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Named as one of the most hipster neighborhoods in the United States, North Park, San Diego houses artists, students, bookworms and more. In San Diego, North Park is nestled above the northeastern corner of Balboa Park, making it perfect for morning runs or evening strolls with your pets. Everything you could need or want lies within walking distance, including grocery stores, taco stands, cozy coffee shops, live music and thrift stores.
If you can’t find it in North Park, you’re sure to find it in one of the adjacent neighborhoods: South Park, Normal Heights and Hillcrest. Most don’t think of charming residential communities when it comes to Southern California. They’ll more often conjure images of freeways and bustling shopping centers. But North Park has retained its 1920s homes and with them a respite from the traffic of San Diego. So without further ado, here is a brief neighborhood guide to North Park, San Diego including coffee, shopping and fun date night ideas.
When you ask local San Diegans about their favorite bookstores, there’s a decent chance Verbatim Books is at the top of the list. This used and rare bookstore stocks a carefully curated selection of lightly used and antiquarian books that range from classics to contemporaries. Don’t skip their generous section of local authors, both from San Diego and Tijuana, including a corner filled with ‘zines by local micro-distributors and chapbook creators like Eternia Press and Microcosm Publishing.
Verbatim’s décor fashions a vintage vibe with work from local artists and photographers, dark wood interiors and quirky antiques. Enveloped in Monstera and Birds Nest Fern, the cushy armchair covered by fabric with images of books is a notoriously coveted reading spot. Their logo of two chunky cats reading a book together presents an adorable tattoo idea for bibliophiles and cat people.
Verbatim welcomes leashed dogs. Do North Park residents even go outside without their furry companion? Though they don’t have an online bookstore due to qualms with the culture of instant gratification, Verbatim recommends browsing online at a Hillcrest store called Bluestocking Books.
Live music in a spacious venue at the heart of North Park makes for a perfect date. This restored circa-1939 hall schedules concerts, films and more. If you’re itching to see your favorite artist or discover up-and-coming musicians, there’s no better place to explore than The Observatory. Regardless of your position in the crowd you’ll have an intimate vantage point with the open-floor configuration. The acoustics allow for high fidelity sound production, which ensures an unforgettable sonic experience.
Looking for a Sunday photo shoot or an aesthetic space to motivate your studious side? Head over to Holy Matcha to soak up the Japanese green tea and the vivid color palette of baby pink and sage green. Bamboo shelves hold up potted houseplants and selections of their merchandise, and a neon sign glows with the words, “you, me, matcha.”
Founded by Geraldine Ridaura after a trip to Japan and a sip of matcha, Holy Matcha has been featured in publications like Marie Claire, Popsugar and San Diego Magazine. Coffee made Ridaura nauseated and induced migraines, so she dove into a love of matcha and its roots.
If you’re already a matcha latte aficionado, then taste the matcha lemonade. Make sure to pair your dose of caffeine with some sustenance. Try the avocado toast, or if you need an extra dose of matcha, order the matcha chia seed pudding.
You can judge a neighborhood by its coffee shops. Good coffee? Good vibes? Good people? If you can’t tick off all three, then you should probably skip hanging out in that neighborhood. Holsem Coffee ticks all the boxes and more. In fact, North Park, San Diego happens to host some of the best coffee spots in the area, including Dark Horse Coffee Roasters (beloved for strong coffee and delicious doughnuts) and Communal Coffee (frequented for floral lattes and clean décor). Holsem Coffee embodies the feel of North Park with its modern interior, fair trade practices and experimental flavors.
If you need a break from your ordinary order, try out the Woods Latte, seasoned with maple syrup, nutmeg and sea salt, or the Zaki Cappuccino, complete with raw sugar, mint and cardamom.
If you’re looking for things to do in North Park, San Diego, don’t overlook their vibrant farmers market. Overflowing with fresh produce, prepared cuisine, handcrafted items and more, North Park’s farmers market takes place every Thursday from 3-7:30 p.m. Looking for bao packed with meat and veggies? Take your patronage to House of Bao. If you want to bring home locally grown flowers for your significant other, then go pursue Hidalgo Flowers. You’ll find everything you need for the week along the street.
For the best of North Park shopping, check out local fave Pigment, which draws local North Park, San Diego residents in spades for its spacious selections of houseplants, jewelry, accessories, home décor, stationary and more. If you need a few things to brighten or organize your life and home, Pigment is the way to go. Make sure to check out the wellness and self-care items, including body oil, serum, CBD oil, vibrators and face rollers
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