San Diego Neighborhood Profile: Normal Heights

Normal Heights sign, San Diego, CA
 Monotone/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Bookended on the west by University Heights and Kensington on the east, Normal Heights (or "Abnormal" Heights, as it's sometimes referred to) completes the Adams Avenue neighborhood trifecta along this uptown area, located north (and then slightly to the east) of downtown San Diego. Crowded, diverse apartment dwellings are located on the south side of Adams, while quiet single-family homes are more frequently found on the north side.

Normal Heights' History

Normal Heights was formally organized and platted in 1906 by the University Heights Syndicate under the direction of D.C. Collier. Normal Heights was named for the State Normal School in University Heights. A trolley line brought population and development to Normal Heights. The man responsible for the main business development of the Normal Heights portion of Adams Avenue was a carpenter named Bertram J. Carteri.

What Makes Normal Heights Special?

Normal Heights is sandwiched between Kensington to the east and University Heights to the west, and it is the funkiest of the two. Where Kensington is upper class and University Heights is quiet, Normal Heights is diverse, a bit eclectic, and sometimes rowdy, but always interesting.

What Defines Normal Heights?

Mostly, Normal Heights is known for its diversity. From the single-family homes along the Mission Valley ridge north of Adams Avenue to the high-density, multi-resident lots south of Adams, Normal Heights is San Diego at its most diverse. Families and students, immigrants and natives all occupy this mid-city neighborhood.

Best Bets for Eats

DeMille's is where to go for pizza and Italian and is a neighborhood mainstay. There is also the Incredible Cheesecake Company, which is where you can pick up great cheesecake for dessert (no dining). Lots of other small eateries dot the Adams Avenue.

Best Bets for Drink and Entertainment

Normal Heights is great for neighborhood dive bars: the Triple Crown Pub, Rosie O'Grady's are popular, but the best may be the Ould Sod—an authentic Irish pub. Lestat's Coffee House is the hipster hangout in the neighborhood, and its adjoining performance space is where you can hear great local music almost every night. If shopping is more your idea for entertainment, you'll find lots of used book and clothing stores in Normal Heights. There's also Antique Row, located along the stretch of road west of I-805. 

How to Get to Normal Heights

From I-8:
Take 15 North to the Adams Avenue exit.
Turn left (West) for Normal Heights, Antique Row, and University Heights

From I-805:
Take 805 North to the El Cajon Blvd. exit.
Turn right onto El Cajon Blvd. Get into the left lane.
Turn left onto 33rd Street the first light).
Turn right onto Monroe.
Turn left onto Felton Street (The first left you can make)
Adams Avenue at Felton is about the center of Normal Heights.

Edited by Gina Tarnacki on October 22, 2016.

Was this page helpful?