San Diego Neighborhood Profile: South Park

What to see, do and eat in South Park, San Diego

Experience the craft beer bars and other hot spots of South Park, San Diego.
Fumiaki Yamazaki/The Image Bank/Getty Images

South Park is one of San Diego's older neighborhoods in the vicinity of Balboa Park. South Park is actually east of Balboa Park, but it is south of the neighborhood of North Park, hence its name. It is predominantly a neighborhood of single-family homes, with some duplexes, bungalow courts and small apartment buildings.

South Park History

South Park was one of the first suburbs of downtown San Diego. The first homes in South Park were constructed in 1906. Steady growth continued to be constructed into the 1930s. The very small number of lots remaining empty after 1941 were built out in the 1950s. Retail and mixed-use structures, constructed in the 1910s and 1920s, run along 30th and Beech streets. Though the streets were unpaved, sidewalks were poured in 1906. Many of the 1906 sidewalk stamps still exist.

What Makes South Park Special?

Besides the quiet, tree-lined streets, South Park is special for its old San Diego charm. South Park homes were constructed primarily in the Craftsman and Spanish Eclectic styles, styles predominant in Southern California during that period. it is noteworthy for its fine and varied collection of Craftsman and Spanish Colonial style homes built in the 1905-1930 period. These include works by noted architects Irving Gill, William S. Hebbard and Richard Requa.

What Defines South Park?

South Park has long been home to a group of residents diverse in income, age, sexual orientation and race. As with other urban neighborhoods north of Balboa Park like Hillcrest and North Park, pedestrian activity and lifestyle is high compared to the rest of San Diego. The authentic architecture of Spanish Colonial and Craftsman homes give the neighborhood its charm and identity. The South Park business community hosts quarterly Walkabouts to get better acquainted with local businesses. 

Things to Do in South Park?

South Park is all about a relaxing time, whether you're looking for a cold beer or leisurely walk. A small business area is concentrated along Fern Street and 30th Street. Restaurants, pubs and shops make it great for strolling. And the classic home architecture provides scenic walks along the quiet streets. There is a playground along 28th Street and a dog hangout spot at Grape Street Dog Park.

Best Bets for Eats in South Park

South Park has lots of neighborhood eateries and none are as renowned as the Big Kitchen Cafe, a small, beloved institution known for its big breakfasts. Rebecca's Coffee Shop is a great spot to get your day started with coffee and pastries.

Best Bets for Drinks and Entertainment

Believe it or not, mellow South Park does have several hot spots for drinks and fun. The Whistle Stop is a hipster hangout -- your clasic cool dive bar with live music, movies and pool. Hamilton's Tavern is for beer lovers, with a huge selection of microbrews on tap.

Shopping

South Park is home to a number of galleries and specialty shops. The Next Door Gallery features affordable art. The Grove specializes in organic and natural products. Thomas Bike Shop caters to this bike friendly neighborhood.

How to Get There

From I-805 take University Avenue westbound. Turn south on 30th Street. From SR-94 westbound, take 30th Street exit and head north. 30th Street turns into Fern Street in the center of the neighborhood and business area. Public transit is served by bus route 2.