Wyatt Earp's Historic Gambling Hall & Saloon

The history of the Gaslamp Quarter wouldn’t be complete without the tale of Wyatt Earp, a lawman turned gambler who embodied the early vices of New Town.
Wyatt Earp's Gambling Hall & Saloon
Take a Trip to the Past
Wyatt Earp’s Storied Past
See More & Save
History in the Modern Day
Get a First-Hand Look
Helpful Tips
Stay Nearby

Highlights

History
History
Visit
Facts
Overview
History
Visit
Facts

Take a Trip to the Past With the Gaslamp Quarter’s Early Saloon Days

On its surface, San Diego’s modern yet historic Gaslamp Quarter seems like a perfectly pleasant neighborhood full of fun activities and opportunities for education. Like many of the surrounding neighborhoods, there are great attractions for locals and tourists alike, including everything from local breweries and restaurants to multiple museums suitable for adults and kids alike.

However, look back into the history of the Gaslamp Quarter, and you’ll quickly discover that things weren’t always this way for this now-picturesque town. On the contrary, it is only modern restoration and development efforts that have turned this area into a booming tourist town.

In the early days of the New Town area, much of the Gaslamp Quarter was considered a red light district, and many of the area’s most notable vices can be connected to one historical figure: Wyatt Earp.

Earp led a truly unique and storied life that took him across multiple state lines before arriving in San Diego. His ownership of the historic gambling hall and saloon named for him was just one of many such establishments under his thumb, and his story reveals an exciting and at times risqué view of the Gaslamp Quarter in the 19th century.

Popular Hotels
Popular Hotels
Price
Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown
$162
Check Price
Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
$176
Check Price
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
$147
Check Price
DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Downtown
$176
Check Price

Wyatt Earp’s Storied Past and the History of the Gambling Hall

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Gaslamp Quarter looked far different from how it appears today. During this time, it was known as the Stingaree neighborhood. It was a red light district that was home to many outlaws and gamblers, as well as low-income residents who couldn’t afford to move to nicer areas of the city.

Stingaree would later become the stage for a notorious saloon and gambling hall run by none other than the notorious gunslinger, lawman, and gambler Wyatt Earp.

Wyatt Earp arrived in San Diego around 1885, but he had made a name for himself long before he landed on the West Coast. For as often as Earp worked as a police officer or constable in various towns across the nation, he also had numerous run-ins on the wrong side of the law, often in relation to his gambling habit. He became familiar with the gunman Doc Holliday and started feuding with a gang of outlaws in Arizona.

This feud culminated in a shootout at the O.K. Corral, Earp’s best-known act, and later his flight to California. In 1888, he oversaw the establishment of his own gambling hall and saloon which also served as an oyster bar. This was just one of the four saloons Earp would lay ownership to during his time in San Diego, but it is the most well-known, in part because the building is still there today.

Given Stingaree’s state at the time, the gambling hall fit right in with the rest of the red light district in the area, and it drew large crowds of visitors. This was a relatively quiet period of Earp’s life, not rocked by the shootouts of his past even as it wasn’t exactly a law-abiding establishment.

Still, the building that housed the saloon is an important historic landmark that has lasted from the late 1880s all the way to the present day thanks to conservation efforts and restoration projects.

Save on Visiting Gaslamp!
The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Visit Davis-Horton House
The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House is the oldest standing house in all of San Diego. Using your Go Pass, take in the history of the city that goes all the way back to the 1800s. Each room represents a different era of the house.
Buy Now
Local Tips
What are the best Go San Diego Pass deals?

Some of the best deals with the Go San Diego Pass include access to San Diego’s most popular attractions.

Discount admission is offered to the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND California, USS Midway Museum, Belmont Park rides and more!

Earp’s History in the Modern Day

During the time of Wyatt Earp, the town of Stingaree and the saloon were besieged by frequent criminal activity. However, the town would not stay this way for long.

In the 1970s, there was a movement to revamp the area of the Stingaree and New Town, turning toward development and the preservation of historic locations. These locations included the gambling hall and saloon as well as other historic Gaslamp Quarter buildings that helped to show off the architecture and lifestyles of the now-bygone era.

The modern-day Gaslamp Quarter is full of refurbished Victorian-style buildings and other attractions focused on history education, many of which tell the tale of Wyatt Earp and the legacy he left behind in San Diego.

Now, the gambling hall is remembered for the role it played in the development of early San Diego neighborhoods, as well as how far the city has come since then. Restoration, beautification, and urban development efforts have all brought the Gaslamp Quarter into a new era which looks very different from its past. But it’s important to remember that the old bones of the neighborhood still remain, and to consider what it would have been like to live during the time of the saloon’s operation.

