Things to Do in San Diego’s Hillcrest Neighborhood

Hillcrest is the center of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community, meaning several of the events and activities in the area are geared toward this audience.

The biggest of these is San Diego Pride.  This weeklong celebration takes place in July and is one of the largest LGBTQ+ gatherings in the country.  She Fest kicks off Pride week and is a woman-centered event that celebrates the talents and contributions of LGBTQ+ women. Other events during the week include the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, Pride 5k Run, and Hillcrest Block Party.

More than 250,000 people gather to watch the Pride Parade on Saturday morning.  It features colorful floats, prominent community members and activist groups, military, police, firefighters, the beloved Dykes on Bikes, and much more. 

San Diego Pride tops things off with a two-day festival in Balboa Park that draws 40,000 people to party and watch music headliners and more than 100 performances by bands, DJs, and solo artists. Vendors, exhibits, cultural presentations, and tasty food options abound, and more than 40,000 people join as one to celebrate.

Hillcrest’s Nightmare on Normal Street is a trick-or-treat bash that kicks off the LGBTQ+ community's Halloween festivities and features a beer garden, food, music, and an outrageous costume contest for cash prizes.

The Hillcrest Mardi Gras takes place in winter and is highlighted by outrageous costumes, food, music, entertainment, and beads galore as partygoers celebrate Fat Tuesday with one last dose of fun-filled "sin."

Another popular event is Hillcrest CityFest.  This August art and music festival takes over 5th Avenue and features live bands, electric dance music DJs, arts, crafts, and food that attracts more than 150,000 locals and visitors to party, mingle, and make new friends.

Hillcrest also has a more sedate side as well.  The biggest Farmer’s Market in San Diego takes place at the corner of Normal Street and University Avenue every Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm.  It features offerings from 175 vendors who offer fresh produce, baked goods, and other edible goodies.

You can also enjoy the Walk in ART on the first Thursday evening of every month in Mural Alley, south of University between 4th and 5th St.  Mural Alley has been fully transformed and adopted by muralists who showcase dozens of murals painted by some of the region’s best-known street artists.  Walk in ART features unique vendors, creative food offerings, music, and surprise performances.