This quaint neighborhood perched atop a hill at the southern edge of the Mission Valley has a small-town feel that attracts artists, progressives, and young families seeking a first home. The area is also popular with dog owners, thanks to the neighborhood’s many off-leash outdoor spaces and single-family houses with yards. Many residents have lived here for years, enjoying the beautifully landscaped public stairways that crisscross the hill and the plentiful outdoor gathering spots like Holly Park, Precita Park, and Bernal Hill Park, which is at the center of the neighborhood and offers spectacular views.
The homes here range from Victorian structures to mid-century dwellings and cozy bungalows, many of them continuing to be revived by a booming real estate market. The main commercial drag is Cortland Avenue, which is lined with small markets, cafes, and fruit stands, as well as trendy boutiques and innovative new restaurants. Also nearby is a stretch of Mission Street whose diverse eateries and hip bars make for a lively night out. Community spirit is strong in Bernal Heights, which is home to events such as Fiesta on the Hill, Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema, and the Hillwide Garage Sale. Many residents drive to work, taking advantage of the easy highway access and generally good parking, but several bus lines do cross the neighborhood at various points. ©2016 Maryann LoRusso