San Diego’s South Park neighborhood is an intimate and eclectic mix of great little restaurants, craft beers and cocktails, signature coffee shops, and one-of-a-kind retail shops just east of Balboa Park. More than 70 independently owned small businesses operate in this charming, tree-lined neighborhood.
South Park is one of San Diego’s oldest suburban neighborhoods that took shape more than 100 years ago when the Bartlett Webster developing company extended streetcar service to the area. These streetcars became a fixture in South Park until they were retired in 1939.
Known for its classic Craftsman and Spanish-style turn-of-the-century homes, South Park has grown in stature in recent years. Today, it has become one of the great walking neighborhoods in San Diego.
South Park has become a favorite gathering place for young professionals, hipsters, and others who are attracted to an easy-going, safe community. It’s also relatively small, totaling less than 5,000 residents, most of whom can easily walk to the central business district.
It’s a vibrant and diverse destination, but it still flies under the radar of many out-of-town visitors and locals, adding to its charm.
What makes South Park endearing are the unique shops, progressive galleries, and dining spots.
If you get the chance, stop by some local favorites, including…
1503 30th Street
A cozy place with an easy-going vibe and a killer cocktail menu, snacks, salads, and main course fare.
30th and Fern
30th and Fern St.
This commercial center is home to three historically significant buildings that helped transform South Park from 1913 to 1945.
2235 Fern St
Listen to music “old school” style or pick up classic albums that have become hot with collectors of all ages. Stopping here is a musical history lesson that comes to life. Vinyl Junkies pays the cash for your record collections if you're looking to sell. It’s a small shop with a large selection and one place where vinyl lovers can spend hours crate digging.
2207 Fern St
This stylish boutique offers rescued clothes, handmade knit goods, the finest stationery, and live jazz music on busy evenings. It features artisans from around San Diego and Tijuana and was featured in 2015’s Best of San Diego magazine.
2204 Fern St.
Enjoy a mouth-watering and memorable fresh comfort food where burgers and beer are served in an old trolley station. There’s also a rotating selection of local and craft beers and a full bar.
Station Tavern’s charm is due in part to a large backyard that features communal picnic-table-style dining and a fun family environment. It’s also pet-friendly…dogs are always welcome to hang out in the outdoor dining area.
3001 Beech Street
It doesn’t get any more authentic than this, where Neapolitan pizzas are cooked up in Sofia, a golden oven imported from Italy, made by hand using materials capable of withstanding the high temperatures from 700 to 1000 degrees.
Graffiti Beach Boutique
2220 Fern St
Browse through a laid-back, artsy mix of clothing, jewelry, and original souvenirs. Graffiti Beach partners with local San Diego artists to create some of the most unique goods you’ll find anywhere in the city.
You can rent a bike from Downtown San Diego and pedal about two miles to the neighborhood, but there are some big hills along the way, so be sure to map your route before you pedal. If you bike over, you’ll cut through historic and beautiful Balboa Park for some of the best scenery in town.
You can also get to South Park via public transportation, ride-share services, and taxis if you don’t have a car of your own.
The Old House Fair is an annual summer community event centered at the intersection of 30th and Beech streets. Local businesses set up and sell home furnishings and other items of interest for vintage homeowners.
The South Park retail and restaurant community hosts quarterly Walkabouts on Saturday evenings in March, July, October, and December. Shops are open late, and live music fills the streets. A free trolley also carries attendees throughout South Park while the Walkabout takes place.