BY J. A. RIPPO
If you’re looking to combine the hip with the historic in your San Diego shopping experience, you should head for South Park. The picturesque neighborhood, just east of Balboa Park, has no big-box stores, malls nor strip centers. The neighborhood shops, cafes and businesses occupy restored historic buildings on tree-lined streets interspersed with craftsman-style homes and mid-century courtyards.
The neighborhood businesses celebrate their independence with quarterly “Walkabouts:” evenings when shops stay open late, musicians play on street corners and select restaurants offer specials for sidewalk dining. A trolley tour shuttles throughout the ten-block area, and a guided walking tour explores the architectural and the shopping attractions. The trolley shuttle and the walking tours are free for visitors.
The next Walkabout will be on Saturday, July 14, 2012, with a “Summer of Love” theme. Look for 60s style decor, hippie attire, and retro music along with shop specials and a sidewalk barbecue by the eateries of Beech Street (Alchemy, Grant’s, and Hamilton’s). More information is available on the neighborhood website, www.southparkscene.com.
Another event that celebrates the historic quality of the South Park residential neighborhood is the 14th annual Old House Fair, a free day-long festival on Saturday, June 16. Along with exhibits, vendors, music and food festivities at 30th and Beech Streets, the day includes a popular Historic Home Tour as well as trolley and walking tours of the neighborhood.
For the ticket price of $20, available online or on the day of the event, tourgoers get to visit six different residences, with docents providing information about design details and history of some of the rooms. As a bonus, this year’s event also offers visits to two landscaped and terraced gardens which overlook the eastern canyons of Balboa Park and its golf course, and also a tour of the restored Firehouse No. 9. The oldest fire station in San Diego now houses South Park Fitness.
More information: www.theoldhousefair.com.