Introducing Normal Heights:
Or "Abnormal" Heights, as it's sometimes referred to…Bookended on the west by University Heights and Kensington on the east, Normal Heights completes the Adams Avenue 'hood trifecta along the main drag. Tightly packed, diverse apartment dwellings on the south side of Adams, quiet single-family homes on the north side.
Normal Heights' History:
The "Normal" part of "Normal Heights" refers to the State Normal School (teachers college), the predecessor to San Diego State University. Look for the big, beautiful building where Normal Street and El Cajon Blvd. meet. The former State Normal School building now serves as the Eugene Brucker Education Center, the central office for the San Diego Unified School District.
At the time of the founding of San Diego, the area that is now Normal Heights was largely covered with brush and populated only by rabbits. Later it had a few farms, but development was limited by lack of water. Speculators became interested in the area during the San Diego land boom of the 1880s, and several land development companies were actively working in the area by the 1900s. Normal Heights became one of San Diego's first "streetcar suburbs" with the development of an electric trolley route along Adams Avenue, part of the San Diego Electric Railway system.A trolley barn was built in Normal Heights in 1913, where today’s popular Trolley Barn Park is located. Ass the trolley line became well-traveled, the neighborhood expanded into the wonderful “village” that it is today.
What makes it so special?:
Normal Heights is sandwiched between Kensington to the east and University Heights to the west, and it is the funkiest of the two. Normal Heights is diverse, blue collar, down to earth, and sometimes rowdy – but always interesting.
What defines Normal Heights?:
Mostly, its diversity. From the single family homes along the Mission Valley ridge north of Adams Avenue, to the high-density, multi-resident lots south of Adams, Normal Heights is San Diego at its most diverse. Families and students, immigrants and natives all occupy this mid-city neighborhood. It can be noisy sometimes, but it's always interesting and unique, and it’s residents are kind, supportive of preservation, and neighborly.
Several important neighborhood events take place in Normal Heights. The Adams Avenue Street Fair, Southern California's largest free music festival, is typically held the last weekend in September. Adams Avenue Unplugged, formerly the Adams Avenue Roots Festival, another free music festival, is held the last weekend of April. Another large Art Around Adams is a local community art event where unique and talented artists showcase their work inside and outside businesses and spaces along Adams Avenue
Everything of interest is along the Adams Avenue corridor. From supermarkets to small businesses, to bars and restaurants to antique stores, Normal Heights is a self-sufficient neighborhood.
DeMille's is where to go for pizza and Italian – it's a neighborhood mainstay. A la Francaise offers bistro dining, and Cocina Sanchez is good for Mexican. And the San Diego Cheesecake Company is where you can pick up great cheesecake (no dining). Lots of other small eateries dot the avenue.
Normal Heights is great for neighborhood dive bars: the Triple Crown Pub, Rosie O'Grady's are popular, but the best in my mind is the Ould Sod – an authentic Irish pub. Lestat's Coffee house is the hipster hangout in the neighborhood, and its adjoining performance space is where you can hear great local music almost every night.
Lots of used book and clothing stores, and there's Antique Row, along the stretch west of I-805.
How to get to Normal Heights:
Take 15 North to the Adams Avenue exit.
Turn left (West) for Normal Heights, Antique Row and University Heights
Take 805 North to the El Cajon Blvd. exit.
Turn right onto El Cajon Blvd. Get into the left lane.
Turn left onto 33rd Street the first light).
Turn right onto Monroe.
Turn left onto Felton Street (The first left you can make)
Adams Avenue at Felton is about the center of Normal Heights.
Public transportation is served by Bus Routes: 2,11/11A.
Today, what's "normal" is to find unique book & antique stores, coffee shops and restaurants – stretched out along a dozen blocks on either side of a restored central business district along Adams Avenue.
Normal Heights has been described as "one of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego".