East of downtown and bordering Balboa Park, you'll find the diverse and eclectic uptown neighborhoods of North Park and South Park. Catering to a local crowd, the streets here are lined with coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, diverse restaurants and craft beer pubs.
The epicenter of North Park is the bar-hopping intersection of University Avenue and 30th Street, which holds claim to being "the best beer neighborhood in the nation," thanks to numerous craft-beer establishments such as Mike Hess Brewing, North Park Brewing and Thorn St. Beer. Craft cocktails are also a mainstay, with bars like Seven Grand and 619 Spirits offering creative concoctions. The neighborhood pulses with great restaurants, shops, entertainment, live theater and musical shows. The historic Observatory North Park, in the heart of the business district, offers an impressive year-round lineup. Fronting the theater is the lively West Coast Tavern.
South Park is a haven for indie shops, progressive galleries and restaurants that give top priority to seasonal organics and sustainable meats and seafood, with cuisine ranging from contemporary and healthy to rustic and downright sinful. Kick-start your day with pour-overs from local roasters like Dark Horse Coffee Roasters or Seven Seas Roasting Co. Grab a meal at family-friendly Station Tavern, where burgers and beer are served in an old trolley station, or Buona Forchetta, where authentic Neapolitan pizzas are cooked up in Sofia, a golden oven imported from Italy. Local art, fashions and one-of-a-kind treasures — the kind you won't find at any mall — make shopping in South Park a true treat. Stores like Bad Madge & Company and Thread + Seed can be found on Fern Street. And stay well into the night during events like the quarterly Walkabout, with local shops and restaurants open late and offering special deals and bites, highlighting the neighborhoods' diversity and pride in local arts, crafts and culture.
If we give you directions to North Park and South Park, please promise you'll come back - this neighborhood will leave you wanting more of its craft breweries, culinary hot spots, and boutique shops. From downtown, follow Park Avenue north through Balboa Park, and turn east on University Avenue. Hit 30th Street and you've made it! University Avenue is the primary route into North Park from the west (airport, beaches, and Interstate 5) - and also, from Interstate 805 from the east. To reach South Park, head south on 30th Street to Juniper Street. Park, hop off the bus, or exit your Uber - you're in for a treat as South Park's restaurants and shops begin here.
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