Normal Heights

Normal Heights allows for a relaxed vacation, or one that is faster paced. Check out the local indie shopping boutiques as well as the cafés, breweries and parks. Or take a trip to the San Diego Zoo, surrounding museums and watch the sunset before enjoying the local nightlife.
Normal Heights
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Things to Do
Popular Activities
Fairs & Festivals
History
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
Stay Nearby
Similar Neighborhoods

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Normal Heights
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Indie Shopping Boutiques, Breweries & Museums

Bar at the Rabbit Hole in Normal HeightsStreet Mural in Normal Heights

Don’t let the name, “Normal Heights,” fool you. This San Diego neighborhood is downright intriguing with its mix of quirky people and unusual small businesses. Many locals even call it, “Abnormal Heights.”

Normal Heights is sandwiched between interstates 805 and 15 near the Mission Valley, Kensington, University Heights and Hillcrest neighborhoods. Balboa Park, home of many San Diego attractions, is close by, too.

Normal Heights is pedestrian-friendly to the point that parking is tricky. You’ll find a spot for your car but likely not close to where you’re going. Bring good walking shoes, and park the car for the duration of your stay.

In Normal Heights, you’re within walking distance of coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores and much more. Adams Avenue cuts through the heart of the neighborhood and features many indie boutiques, hip eateries and nightlife spots.

Why exactly “Abnormal Heights”? In a nutshell, many residents and businesses don’t fit society’s mold. The neighborhood is a great spot for, say, witches and mystics to live and set up shop. If you’re visiting San Diego and march to the beat of your own drum, consider staying in Normal Heights.

Normal Heights
Why you'll love Normal Heights
Normal Heights is a great place to shop! Visit the indie boutiques, cafés and breweries, all within walking distance. Don’t forget about the Zoo & museums!

Go Historic with Go Pass!

Whaley House
Historic Whaley House Museum
The Whaley House Museum is located in the historic Old San Diego area. With your Go Pass, take in one of the most visited attractions in the area. The complex is made up of multiple houses and museums that offer something fun for the whole family.
Buy Now
Local Tips
What are the best Go San Diego Pass deals?

Some of the best deals with the Go San Diego Pass include access to San Diego’s most popular attractions.

Discount admission is offered to the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND California, USS Midway Museum, Belmont Park rides and more!

Things to Do

Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Museums
Museums
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo
Skateboarding
Skateboarding

What to See and Do in Normal Heights

Fairs and Festivals

The fairs and festivals in Normal Heights tend to fall on the weekends. Outside of these events, try to spend most of your time here during the week. On weekends, the area gets crowded with both tourists and residents.

Friendly People

The neighborhood is a delight for visitors to discover on their own. The residents are incredibly friendly, and each block brings a new mix of buildings, businesses, dogs and folks to meet. Normal Heights is not the “touristy” side of San Diego in that you won’t find attractions such as zoos, arboretums or ships.

That’s OK! Many San Diego visitors love being outside of the box on their travels. Plus, some want to stay in neighborhoods where people live. Normal Heights is a great area for this type of experience.

Local Tips
Visit Blind Lady Ale House
This Ale House is described as an Indie Pizza and Beer house. The Blind Lady Ale House is very unique and very good and worth a try.

Unique Restaurants & Stores

As you probably gathered, Normal Heights isn’t where you go for familiar chain stores, restaurants or hotels. Fortunately, it does offer selections for many budgets and tastes.

For example, you can get elegance at the high-end bistros and then hit an Irish watering hole. The cuisines on offer include Italian, Greek and California coastal (really, just the tip of the iceberg).

To start your seeing and doing in Normal Heights, follow Adams Avenue and lose yourself in the people and shops. Walk, bike, rollerblade or even unicycle. Here’s where you get to people watch and show some personality of your own.

Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park

For travelers with children and/or dogs, Normal Heights has the Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park, which is adjacent to a dog park. The parks are parallel to Interstate 15. The kids’ park offers a community feel along with playgrounds, picnic spots, basketball, resting spots and plenty of parking.

