Welcome to North Park, San Diego, the City’s hipster neighborhood. With poppin’ bars and restaurants galore, there is no shortage of things to do in North Park. If you’re here with family or friends, there are many sights to see in this beautiful neighborhood.
There’s a reason why North Park, San Diego, made it into Forbes’s list of top hipster neighborhoods in America. You will see why as soon as you step foot within the neighborhood boundaries.
The walkability of North Park makes it an easy place to get around. Because the neighborhood is also relatively small, you won’t have to worry about going too far to find a good bar, coffee shop, or restaurant.
North Park is easy enough to find. Google Maps will direct you if you type in “North Park.”
While you may find parking limited (as is the case in many parts of San Diego), there are parking lots and garages you can pay to park in. There is also metered parking on University Avenue and parking in the neighborhood side streets surrounding it. For easy day parking, navigate to North Park Garage.
Many things to do are right off University Avenue, so parking near there is your best bet. If your starting point is North Park Garage, you can immediately hit 30th and University and step foot into the heart of North Park.
Top Cafés in North Park
If you’re in North Park early morning, you’ll want to fill up on a cup of coffee! Here are all of our favorite cafés and coffee shops in North Park. There is certainly no shortage of coffee in San Diego. Almost anywhere you tuck in will have great drinks to energize you as you romp around the neighborhood.
This newer coffee shop is located on University St. Near 30th street. The classy, lux interior feels clean and refreshing as you step inside to the aromas of fresh brews and baked goods. You can grab anything from coffee to breakfast or lunch at this coffee shop, making it an excellent spot for everyone if you’re traveling in a group.
If you’re looking for the type of coffee shop you can camp in all day and get some work done, then Subterranean Coffee will be the perfect place for you. Its cozy interior and mismatched chairs make this place feel comfortable and welcoming. Subterranean Coffee also serves bagels, sandwiches, and wraps, so it’s a perfect light lunch spot.
Communal Coffee is VERY popular with the locals. It’s a larger coffee shop allowing for plenty of seating if you intend to go and do a little bit of work. They, too, have breakfast and lunch options and phenomenal coffee. Don’t forget to visit their outdoor South Park location if time allows!
Santos Coffee House is an adorable little Spanish-style coffee shop off Thorn Street. It’s a little further from the main drag of University and 30th, but well worth a visit. Santos Coffee is a great place to grab a drink, a bagel, and a treat for your pup!
Dark Horse is one of the most popular coffee shops in San Diego. They do deserve the recognition, too! Their coffee is delicious. They also have a sister company and ice cream shop called Mutual Friend. Both of these spots are worth a mention!
Where to Grab a Drink
If you’re looking for an excellent place to go out on the town in North Park, then you’re in luck. Many of the most popular places to go out for a drink are located right in North Park! Because the neighborhood is relatively small, you can easily walk from place to place. Ubers and Lyfts are also very present throughout San Diego, so getting around is relatively easy.
Located in the upper right corner of North Park on Adams St. and 30th, Polite Provisions is one of the most popular places to grab a drink. This apothecary-inspired cocktail lounge offers incredible craft cocktails and drafts. The ambiance inside is impeccable as well.
If you’re lucky enough to go during Christmas time, you will enjoy the decked-out Christmas pop-up. Because this bar is so popular, we recommend getting there early to snag a table. They open at 4 PM during the week and at noon on the weekends. Polite Provisions makes for a great stop to start the night.
Pretzels and Pints offers a super laid-back atmosphere. It’s perfect for grabbing a beer and a soft pretzel with the classic pup cheese. I don’t know about you, but if soft pretzels are offered, I’m 100% in. There is ample seating indoors and outdoors which is an excellent option, especially in North Park. Pretzels and Pints is also family-friendly, so you can bring children to join in on the fun.
This one goes out to all the whiskey fanatics out there. Seven Grand is your classic whiskey bar. There is something for everyone at this bar, from the delicious mixed drinks to the pool tables to private event rooms. There are a few locations around the United States, so you may have been to this bar before!
Watch out; we’ve got another whiskey bar on this list! This isn’t any old whisky bar, though. Bar Three Piece is known for offering “remarkable and rare” whiskeys.
If you’re a West Coast local, you may be a little thrown off by the hunting lodge interior. This bar might feel a bit like home if you’re from the Midwest. Bar Three Piece makes it to the top of our recommendations list, from the drinks to the ambiance.
Coin-Op is a barcade, making it one of the most fun places to grab a drink and wings. Their arcade games include Skee-Ball, Pinball, Pac-Man, and many other classics. Allow yourself to feel like a kid at heart when you step inside this 80s nostalgia bubble.
