University Heights

Visit University Heights to escape the fast paced life. Stroll through the nearby Balboa Park to visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, have a family picnic and check out the surrounding museums. Walk or skateboard to a local brewery, café, or shopping boutique that is just around the block.
University Heights
Overview
Explore & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Nightlife
Tasty Eats
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
Stay
Similar Neighborhoods

Highlights

University Heights
Stay
Balboa Park
Tips
Overview
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All You Could Want Within Walking Distance

Street Mural in University HeightsKairoa Brewing Company

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.

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.

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.

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Things to Do

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

Things to Do

Shopping & Cafes

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.

Trolley Barn Park

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

Small Bar

Small Bar boasts an intimate environment in which patrons can enjoy artfully crafted cocktails, craft brews, good eats and funky jukebox jams.

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?

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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Where to Eat

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.

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

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

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.

De Nada Kitchen & Market

If you head down Adams a bit, you’ll find this Argentinian-inspired kitchen. In addition to authentic Argentinian dishes such as empanadas and flatbreads, the restaurant also boasts an extensive menu of carefully curated craft brews and local wines.

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
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
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
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Known For:
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Nightlife
Nightlife
Parks
Parks
Walkable
Walkable
This Month's Forecast
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