San Diego Neighborhood Guide: North Park

By Vanessa Howard

North Park is arguably one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego. You’ll find this vibrant spot just northeast of Balboa Park, and its eclectic vibe is sure to draw you in. North Park is laid back, has casual-yet-foodie-worthy restaurants, unique shopping, and is easily walkable. What’s not to love? Use this San Diego Neighborhood Guide for North Park to plan your perfect visit to this up-and-coming gem. 

Where To Stay

While visiting San Diego, you can’t do better on location, convenience, and design than Arrivls The Rockaway House and Makai. Both are located just steps from Mission Beach, making them the perfect base for all of your San Diego adventures, including a day exploring North Park.

​​The Rockaway House

This Mission Beach duplex can be rented as individual units (Rockaway North with 1 bedroom/1 bathroom, and Rockaway South with 2 bedrooms/1 bathroom) or in combination to sleep up to 8 guests, making it perfect for larger families. While staying at The Rockaway House you’ll be just steps away from the Mission Beach boardwalk. Rockaway South – a 1930s beach cottage – is full of charm and is perfect for your next beach getaway. Upstairs, Rockaway North is thoughtfully designed and inviting. Whichever space you choose you’ll love the bright interior and the coastal boho vibes that The Rockaway House offers. The Rockaway House is located on the ocean side of Mission Boulevard, just 4 houses from the sand!

Makai Mission Beach

Makai is the Hawaiian word for “towards the sea,” and is a fantastic choice for your North Park trip to San Diego! You’ll love the 2nd-floor patio and ocean view from this beachy duplex home. With its laid-back charm, thoughtful amenities, and absolutely unbeatable location, you won’t regret staying at Makai. Makai North is a spacious one-bedroom, and Makai South is a two-bedroom. The home comfortably sleeps 8 if you rent the entire duplex making this a great option for a trip to San Diego. Makai offers garage parking and all of your beach essentials – towels, an umbrella, chairs, and sand toys. We look forward to hosting you soon at Makai!

Did you know that Makai and The Rockaway House are next-door neighbors? This makes them perfect for groups traveling with up to 16 guests.  You can rent out both duplexes – perfect for multiple groups or families traveling together, as you’ll be close by but everyone still has their own space to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: North Park

Grab Matcha Or Breakfast 

Matcha is having a major moment in the eclectic North Park, and lucky for you, the neighborhood has a great place to grab some! Head to Holy Matcha to brighten your morning and start your day off right. Try the matcha lemonade for a unique and refreshing way to start your day. Looking for something a little more substantial in the morning? Try one of North Park’s many delicious breakfast spots including Atypical Waffle, Dark Horse Coffee Roasters and Breakfast Republic.  

Hit The Farmers Market

North Park has its own Farmers Market that’s held every Thursday. Stop by and check out all of the local vendors for a great way to support local businesses. The fresh fruit and vegetables can’t be beaten. But the market also has craft and local handmade goods that are the perfect gift for your friends and family back home.  

Check Out Historical Building And Beautiful Murals

As you stroll downtown, you’ll notice plenty of historical buildings such as the Observatory North Park. This 1930s-era venue has been hosting live music for decades and is a great place to catch a live show while in North Park. 

When it comes to murals North Park has an amazing collection that are arguably some of the most impressive in the city. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to strike a pose in front of the “Welcome To San Diego” mural at Belching Beaver (more on that later). Or you can simply stroll this walkable neighborhood to see what murals you can find, make sure to keep an eye out for the Prince! 

Visit North Parks Unique Shops

Even if you’re just window shopping, North Park has a great variety of unique boutiques to browse. As you wander the streets, make sure to stop down Ray Street, and don’t forget to browse at local favorites Artelexia and Pigment. Pigment is well known for its selection of curated goods for your office, home, and everyday life. 

Try The Local Brews

North Park is pretty famous for its craft beer scene, and with the number of craft breweries, you can turn an afternoon into your very own brewery crawl. In fact, there are 10 craft breweries in North Park alone. You can’t miss Belching Beaver with its unique flavor combinations such as beers with peanut butter and honey notes. While North Park Beer Company has a great menu and beer selection. Fall Brewing Company and Pariah Brewing Company offer fantastic beer options and unique and interesting decor. 

Don’t Miss Ice Cream Flights

What’s better than a sweet treat? Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream is the place to be in North Park when it comes to sweet treats. Bring the whole family because you don’t want to miss the Hammond’s ice cream flights that are perfect for those who have a hard time choosing from their 32 flavors. Try great flavor combinations like Mint & Brownie, Apple Caramel Pie, and Strawberry Cheesecake. 

Lunch Spot Recommendations 

North Park has so many great casual restaurants for you to choose from, we are here to help make that decision a little easier. Here are some of the best local spots: 

City Tacos – for the best tacos in North Park

Tribute Pizza – for pizza brunch and the margherita pizza

Underbelly – for delicious ramen and a great patio

Dinner Spot Recommendations

For dinner in North Park restaurants range from high-end to more casual, but they all offer a delicious selection of international cuisine. Some of the best local dinner eateries include:

Et Voila! French Bistro – traditional french food

Dunedin New Zealand Eats – cool atmosphere and amazing food

The Smoking Goat – for international cuisine, crispy Spanish octopus 

Encontro North Park – for flame-grilled meats 

North Park really has something for everyone and is a great place to explore while visiting San Diego. This eclectic and laid-back neighborhood is perfect for those looking for a relaxing day of strolling and wandering. And you’ll have a comfortable place to rest your feet at Arrivls The Rockaway House or Makai when you are finished exploring North Park. 

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