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San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Hillcrest

Hillcrest is a small neighborhood in San Diego adjacent to North Park, Bankers Hill, University Heights and Mission Hills. This central location is known for its “tolerance and acceptance,” gender diversity, and an active and large lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The neighborhood is filled with local shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and thrift stores. An ideal location for anyone who loves walkability in a neighborhood. Read on to find out more about living in Hillcrest, things to do and Hillcrest real estate.

History of Hillcrest

In 1906, Hillcrest was originally known as University Heights like most of San Diego’s uptown area. A man named William Wesley Whitson purchased 40 acres north of University Avenue and opened his new sales office titled “Hillcrest Company.” From there, the name caught on. The official Hillcrest sign wasn’t put up until 1940 by a group of local female shopkeepers. During its early development, Hillcrest was also known as the shopping area for downtown San Diego. It was also one of the first neighborhoods connected by the Class 1 streetcars and San Diego public transit system in 1915.

Hillcrest LGBT Community

Hillcrest has a long history and reputation for being a hub for the LGBT community. The first known gay hangout spot was the bar named The Brass Rail, formerly known as Bradley’s during the 1940’s. Bradley’s was a restaurant during the day and a gay lounge at night. This was just the beginning of Hillcrest’s LGBT history. During the 1970’s, gays and lesbians began to establish organizations, businesses, and residences in Hillcrest. In 1974, 200 gays and lesbian marched through the streets for the first time without a parade permit. The following year, the first city-permitted gay pride parade took place.

Today, Hillcrest is known as San Diego’s gay district. Recent events included renaming Blaine Avenue to Harvey Milk Street and hanging a rainbow flag on the corner of University Avenue and Normal Street. Hillcrest is also home of one of the largest Pride parades in the United States. The San Diego Pride Parade attracts over 100,000 people every year. In addition, the San Diego LGBT Community Center is located in Hillcrest. The center works to sustain and enhance the well-being and health of members through activities, services, and programs that provide resources, empower members, advocate for rights, and advocate and support cultural diversity. Hillcrest is a great spot to live if you are looking for an LGBT friendly neighborhood!

Restaurants and Shopping in Hillcrest

Hillcrest is home to tons of different restaurants to make every palate happy. Whether you want to enjoy brunch at Hash House A Go Go, Snooze an AM Eatery, or enjoy creamy gelato and crepes at Chocolat, Hillcrest has a restaurant for you. If you’re feeling hungry, just walk down University Ave where you will come across every different flavor you can think of.

Hillcrest has lots of locally owned boutiques for clothing, gifts, home décor and jewelry. This is a great spot for shoppers who steer clear of chain stores for their shopping.There are also lots of thrift and consignment stores in Hillcrest for those who like to find unique items or enjoy a bargain price.

Hillcrest Nightlife

Hillcrest is one of the nightlife hotspots in San Diego; there is a bar or club for everyone. Whether you’re looking for strobe lights, disco balls, country line dancing, a pool table, or just a relaxing bar, Hillcrest has a nighttime spot for you. The most known bar in Hillcrest is Urban MO’s which offers delicious burgers and a lively dance floor. Urban MO’s has a different theme every night so no two nights will ever be the same here. Of course, there is also an abundance of gay bars like Rich’s, The Rail, The Loft and Gossip Grill. Hillcrest has no shortage of nightlife hotspots for those who like a lively evening.


Hillcrest Population (via City-Data): 13,805

Estimated Median House Value in October 2017 (via SDAR): $1,061,000

Estimated Median Condo/Detached House Value in October 2017 (via SDAR): $510,000

Median Gross Rent 2015 (via City-Data): $1,313

Hillcrest San Diego Real Estate

Real Estate in Hillcrest is booming along with the rest of San Diego County. However, there are more condos and townhouses for sale in Hillcrest than houses for sale. Hillcrest has one of largest quantities of studios and one-bedroom condos/apartments in the nation, making it a prime spot for singles, couples, and small families. It does have its fair share of houses for sale though. According to recent reports, a number of listings available have gone down and so has the median housing prices as compared to last year. If you want a walkable, thriving and diverse community to live in, consider browsing homes and condos for sale in Hillcrest here, or speak with one of our agents who are experts in the area.

Need a Real Estate Agent? Contact me today! Tamara Z (Zyhylij), REALTOR®

If Hillcrest sounds like a good neighborhood for you or you are trying to sell your home in Hillcrest, please contact me today to find out how I can help. Hillcrest is an area of specialty and also my personal playground. Ascent Real Estate is a local San Diego real estate company, and I'm ready to help you with all of your listings in Hillcrest and the greater San Diego area.

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