University Heights

Explore the trendy neighborhood of University Heights. It’s close to Balboa Park and features cafés, breweries, shops, and parks, all within walking distance.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
University Heights
Overview
Go City Pass & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Vibrant Nightlife
Tasty Eats
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
Stay
Similar Neighborhoods

Highlights

University Heights
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City Park
Tips
Overview
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Tips

Welcome to University Heights: A Neighborhood Brimming with Charm

University Heights SignStreet Mural in University Heights

University Heights in San Diego may be a small neighborhood, but where it falls short in size, it more than makes up for in heart. The streets of the neighborhood, which was once the proposed site of the area’s university, are lined with historic and newly renovated Craftsman style homes and towering trees.

The Family Outside Wormwood in University Heights
The Family Outside Wormwood in University Heights

Discover Eclectic Shops and Culinary Delights

Hidden beneath the rooftop and canopy are a collection of quirky shops, eclectic restaurants, chic boutiques and trendy bars and nightclubs. The combination makes University Heights one must-see neighborhood during your San Diego vacation.

University Heights is next door to Hillcrest, San Diego’s LBGTQ+ community, and is close to Downtown San Diego and the beaches of central San Diego.

Locals who live in the area’s many apartments, homes and condominiums are the typical patrons of the local diners, shops and coffee shops, meaning the district experiences a relatively low level of congestion. Don’t take this to mean, however, that University Heights is for locals only; community members are quick to welcome in visitors and newbies who express creativity.

Relaxing at Old Trolley Barn Neighborhood Park
Relaxing at Old Trolley Barn Neighborhood Park

Trolley Barn Park: A Community Hub

Trolley Barn Park is a must-visit landmark in University Heights. The city park is on the site of an old streetcar barn, and while trolleys no longer pass through the area, the park has plenty to see and do for all ages.

University Heights only has one hotel within its limits, the historic Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows. This iconic hotel exudes southern charm and a Victorian-era essence, making guests feel as if they’ve stepped into a grand hotel in New Orleans instead of a resort in San Diego.

University City is easy to get to, if you’re coming from the San Diego International Airport, take the I-5 South to the CA-163 North, toward Escondido. Take exit 2B to Washington Street, then turn left onto Park Blvd. Park Blvd is considered to be the heart of the neighborhood, so once you’ve found it, you’ve found University Heights.

University Heights
Why you'll love University Heights
Explore the trendy neighborhood of University Heights. It’s close to Balboa Park and features cafés, breweries, shops, and parks, all within walking distance.

Save BIG with Go City!

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 City San Diego pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go City 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!

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

Things to Do

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

Experience Local Life

Coffee Bar at Kairoa Brewing Company
Coffee Bar at Kairoa Brewing Company

Shopping, Cafes, and More

University Heights is a small and quiet neighborhood along Adams Avenue. Typically, out-of-towners and locals can spend an afternoon or an evening browsing the shops, socializing in a local coffee shop or dining at a trendy restaurant.

Man Playing Music at the Old Trolley Barn Neighborhood Park
Man Playing Music at the Old Trolley Barn Neighborhood Park

Trolley Barn Park: Concerts & More

During the summer months, the park hosts free concerts and entertainment. Year-round, families bring their young children to the park to run around, burn some energy and have fun. The park boasts an array of updated playground equipment, all of which is surrounded by cushy padding. Plan ahead and pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the park’s many picnic tables.

As for adults, Trolley Barn Park is worth a visit simply for the view. Spread out a blanket on the grassy lawn overlooking the canyon while your children play. You can also let your competitive side loose by challenging a friend, loved one or friendly stranger to a game of chess at one of the chess tables.

Diversionary Theater

Those who visit the area at night are likely looking to partake in the area’s lively nightlife scene or catch a play at the Diversionary Theater, one of the oldest LGBQT theaters in the nation. The Diversionary Theater was founded to provide a quality theater experience for the LGBQT communities. There is ongoing live entertainment, check the events scheduled for more details.

Local Tips
Take a Stroll down Park Blvd
Park Blvd in University Heights is the main drag with many restaurants, bars and shops. It is a great place to explore for dinner or for a night out on the town.

Vibrant Nightlife

If you’re in the area sans kids, plan a night out on the town. With everything so close together, you can hit all the stops on this list:

Looking into the Air Conditioned Lounge in University Heights
Looking into the Air Conditioned Lounge in University Heights

Air CONDITIONED Lounge

The Air CONDITIONED Lounge, nestled in the heart of University Heights, presents a nostalgic '50s vibe complete with a dynamic dance floor, expertly crafted cocktails, and an energetic DJ lineup. This lounge and club is a must-visit for those looking to unwind and dance the night away in a retro-inspired setting.

