University City

Bring the family for a vacation in University City! Visit endangered species at the Birch Aquarium or go shopping at the UTC Mall. Go hiking in Rose Canyon and take a bike ride through the local parks for birdwatching and a picnic. Local shops and cafés are within walking distance.
University City
Overview
Bundle & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Family Fun
A Shopper’s Paradise
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
Stay
Similar Neighborhoods

Highlights

University City
Stay
Hiking
Tips
Overview
Stay
Play
Tips

Go for a Hike or go to the UTC Mall in University City

Homes Overlooking Pong and Stream System in University CityWater Fountain at UTC Mall

The name may make you think this is nothing but a college town, but University City, San Diego has a lot to offer beyond being home to UC San Diego. It is also part of the Golden Triangle, which is an area that contributes largely to San Diego’s economy. Many residents work at the university or within the many tech and research businesses in the area.

University City generally has two main areas divided by railroad tracks and Rose Canyon. In the northern part of the city, you’ll find apartments, condos and townhomes. The southern part is mainly single-family houses with many older homes built in the 1960's. There is also a commercial zone here with office parks and buildings. The southern area also goes by the name University Square. In the middle of University City is the famous Westfield UTC Mall, on the best malls in San Diego.

Throughout the neighborhood, you will find a range of local restaurants and shops. It is a nice little area that can accommodate all your needs easily. The city is known for being quiet and having some of the best scenery around, including lush landscapes and works of nature.

Being in San Diego, University City is close to all the major attractions in the area. Plus, it has canyons and plenty of green space so you can take advantage of the sheer natural beauty of the area.

University City
Why you'll love University City
Explore the Birch Aquarium and the UTC Mall or get active in the great outdoors with some hiking, biking, and birdwatching. Walk to the local shops and cafés.

Bundle and SAVE!

Kids looking at knight at LEGOLAND California
Visit LEGOLAND California!
Create family memories at LEGOLAND California! Admission is included with your All-Inclusive Go Pass - enjoy over 60 rides and attractions! Bundle admission with Birch Aquarium at Scripps or the Safari Park for the ultimate day of savings!
Buy Now
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

Biking
Biking
Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium

Plenty to See and Do in the Great Outdoors

One of the top things that University City is known for is Rose Canyon Open Space Park. This canyon is vast and filled with native flora and fauna. It is also home to almost 100 species of birds, some of which are on the endangered species list.

It is the ideal place for birdwatching and hiking. You can check out all those birds near the vernal pools on the east end of the canyon. For hiking, you’ll find challenging terrain and plenty of trails to keep you busy.

Another stop while in this area is Marian Bear Memorial Park. This man-made park was a way for the city to hold onto its natural beauty as development began to wipe out many of the green spaces.

You cannot miss San Clemente Canyon. This canyon is fun for all ages because it has many fossils in its walls, which adds to the allure, especially for children.

There is a winding creek that runs through the canyon and is responsible for helping to widen and deepen it as the years go by. There is a lot of history found in this canyon that has been a focal point in the area for centuries.

Local Tips
Great Shopping & Food at UTC Mall
The newly renovated Westfield UTC Mall is one of the best shopping malls in San Diego. It is known for both its shops and its restaurants and it even has a luxury movie theater.

There are also several public golf courses in the area if you want more structured outdoor time. Many of them are child-friendly, making this a perfect activity for the whole family.

The University City Executive Golf Course features nine holes. Just a few miles south Balboa Park Golf Course also has eighteen holes, and is more challenging. This is in Balboa Park and is the oldest public course in the area. While hitting some balls, you can take in the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

No visit to Southern California is complete with checking out some beaches, and there are plenty in and around University City. Windansea Beach in nearby La Jolla is perfect for surfing or just sunbathing. If you want a clean beach with plenty to do, stop by Pacific Beach. It has a boardwalk filled with dining options and shops, but it isn’t incredibly crowded, so it is enjoyable day or night.

