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Hillcrest | Ocean Beach | South Park | East Village | La Jolla
University Heights
| Banker's Hill | Gaslamp Quarter | Point Loma
Mission Hills | North Park

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Gill Architecture

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Funky Shops

Hillcrest, the East Side Story

Hillcrest was one of San Diego’s first suburbs thanks to the trolley that made it a convenient connection to the downtown. Today it’s a community in its own right, known for its theaters, restaurants, shopping, and diversity, but it hasn’t lost its village feel. We’ll explore the architecture of the east side where a wave of Egyptian influence borders Spanish bungalows, San Diego’s own Irving Gill homes and the modern Uptown District of urban mixed use. Here shopping is fun, eating an adventure and people watching a favorite past time. We’ll meet in the Egyptian section and travel to Vermont with a side trip to Cypress, no passports required. Join me in Hillcrest for its East Side Story.

Meeting place: Urban Grind, 3797 Park Blvd. (just south of University Ave.), 619-294-2920. Come early for coffee!

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Sunset Cliffs

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Welcome to OB

Ocean Beach: Relive the 60’s!

Ocean Beach, or "OB" as the locals call their neighborhood, is a funky beach community at the end of Interstate 8. It’s said that the 60’s never left Ocean Beach, but we think (I’m a resident here) of living in OB as just a way of life--it’s an attitude not a zip code. Here you can still find a head shop, piercing palaces and tattoo parlors alongside an abundance of antique shops and vintage clothing stores. But it’s more than just a funky beach town. Its marine climate and rich sandy soil make for ideal growing conditions. There’s a thriving community garden and a native plant garden that we’ll explore, along with beautiful specimen plants landscaping the beach cottages. OB has it all, except an abundance of chain stores. Locals have been known to protest anything that might change it’s unique small town atmosphere. Come relive the 60’s with me!

Meeting place: Ocean Beach People's Food Co-op, 4765 Voltaire

See OB for yourself on the OB cam: The pier is the longest on the west coast. Wear comfortable old shoes in case you get the urge to walk on the sand or in the surf.

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The historic homes of Burlingame

South Park, the neighborhood, not the TV show!

South Park, the San Diego neighborhood on the eastern edge of Balboa Park, is nothing like the popular TV show with the same name. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood punctuated with small shopping districts. Before there were strip malls there were neighborhoods like this where residents walked for their daily shopping needs. This is still possible in South Park, where a sense of community resides. If you like early 20th century architecture, this is the walk for you as we’ll wander from the stately homes overlooking Balboa Park’s golf course to the pink sidewalks of Burlingame. This is one of San Diego’s best kept secrets. Don’t tell anyone, just meet me for a walk you’ll never forget.

Meeting place: Grant's Market at 2953 Beech St. (no phone). 

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The Urban Art Trail

The East Village: Evolution in Progress

The East Village, just east of the Gaslamp Quarter, was the warehouse district for a growing San Diego from the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s. Somewhere along the way it became an artists’ colony and home to the future Padres’ ballpark & proposed main library. The Urban Art Trail is the thread running through East Village that we will explore, with detours for historic tidbits and new development that is revitalizing this area. Local architects are designing live/work lofts to compliment the existing eclectic mix of warehouses and Victorian buildings. This is a neighborhood in constant change. Join me to witness this evolution in progress and join me again later to watch it unfolding.

Meeting place: Pannikin, 675 G St. (at 7th Ave.), 619-239-7891
You’re welcome to stay for coffee with me after the walk.

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Park Blvd. Business District

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The mother-daughter team at the
Caspian Corner

University Heights: a suburb in the 1800’s, an urban safari destination in 2001

University Heights was developed in the late 1800’s on the promise of being the home of San Diego’s first college. The college plans fell through, but the name stuck and eventually a college was built here--a teacher’s college, or Normal School as it was called in those days. However, it was the botanical garden and ostrich farm that brought urban dwellers here for an outing on the edge of town in the early 1900’s. Today it sits in the heart of the city, but it has the charm of a European village. Residents walk up to Park Ave. for coffee, locals in the know come here for small specialty shops and Urban Safaris come here for the ambiance and architectural variety. We’ll walk to a newly appointed historic district, get a view from San Diego’s Golden Gate and discover where you can get the best pomegranate soup in town. Grab your fedora and let’s go for a walk!

