Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House Museum

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410 Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
|
Open:
10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Tuesday – Saturday)
Noon to 3:30 p.m. (Sunday)
Closed Mondays
A treasure trove of stories and heritage, the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House in the Gaslamp is a must for visitors interested in San Diego’s history.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Davis-Horton House Museum
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The Gaslamp Museum: Where History, Architecture, and Heritage are the Main Event

Enjoying the Davis Horton House MuseumCourtyard at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to live in a house from the Victorian Era?

At the Gaslamp Museum, you can get a taste of not just the architecture from that time, but also the lives of those who once called the house their home.

The Gaslamp Museum is located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego, California.

It is part of the Davis-Horton House, also known as the William Heath Davis House, which is the oldest building not just in the area but in all of San Diego!

At the museum, you and your family can step right into history. The educational tours the museum offers are all part of its mission to preserve and celebrate the culture, architecture, and heritage of San Diego.

Walking Tour at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum
Walking Tour at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum

The History of the Davis-Horton House

The Davis-Horton House is the highlight of any educational trip. It was built in 1850 as part of a settlement called “New Town.”

Since then, it has been owned by many people including Anna Scheper, who used it as a hospital, and the Lanuza family, who donated the house so it could be turned into a museum.

The building itself has been moved many times. It began as a saltbox-style structure in Portland, Maine, before being shipped to San Diego. From there, it was moved again when it became a museum in 1977.

Visitors can learn about the many changes and restorations that have been made over the years. Prior to renovation, there were 17 layers of wallpaper from generations of families, which has since been removed to showcase the house’s previous appearance.

Electricity wasn’t installed until 1984, long after the museum restoration process began.

Tickets to the Museum

Visiting The Gaslamp Museum is easy with the Go City San Diego All-Inclusive pass. With the pass, there will be no entry fees when you arrive, just admission into the former saltbox home.

You can also just buy tickets for the museum as well.

Whether you want to learn more about San Diego’s illustrious past or get a deeper look into the families that use the building as a home, it’s easier than ever to tour the property!

Join Todd as he learns about the unique and sometimes sordid history of San Diego on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Tour. This tour also includes a sampling of the Gaslamp Quarter's finest food and drinks.

Go on the Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour

What to Expect During Your Visit

Bum the Stow Away Dog at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum
Bum the Stow Away Dog at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum

The Davis-Horton House is a cultural landmark that has changed many times throughout the years.

During your visit, you can learn all about its uses as everything from a private residence, to a hospital, to military barracks.

You will also learn about the different people who resided in the house during each period. See how San Diego looked through the eyes of the founders of New Town and other notable figures.

When you finish your tour, stop by the “Gaslamp Gifts” gift shop!

The shop is inspired by the original William Heath Davis merchandising business from 1850.

In its current form, the museum serves as the headquarters for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation (GQHF).

The museum also offers a featured exhibit that rotates every few months. To learn about the current exhibit, visit the official site.

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Attractions that you can visit with a Go City San Diego pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

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Gaslamp Museum Tours, Special Engagements, Holiday Events & More

Main Gate at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum
Main Gate at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum

The museum offers many different types of tours to its visitors.

You are welcome to take your own self-guided tour of the Davis-Horton House, join a tour group, or try the guided audio tour.

Guided Audio Tour

If you want to go at your own pace but you still want information about the set pieces in the Davis-Horton House, try the guided audio tour.

With this tour, audio recordings provide historical context without the need to keep pace with a tour group. The recordings really help you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Paranormal Investigations Tour

The Davis-Horton House is said to be the “most haunted house in the Gaslamp Quarter.” See if you can spot any lingering spirits yourself with the paranormal investigation tour! During the tour, you’ll hunt for ghosts and other evidence of paranormal activity.

Guided Walking Tour of the Davis-Horton House

In order to accurately represent the full history of the Davis-Horton House, the rooms in the house are themed around a certain era. Each one is styled to depict how the house would have looked at different points throughout history.

