Welcome To

University Heights

A vibrant neighborhood located between Hillcrest and North Park in San Diego


Welcome to University Heights

Vibrant neighborhood with great restaurants near Balboa Park

University Heights is a vibrant neighborhood located between Hillcrest and North Park in Central San Diego. The neighborhood was first named in the 1880s when plans were being floated to build a university in the area. The plans were later abandoned so, despite the name, there is no university in the neighborhood. What University Heights does have, however, is trendy shops, restaurants, and nightlife in a revitalized area that first grew around a streetcar stop and Panama-California Exposition at nearby Balboa Park in 1915.

Historic Craftsman homes from the turn of the last century can still be found throughout University Heights. Housing options in the neighborhood also include cozy cottages, stylish apartments and condominiums, and lavish contemporary custom-builds.

What to Love

  • Great restaurants

  • Close to Balboa Park

  • Diverse housing options

  • Established neighborhood feel

People & Lifestyle

University Heights is a popular neighborhood with couples and young families. The neighborhood is also close to some of San Diego’s biggest attractions, such as Balboa Park and the Little Italy district. Despite its proximity to San Diego’s main tourist areas, University Heights has the feel of an established neighborhood where most people are long-term residents.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

Park Boulevard is a lively strip of cool restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutique shops running north-to-south through University Heights. Waypoint Public is a hip family-friendly spot for gourmet burgers and craft beer.

Popular drinking spots on Park Boulevard include the relaxed hipster hangout Small Bar and stylish cocktail space Parks & Rec. Park Boulevard’s entertainment options include Diversionary Theatre, one of the oldest LGBT theatres in the United States.

More chic eateries can be found along 30th Street to University Height’s south. Standouts here include chef Fred Piehl’s neighboring restaurants One Door North and Smoking Goat. Smoking Goat’s delicious French bistro-style dishes have long made it one of San Diego’s most revered restaurants, while One Door North draws on global influences for an ever-changing menu of seasonal dishes that use fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Located just outside University Heights in Mission Hills, Fort Oak offers a great ambiance and amazing food and drinks.

Things to Do

Balboa Park spans 1,200 acres just south of University Heights. This sprawling green space is one of San Diego’s premier attractions since it is home to 16 museums and the San Diego Zoo. San Diego Zoo is the most visited zoo in the United States, attracting more than four million visitors every year with exhibits housing 3,500 animals from 650 different species.

Other attractions within Balboa Park include an iconic carousel constructed in 1910, miniature train rides, and the scenic entry point of the 1915 Cabrillo Bridge. Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center has more than 200 working artisans offering demonstrations of all kinds of arts-and-crafts making. The many museums at the park include the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Art. Balboa Park’s many gardens faithfully recreate numerous diverse habitats, such as the Japanese Friendship Garden, which has koi ponds and sukiya-style buildings covering a 12-acre area.

Little Italy
is a short distance to University Heights’ southeast. This vibrant district includes many of San Diego’s trendiest restaurants and nightlife spots. Waterfront Park on Little Italy’s harbor shoreline is a popular grassy space with spray fountains and children’s play equipment.


Public schools within University Heights are operated by the San Diego Unified School District. One highlight includes:

  • Museum School, Public (Charter), K-8

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