in military tradition, Liberty Station (formerly the Naval Training Center, San Diego) welcomed its first Navy recruits in 1923. Walking around the area you’ll see the different ways the center is now paying homage to San Diego’s naval history. One is a seating area, affectionately nicknamed “Noah’s Ark”, outside the Public Market that kids can happily climb aboard, which means — photo opp!

There are other parts of Liberty Station that have always been around, but seem to be revitalized since The Public Market opened. One of those areas is the ARTS District. Located in 38 historic buildings it is home to museums such as the The San Diego Watercolor Society (currently exhibiting a Military Family Arts Show that will surely inspire pint-sized Picassos), artist studios and dance companies. The NTC at Liberty Station also offers summer camps for kids interested in music dance, theater, creative writing, hands-on art making, photography and more.

Insiders Tip: The first Friday of every month from 5 – 9 p.m. is FREE Friday Night Liberty art walk. From music and dancing to meeting local artists, it’s a fun-for-the-whole-family event.

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What to Do: Paint Pottery, Read Comic Books and the Movies
Once bellies are full and some energy has been expended, pop into a few of the kid-friendly shops that line the area. We recommend The Hot Spot for budding creatives that want to paint their own pottery or build their own candles.

For the comic book lovers in the family stop by Comickaze. The store is jam packed with art, comics, figurines and toys. Beware, entering is easy, but leaving without opening up your wallet may prove more difficult.

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And if The Public Market, The ARTS District and the super cool shops at Liberty Station aren’t enough of a draw, you can now go to the movies there too. The Lot, a new luxury cinema and dining complex, just opened in the historic Luce Auditorium. The former 2,200-seat auditorium has been re-envisioned as a multiplex with six theaters.

Insiders Tip: The Lot has leather reclining chairs, in theater food service and a glass enclosed lounge and bar. If that description makes you think date night rather than family night, you can always drop the kids off at Kid Ventures (also located at Liberty Station). They offer drop off service from 4 – 8 p.m. every Friday.

Liberty Station
2640 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92106
Online: libertystation.com

What’s your family’s favorite thing to do at Liberty Public Market? Tell us in the Comments below!

— Aimee Della Bitta