A guide will walk you through rooms spanning the pre-Civil War era all the way up to the modern-day. Your tour guide will provide cultural and historic context that will give you a better idea of what it would be like to live during these times.

Local Tips
Rooms with History
Each room in the house depicts a period in its history: from its first use as a pre-Civil War military officers’ barracks, to a county hospital, to a private residence.

History Talks! Lecture Series

Join local historians and specialists as they discuss the history of San Diego and the Davis-Horton House.

Past lectures have included “Alonzo Horton and the Founding of New Town” and “San Diego’s Rich Surfing History.”

As the museum touts, “come hear history come alive!”

Movies at the Museum

Horror movie fans unite! Halloween promises silver screen frights at the museum.

Tickets include a drink and an after-hours tour of the Davis-Horton House. Last year’s showings included the Halloween favorites: House on Haunted Hill and the Carnival of Souls.

While the 2024 line-up has yet to be disclosed, visitors can be sure it will be a haunting food time.

Halloween at the Gaslamp Museum

Halloween here means two things: ghosts and history. Choose from a variety of events that range from the eerie to the spooky to the tame.

Enjoy spooky movies, candlelight tours, and haunted stories. Visitors looking for Halloween-themed fun need to look no further.

Fall Back Festival

Celebrate the season with this free, annual Children’s Historical Street Faire. Families can expect plenty of festivities, educational fun, and a variety of interactive activities.

All proceeds go toward the GQHF and their continued efforts to preserve the history of both San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter.

History for the Holidays

The holidays are a special time at the Gaslamp Museum. Decorated in lavish, holiday decor - complete with the docents dressed in their best - it’s an afternoon of Victorian Christmas cheer.

Enjoy light refreshments as the docents share their favorite stories of the home’s past and present.

It’s also the perfect place to view the annual Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade from.

Victorian Holiday Nights

This seasonal event combines Victorian Christmas traditions and plenty of holiday cheer. The Candlelight tour adds to the charm and magic of the season.

It’s the perfect opportunity to see the museum at night as it glitters with Christmas decor.

Stop by the Gift Store or Gaslamp Holiday Market to find the perfect gift for the history-lovers in your life.

Educational Tours for Kids

Entrance to the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum
Entrance to the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis Horton House Museum

Kids are sure to have just as good of a time at the Gaslamp Museum as adults. The museum offers children’s tours that focus on educating kids about architecture and history.

The museum also offers free admission for kids every October, as part of the San Diego Museum Council’s “Kids Free October” annual event.

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Know Before You Go To the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House Museum

The museum is best enjoyed when you’re well prepared! Here are a few things to keep in mind to make your trip as enjoyable as it can be:

  • Tour Duration: Tours of the museum typically take around 30 minutes
  • Booking: It’s recommended that you book tours in advance, but it’s not required for your visit
  • Parking: There is a parking garage nearby at 435 Fourth Ave

Beautiful View of the US Grant in San Diego
Beautiful View of the US Grant in San Diego

Where to Stay Nearby: The US GRANT

There is no shortage of historic hotels to stay in while in San Diego, but if you want to make the most of your visit to the Gaslamp Museum with a truly luxurious stay, there’s only one choice for me: The US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego.

A historic icon of San Diego for over 100 years, The US GRANT combines elegance and luxury accommodations with modernity and class.

Family Enjoying a Padres Game at Petco Park
Family Enjoying a Padres Game at Petco Park

Attractions to Pair with the Museum

A visit to the Gaslamp Museum likely won’t take you all day.

If you’re looking for a few more suggestions of attractions to visit, I think SeaWorld San Diego or one of the museums in Balboa Park might be good choices. You’ll also be close to PETCO Park if you wanted to catch a Padres game or go on a PETCO Park tour.

Remember that many of these attractions are part of the Go City San Diego All-Inclusive pass.

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