Art galleries, interesting food, and fashionable boutiques make North and South Park two of the hippest neighborhoods in San Diego, and there is no mistaking the influence of the arts when visiting this part of town. Radiating out from the heart of North Park at University Avenue and 30th Street, one can find colorful murals on rooftops, walls, and in alleyways. A carefully selected group of local artists have even painted the area's many utility boxes, and South Park is home to one of San Diego's most famous pieces of street art. At the corner of 30th and Ivy, visitors will spy a beautiful two-story mural of a Burmese monk by famed street artist Shepard Fairey, best known for the Barack Obama "Hope" poster.
For art indoors, galleries abound in this part of town. In addition to the many galleries along North Park's Ray Street, there's vis.u.al shop which caters to the urban art lover and the small but mighty Low Gallery which showcases lowbrow art. ArtProduce offers an exhibit and performance space mixes art with a community garden in back, while Art on 30th offers classes led by experts and hosts interesting exhibits with artists doing installations designed for the space.
There's plenty of live music in the area as well, from big name bands playing the historic Observatory North Park (formerly the North Park Theater) to indie bands playing at The Irenic on Polk Avenue, a converted church that makes for a dramatic background for the rock shows. Jazz fans won't want to miss the weekly performances by Gilbert Castellanos at Seven Grand, and for the singer-songwriter vibe or spoken word, Queen Bee's Art and Cultural Center has occasional offerings.
Good food is plentiful in these hipster enclaves, too. For slightly more upscale, farm-to-table offerings try One Door North. Other highlights include the duckfat truffle fries at Smoking Goat and the eclectic gastropub menu at Waypoint Public. Every Tuesday, food trucks set up in a grocery store parking lot in South Park at 30th and Grape Streets for locals and visitors to gather and nosh. Satisfy end of the night cravings at Eclipse Chocolate Bar and Bistro or Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream.
Art and shopping intersect in the area's indie boutiques. Find unique art magazines, coffee table books and designer shoes and home goods at Gym Standard. Beautiful handmade leather goods are crafted at a North Park workshop called Edison MFG Co. For cool vintage clothes and boho chic jewelry, check out Hunt and Gather on University Avenue. Pigment in North Park and Gold Leaf in South Park are go-to spots for gifts, home décor and foodie items.
The best way to explore the eclectic and artsy offerings of North Park and South Park is by foot or by bike, so leave the car in the garage and soak up the independent spirit and craft that goes into the art, food, and design in this San Diego cultural hub.
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