One Block: Things to Do in University Heights

Nigiri at Soichi (courtesy Mark Lagrisola)

Looking for things to do in University Heights this year? Here are incredible places for you to shop, see, drink and eat– all along Park Boulevard.

Adapted from the 2020 Where Traveler San Diego winter issue.


A peaceful retreat nestled in the heart of University Heights since 1989, Buddha’s Light Bookstore is a quirky, quaint shop with something for everyone (Buddhist or not). Peruse books on Buddhism for adults and kids, books on meditation and mindfulness, prayer beads, incense, meditation cushions, Buddha statues, Buddhist accessories and more. For a fashion fix, La Loupe Vintage specializes in rock ‘n’ roll-inspired fashions and jewelry from the late 1960s. Shop from a collective of 40-plus artists and vintage curators.


Outside of Diversionary Theatre



Staging edgy productions since 1986, Diversionary Theatre is an intimate theater venue centered on plays and musicals with LGBT themes. Winter shows include The Santaland Diaries through Dec. 22; and A Kind of Weather, Feb. 6-March 8. For some adult playtime, Park & Rec feels like you’re hanging out at your neighbor’s awesome Craftsman-style house. Sip a cocktail under twinkling lights in the bar’s courtyard, which is surrounded by Craftsman bungalows, followed by a round of Ping-Pong, darts or shuffleboard.



Calling all pie lovers! Pop Pie Co. is the ‘hood’s new fast-causal haunt, serving sweet and savory mini pies, gourmet coffee, wine and craft beer. We love the “soyrizo” egg and cheese breakfast pie; the slow-braised steak & ale pie; and the salted caramel apple crumble for a sweet fix. Craving sushi? Soichi is a cozy dining den (just 12 seats at the sushi bar) offering an authentic Japanese omakase dining experience. This means owner/ chef Soichi Kadoya will craft a custom tasting menu for you, with a la carte selections also available.


Kokoro cocktail at Madison



Beer fans will love Kairoa Brewing Company—a New Zealand-inspired brewpub housed in a remodeled 1920s building—with a dog-friendly rooftop lounge overlooking the University Heights sign. Founders Shanan Spearing and Joe Peach brew San Diego pale ales, lagers and IPAs made with New Zealand-imported hops. For cocktails, Madison mixes some of the best in San Diego. Bar manager Danny Kuehner recently unveiled a new drink menu with hits such as the Peruvian pisco-based Stellar Ember, and Japanese whiskey-based Kokoro.



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