City Heights is the beating heart of San Diego. Its density, immigrant communities, and location in the middle of the city make it a lively and convenient neighborhood to explore, especially for visitors looking to discover arts and culture.
City Heights is rich in murals and public art, but one gallery can't be missed. The AjA Project's gallery space on Fairmont Avenue features photographs taken by immigrants - many of whom live in City Heights - who have left home countries ravaged by war and poverty. Fascinating stories of new generations of Americans are captured in the images displayed at the AjA Project's 4,000 square foot gallery and education center, located in a charming ranch style building that used to be the local branch library.
Gardens and farmers markets are a City Heights mainstay, and you'll often find public art in the neighborhood's green spaces. Murals and sculptures adorn the landscape of Azalea Park. Wander the New Roots Community Farm or the San Diego Peace Garden, which also holds an annual Kale Festival. There are also plenty of canyons in City Heights to explore, including the Fox, Swan and Olivia Canyons.
The mix of food options in City Heights is endless. Home to San Diego's Little Saigon, City Heights features some of the best Vietnamese cuisine in town, but there's Mexican cuisine and cooking ingredients at the Pancho Villa Farmers Market, excellent Ethiopian food at Asmara on University Avenue and tasty Somali cuisine at Fatuma's Restaurant, where you can get traditional sambusas and spicy Somali tea.
The shopping options in City Heights are as diverse as the neighborhood's restaurants. Foodies looking to expand their ethnic cuisine should shop for ingredients on El Cajon.
Nightlife in City Heights is down-to-earth yet lively. At the Tower Bar, a quintessential dive bar, the drinks are strong and cheap and bartenders chat up patrons about City Heights trivia and history. The Black Cat Bar is another no-frills hangout but boasts two well-used pool tables, a stellar jukebox, and street tacos out front. And visitors looking to hear local music can find bands on stage most nights at the Soda Bar, the Hideout and the 'Til Two Club.
City Heights is such a unique community in the San Diego landscape and well worth revisiting time and again to experience it's diverse options.
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