Parks and Rec Bar in University Heights
Parks and Rec Bar in University Heights

Park & Rec

Sip on an adult beverage while playing one of your favorite games from your childhood in this sprawling space that includes a huge outdoor patio, an indoor bar and a bungalow that hosts a DJ and dance parties. Games to look forward to include Connect 4, Jenga and table tennis.

Fall Brewing Company in University Heights
Fall Brewing Company in University Heights

Fall Brewing Company

Fall Brewing Company, located in the vibrant North Park area, embodies the spirit of independence and creativity with its motto "Doing what we want, when we want since 2014," offering a diverse range of beers from crisp lagers and hop-forward IPAs to sours and stouts. With over 20 beers on tap, options for beer to-go, and nightly food trucks, this brewery invites patrons to enjoy quality brews in a laid-back atmosphere, encouraging everyone to have fun with their beer.

The Lancers

If you want to socialize with the locals, The Lancers is your spot. This low-key neighborhood bar serves up strong cocktails and brews in a rustic-inspired environment. And would it be a local joint without pool tables?

Poor House Brewing Co in University Heights
Poor House Brewing Co in University Heights

Poor House Brewing Company

Poor House Brewing Company offers an inviting rustic-modern setting for enjoying an extensive array of draft microbrews. This open, wooden venue is the go-to spot for craft beer aficionados looking for an authentic local brewing experience in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Featured Activity

Entrance to the Japanese Friendship Garden
Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden
The Japanese Friendship Garden is a traditional Japanese garden in the heart of San Diego. Japanese techniques are used to bring this experience to America. Visit and become inspired by Japanese culture.
Learn More

Tasty Eats in University Heights

If you’re looking for a restaurant in University Heights, stray no further than the main strip. The local restaurants have a decidedly Mexican coastal flavor — even those that specialize in European or contemporary American dishes.

Wormwood and Absinthe Just Go Together
Wormwood and Absinthe Just Go Together

Wormwood

Located just steps from the Air CONDITIONED Lounge in the heart of University Heights, Wormwood offers a unique dining experience that transports patrons back to the Bohemian era, where absinthe reigned supreme as the muse of poets, writers, and artists.

This trendy restaurant not only serves up some of the finest absinthe selections but also immerses guests in the rich, storied history of this legendary spirit, promising an unforgettable journey for both the palate and the mind.

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant
El Zarape Mexican Restaurant

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant is a lively spot at which you can enjoy live music while dining on fresh fish tacos, enchiladas, scallop burritos, pork chile verde and even pollo con mole.

Madison Restaurant in University Heights
Madison Restaurant in University Heights

Madison on Park

Madison is a chic airy restaurant that serves modern Mediterranean fare beneath vaulted ceilings made of cedar. Located on the popular Park Blvd, Madison is a great spot to bring a date.

Kairoa Brewing Company in University Heights
Kairoa Brewing Company in University Heights

Kairoa Brewing Company

Kairoa Brewing Company just across Park Blvd from Madison brings together the foods, beer and culture of New Zealand under one roof. Originally from New Zealand the owners have put their take on Kiwi comfort food with an American twist on both the food and the beer.

Regardless of where you choose to eat in University Heights, you’re sure to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience.

Featured Hotel
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
Outdoor Pool at the Lafayette Hotel Swim Club and Bungalows
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Boutique
Boutique
Families
Families
3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Feast your senses and experience the glamor of 1980s luxury at the stylized Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club, & Bungalow in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood.
Prices Starting at $127
Check Availability

Know Before You Go & Tips

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

Nearby Attractions

University Heights is centrally located in San Diego and, as such, is close to several of the city’s best attractions. If you’re in town for more than a couple of days, make time for one of all of the following:

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a little more than two miles from University Heights and is ranked as the second-best thing to do in San Diego. The park spans 1,200 acres and contains manicured gardens, natural vegetation zones, nature trails, greenbelts, museums and theaters. It’s also home to the San Diego Zoo.

The San Diego Zoo

Spend the day learning about over 3,000 animals from over 650 different species and subspecies. You and the children will be happy you didn’t skip over this iconic San Diego experience.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego is just a few minutes up the I-8 freeway and is another family-friendly attraction. Take in an orca show, swim with the dolphins and even catch a thrill on a roller coaster ride at this Mission Bay amusement park.

Save on Attractions

With the Go San Diego Card you can save on over 50 attractions and activities including the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, the USS Midway, most museums in Balboa Park and much more. This card will help you save up to 55% off the general admission costs for the cost of one card. If you use the link on our website to purchase the Go San Diego Card you can save even more.

Hillcrest Farmers Market

If you’re in town on Sunday, walk over to neighboring Hillcrest to browse vendor’s booths for fresh produce, organic products and handmade items. Afterward, enjoy brunch at one of the local restaurants.

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