Located only a few miles north of San Diego's bustling downtown core, the vibrant uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest stands as San Diego's LGBT central hub, offering visitors a plethora of bars, restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques and unique thrift stores.
Lauded also for its pedestrian-friendly streets and sidewalk patios, the area's east end is marked by a towering rainbow Pride flag just off Hillcrest's main thoroughfare of University Avenue, at the corner of Normal Street. The landmark happens to serve as the starting point for San Diego LGBT Pride's annual mile-long Pride Parade held in July. A block away, down Harvey Milk Street, is where the San Diego LGBT Community Center resides.
Spanning a dozen blocks west from the Pride flag along University Avenue is a colorful mix of ethnically diverse restaurants, nightclubs and acclaimed wine bars. The stretch is also home to furniture stores, distinctive boutiques and the Uptown District shopping plaza.
The avenue leads into the neighborhood's "village" area designated by the historic, neon "Hillcrest" sign. On intersecting Fifth Avenue, visitors will discover a concentration of new and established restaurants as well as a few dessert-centric eateries. Also in the mix are vintage clothing shops, book outlets and the multiplex Landmark Cinemas for taking in independent and foreign films.
Surrounding Hillcrest in the broader Uptown area with neighborhoods fueled by art galleries, diverse restaurants and nightlife. North Park, for example, boasts dozens of galleries along Ray Street and holds claim to being "the best beer neighborhood in the nation," thanks to numerous craft-beer establishments found within the area, such as Toronado, Tiger! Tiger! and Modern Times Flavordome. Live theater and musical shows comprise a year-round schedule at the historic North Park Theatre in the heart of the business district. Fronting the theater is the lively West Coast Tavern.
Uptown also encompasses the quaint neighborhoods of Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Kensington, South Park and Normal Heights as well as University Heights, where the Diversionary Theatre presents a rich platform of dramatic and comedic productions.
North America's largest urban cultural park sits idyllically at the center of the Uptown's neighborhoods. Built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition and expanded in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exhibition, Balboa Park is home to 16 museums and multiple cultural institutions, housed mostly in ornate Spanish-Renaissance structures. Stroll along the main promenade to experience water fountains, stunning gardens and restaurants boasting flora-filled patios. Balboa Park is also home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the Tony-award winning Old Globe Theatre. Exploring everything the park has to offer may take a few days, so give yourself plenty of time to explore.
San Diego's culinary scene is red hot. Since the start of the new century, large numbers of accomplished chefs and local restaurateurs have launched kitchens that give top priority to seasonal organics and sustainable meats and seafood. Many of these gems are found throughout the Uptown neighborhoods, with their cuisine ranging from contemporary and healthy to rustic and downright sinful.
Use the filter below to find where to stay and what to do in the Hillcrest and Uptown area.
Hillcrest and the surrounding Uptown neighborhoods of North Park and South Park are mostly residential, but you can fine some unique and intimate bed and breakfast style lodging, along with a few hotels. No matter where you stay in these communities, you’ll be located in residential neighborhoods, providing you with an authentic San Diego local experience. Many of the overnight accommodations in these areas are just steps away from favorite dining, entertainment and shopping options frequented by the local community.
Browse the articles and listings below is find the perfect place to stay for your next vacation in Hillcrest, North Park or South Park.
The colorful and diverse neighborhood of Hillcrest and the adjacent North Park and South Park, offer a range of unique and eclectic dining experiences. From Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Italian and American cuisine, you'll savor flavors from around the world at any of the international eateries. Restaurants here vary in mood as much as national origin, with casual diners serving up delicious comfort foods, to elegant fine dining restaurants complete with five star service and unique craft cocktails.
Below is a list of restaurants and watering holes founding in the area.
Hillcrest and the adjacent Uptown neighborhoods of North Park and South Park offer diverse, unique and quintessential San Diego experiences. From a plethora of dining options and beer and wine tastings, to live music and shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques and galleries, Hillcrest and Uptown are the perfect place to experience for a day, or an entire week, in San Diego. This area also offers easy access to neighboring Balboa Park and a quick ride to Downtown San Diego and San Diego’s Big Bay.
Below are just a few of the things you can do in Hillcrest and Uptown San Diego:
The neighborhood of Hillcrest and the adjacent uptown communities of North Park and South Park, host a variety of fun and festive events throughout the year. In the summer, the streets of Hillcrest fill up in celebration for the Pride Festival and Parade and the CityFest Street Fair. From restaurant walks to movie's on the roof, Hillcrest and Uptown are the place to be to experience unique and innovative events.
From the North:
Take 163 South to University Avenue, which places you in the heart of Hillcrest. If you are heading to Balboa Park, continue south on 163 to Park Boulevard. Exit and left onto Park and follow signs.
From the South:
Head north on the 5 freeway to the B Street/Pershing exit and exit onto Pershing. Turn left Florida Drive, left on Zoo Place, and right onto Park Boulevard. Balboa Park will be on your left. To explore Hillcrest, continue on Park and turn left onto University.
From the North:
Off the I-5 southbound, take the 10th Avenue Exit. Turn left on "A" Street and left again on Park Boulevard. Follow the signs to Balboa Park. Off the Highway 163 southbound, take the Park Boulevard. exit. Turn left on Park Boulevard. Follow the signs to Balboa Park.
From the South:
Off the I-5 northbound, take the B Street/Pershing exit to Pershing Street. Take Pershing and then left on Florida Drive. Turn left on Zoo Place to Park Boulevard. Left on Park Boulevard.