Golden Hill

Take the family for a stroll through the eclectic architecture, quaint shops and historic buildings of Golden Hill. Overlooking Downtown San Diego and conveniently located near Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter & East Village, spend a day at a local sidewalk café, park, bike riding or the nearby world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Golden Hill
Overview
Explore & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Historic Roots
Nearby
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
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Similar Neighborhoods

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Golden Hill
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Balboa Park
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Overview
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Tips

Past Meets Present in Golden Hill

Golden Hill Sidwalk SignHave a Picnic in the Park, Golden Hill Touches Balboa Park

Golden Hill in San Diego is as defined by its past as it is by its more modern trappings. Historic architecture lies along the same streets as quaint contemporary cafes, both intermingling with a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere to create something wholly unique in the heart of San Diego.

Like many areas of sunny Southern California, Golden Hill has plenty of outdoor activities that take full advantage of the routinely gorgeous weather. Cyclists, skateboarders, joggers, picnickers, and other outdoor enthusiasts can be frequently spotted around the neighborhood. Celebrations of art and music are equally common, with two annual concerts, the Kate Sessions Fest and the Golden Hill Block Party, featuring local bands and offering free admission to locals and tourists alike.

Golden Hill is conveniently located close to San Diego hubs like Balboa Park, which is only a brief walk away, and Downtown San Diego, which lies a 10-minute drive to the west. If you come to California via the San Diego International Airport, Golden Hill is about an eight-minute drive, and there are plenty of shuttles operating in the area. It’s also close to the coastline, with Coronado Central Beach and North Beach, also known as Dog Run Beach, in the area.

The many museums scattered throughout Balboa Park provide hours of entertainment, as do other attractions in the nearby Gaslamp Quarter and East Village.

To really get the most out of your trip, you’ll want to secure a Go San Diego Pass beforehand, which has great savings opportunities for many San Diego attractions. You can even enjoy an additional exclusive discount when you book using our website.

Golden Hill is known for its sidewalk cafés, which line the streets and make for delightful options for dining. Enjoy authentic San Diego cuisine, locally brewed craft beers and wines, and the unique laid-back culture that makes a visit to the area so special.

In addition to its cafés, Golden Hill is also a highly walkable neighborhood, which means you can visit many nearby attractions in a single day all without the hassle of finding somewhere to park or navigating crowded Californian highways. Walk through Golden Hill and take in its eclectic architecture, historic buildings, and cozy trails at your own pace.

There’s lots to see and do in Golden Hill, so you never run the risk of growing bored during a visit. Do some shopping at the mom-and-pop stores and boutiques that line the streets, visit the lovely parks, or head to the local attractions. No matter what you choose to do on your trip, you’re sure to have a great time!

Looking to extend your trip and stay nearby? Consider a hotel near Downtown and Balboa Park like the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse - San Diego, which is family-friendly and includes great amenities like free WiFi in the lobby and rooms and a kitchenette.

Golden Hill
Why you'll love Golden Hill
With strong ties to San Diego history and a collection of buildings spanning hundreds of years of architectural styles, Golden Hill is a must-see destination.

Trolly Ride with Go Pass!

2-Day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego
Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley
Using your Go Pass, grab a 2 day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley. The trolley tour takes you through all the most popular areas of San Diego. It's a great way to start your trip and you'll learn where everything around the city is located.
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Local Tips
How much can you save by using the Go Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass is the perfect way to explore more attractions and activities that the area has to offer, all while being cost-efficient.

With the Go San Diego Pass, you can save up to 55% off admission fees at some of the area’s most popular attractions.

Things to Do

Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Biking
Biking
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

Fun Attractions and Activities in Golden Hill

The Golden Hill area is full of activities and sightseeing opportunities. You can start your trip off by just walking around the area and taking in some of the architecture, or joining the locals in some bike riding around the park. Visit some nearby attractions, then round out your day with lunch at one of the sidewalk cafés or a picnic in the grass.

Here are just a few of the attractions that are sure to make your trip a special one.

Explore the Museums & Gardens of Balboa Park

There’s so much to do in Balboa Park, you could easily spend half a week here and still have plenty left on your to-do list. Balboa Park became a popular tourist destination in part thanks to the 1915 - 16 Panama-California Exposition, and it’s only grown since then.

The western section is the most park-like, with wide grassy areas perfect for everything from taking a walk with your dog to spending some quality time with the family. It’s a great place to rest up in between visits to other attractions, or to enjoy a more laid-back approach to your day.

In the eastern section of Balboa Park, you’ll find the Municipal Golf Course. This public course that offers excellent backdrop views of the ocean and the city while you golf.

Most of the museums and other attractions are located in the center part of the park. Here, you can visit the renowned San Diego Museum of Us, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and the George W. Marston House, among many other attractions. Don’t forget to check out the California Native Plant Garden and the Botanical Building and Lily Pond!

Local Tips
Visit South Park Brewing Company
South Park Brewing Company is a great brewery to stop and enjoy a beer or two. They have a good variety of unique beers on tap from Farmhouse Ales to Smoked Brown Poters, don’t miss out on this one of a kind brewery.

Eat at a Local Café

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in local culture than to dine at local restaurants. The cafés in Golden Hill are especially popular spots, as they showcase the best of what the neighborhood has to offer.

Enjoy food and drink from dozens of different restaurants located throughout the park and the surrounding areas. Once you’ve refueled and rested your feet for a while, you’ll be ready to head back out and explore the rest of what Golden Hill has to offer.

