Hillcrest

Hillcrest is San Diego’s best known LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Immerse yourself into the lively nightlife after a day of visiting the neighboring renowned San Diego Zoo and museums. This walkable neighborhood features local cafés, parks and shopping boutiques. Bike or stroll through the diverse atmosphere that is Hillcrest, San Diego.
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Nightlife & Local Attractions of Hillcrest

Hand Made Chocolates at Chocolat in HillcrestCrest Cafe in Hillcrest

San Diego is known for its gorgeous weather, amazing beaches, and trendy nightlife. However, residents and visitors of Hillcrest know that San Diego has so much more to offer than that. Located in the San Diego Central InlandNorth Park, Hillcrest is a hub for the local LGBTQ+ community and home to many LGBTQ+-owned and friendly establishments.

There is plenty to do for everyone, whether you're traveling with family or visiting San Diego with friends. Along with many fun and interesting attractions, there are also many opportunities for cultural enrichment, including museums, art galleries, music venues, and outdoor recreation areas all within walking distance.

Inclusivity is the standard in Hillcrest, and people from all walks of life are welcomed to enjoy the community-driven atmosphere. This lively gay neighborhood is the starting point of San Diego's yearly LGBTQ+ Pride Parade, which begins at the larger-than-life rainbow flag located on the east end and extends 1.5 miles to Quince Dr., where you'll find one of the last wooden trestle pedestrian bridges in the city.

Hillcrest is also home to the San Diego LGBTQ+ Community Center, which offers many essential resources to the LGBTQ community, as well as information on interesting and informative events so you can contribute to a great cause while having a good time.

University Ave. features many great bars, nightclubs, and shops, as well as the world's first openly gay brewery where you can grab a delicious craft beer. Local restaurants offer a diverse array of international cuisine to match the diversity of the neighborhood's population. Visitors can reach most destinations throughout the area by foot, but there is ample public transportation available, including buses and trolleys that run from the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego to Hillcrest.

If you're looking for family-friendly entertainment, check out one of the many local parks and recreation areas. Balboa Park, which is home to numerous museums and art venues, is located just south of this neighborhood. It's also home to the San Diego Zoo, which all visitors to the city are encouraged to experience. There are also guided tours available, including wine and spirits tastings and samplings of local cuisine.

Hillcrest
Why you'll love Hillcrest
Hillcrest welcomes people from all walks of life. Enjoy the LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife and visit the San Diego Zoo & museums of the famous nearby Balboa Park.

Enjoy a Brew with Go Pass

Pure Brewing Tasting (3 locations)
Pure Brewing Tasting Tour
Grab your Go Pass and head down to one of the three Pure Brewing locations that San Diego has to offer. Choose from a variety of brews for your sampling while you relax in comfort. Locations are in Miramar, Bankers Hill and Carlsbad.
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Local Tips
What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Things to Do

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

Things to Do in Hillcrest

Balboa Park

There is so much to do and see in Balboa Park. Spread out over 1,200 acres, visitors can take their time exploring the numerous walking trails while marveling at the lush, tranquil gardens. Plan a picnic at one of their many recreation areas, or seek out more cultured entertainment.

Balboa Park is home to more than 17 museums covering a wide range of topics and interests, from automotive advancements to art history. There are also beautiful Japanese gardens and botanical museums featuring so many amazing specimens. Tours are available throughout the park, some of which are conducted by knowledgeable guides, while others allow you to conduct a self-guided audio tour at your own speed.

Would you like to save money while visiting Balboa Park? Consider buying the San Diego Go Pass. This pass will give you access to most museums in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and even SeaWorld San Diego. You will save over 55% off of regular admission costs and you can save an additional discount if you use our link to buy your pass.

Casa del Rey Moro Garden

With a design influenced by Moorish gardens located in Spain, Balboa Park's Casa del Rey Moro Garden is made up of beautiful Spanish architecture and landscaping.

There is a central pond and wishing well, both of which transport you back to a bygone era. In fact, you may forget you're in the middle of a bustling urban center while exploring the Casa del Rey Moro Garden. This outdoor attraction was first established in 1935 but was restored in the late 1990s to bring it to its current condition.

San Diego Zoo

Along with its many other can't-miss attractions, Balboa Park is also where you will find the iconic San Diego Zoo. Home to more than 3,700 animals, many of which are rare or endangered, the Zoo also contains over 700,000 different types of plant life.

Take a guided bus tour upon arriving at the Zoo to get the lay of the land before traversing the area on your own. At an expansive 100 acres, it's easy to spend an entire day exploring this Zoo and its many exhibits.

Hillcrest Farmers Market

Touted by many as one of San Diego's best places to find fresh produce, Hillcrest Farmers Market hosts more than 10,000 visitors per week. More than 175 vendors are on hand to provide the very best locally sourced fruits and vegetables, and many of the farms that participate grow their crops without the use of pesticides. The market is also a great place to sample international cuisine, including gyros, crepes, and other authentic delights.

Local bands perform live music at the market on a weekly basis for a selection of great San Diego-based musicians. There are also plenty of arts and crafts to choose from, including handmade items lovingly created by local artists. The market, which is located on Normal Street, is open Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm. There is ample free parking, as well as bus access from multiple routes.

