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A Lazy Afternoon in San Diego's Hillcrest

Afternoon in San Diego's Hillcrest

Hillcrest is an iconic San Diego neighborhood nestled between the cultural Mecca of Balboa Park and the popular shopping area of Mission Valley. One of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods, it somehow manages to give off a trendy and eclectic vibe without abandoning its cultural and historical roots. Many locals make Hillcrest their regular hangout, but it's also a fun way for tourists to explore a different side of San Diego.

Home to many happening dining options, cute boutique shops and San Diego hotels like the Hillcrest House Bed and Breakfast, Hillcrest is an ideal area to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Brunch: Hillcrest is a fashionable destination for a filling and delicious brunch experience. Probably the most popular option is Snooze, a relatively new breakfast spot located on Fifth Avenue. It is recommended that visitors arrive early as there are often hordes of customers and significant lines waiting to take a seat either indoors in one of the modern booths, or outside at a table basking in the San Diego sunshine. Locals flock here to sample some unusual but enjoyable breakfast offerings such as red velvet pancakes, sweet potato pancakes and salted caramel French toast.

If the line at Snooze is too daunting, or if visitors simply desire a cozier and more intimate brunch experience, the Crest Cafe is a wonderful alternative. Characterized by a retro charm and serving up equally scrumptious dishes of such favorites as lemon ricotta pancakes and stuffed French toast, it's hard to imagine patrons walking away disappointed or - still hungry.

Farmer's Market: Sunday mornings and afternoons are when the Hillcrest Farmer's Market sets up camp on Normal Avenue. It's a wonderful market to browse through and perhaps pick up some delectable treats for later. One of San Diego's biggest farmer's Markets in terms of size and popularity, the Hillcrest Farmer's Market is a foodie's paradise and has vendors selling locally grown fresh produce, gorgeous flowers and more niche products like specialty almonds and unconventional sauces. Heavenly smells permeate the street fair-like atmosphere, making this an optimal spot for a Sunday afternoon stroll to walk off your filling brunch. Or, if visitors are still hungry after their brunch at Snooze or Crest Cafe (which would be a historic occurrence, but you never know), they can take advantage of some of the enticing hot food vendors - cooking up everything from tasty Paninis to a variety of San Diego seafood.

For visitors who prefer a more relaxed Sunday brunch, a great way of combining food with some sunbathing would be to gather some goods at the Farmer's Market, and then pack up for a picnic at the nearby grassy park.

Shopping: Shopping in Hillcrest is a fantastic alternative to spending time at one of the more generic shopping malls as they have some unique stores to discover. Cute clothing boutiques are scattered throughout the neighborhood, and one such budget-friendly option is Twirl. Stocking vintage-inspired, girly dresses, skirts and tops, the prices of this boutique are comparatively affordable and make Twirl a must for either a quick perusal or for a much needed updated to any girl's wardrobe. The area is also where the majority of San Diego's vintage and secondhand clothing stores are situated, and it's fun to go bargain-hunting at resell staple Buffalo Exchange, or take a gander at some truly funky vintage duds at Flashbacks.

For any serious bookworms out there, Hillcrest is populated by a few second-hand bookstores that are worth examining. Fifth Avenue Books is a San Diego establishment that will have you feeling nostalgic for the days when book mega stores weren't the norm. Get lost in Fifth Avenue Book's shelves which stock every genre, or leaf through a few volumes to see if you can stumble across any hidden gems.

These Hillcrest attractions are a wonderful way for any San Diego visitor to add another dimension to their vacation, or for helping any local San Diegans break out of a weekend rut.