San Diego Neighborhood Profile: North Park

North Park neighborhood in San Diego

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North Park is a neighborhood in San Diego that is growing in popularity and is becoming a hot spot for nightlife in addition to being a desired residential neighborhood to live in. Cozy, tidy pockets of Craftsman homes on the north edge of Balboa Park (hence the name), dense apartments, and the pre-interstate retail stretches of University Ave. and El Cajon Blvd. make up North Park, San Diego.


In the late 1800s, the James Hartley family bought 40 acres northeast of Balboa Park for growing lemons. Development in San Diego eventually spread to the Hartley property, which became Hartley's North Park. In 1911, son Jack Hartley developed the business district at 30th and University Ave., which is still the heart of North Park.

Craftsman-style home in San Diego's North Park neighborhood
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What Makes North Park Special

Besides its diversity, North Park is special for the architecture that predominates the neighborhood. North Park is home to Craftsman cottages and bungalows that reflect California's era of suburban development. Recent years has seen a resurgence of North Park and the gentrification of its sub-neighborhoods.

What Defines the Neighborhood

North Park is a diverse neighborhood in San Diego consisting of single-family homes, apartment complexes, businesses, and arts. It has a business district that is almost a mini-downtown unto itself — unusual for a neighborhood. The intersection of University and 30th is a bustling central point of North Park.

University Heights neighborhood in San Diego
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Things to Do

There's a lot to do in North Park including dining, nightclubs, arts, entertainment, and shopping. It's self-sufficient, and it's close to other popular neighborhoods like University Heights, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, and Balboa Park.

Lafayette Hotel in San Diego
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Best Bets for Eats

North Park has a lot of neighborhood eateries, but the Chicken Pie Shop on El Cajon Blvd. is a venerable diner. Down the road is classic diner Rudford's. Red Fox Steak House at the Lafayette Hotel is pure old school. There are many more excellent choices and you may want to dedicate many San Diego nights to experiencing the eateries of North Park. For some gourmet comfort food in a hip atmosphere, check out West Coast Tavern or Urban Solace.

Best Bets for Drinks and Entertainment

There's likely a place to fit your style in North Park. North Park is a great place for dive bars, with popular ones being the Whistle Stop, the Live Wire, Red Fox Lounge, and the Bar Pink. However, you can also find more upscale bars like Splash Wine Bar, Wine Steals, and Air Conditioned Lounge. For musical entertainment, North Park Theatre is home to San Diego Lyric Opera while Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge has local music.


In North Park, you'll find drugstores, grocery stores, banks, service stores, and some unique retail establishments like George's Cameras. Just about everything you need is in North Park. Gentrification has also brought more boutiques in recent years.

How to Get to There

From I-805, take either the El Cajon Blvd. or University Ave. exits and go west. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Balboa Park on the south, I-805 on the east, El Cajon Blvd. on the north and Florida St. on the west.

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