Happy hour is from 4 PM to 6 PM, so don’t forget to go a little earlier for a good deal on drinks and bar snacks. They have everything from regular chicken wings to vegan cauliflower buffalo wings. If you haven’t noticed yet, San Diego accommodates different dietary needs.
North Park Beer Co. is known for its local brews. If you want to support small local businesses, this is the spot to go to. Not to mention their food is incredible. North Park Beer Co. has a ton of room for larger parties, so if you’re traveling in a large group, then this will be an excellent option for you.
Order at the bar and grab a seat. You can order food online from the QR codes on the table, and they’ll bring it right to your table.
Fall Brewing Company is another local favorite, with its original brewery located in North Park, San Diego. You can’t go wrong when ordering a ‘Magical Delicious’, one of their most popular brews. Fall Brewing is located towards the north end of 30th street, so if you find yourself up there, then don’t hesitate to pop in for a cold one.
They frequently have delicious taco trucks parked outside to satiate your appetite. The inside-outside vibe allows for the perfect California summer experience.
For an evening drink experience, try out Swan Bar. The ambiance in this place is impeccable. With their choice of 50s country music and the gorgeously decorated interior, you can’t help but feel a little fancy. Not to mention, the food is absolutely delicious.
Swan Bar was originally a fish-n-chips place called Beer Fish, but the owner decided to completely flip the restaurant into something with a completely different vibe, and they did not miss on this one.
If none of these bars pique your interest, stroll North up 30th street from University, and you will see plenty of other brewhouses and pubs to try out. There is simply no shortage of laid-back places to grab a drink and a snack in North Park.
North Park is full of little boutiques and bookstores to pop in and out of. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, window shopping and browsing can be fun and inspiring!
Pigment is absolutely adorable and overflowing with plants, jewelry, decor, and other little knick-knacks. It is worth giving a walk-through, and of course, they have a cute outer wall that is perfect for photo ops. If you are bringing someone from out of town, this is an adorable little store to pop into that they will love.
Just next door to Pigment is Verbatim Books. Verbatim feels just like an old, creaky library with shelves stuffed full of books of all genres. This little store is a must if you’re an avid reader. They also buy back old books, so if you’re needing to do a little cleanout, then this would make for a great stop.
For trinkets and souvenirs, Artelexia offers a wonderful selection. Artelexia is a female-owned business, Elexia the owner prides herself in celebrating Mexican art and culture. If you are a first-time visitor to San Diego, you will notice how much Mexico influences daily life here, from the cuisine all the way to the street names! Artelexia is a must-see if you’re into learning more about Mexican culture and the inspiration San Diego has taken from that.
There is no shortage of vintage shops all over San Diego, and here is another one of those! If you love vintage fashion and the environmentally friendly aspects of shopping secondhand, then you will love Hunt and Gather. Their inventory is carefully curated, so you won’t have to scour the racks too hard to find a hidden gem.
Fivespace is a black-owned record store with tons of different genres of vinyl to sift through. If you are into the music scene, then you’re in luck, because there are plenty of similar stores nearby. Fivespace is definitely a stop you should consider as you stroll through North Park, San Diego
Activities in North Park, San Diego
While there is plenty of shops and restaurants, there are also certain activities you can enjoy in North Park. You can easily spend half a day to a full day simply exploring the neighborhood. Here are some suggestions for activities if you’re coming with a group of friends and are looking for something to do.
Every Thursday from 3-7:30 PM, you can enjoy the local farmers market. This is where you are going to find vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables along with hand-crafted items. Who doesn’t love a good farmers’ market!? It’s a great way to get to know local businesses and vendors.
San Diego is the hub of craft brewing. Going on a self-guided or guided brewery tour is a must if you’re heading into North Park for the weekend with friends. If you’re looking for a guided tour, try So Diego Tours. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and let someone plan a tour for you. All you have to do is show up!
If you’re interested in doing a self-guided brewery tour, here are some of the best brewery options starting on the north end of 30th Street and moving south:
- Fall Brewing Company
- Poor House Brewing
- Belching Beaver
- Rip Current
- Bivouac Cider
- North Park Brewing Company
- Mike Hess
These are only SOME of the options and the ones we recommend the most.
Take Photos in Front of Murals
As you work your way around North Park, you will find that there are beautiful commissioned murals on every block! It’s one of the many charms the City has.
On 30th street is one of the best smoothie places in the entire city of San Diego. Señor Mangos has delicious fruit smoothies that will transport you somewhere tropical every time you take a sip. Grab a smoothie as you stroll down 30th sightseeing! Not to mention they also sell delicious Mexican food.
Other Attractions Nearby
If you’re coming to San Diego to visit, you probably won’t be spending your entire trip just in North Park. There are plenty of other attractions to check out that are a short car or bus ride away.
If you’re coming into town to see more than just North Park, check out our complete San Diego guide for anything and everything there is to do in this wonderful city.