Hillcrest is a quirky and vibrant neighborhood filled with boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, artists, bookstores, thrift stores and more. One of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods, Hillcrest borders the northern tip of Balboa Park, Park Blvd to the east, and the edge of the Mission Hills neighborhood to the west. The majority of shops are found on University and 5th Ave. On Sundays, there is a fabulous farmers' market just off University.
If you want to stay somewhere in San Diego besides Downtown or the Gaslamp, I recommend Hillcrest. You will have plenty of shops to check out and will be in walking distance of Balboa Park and the zoo. You can find B&Bs, or check out www.vrbo or www.airbandb.com for a place to stay.
If you enjoy architecture, just stroll around the neighborhood to get an eyeful of Victorian, craftsman, Spanish, mid-century, and art deco style housing.
Several great festivals happen in Hillcrest: the LGBT Pride parade, City Fest, and Hillcrest Mardi Gras.
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Taste 'n' Tini's event in Hillcrest, San Diego
If you're visiting San Diego during the month of December and have an extra $20, the Taste 'n' Tini's event is a great way to sample food, drinks, and shopping in the vibrant Hillcrest neighborhood. You start at a local restaurant where you're given a little martini glass, a map of the participating shops, and a card with corresponding numbers that gets stamped at each place.
Bring your appetite, as you will be offered samples of tacos, sliders (a mini hamburger), vegetable and meat canapes, clam chowder, tomato bisque, mascarpone-stuffed french toast, kale salad topped with coconut, frozen yogurt, chocolate cake and other decadent desserts.
The shops hire bartenders from local bars to mix and pour the various kinds of martinis - peppermint, chocolate raspberry, mango, cranberry, and my personal favorite, chai. The martini glass you carry with you is just the size of a 1 ounce pour, so you can sample more than just one!
This event is wildly popular with the locals. You can even get your photo taken with Santa! If you're looking to get into the spirit of the holiday and explore Hillcrest, this 2-3 mile walking tour is definitely recommended!
Tip: the event starts at 5pm and runs until 9pm. It's better to start earlier, as the later it gets, the more likely the venue runs out of product.