Hit the Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. At the zoo, you’ll encounter all manner of animals, both native to San Diego and from all around the world. It’s an excellent stop for both kids and adults, with a little something for everyone.

The zoo features nearly 4,000 animals living in enclosures well-suited to their natural habitats, as well as foliage from an equally diverse range of environments. The San Diego Zoo is best known for its collection of critically endangered koala bears, which is the largest of its kind outside of Australia. The koalas are the subject of a dedicated conservation project, and their exhibit includes opportunities for learning about the importance of endangered species preservation and similar projects for other species throughout San Diego.

Golden Hill’s Historic Roots

Like many other parts of Southern California, Golden Hill has a storied history. Prior to Europeans landing on the West Coast and establishing mission settlements throughout California, Native Americans lived in the area. The Kumeyaay tribe were the primary residents here during the 18th century, and they made their homes in small rancherias.

As European settlements began to crop up and overtake the existing Kumeyaay population, the size of these rancherias diminished, gradually replaced with the nearby construction and expansion of one of the first Californian communities, “New Town.” By the time California became part of the United States in 1848, they had all but vanished. In 1867, when Alonzo Horton purchased the 1,000 acres of land that would eventually become Downtown San Diego, there were significant changes on the horizon for the neighborhood.

Investors followed Horton’s lead, purchasing property in the area and spurring development. Eventually, the California Southern Railroad linked the settlement to the Santa Fe line and the rest of the transcontinental railroad in the 1880s, which ushered forth an economic development that helped to modernize the area.

At this time, two local developers, Daniel Schuyler and Erastus Bartlett, launched a campaign to name the area that overlooked the city “Golden Hill.” They decided on this name because of the way the sun lit up the area at dusk, which is a phenomenon you can still see to this day.

Golden Hill remained affluent and populous throughout the beginning of the 1920s, but the Great Depression hit the area hard. Many people left the area, and the lack of funds left the town’s development stagnant, leaving many of the buildings in disrepair. This continued until the 1960s and 1970s, when things started to turn around for Golden Hill residents once again.

Golden Hill started to flourish as a cultural center soon after. It was the site of the first Gay Center in San Diego, and many working-class residents moved to the city thanks to its more affordable property values and a streetcar line. Residential life flourished, Craftsman-style bungalows started replacing older mansions, and an architectural renaissance led to the creation of many of the buildings that can still be seen throughout the city.

Featured Activity

Front of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Located in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum provides history of aircraft built in California. The museum includes over 60 exhibits with restored aircraft and tours of the carrier.
Learn More

Nearby Neighborhoods

Balboa Park

Golden Hill is just outside Balboa Park, which is full of exciting activities for visitors. You can visit over a dozen different museums located in the park, including The Fleet Science Center, the Air and Space Museum, and the San Diego Natural History Museum, to name a few. Each museum features educational opportunities spanning from San Diego’s distant past to the present day, and they all offer hours of family-friendly fun, interactive exhibits and shows.

If you’re looking for something else fun to do in Balboa Park, check out local art culture at The San Diego Museum of Art, or visit the incredible, exotic Japanese Friendship Garden. You can even go on a guided walking tour of the Balboa Park area, or enjoy a pleasant picnic in the park.

Gaslamp Quarter

For more history-focused attractions, head about 10 minutes south to the Gaslamp Quarter, where you can see real buildings from as far back as San Diego’s founding that have been restored and maintained. Don’t forget to take a trip to The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House, the oldest structure in all of Downtown San Diego, where you can experience San Diego as it was at different points since the house’s construction in 1850.

If you have kids, The New Children’s Museum is a great way for them to learn about art with hands-on exhibits sure to engage them.

East Village

East Village is just a five-minute drive from Golden Hill, and it’s another must-see neighborhood in the area. It contains Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, which you can tour. It’s also a hub of restaurants, food trucks, breweries, and live music venues, making it an exciting stop on any vacation or weekend trip.

As always, no trip to Golden Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods is complete without the Go San Diego Pass, which is a great option for anyone looking to save on the cost of the attractions in this area. Whether you’re planning an all-day museum tour, an evening of local dining and bar-hopping, or even a quaint stroll through the parks and gardens, the Go Pass ensures you’re getting the most bang for your buck in San Diego!

Featured Hotel
Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
Rooftop pool, Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
Conventions
Conventions
Couples
Couples
Luxury
Luxury
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Looking for a hotel that has earned a reputation for its upscale design & modern amenities? Look no further when you stay at Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego.
Prices Starting at $206
Check Availability

Know Before You Go & Tips

Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping
Walkable
Walkable

Tips for Your Visit

Before you visit Golden Hill, here are some important tips to have a fun, stress-free experience:

Biking Equipment

You don’t need to try to fit a bike in the car or in your luggage on the plane if you want to bike the Golden Hill trails. Discounts on bike rentals and bike tours are available with the Go San Diego Pass.

Tips for the Zoo

If you’re planning on visiting the San Diego Zoo, keep in mind you’ll be doing a lot of walking in the hot sun. Bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a hat. It’s also a good idea to check out the schedule to see if there are any rotating events before you plan your trip.

Golden Hill
is Famous For:
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Walkable
Walkable
Known For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Bike Riding
Bike Riding
Gaslamp Quarter
Gaslamp Quarter
Parks
Parks
This Month's Forecast
48°F / 69°F
Sunny in December
Jan
48°F / 68°F
Sunny in January
Feb
49°F / 69°F
Sunny in February
Mar
52°F / 70°F
Sunny in March

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