Mission Hills

Bring your significant other for an exquisitely marvelous getaway to Mission Hills! Visit nearby Balboa Park, home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and many museums. Or take a relaxing bike ride through the local scenic parks, have a lovely picnic, and enjoy the local shopping boutiques and old-world cafés.
Mission Hills
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Mission Hills
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Balboa Park
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Parks & Cafes in Mission Hills

Artistic Coffee Shop Decor in Mission HillsBeautiful Homes and Offices in Mission Hills

Mission Hills is an attractive, primarily residential neighborhood just north of downtown San Diego. It is known for its beautiful architecture, upscale vibe, boutique shops and incredible restaurants. Although most of this upscale neighborhood is residential homes, there are several enclaves of exciting city activity such as West Washington Street.

This neighborhood boasts a fantastic location with easy access to Old Town, downtown, Hillcrest, the San Diego Bay and many of the best neighborhoods in the city. There is plenty to do within Mission Hills. However, it is also so conveniently placed that visitors can quickly venture out to see other sights.

Better yet, the area has a 70% walkability score. That means that you can head to the restaurants, bars, boutique shops and other attractions regardless of where you are staying. Mission Hills is a full and rich neighborhood with wonderful parks to match its many amusements in the business districts.

Mission Hills
Why you'll love Mission Hills
Take an afternoon stroll in Mission Hills. Walk to local shops, cafés and surrounding picturesque parks or visit nearby Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.

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Orangutan at San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Explore the top zoo in America! The San Diego Zoo is located in iconic Balboa Park, and features over 3,500 animal in their habitats. Bundle with other attractions in Balboa Park for top savings - like the Air and Space Museum!
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Local Tips
What attractions are included with a Go Pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go San Diego Pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

Things to Do

Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Biking
Biking
Museums
Museums
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
Skateboarding
Skateboarding

What to Do in Mission Hills, San Diego

There is no shortage of activities for visitors to Mission Hills. Unlike some other parts of the city, the neighborhood has a very local feel. Most of the people out and about on the high streets of the area are local residents. These are some of the top activities to do in Mission Hills:

Restaurants

The eateries in Mission Hills are mostly local, independent places. They provide a unique flavor to the neighborhood. You can enjoy a great meal and explore different favorites of the local residents.

Mexican and American are the most popular cuisines in the area. Many of the restaurants are small with a strong San Diego vibe. They are mostly clustered together in areas such as Washington Street. So, it is very easy to walk along until finding something that catches your eye.

Local Tips
Date Night?
Restaurant row in Mission Hills on Goldfinch Street is the spot for dates. There are numerous restaurants where you and your date can have the perfect rendezvous.

One of the stand out restaurants is the Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria on Goldfinch Street. This pizzeria specializes in Chicago Style pizza and is decorated with anything and everything from Chicago. You can even enjoy some local craft beers while you wait for your Chicago Style pizza to cook, they typically take 45 minutes or so to cook so plan accordingly.

Nightlife

There are a few amazing bars and clubs in the Mission Hills neighborhood. Much like the restaurants, many of these watering holes have a small, local feel. No matter whether you want a luxurious cocktail bar or a fun, neighborhood hangout, you’ll find something to love.

Boutique Shops

Another staple of life in Mission Hills is the collection of boutique shops and salons. There are some incredible stores to check out and they are almost all within walking distance of each other.

You can find clothing, jewelry, fragrances and more in the Mission Hills boutique shops. Whether you are looking for a gift for someone, a treat for yourself or just want to take a look around, you’ll be pleased with the selection of shops.

One of the most famous of these shops is M-Theory Music. This storied store is one of the last independent music shops in the city. The store has been around since 2001 and has been repeatedly voted the best vinyl shop in the city. It attracts locals and tourists alike from all over San Diego.

Beautiful Parks

For something a little more natural, head to Pioneer Park. It is a moderately sized neighborhood park with a unique history. It was previously a cemetery that was the final resting place of over 4,000 of the city’s first residents. Some old headstones can still be seen in the area, but the park has not been an active cemetery for a long time.

Hiking

Alternatively, take a stroll along Mission Hills Canyon, the Robyn’s Egg Trail or the Allen Road Canyon Trail. As the name implies, Mission Hills has a number of hills that characterize the area. These create some beautiful canyons and trails to explore. Not only are you treated to all the natural beauty of the area, but you can also enjoy views of this unique neighborhood in many places.

Beyond the parks and hiking in the neighborhood, there are other parks nearby as well. These include Presidio Park in Old Town and the Riverwalk along the San Diego River in Mission Valley. Both of these hiking destinations are within easy reach of Mission Hills.

Architectural Tour

The custom homes around Mission Hills are probably the most defining characteristic of the neighborhood. The area is relatively historic with many homes dating back to 1908 to 1930. There are some even older buildings close to Old Town on the western side of the neighborhood.

Taking a walk around Mission Hills is like an accelerated class in architecture. More than 300 of the homes in the area have been designated as historic buildings. Some of the styles on display include the following:

American Craftsman

– This broad style often includes low-pitched roof lines, deep eaves, symmetry and square, tapered support columns.