Other San Diego Attractions

If you stay in Normal Heights, are you still close to San Diego’s main draws? Yes! Don’t worry about missing out on popular sites.

For example, Balboa Park with its oodles of museums and the San Diego Zoo is 3 to 5 miles away, although you may not want to walk there. It can take about an hour and 20 minutes on foot to get from Normal Heights to the Natural History Museum (theNat) in Balboa Park, but public transportation is readily available (as is biking).

Downtown San Diego, Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter are on the other side of Balboa Park. Hop onto public transit to visit these areas of the city.

Fairs and Festivals in Normal Heights

Adams Avenue Street Fair

The two-day Adams Avenue Street Fair is a top event in Normal Heights. This annual festival features street music at the price of…absolutely free. It’s quality music, too, and attendees get an early peek at rising local and regional performers.

The fair usually occurs during the last weekend in September. Bask in the Southern California sunshine and enjoy more than 100 performances on eight stages. The fair is family-friendly, featuring carnival rides and vendors for food and arts and crafts. There are even four different beer gardens for adults to enjoy, too.

Adams Avenue Unplugged

Another notable music festival is Adams Avenue Unplugged. It’s also free, so check it out in April if you can.

Art around Adams

Meanwhile, Art around Adams in June is an opportunity for local artists to show their work along the avenue. The free event features music, vendors and crafts. For more entertainment during the art festival, ride the Comedy Trolley up and down the street.

Taste of Adams Avenue

Taste of Adams Avenue is about food. Every June, scores of restaurants, coffeehouses, wine bars and pubs in Normal Heights and nearby neighborhoods participate to give folks their dining fix. You can walk, bike or take the free trolley along Adams.

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

History of Normal Heights

The “Normal” part in Normal Heights comes from the Golden State Normal School, a teachers’ college. Nowadays, it’s the Eugene Brucker Education Center.

Normal Heights, officially founded in 1906, wasn’t originally part of San Diego. Trolley systems eventually linked the two, and in 1925, Normal Heights was finally annexed to San Diego.

One well-known neighborhood structure is the Carmelite Monastery on Hawley. The Spanish-style manse stands high on a hill above Interstate 8.

A group of Sisters lives at the monastery. The public can attend services and enjoy the front gardens. The back gardens are off limits, though.

Another notable historic point is the Santa Rosa Court, which used to be named El Sueno. Louis L. Gill designed this bungalow court.

Featured Hotel
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
Swimming pool at The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Boutique
Boutique
Families
Families
3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Leave your cares & worries behind when you step back in time with classic comforts at The Lafayette Hotel, located in sunny San Diego.
Prices Starting at $127
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Know Before You Go & Tips

Amazing Sunsets
Amazing Sunsets
Breweries
Breweries
Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping
Walkable
Walkable

Who Should Visit Normal Heights?

Normal Heights is a haven for folks to express themselves. It’s a great place to stay if you enjoy meeting new people or people-watching. This neighborhood gives you a good idea of what everyday life in San Diego can be like.

Strongly consider Normal Heights if you are content to eschew traditional tourist experiences but want to remain close-ish to area attractions. Normal Heights is also a place for people with open minds. If you love learning and engaging, visit here!

Before you plan a visit, remember the street fairs and festivals that Normal Heights hosts. There are good reasons for wanting to check one out—and for wanting to avoid them!

For a less-crowded vibe, book your trip away from festival times. For more of a party experience, stay during one of these events. Either way, enjoy the lovely charm of this San Diego neighborhood.

Normal Heights
is Famous For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Breweries
Breweries
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Known For:
Nightlife
Nightlife
Parks
Parks
Walkable
Walkable
This Month's Forecast
62℉ / 76℉
Partly Cloudy in June
Jul
66℉ / 81℉
Sunny in July
Aug
68℉ / 83℉
Sunny in August
Sep
66℉ / 82℉
Sunny in September

Stay Nearby

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San Diego Marriott Mission Valley
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San Diego Marriott Mission Valley
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The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
Boutique Hotel
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
from $127 / night
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