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Discover Hillcrest: The heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ scene

The winter season has well and truly hit the UK and while it may look nice and festive, the frost is an unwelcome guest. If you’re thinking that an escape to paradise is a must-have these next few months, then we’ve got a suggestion for you: Hillcrest in San Diego.

While it may not be the first place you’d think of for a sunny getaway, the city on the Pacific coast of California the perfect place to go if you’re looking for pristine beaches, lush parks, sights to see, and a wide selection of rooftop bars with perfect views.

Located northwest of the famous Balboa Park, the Hillcrest neighbourhood is fastly rising as one of the trendiest areas of the city. Full of a vibrant selection of trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops, it’s a great place to spend the day and night. Not only that, but Hillcrest is also the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ scene and is where travellers flock to for lively nightlife, year-round events and a welcoming atmosphere.

Not convinced yet? Here are some top events, restaurants, and shops that are worth visiting the Hillcrest area of San Diego for.

Hillcrest Mardi Gras

The annual Hillcrest Mardi Gras takes place every February and is the second largest LGBT+ Mardi Gras in the USA. Partygoers can expect fabulous drag queen entertainment and delicious cocktails at bars throughout the neighbourhood. 2018 saw the addition of the Party Bus Bar Hop, which took revellers around Hillcrest in true party style.

San Diego Pride

A true highlight in the San Diego events calendar, San Diego Pride is a three-day event of colourful costumes, live music and flowing drinks in celebration of the culture, history and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

Hillcrest is the beating heart of Pride and, in addition to the starting point of the annual parade, it also hosts the Pride of Hillcrest Block Party during the weekend. Next year’s Pride will take place 12 – 14 July with the theme of ‘Stonewall 50: A Legacy of Liberation’ to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

CityFest Art and Music Festival

Hillcrest CityFest is San Diego’s largest arts and music festival, in celebration of equality, diversity and inclusion in Hillcrest and beyond. Taking over Hillcrest every summer, there’s live music, carnival rides and hundreds of arts, crafts and food vendors.

When the sun sets, the party continues with CityFest Night, where DJs spin party tunes beneath the iconic Hillcrest sign.

Hillcrest Farmers Market

Taking place every Sunday, the Hillcrest Farmers Market is filled with over 175 vendors offering a variety of locally grown produce, gifts, arts and crafts, flowers and clothing. Street food stalls have an emphasis on international cuisine – from The Brazilian Guys to Turkish Grill – and there’s also weekly entertainment performed by local San Diego musicians.

(Photo credit: Joanne DiBona/SanDiego.org)

Hillcrest Brewing Company

Proudly holding the title of being the first gay brewery in the world, Hillcrest Brewing Company produces a range of craft beers in varying strengths and flavours. Diners can pair their pint with a freshly-baked pizza, spicy wings or fresh salad. Hillcrest Brewing Company also hosts regular specials such as happy hour, two-for-one Tuesday’s and bottomless Saturday’s.

Village Hat Shop

Village Hat Shop is a flagship store in Hillcrest, stocking over 15,000 different hats, from beanies and bucket hats to fedoras and fascinators. As the largest hat store in the USA, shoppers are guaranteed to find a suitable accessory whatever the occasion. The team are also on-hand to assist with measuring hat size and providing hat cleaning tips.

Creative Crossroads

Located in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ visitor centre, Creative Crossroads sells handmade gifts from 65 local artists and entrepreneurs. Artwork, home décor, beauty products and stationary are all available to purchase and there are speciality products available for holidays and events, including Pride. A healthy donation of the profits are put back into the LGBTQ+ community.

For more information about San Diego visit www.sandiego.org.

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