San Diego’s Hillcrest Neighborhood
Just north of Balboa Park, San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood is best known as the center of the city’s LGBTQ+ scene.
Hillcrest is one of San Diego’s older neighborhoods. The neighborhood has gentrified in recent years. Tree-lined streets serve as a canopy for numerous Craftsman homes and Mid-Century modern condominium buildings.
It’s also a dense neighborhood, so parts of Hillcrest are crowded at times, and parking is always at a premium. However, this proximity means Hillcrest is a very walkable neighborhood with restaurants and shops near several main residential areas. To make moving about easier, there is a free trolley that runs on main streets Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and an AccessHillcrest website that helps people find parking spaces, share rides, or bicycle.
University Avenue leads into the neighborhood's "village" area designated by the A historic, neon "Hillcrest" sign on University Avenue leads to the neighborhood's "village" area where you’ll find unique vintage clothing shops, book outlets, and the Landmark Cinemas, noteworthy for featuring independent and foreign films.
Hillcrest’s identity is clearly defined as a place for recreation, arts, culture, and community gatherings in a spirit of tolerance and acceptance. Locally owned restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, trendy thrift stores, boutiques, and other independent businesses have created a lively destination that has become a gathering point for celebrations, rallies, and special events.
The largest is San Diego Pride, a week-long LGBTQ+ pride celebration in July. Attendees have made this the largest civic event in San Diego and one of the largest LGBTQ+ gatherings in the country. The Hillcrest Block Party highlights it on Friday night, a Pride Parade on Saturday morning, followed by a two-day festival in Balboa Park.
Hillcrest’s east end is marked by a towering rainbow Pride flag just off the main thoroughfare of University Avenue at the corner of Normal Street.
Another large annual gathering is Hillcrest "CityFest." This street festival takes place in August and features food, live entertainment, a beer garden, and numerous street vendors.
Pride Plaza hosts the Sunday morning Hillcrest Farmers Market. With more than 175 vendors, it's considered San Diego's largest and best farmers market and takes place from 9 am until 2 pm, rain or shine.
Hillcrest is also within walking distance of nearby Balboa Park. The park is San Diego’s cultural centerpiece, spread over 1,200 acres, featuring 18 museums, the San Diego Zoo, miles of walking and hiking trail, lush gardens, performing arts venues, and ornate Spanish Renaissance architecture.