Popular Activities

San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$28 per person
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The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
Learn More
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Discounts Available
Learn More
PETCO Park Tour
PETCO Park Tour
$22 per person
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Restaurants

Japanese, French, Italian, Mexi-fresh, Thai, American comfort food, and more: Hillcrest has it all when it comes to cuisine. With more than 200 restaurants, you can sample fresh, authentic cuisine from all over the world every day of your stay.

Menu offerings are all combined with tasty cocktails and desserts, as well as fun starters and appetizers. Most restaurants also feature a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Virtually all tastes and palates can find something they love within this bustling culinary hub.

If you're a connoisseur of breakfast and brunch, Hash House A Go Go is considered a San Diego institution that offers down-home dishes like massive pancakes and chicken and waffles.

If you're a fan of Italian fare presented in a relaxed, laid back atmosphere, stop by Arrivederci. The lunch and dinner menus are replete with authentic Italian cuisine, including succulent seafood pasta, prime cuts of meat, and soups and salads made from fresh, wholesome ingredients.

When it comes to fresh, seasonal ingredients derived from local farms, Trust offers a menu of rustic American dishes that are as innovative as they are wholesome. Their drink menu is also brimming with ingenuity, including many craft cocktails and wines from local vineyards.

Featured Activity

San Diego Harbor Cruise on San Diego Bay at Sunset
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Enjoy this ‘San Diego Top Pick Award’ winner as you set sail on a three level luxury ship providing 360-degree views of San Diego’s scenic beauty. Relax for a 1-2 hour narrated tour, learn about the city from the bay.
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Nightlife

No visit to San Diego would be complete without experiencing the city's eclectic nightlife. There is something for everyone after dark, from upscale cocktails bars to dives featuring live rock and roll. Gay-friendly establishments abound, including bars, billiards, and a dueling-piano nightclub that encourages singalongs. There are numerous night spots along University Ave., which leads to Hillcrest's village area. Be sure to head out early for happy hour!

If you want to cut loose in a warm, welcoming, women-friendly environment, Gossip Grill is the spot for you. Along with their menu of drinks and all-American bar food, this popular nightspot also hosts numerous events, including cabaret brunches, drag shows, and musical performances. It's the perfect place to kick back with your girlfriends and enjoy some lively nighttime entertainment.

Urban Mo's is another must-see spot when taking in Hillcrest's happening bar scene. Have a cocktail on the outdoor patio to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather or check out the dance floor before ordering from their expansive drink and food menu. Urban Mo's also holds a variety of theme nights, including ones inspired by major holidays or events. Be sure to check out their calendar during your stay so you don't miss a minute of the excitement.

Featured Hotel
San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter
Exterior view, San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter
Conventions
Conventions
Families
Families
Near Bay
Near Bay
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter is about more than just a great location; it also has premium amenities and well-appointed rooms for business or pleasure.
Prices Starting at $129
Check Availability

Know Before You Go & Tips

Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping
Walkable
Walkable

LGBTQ+ Community & Events

San Diego LGBTQ+ Community Center

The San Diego LGBTQ+ Community Center began inauspiciously in the 1970s as a helpline for members of the LGBTQ+ community who were in need of advice or resources. It has since grown into a thriving support organization that consists of over 1,200 volunteers and makes 82,000 service visits on a yearly basis.

The Center is dedicated to supporting all members of the community, including men, women, transgender, and non-binary people of all ages and races. Its mission is to provide service and assistance to the LGBTQ+ community that helps them maintain their overall health and well-being.

Local Tips
Did you Know?
Hillcrest is home to the gay community of San Diego. This inclusive neighborhood has a thriving bar & restaurant scene.

Along with numerous programs that address health and behavioral issues and provide advocacy opportunities, The Center also holds signature fundraising events. Recent events include diversity breakfasts, drag shows, AIDS walks, and others, which are conducted to raise funds and awareness for causes that are important to the LGBTQ+ community. This is a good resource for visitors to the city who are in search of gay-friendly establishments or events during their stay.

Hillcrest Brewing Company

Described as the world's first gay brewery, Hillcrest Brewing Company offers a tasty selection of beers and bites to San Diego travelers. Whether you love wheat beer, stouts, pale ales, or IPAs, this brewery provides a diverse menu of beers brewed from the finest selection of hops available.

Depending on the brew, treat yourself to complex flavors containing subtle hints of floral, citrus, coffee, dark chocolate, or herbs. If you're hungry, choose from a selection of gourmet stone-fired pizzas, or select an appetizer, such as wings and house-made beer pretzels with a side of cheese.

Open late each night, Hillcrest Brewing Company is great for late-night bites and revelry.

San Diego Pride Parade

San Diego's annual Pride Parade is considered one of the largest in the nation, with more than 250,000 people attending per year on average. Parade participants are chosen to exemplify the diversity of the city and ensure all voices are heard on an equal basis.

Along with the Parade itself, San Diego Pride also features numerous exhibits, events, and activities, as well as the opportunity to support local shops and entrepreneurs. San Diego Pride takes place every July, with the parade route originating at the intersection of University Ave. and Normal St.

Hillcrest
is Famous For:
Breweries
Breweries
LGBTQ+ Friendly
LGBTQ+ Friendly
Nightlife
Nightlife
Walkable
Walkable
Known For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
This Month's Forecast
66℉ / 82℉
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