San Diego’s South Park Real Estate

Find Your Place in South Park

You might remember a recent post here about Balboa Park, San Diego’s paradise within a paradise. If so, you’ll recall the many neighborhoods that encircle the park: downtown, Little Italy, Banker’s Hill, Hillcrest, North Park, Burlingame, South Park, Golden Heights, Golden Hill, and then downtown again.

All those neighborhoods are beautiful in their own rights. Downtown has Seaport Village and the Gaslamp, not to mention the Coronado bridge that leads to Coronado Island (which is a post for another day). Little Italy has art stores and restaurants. Banker’s Hill has fantastic views of the Harbor. Hillcrest has a lot of dining spots and an active nightlife. North Park is known as hipster-central. Burlingame is an historic district, part of South Park — a big city neighborhood with a small town feel. Golden Heights, often considered part of South Park or Golden Hill, is a small, residential and commercial area that leads into Golden Hill, a popular neighborhood with views of downtown and many cute apartment buildings. Cafe Influx has a location there, too!

South Park stretches about half the length of Balboa Park, on the east side, from Ash Street on the south to Switzer Canyon on the north. The west boundary is Balboa Park. Juniper Canyon lies at the east boundary. It bears emphasizing that these are unofficial boundaries locals use to navigate. The east boundary jogs around and reaches Wabash Boulevard at one point.

I once heard a home seller debating his real estate agent about whether his house was in North Park or South Park. It was south of Switzer Canyon near Burlingame (the seller said North Park). The neighborhood boundaries get pretty fuzzy, especially between those two. Ultimately, they were both right. The agent explained: the house technically was in North Park but anyone living in San Diego would call it South Park.

South Park is a neighborhood of local-business owners almost without exception. There is one big exception we’ll get to in a minute. Many people who live there own their homes, though there are several rental units, including of a kind very popular in San Diego, the single-story u-shaped complex with a central courtyard and entrances facing inward. The median home value in South Park is $610,000, increasing as you move toward Balboa Park and North Park, and dropping in price as you move southeast. Close to the Park you can find homes listed at $1.3 million, while closer to Wabash Boulevard you might see a smaller one listed closer to $170,000.

Wherever you and your fellow South Parkers live, everyone meets on the commercial strips: Fern Street and 30th Street. Those streets run parallel, one block apart, for the full length of South Park. Here are a few of the shops you’ll find there:

  • Food Bowl — This is a local grocery store, like a mom-and-pop only bigger. The selection is growing, thanks to a new neighbor (keep reading…). But the stand-out offering is their taco bar. Tacos are part of San Diego culture. There’s another taco shop mentioned in this list below. Walk back to the meat counter and you’ll see a really friendly woman rolling dough and wrapping tacos made-to-order. The menu is on the wall to the right of her. Order through the butcher. Just be sure you get there before 7pm!
  • Grant’s Marketplace — Grant’s is another corner market. Where Food Bowl is meat and potatoes, Grant’s is espresso and prosciutto. You’ll occasionally see people on laptops at their patio cafe (with indoor seating too). They also sell deli sandwiches and a delicious selection of cheeses.
  • The South Park Abbey — It’s hard to go wrong with locals, craft beer, and great food. This place has the standard billiards and televisions for sports (everything from United States Women’s National Soccer to Charger’s football). And most of the walls are full windows. And they have karaoke nights.
  • Okay, I keep saying “we’ll get to that in a minute” and “keep reading.” Here’s the surprise: Target Express is opening across from the South Park Abbey. The building (an attractive mid-century design that’s being maintained) sits on a large lot that’s mostly parking — it was home to another grocery store that went out of business. There was a lot of debate around this store’s opening (read an interview with the property owner in the July 3rd edition of the San Diego Uptown News. Many locals are opposed to the store opening. They cite concerns over the store’s effects on local business, traffic patterns, and the small-neighborhood feel.
  • Mariscos Nine Seas food truck is in the same parking lot as the incoming store. When you move to San Diego, people will help you by directing you to the best tacos before anything else. Mariscos will top the list for fish tacos (and they’re only $1.50!). I don’t know how they manage those prices. It must be volume because there’s always a line of people standing in the hot sun waiting their turn.
  • Station Tavern & Burgers is up the street. Here, you’ll find the world’s best tater tots. Seriously, they get positive reviews just for the tater tots. Open-air seating doesn’t hurt either.
  • Progress South Park is just up the block, a modern furnishings and gift boutique with the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff you’ll encounter. If you’re looking to add a modern flair to your new South Park home, this is your place.
  • Rebecca’s Coffee House is a block from Progress. People come here (and come back) for the scone’s, which are handmade daily by Rebecca. It’s a very casual neighborly space with frequent, and packed, open mic nights.

After you hit the stores, keep walking a couple blocks north and you’ll be in Burlingame, then crossing Switzer Canyon with its Queen Palms and eucalyptus trees. There’s a walking entrance to the Canyon near San Marcos Avenue and Burlingame Drive.

If you’re in town Saturday, July 25 from 6 pm to 10 pm, join the neighborhood for its quarterly Walkabout, when stores stay open late. This quarter will showcase the local eateries — now you know why that’s so exciting.

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