Local Neighborhood Spotlight: Mission Valley, Hillcrest, Mission Hills
San Diego has roughly 130 neighborhoods, and if you’re only in the city for a week or two, you may find it difficult to know exactly how and where to spend your visit. Our below guide is part of an ongoing series on our site that summarizes some of the most interesting and culturally significant neighborhoods. In this installment, acquaint yourself with Mission Valley, Hillcrest (known as the city’s hub for LGBT culture), and upscale Mission Hills.
Mission Valley (our neighborhood)
Right in the middle of the city, Mission Valley brings together outdoor attractions, like golf courses and rock-climbing trails, as well as malls, boutiques, restaurants, galleries, theaters, and proximity to Old Town and the airport.
The area houses three large malls. Right across the street from Days Inn, Fashion Valley Mall is one of the more upscale options, with outposts of Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Apple, as well as department stores like Bloomingdale’s. For guests who are interested in this shopping center, we offer the Mall Madness package, which includes a Simon gift card. The Westfield Mission Valley holds stores that are more popular among teens and the younger set, like American Eagle, Claire’s, and Bath & Body Works, along with a 24-hour fitness, AMC movie theater, and European Wax Center. The Hazard Center holds more specialized venues, like The Learning Store, an Arthur Murray dance studio, and a massage parlor.
The local dining scene comprises restaurants serving a range of cuisines at a range of price points. Blanco Tacos & Tequila, as the name suggests, emphasizes fresh Mexican fare, including burrito bowls and à-la-carte tacos. Bully’s is an American bistro with a sports-bar vibe, and there’s also a Benihana location. Right here at Days Inn, find Bunz, a burger joint that also highlights local and organic produce.
Things to Do
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to skydive, but couldn’t work up the guts to do it, the local iFly location offers indoor skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. For nature lovers, Mission Trails Regional Park hosts birding workshops and guided nature walks, or you can take the Five-Peak Challenge, hiking to the summit of Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay Peak, and North and South Fortuna.
Hillcrest (1.3 miles away)
Buzzy Hillcrest always has something fun going on. This is the city’s LGBT hub, hosting the annual Pride Parade, and also home to a popular brewery, an indie cinema, and much more.
The extensive shopping scene includes thrift and consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, and the vintage store Flashbacks, as well as bookstores, two popular record stores, an optical store, and more. There’s a wide variety of culinary markets on hand too, including specialty grocery stores and the farmer’s market. View a full directory on the neighborhood’s own website.
Dining-wise, you can start with the local outpost of Lemonade, a California chain that does healthy comfort food, including kale salads and ceviche. Rakitori dishes up Japanese cuisine, including ramen and sushi. We also recommend Dumplings N More for noodles, as well as the namesake dim sum. Elsewhere, Uptown Tavern specializes in hearty breakfast burritos, grilled cheeses, rosemary-Parmesan fries, and other pub grub.
Things to Do
Catch a film at Landmark Theatre, which screens American and foreign films, focusing mainly on independent cinema. If you’ve never tried an escape room, there’s one on 4th Avenue that offers themed experiences — think Harry Potter, Japanese horror movies, or superheroes. Hillcrest is also well-known for its fantastic nightlife scene, with many of San Diego’s most popular bars and clubs located here. You don’t have to wait for the weekend either — plenty of the local hot spots offer dancing and dollar-drink specials on Wednesdays, which is one of the busiest nights of the week here.
Mission Hills (2.2 miles away)
Mission Hills is a particularly historic and elegant neighborhood, and known as one of San Diego’s most livable.
Moon and Sun Studio sells artwork and art-inspired gifts, along with hosting classes. La Bel Age Boutique, also known as Chateau Bel Age, sells custom kimonos in creative, unexpected fabrics, plus jeweled earrings and wraps.
Expect a mix of international eateries in this neighborhood, like the Mexican restaurant El Indio, which is entering its eighth decade, and local favorite Saffron Thai. Dark chocolate, espresso, pistachio, and Tahitian-vanilla gelato flavors are served at Gelato Vero Caffè. Up the hill from us are local favorites like Lefty’s Pizza, Izayaka Masa, Fort Oak, and Jo’s Diner.
Things to Do
Hit the heated, retractable weatherproof dome managed by Cinema Under the Stars for screenings of classic and contemporary films. Elsewhere, Pioneer Park holds graves of the city’s nineteenth-century pioneers and makes for an interesting stop for history buffs. We also recommend Live Wire, a local dive bar known for its weekend karaoke — which turns into quite a party.
Explore It All for Yourself
Now that you know where to go, what to eat, and what to do in each San Diego neighborhood, it’s time to plan your visit. Check out our tempting offers in order to score the best deal.