It is perhaps for this reason that the Gaslamp Quarter has become such a hub of rich history, telling the stories of all kinds of characters from San Diego’s past. When you walk through the neighborhood, you can take advantage of the many opportunities for getting to know the area’s history in the form of museums, landmarks, and other attractions.

Featured Hotel
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Exterior view, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Boutique
Boutique
Near Bay
Near Bay
Pool
Pool
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Classic rock style gives a modern edge to Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is the perfect home base for your adventure.
Prices Starting at $189
Check Availability

Get a First-Hand Look at the World of Wyatt Earp

While the Wyatt Earp Gambling Hall and Saloon museum is currently closed, there are still plenty of ways to experience the story of the area during your visit to San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is teeming with local history, as represented in its authentic restored architecture that remains alongside more modern buildings.

Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation

The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation embodies its mission of preserving San Diego’s early history while also making information about this period of time more accessible to the general public. They have many educational and outreach events throughout the year, and they’re the best available resource for more information about Wyatt Earp and his saloons.

In addition to their historical records and walking tours, the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation is also responsible for the care and maintenance of the Davis-Horton House and other local landmarks.

The historical foundation offers custom tours based around learning more about different subjects, including Wyatt Earp. On the tour, a guide will lead you through various historic sites in the Gaslamp Quarter that are connected to the Wyatt Earp story. These guides have plenty of insightful information to offer, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re interested in learning more about the saloon and other buildings in the area.

Walking, Scooter, and Car Tours

History is everywhere in the Gaslamp Quarter, and this is never more apparent than when you take one of the many tours through the neighborhood.

In addition to the custom walking tours offered by the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, others that offer more information about life in the late-1800s include the San Diego: Downtown and Gaslamp Loop Scooter Tour and the GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Gaslamp Loop.

If you’re planning on trying out a tour or another of the attractions around the Gaslamp Quarter, consider pre-purchasing a Go San Diego Pass, which can help you score big discounts on admission prices for various popular museums, attractions and events throughout the city. You can save even more when you buy your pass through us, check out our page with all the details on what is included with the Go San Diego Pass as well as an exclusive discount for our users.

Local Tips
Did you Know?
Wyatt was lucky during the few gun fights he took part in from his earliest job as an assistant police officer in Wichita to Tombstone, where he was briefly deputy U.S. marshal. Unlike his lawmen brothers Virgil and James, Wyatt was never wounded.

Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House

The Davis-Horton House, previously known as the William Heath Davis House, is one of the oldest surviving structures in San Diego. It is a great way to take a peek back through history and get to know the time during which Wyatt Earp lived.

The building currently houses the Gaslamp Museum, which brings different eras of history to life in each of the exhibit rooms. It is a nationally-known museum that gets thousands of visitors each year, and the extensive history on display is truly impressive.

The Davis-Horton House features guided and self-guided tours of the various exhibits inside the Gaslamp Museum. There is also a rotating exhibit that focuses on a specific era or motif of San Diego history that changes every few months, so be sure to check the official website to see what’s currently running.

Tips for Learning More About Earp’s Gambling Hall

The gambling hall and similar buildings are a great way to begin immersing yourself in San Diego’s unique culture and history. Use this as a jumping-off point to explore more of the city and enjoy the exciting stories that help to make San Diego what it is today.

Electrical Boxes on Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter features a series of electrical boxes adorned with historic photographs and fun facts. These include images of Wyatt Earp as well as other tidbits of San Diego history.

Best Time to Visit

Since most ways of learning more about the gambling hall and saloon involve walking tours, we think the best time to visit San Diego is in the fall, when the weather is warm enough to be comfortable but cool enough that you won’t be too warm if you’re not used to the SoCal summer climate.

San Diego is known for having mild days and cool nights, so really any time you visit could easily include a sunny day in the Gaslamp Quarter exploring the history of Wyatt Earp.

Don’t just limit yourself to the Gaslamp Quarter for your next visit to San Diego. The year-round mild weather in San Diego is perfect for taking a walk through nearby Balboa Park or exploring the rest of Downtown San Diego as well!

Looking to Save on Tickets?
Save on Tickets
Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
48°F / 69°F
Sunny in December
Jan
48°F / 68°F
Sunny in January
Feb
49°F / 69°F
Sunny in February
Mar
52°F / 70°F
Sunny in March

Stay Nearby

Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown
from $162 / night
View Hotel
Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
from $176 / night
View Hotel
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
Near Petco Park
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp
from $147 / night
View Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Downtown
Near Cruise Port
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Downtown
from $176 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
Learn More
Gaslamp Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour
Gaslamp Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour
$75 per person
Buy Now
Looking for Something Different?
More San Diego History