North Park is a neighborhood in San Diego, known for its youthfulness, foodie scene, The Observatory Theatre (where I just saw King Princess perform) and general cool vibe. It’s adjacent to Hillcrest, SD’s gay-borhood, and only a short drive from Balboa Park, the museum mecca, so it’s very well-situated. There are a ton of cool things to do in North Park, from trendy coffee shops and unique restaurants to quirky stores and independent booksellers. I’ve lived here my whole life and am still finding super fun things to do here. I’d like to share some of them with you.
North Park Coffee Shops
Obviously, I have to start off by listing off my favorite coffee shops over here. Quite a few North Park cafes make an appearance in my Best Coffee Shops in San Diego post. But I’m going to add a few more for you here.
Caffè Calabria: 3933 30th St
- This is where my barista training many moons ago. Caffè Calabria kills it with latte art and can make you any specialty coffee drink you want. It’s a big spot too, so you can always find a place to sit with your friends.
Dark Horse: 3794 30th St.
Holsem: 2911 University Ave
Communal Coffee: 2335 University Ave
Coffee and Tea Collective: 2911 El Cajon Blvd
Independent Bookstores in North Park
I’m a sucker for a good bookstore and North Park has a wonderful, albeit small, collection of them.
My all-time favorite is Verbatim Books, which is not only aesthetically-pleasing, but also features local authors and artists, has extremely affordable used books, and has an impressive number of toy dinosaurs everywhere you look. If you only have a short amount of time available, Verbatim Books should be your priority.
Address: 3793 30th St.
This little bookstore always has two pleasant ladies up front who make every visit extremely enjoyable. They have a healthy selection of mystery and thriller books (yay!) and also run an ongoing book donation program for the local children’s hospital.
Address: 3849F Fifth Ave.
The Book Catapult
Even though it’s basically in the remaining five feet of North Park (on the edge of South Park) The Book Catapult had to be on this list. All I can really say is that I never leave the store with less than two new books in my arm.
Fun bonus: They host quite a few reading and author events. Check out the calendar on their website to see upcoming events!
Address: 3010B Juniper St.
Where To Eat and Drink In North Park
Seven Grand San Diego
This is honestly the only bar I’m going to put on this list, mostly because I rarely go anywhere but here. Put simply, Seven Grand is the kind of dark, musty whiskey bar where to detectives would continue to work a case in secret, despite their superiors telling them to “drop it for their own good.” You get the picture.
Address: 3054 University Ave
Although technically in Hillcrest (just like Bluestocking Books) Bahn Thai had to be on this list. I love the Thai restuarant next to my work so much that I rarely go anywhere else but Bahn Thai is the exception. It’s phenomenal.
Address: 3766 Fifth Ave.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop
The interior of this shop is what originally drew me to it (it’s pink and covered wall-to-wall with framed wrestling photos) but the food brought me back a second, third, and tenth time. They are open until 11 pm, so I tend to go after attending a show at The Observatory across the street.
Address: 3016 University Ave.
For lovers of all things matcha, Holy Matcha on University Avenue is the place to go. From matcha-dipped croissants and vanilla swirl ice cream to tea drinks and lattes, you’ll be in foodie heaven.
Address: 3118 University Ave.
Cool Places To Shops In North Park
I, personally, tend to spend most of my time shopping at bookstores, but I do enjoy perusing a local boutique every so often, especially if they’re as gorgeous as those in North Park. Here are my favorite places to shop in North Park:
Genre: Home Goods and Local Art
Address: 3803 Ray Street
Genre: Home Decor, Small Plants, and Art
Address: 3801 30th Street
North Park Nursey
Genre: Plants Of All Kinds!
Address: 2335 University Ave (right next to Communal Coffee)
Whether you’re planning on spending an afternoon in North Park (as I usually do) or a week, you’ll never run out of stuff to do. There are always fun events going on at The Observatory, new restaurants to try, and endless shops to explore. Along with Little Italy, North Park is one of my single favorite places to hangout in San Diego and I’m sure you will love it just as much as I do!