For something more scenic, try La Jolla Cove. Here you can enjoy watching seagulls and sea lions. You can also partake in swimming, diving and snorkeling. Stop by Ellen Browning Scripps Park, which has green huts where you can hang out and enjoy the sunset.

Sunny Jim Sea Cave and Shell Beach, which is best at low tide when you can explore the tide pools, give you a chance to explore. Don’t miss The Children’s Pool. This is the hang out for sea lions. You may not be able to get too close, though, as the beach closes during pupping season, but you should still have great views of the animals playing and swimming.

Surefire Stops for Family Fun

When coming here on vacation, it always helps to plan some stops that will make for great side trips for the whole family. Luckily, there is plenty nearby that will entertain and educate children of all ages.

Close to the University of California at San Diego in University City, you’ll find the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. This is the only memorial to recognize living and dead veterans, starting from the Revolutionary War to present conflicts. It also includes a 27-foot cross, which is a sight to see.

Birch Aquarium is just next to University City. This famous aquarium has spectacular ocean views as well as fun and educational exhibits. It is located on campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which is part of UC San Diego.

If you need a day of sheer fun and excitement with your children, check out LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad. This is a full theme park experience with a water park, rides, LEGO experiences and an aquarium.

For animal lovers, the San Diego Zoo is a can’t miss attraction. Here you can explore many animal species from around the world. There are exhibits, shows and other events that will help you learn more about and get closer to the animals.

If you are looking for a discount to attractions like the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego or even LEGOLAND California consider the Go San Diego Card. This card will get you discounted access to over 50 attractions and activities in San Diego and you will save over 55% off general admission costs.

Finally, a great place where you and the kids will have an amazing time is Seaport Village in the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego. Here you will find cute shops, including a fudge shop, kite store, and cupcake shop, over 50 restaurants and live entertainment. There is even a historic carousel. Plus, it is right on San Diego Bay for stunning views of the sunset.

Featured Activity

Interact with Dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
The world-famous SeaWorld San Diego is home to animal shows, roller coasters and other rides for the entire family. Enjoy encounters featuring the famed Orcas, dolphins and sea lions, or take a tour through the habitats.
Learn More

A Shopper’s Paradise

If seeing attractions and exploring the outdoors is only second in your mind to shopping, then University City has you covered. There are three main shopping areas in the city that you should most definitely check out.

Start with University Town Center, also known as Westfield UTC Mall or simply the UTC Mall. It is a popular shopping plaza for all of San Diego, drawing crowds every day to shop in a wide variety of stores. It even features events such as ice skating and live music.

Another place to shop is University City Marketplace. This strip mall features a range of shopping options that are typical of small-town shopping and dining choices.

Lastly, there is Costa Verde Center. This multilevel shopping center has over 30 shops and restaurants. The dinging is incredibly unique with options that include Greek, keto, chains, sushi, pubs, juice bars, and coffee shops.

Featured Hotel
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Exterior view, Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Families
Families
Near Beach
Near Beach
Shopping
Shopping
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
For discerning guests who like to sit in the lap of luxury even on vacation, there is Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, with special amenities to pamper you.
Prices Starting at $137
Check Availability

Know Before You Go & Tips

Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Shopping
Shopping
Trolley Stop
Trolley Stop
Walkable
Walkable

Come Stay in University City

As you can see, there is a lot to do in University City. Judging this city by its name is not a good idea since there is much more here than just the university. You can explore the outdoors, visit family attractions and spend a day or two shopping like crazy when you visit this San Diego neighborhood.

University City
is Famous For:
Hiking
Hiking
Parks
Parks
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Known For:
Bike Riding
Bike Riding
Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Sunshine
Sunshine
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

Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
from $137 / night
View Hotel
San Diego Marriott La Jolla
Near UTC Mall
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
San Diego Marriott La Jolla
from $224 / night
View Hotel
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego - La Jolla
Near UTC Mall
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego - La Jolla
from $152 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>