A diverse urban community
Price: 400 - 700 USD

For any collegiate drained by the ho-hum drabness of La Jolla's upper-crust life, there's a locale steeped in earthy culture and alternative flavor. Hillcrest is a haven for hipsters, gays and retirees alike; sweet old pension-fund couples walk their dogs across the street from Joe Transvestite, sipping his espresso at one of many foreign bakeries. That's the beauty of the place: it's the cynosure of all things tolerant, where lifestyles meet and play amiably.

Some of the area's color can be attributed to its location. Tucked in San Diego's western belly, Hillcrest absorbs some of the historical weight from nearby Balboa Park and Old Town (both are must-visit tourist locations for San Diego newbies). Hillcrest is also minutes away from North Park, a local site of mom 'n' pop shops and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Still, Hillcrest remains the dressiest of San Diego's southern 'hoods - just visit any of the countless bookshops that line University Avenue.

With simple access (straight down Interstate 5) and a shuttle that runs from UCSD's Hillcrest Medical Center to campus, students can easily become habitu├ęs of the neighborhood's many bars and restaurants.

Jimmy Carter's Cafe can delight the tongue, especially one with limitless tastes. The restaurant's menu sees Mexican dishes shoulder-to-shoulder with Italian and Indian cuisine. Burgers are a nice fallback choice; higher-end beef lovers should try the restaurant's primo dinnertime streak choice. The neighborhood's Jewish Deli, City Delicatessen, oozes personality - waiters spits that lovable accent, and customers are feted with an endless amount of pickle condiments.

Throw in the yearly gay parade, an unbelievably gaudy exhibition of floats and half-dressed go-go dancers romping down the neighborhood's streets, and Hillcrest makes for one of the most intriguing neighborhoods in San Diego.

From Charles Nguyen, UCSD - The Guardian, Monday, April 30th 2007 - www.ucsdguardian.org

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