Meeting place: Soltan Banoo, 4645 Park Blvd.

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Spruce Street Suspension Bridge in
Banker's Hill

Banker's Hill to Balboa Park

At the turn of the 20th century prominent San Diegans built stately homes above the canyons west of Balboa Park. Two pedestrian bridges spanning these canyons were built to provide easy access to street car lines. Today these bridges offer us an opportunity to enjoy the canyons at tree top level and to cross over to another world, a world of exquisitely designed homes and gardens that captivate now as much as they did then. You'll also have a chance to explore the northwest corner of Balboa Park, a neighborhood with several Irving Gill homes and Kate Sessions gardens. The tour ends with an out-of-this-world house. Join me as we journey from Banker's Hill to Balboa Park and from the 1890's to the 21st Century on Cortez Hill.

Meeting place: Cafe Carpe Diem, 3401 First Ave. (at Upas), 619-297-9020 or call for the Cortez Hill meeting place. . Come early for coffee!

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Historic Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter

Step back to the days when prostitutes & gamblers ruled the dusty streets of this remote seaport. In 1867, Alonzo Horton purchased most of what is our present day downtown for $267. Many of the buildings from these early years have been preserved in the Gaslamp Quarter, a nationally registered historic district. In the late 1800’s, Wyatt Earp ran several gambling parlors here, colorful brothels occupied prominent 4th & 5th Avenue buildings & a thriving Chinese community was centered on 3rd Avenue. Come relive the past & see what’s happening here today.

Meeting place: the fountain in front of the former Planet Hollywood, Horton Plaza, 4th and Broadway. You’re welcome to stay for coffee with me after the walk.


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Follow me along Point Loma’s footpaths.

Point Loma, where San Diego began...

It began here on September 28, 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo set foot on North American soil at Ballast Point, just off Point Loma. He named it San Miguel, a name later changed to San Diego. Chinese and Portuguese fishermen were early residents here, today Tiki style hotels, yacht clubs & the Navy dominate. There was an attempt at steel production here that fortunately failed allowing a quiet community to slowly grow. Come wander the footpath along the shoreline & meander through a bit of the residential section, as I paint a picture of Pt. Loma’s rich past. Pack your camera to capture the stunning views of our bay & downtown.

Meeting place:  Red’s Coffee House, 1017 Rosecrans
(just before Talbot), 619-523-5540

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The Jewel

La Jolla

La Jolla is considered the jewel of San Diego. Perhaps the name is a misspelling of similar Native American and Spanish words, but “jewel” is fitting because its natural setting is priceless. Walk the historic Coast Walk with me for the priceless views and to learn about the Green Dragon Colony, Devil’s Slide, and Sunny Jim. Wander the village (as central La Jolla is called) with me to get a sense of La Jolla’s rich history and architectural treasures. From its cafes to its cottages, this jewel will earn a place in your heart.

This walk is limited to ten, so call or email for availability & the walk meeting point.

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Mission Hills, from 1887 to the 21st Century
Mission Hills began in 1887 with the Villa Orizaba,but it was slow to grow.
 Kate Sessionsí nursery brought the streetcar here, which in turn brought residential interest.
They havenít stopped coming since that fateful line was extended in 1907. Today Craftsman,
Spanish & modern homes sit side-by-side. Join me as we walk from Kate Sessionsí home 
to her nursery & San Diegoís 2nd oldest cemetery, hearing tales of early residents, development 
& architecture as we walk.
Meeting place:  Espresso Mio, 1920 Fort Stockton Dr.,
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North Park

North Park is experiencing a renaissance: The North Park Theater has reopened, exciting shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities are increasing and Craftsman neighborhoods are gentrifying. Come back to North Park for a look, youíll be glad you did! Meeting place: Cardamom Cafe, 2977 Upas St.

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Get directions to the neighborhoods

Safari Preparation

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