Getting to Know San Diego

San Diego's perfect climate allows for great weather year round. The city's beaches, museums, and recreational activities provide a welcome study break. The following information is designed to give you a feel for the communities surrounding UCSD, as well as provide you with insight on places to go, sites to see, recommendations on local eateries, coffee shops, restaurants, and recreational activities.

Balboa Park

Located just east of downtown, and about twenty minutes south of UCSD, Balboa Park is home to the world famous San Diego Zoo, and to many museums, including the Museum of Man, Centro Cultural de la Raza, the San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Aerospace Museum. For additional information, visit their website:

Barrio Logan

San Diego's Barrio Logan is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Diego, and home of historical sites such as Chicano Park that is visited every year by thousands of tourists. Three of the most popular Mexican restaurants in San Diego are located in Barrio Logan Chuey's, Porkyland, and Las Cuatro Milpas. Merely 18 minutes form UCSD.

City Heights

One of the most diverse communities in San Diego with more than 30 dialects spoken here, City Heights continues to be one of the city's true redevelopment success stories. This neighborhood is approximately 20 minutes from UCSD. Many small businesses still thrive here, offering products and merchandise of the varied cultures which are present here that are hard to find in most shopping centers and supermarkets. The recently completed Urban Retail Village and soon to be opened Trans West housing and business center have helped continue the revitalization of this fascinating neighborhood.


Clairemont is located about 10 minutes southeast of campus, and six miles from the beach. This community provides all the amenities for affordable student living. Clairemont is accessible to campus by three major highways, Interstate 5, highway 52, and Interstate 805. Clairemont rents generally are reasonable, and the area offers shopping centers, restaurants, and banks. Clairemont is located within the free UCSD/SDT bus zone (see section on Commuting.)

Del Mar/Solana Beach

Del Mar and Solana Beach are upscale coastal communities with small shops and restaurants located approximately five miles north of UCSD. Del Mar is home to the Del Mar Race Track, Del Mar Fairgrounds, and one of the many farmer’s markets in the county. Solana Beach is "home" to .  They are both accessible by bus or car.

Downtown San Diego

Located about 20 minutes from UCSD campus, downtown is the urban center of San Diego. Overlooking the San Diego Harbor, downtown offers a wide variety of galleries, restaurants, theaters, shopping, and nightlife. The historic Gaslamp Quarter is located in the heart of downtown San Diego. Little Italy and a growing art district create a cultural environment on the outskirts of downtown.

Golden Triangle/University City

The community surrounding UCSD is a short bus or car ride from campus. The Golden Triangle is comprised of several communities of apartments, condos, and houses, as well as three major shopping areas. La Jolla Village Square is located less than a mile South of campus. Costa Verde Center is centrally located in the Golden Triangle.  Just east is the University Towne Center (UTC), the largest of the three shopping centers. Students who live in graduate student housing or around the Golden Triangle find it convenient and accessible. University City is five minutes southeast of campus and can be accessed from Genessee Avenue and Highway 52.


About 15 minutes south of Campus, Hillcrest is where the UCSD Medical Center is located. The Medical Center is accessible by the UCSD Campus Shuttle. The Hillcrest community has a neighborhood feel to it and is home to some of the best and most inexpensive restaurants in town. Hillcrest offers unique shops, coffee and movie houses, and is also home to a large LGBT community.

La Jolla

UCSD is located in La Jolla, on a bluff overlooking the coastline. La Jolla is also home to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, and a picturesque downtown. Although living off campus in La Jolla is costly, the climate and beach provide the perfect setting for recreational activities such as surfing, bike riding and sunbathing. Downtown La Jolla is lined with restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques.

Mission Bay

Mission Bay is home to SeaWorld and offers great areas for picnicking, barbequing, and recreational water activities. It is the perfect setting for running, sailing, or kayaking. Mission Bay is also the location of the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. There you can find a number of recreational activities and classes to participate in as a UCSD student (see the section on Recreation, or visit their website:

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is home to Belmont Park and its famous roller coaster. The Mission Beach boardwalk is a prime location for fun and recreation under the San Diego sun; you can rent bicycles or rollerblade.

Mission Valley

Located about 20 minutes southeast of UCSD, Mission Valley is a shopper's paradise and includes two large retail centers: Mission Valley Center and Fashion Valley. Mission Valley also boasts several hotels, a golf course, and Qualcomm Stadium, home to the San Diego Chargers football team.

North Torrey Pines

Immediately north of UCSD is a scenic drive through Torrey Pines state beach. This state park includes 14 miles of trails for hiking, hidden caves, and a beautiful beach. North Torrey Pines is also home to a growing biomedical and technological industry and the Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Old Town

San Diego's historic Old Town has a unique flavor within a colonial Spanish setting. The state park consists of restaurants and shops with early San Diego architecture. Old Town can be reached by the San Diego Trolley, a system that connects downtown San Diego, the San Ysidro border area, and the east county. A major transit depot, Old Town connects with San Diego Transit buses, and the Coaster commuter trains.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is located a few miles south of UCSD, and is called "PB" by the locals. The community is lined with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The beaches provide some of the best surf in the county. The boardwalk stretches from the Pier to Mission Beach's Pirate's Cove. This beach community is home for many college students and young professionals.