Prairie School

– This style, developed in the Midwest, is marked by horizontal lines, windows grouped in bands and hipped roofs.

Spanish Colonial Revival

– This style features red, curved riles, white or light exterior walls and archways. It is very characteristic of Southern California.

Vernacular

– This is not a style but a conceptual approach to architecture using local materials and techniques. In San Diego, it often follows Spanish Colonial Revival and features indoor/outdoor connective spaces.

Places to Stay in Mission Hills

Since Mission Hills is a residential area, there are no hotels directly in the neighborhood. However, there are several in Old Town to the west and the Hotel Circle to the north. One hotel we suggest is the Courtyard by Marriott Old Town. This Courtyard by Marriott is in the perfect location where you are very close to locations such as the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Old Town, Point Loma, the San Diego International Airport and of course Mission Hills.

Anyone who wants to stay directly in the neighborhood should consider vacation rentals. Some of the custom homes built around the area are absolutely stunning and feature some truly unique living experiences.

Mission Hills is known for its Craftsman, Prairie School, Spanish Colonial Revival and vernacular architecture. Whether staying in a rental or simply walking around the neighborhood, seeing these homes is a treat for anyone who loves architecture or can appreciate a beautiful home.

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.
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Top Destinations Around Mission Hills

Mission Hills is one of the best neighborhoods in the city for convenient access to top attractions around San Diego. These are some of the top destinations in and around Mission Hills:

Old Town San Diego

This historic state park is immediately to the west of Mission Hills. It is the oldest settled area in California and features numerous buildings from San Diego’s early days. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants to visit.

Balboa Park

This enormous urban park spans 1,200 acres. It is filled with theaters, museums, walkways, green spaces and the famous San Diego Zoo. It is to the southeast of Mission Hills just past the Hillcrest neighborhood.

San Diego Zoo

This zoo is known as one of the best in the nation and the world. It is housed within Balboa Park. With over 4,000 animals representing over 650 species and subspecies, the exhibits and shows of the San Diego Zoo are easily enough to fill a day of fun.

SeaWorld San Diego

This is one of the city’s most famous attractions. It is a short drive northwest of Mission Hills inside Mission Bay Park. The aquatic-themed amusement park is fun for the whole family.

Whether you want to enjoy the calm, local vibe of Mission Hills or stretch out a little further, there is a lot to see and do in the neighborhood. It is a great place to stay for anyone who wants to get a true, home-like sense of San Diego.

Featured Hotel
Courtyard by Marriott Old Town
Business Center at Courtyard by Marriott Old Town
Families
Families
SeaWorld
SeaWorld
Shopping
Shopping
3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Business travelers and tourists can find exactly what they are looking for at the Courtyard San Diego Old Town. Relax in your spacious room after a long day.
Prices Starting at $152
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Know Before You Go & Tips

Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping
Walkable
Walkable

Mission Hills History

The history of Mission Hills dates back almost to the beginning of San Diego. It is right next to Old Town, the oldest settled area in the state. However, it would take a long time before the area became a true neighborhood.

In the late 19th century, the Johnston family settled in the area and named it Johnston Heights. Despite their efforts, economic depression made it difficult to establish the area as a residential neighborhood. Gradually some houses of affluent residents began to spring up.

In the early 20th century, the neighborhood began to significantly develop. It was divided into two areas: North Mission Hills and South Mission Hills, split by Washington Street. Horticulturist Kate Sessions helped to influence the growth of the neighborhood by creating Mission Hills Nursery, a popular spot for locals to this day. She is most famous, however, for being the visionary behind Balboa Park.

Between 1908 and 1930, many of the homes in the area were built. These are still major staples of the neighborhood to this day with hundreds of them designated as historic buildings.

Noted architects including William Hebbard, Richard Requa, William Templeton Johnson and Emmor Brooke Weaver contributed to the unique and beautiful design of the neighborhood’s buildings. Some mid-century homes spring up around the canyon rims during the 1950s and 1960s.

The neighborhood has continued to develop, and many buildings have been updated to meet modern demands. However, the style of the area is still defined by the work of the earlier masters. It is truly an incredible area to see with a storied history and many attractions to enjoy.

Mission Hills
is Famous For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Parks
Parks
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Walkable
Walkable
Known For:
Breweries
Breweries
Business District
Business District
Convention Center
Convention Center
Nightlife
Nightlife
This Month's Forecast
66℉ / 82℉
Sunny in September
Oct
61℉ / 81℉
Sunny in October
Nov
53℉ / 75℉
Sunny in November
Dec
48℉ / 69℉
Sunny in December

Stay Nearby

Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town
Near SeaWorld
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town
from $143 / night
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Courtyard by Marriott Old Town
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Courtyard by Marriott Old Town
from $152 / night
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Cosmopolitian Hotel
Near Old Town
2 Star Rating2 Star Rating
Cosmopolitian Hotel
from $99 / night
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Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport - Old Town
Near Old Town
2 Star Rating2 Star Rating
Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport - Old Town
from $136 / night
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