The most sprawling of the urban neighborhoods, North Park is a hodgepodge. Cozy, tidy pockets of Craftsman homes on the north edge of Balboa Park (hence the name), dense apartments, and the pre-interstate retail stretches of University Ave and El Cajon Blvd. define North Park.
North Park's history:
In the late 1800's, the James Hartley family bought 40 acres northeast of Balboa Park for growing lemons. Development in San Diego spread to the Hartley property, which became Hartley's North Park. In 1911, son Jack Hartley developed the business district at 30th and University Ave., which is still the heart of North Park.
What makes it so special?:
Besides its diversity, North Park is special for the architecture that predominates the neighborhood. North Park is synonymous with the Craftsman cottages and bungalows that reflect California's era of suburban development. Recent years has seen a resurgence of North Park and the gentrification of its sub-neighborhoods.
What defines North Park?:
North park is a diverse neighborhood of single family homes, apartment complexes, businesses, and arts. It has a business district that is almost a downtown unto itself - unusual for a neighborhood. The intersection of University and 30th is a bustling central point of North Park.
Things to do:
There's lots to do in North Park: dining, nightclubs, arts, entertainment, shopping. It's self-sufficient, and its close to neighboring 'hoods like University Heights, Hillcrest and Normal Heights, and, of course, Balboa Park.
Best bets for eats:
North Park has a lot of neighborhood eateries, but the Chicken Pie Shop on El Cajon Blvd. is a venerable diner. Down the road is classic diner Rudford's. Red Fox Steak House at the Lafayette Hotel is pure old school. There are just too many to name.
Best bets for drinks and entertainment:
North Park is the place for dive bars: Scolari's Office, the Whistle Stop, the Live Wire, Red Fox Lounge, the Bar Pink Elephant. There's a place to fit your style in North Park. The newly renovated North Park Theatre is home to San Diego Lyric Opera, and Claire de Lune coffee house has local music.
You've got your drugstores, grocery stores, banks, service stores, and some unique retail establishments like George's Cameras. Everything you need is in North Park. Gentrification has also brought more boutiques. There are still seedy areas, but the place is on the rise.
How to get to North park:
From I-805, take either the El Cajon Blvd. or University Ave. exits and go west. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Balboa Park on the south, I-805 on the east, El Cajon Blvd. on the north, and Florida Street on the west.
Public transportation is served by Bus Routes: 1,2, 6,7,908,15,19,115.