What to do in North Park, San Diego

North Park, San Diego
A neighborhood as colorful as its signs. | Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

When you head to North Park, you’re visiting one of San Diego’s coolest + delightfully quirkiest communities. The neighborhood has seen growth since our city’s early days, so we wanted to check out what’s currently brewing here. If you haven’t explored in a while, it might be time to rediscover why so many people — maybe even you — love to call it home.

Welcome to North Park. | Photo via @devebx

🍋 The early days

If you look at a map, the origin of North Park’s name is clear — it’s located in the northeast of Balboa Park. The real story tells us how the neighborhood got its personality

Originally, 40 acres of land was purchased by James Monroe Hartley to grow lemons in 1893, but the plot was difficult to maintain + required many trips downtown via Pershing Drive for supplies. Life didn’t give Hartley lemons, but his son Jack found an opportunity when he opened the city’s first real estate firm in 1905.

San Diego’s population was booming in the early 1900s, and North Park welcomed people from all walks of life, just like it does now. This brought a variety of architectural styles, like Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and the famous California Bungalow — small, single-story homes with porches and open floor plans, built with stucco + wood.

Verbatim Books
These books tell a story, North Park style. | photo via @​​stu_doodle 

🛍 Shop

Local is all the rage in North Park — the community is full of small businesses that stand out for all the right reasons.

  • The story never ends at Verbatim Books where you can buy secondhand + antique books.
  • Add some local flare to your space by shopping at Pigment for decor, art + jewelry.
  • Give new life to an old favorite at Day to Day Vintage, a thrift store focusing on finding new homes for retro clothing + accessories. 
  • If records sound good to you, FIVESPACE has a great collection of albums to buy.

🌳 Outdoors

Being in San Diego means time spent outside. North Park is no exception, and residents love to catch some rays during daily life.

  • Get some food at the North Park Thursday Market, a weekly farmers market from 3-7 p.m. on North Park Way between Ray Street + Granada Avenue.
  • The community is above the iconic Balboa Park, directly north of Morley Field, where you can find a playground, outdoor spaces + a disc golf course.
  • Check out the new North Park Mini Park, located behind the Observatory Theatre for a quick stop outside during a day in the city.
An's Dry Cleaning
Fabrics take new meaning at An’s Dry Cleaning. | Photo via @lucid_nap

🍽 Eat + drink

The neighborhood is known for its breweries + number of food options, so every meal will be a memorable event.

  • There’s no shortage of places to grab a beer, but North Park Beer Co. takes special pride in its community, brewing + serving locally.
  • Enjoy gelato — not laundry — at An’s Dry Cleaning.
  • North Park’s love for coffee isn’t exactly a secret, but that didn’t stop Dark Horse Coffee Roasters from becoming a local favorite. 
  • Restaurants bring inspiration from all of the world, from Louisiana Purchase’s New Orleans menu to Dunedin’s New Zealand eats.
Dinosaur art north park
We might not know what’s happening here, but we still love it. | Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

🎤 Entertainment

North Park attracts some quirky + creative people, so it’s no surprise that the entertainment matches the population. The community finds some interesting ways to enjoy their neighborhood. .

  • Catch a live show at The Observatory, a smaller theater that attracts some big names.
  • Have some good old fun at Coin-Op, a bar + arcade featuring arcade classics and newer titles.
  • Go on a mural tour. North Park is home to some of San Diego’s coolest (and oddest) street art.

🏠 Live in North Park

North Park is a wonderful, walkable community with easy access to many of San Diego’s biggest attractions. Plus, it has home prices near the city average.

  • For $1.35 million, this 1,274-sqft 3-bed, 2-bath Spanish-style home is close to Balboa Park + has an ADU on site. 
  • For $575,000, this 748-sqft 2-bed, 2-bath has an attached patio, new appliances + one garage space.
  • For $1.649 million this 1,699-sqft California Bungalow has 3-beds, 2-bath, a spacious back year and views of Morley Field + downtown.