What Is it Like to Live in Kensington, San Diego?
Kensington, San Diego, is absolutely charming, one of San Diego’s most walkable neighborhoods. It’s the perfect place for new San Diegans seeking a close-knit community. Explore more about what it’s like living in Kensington and why you should keep this one near the top of any new home search.
Living in Kensington, San Diego
The Kensington neighborhood in San Diego has been around in some form or another since 1910, making it one of the city’s older planned communities. It became more popular for new residents to the city once it was added to the trolley line at that time. The trolley made Kensington more accessible to the rest of San Diego, including the downtown area. While the trolley is gone today, easy freeway access keeps Kensington accessible to the rest of the city.
Much like the surrounding neighborhoods like North Park and Normal Heights, the architecture in Kensington doesn’t fit just one style. The oldest homes built here fit the Craftsman style, but Spanish Revival-style homes followed shortly after when the neighborhood enjoyed a continued housing boom in the 1920s.
As far as whether the neighborhood resembles the upscale west London district it shares a name with, the jury may still be out on that. Kensington, San Diego, has been compared to New England neighborhoods, which starts to make more sense when you learn that two of the original landowners were from Massachusetts. Those Spanish-style homes may remind you a bit of Tuscany, too. Use your imagination as you walk or drive through the neighborhood’s quaint streets.
Things to Do in Kensington
The Kensington neighborhood is perfect for whiling away an afternoon. It’s also an excellent base for exploring other neighborhoods nearby, especially if you love a good street festival. Here are a few of the best things to do in Kensington, San Diego.
Stroll through downtown Kensington.
Downtown Kensington is easily walkable but full of possible stops on a sunny afternoon. Start at the neon sign announcing that you’ve arrived in the main business district of the neighborhood. Visit Bench Home for unique gifts and home accents or Stehly Farms Market for all of your organic produce needs. Kensington is even home to a local music studio at the Singing Serpent.
If you really want to treat yourself, book a spa treatment at Zen Sanctuary. The spa offers massages, acupuncture sessions, and a variety of skin care treatments for locals and visitors looking for a place to relax.
Attend a community event.
Kensington is very much about fostering a strong neighborhood spirit. The best way to experience that is at one of Kensington’s regular community events. Any of the holidays are a great place to start for local events. Kensington puts on a show (and parades!) for both the Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
If you’re looking for live music, check out the calendar at the Kensington Club. The cash-only dive bar hosts an eclectic array of bands and solo artists most days of the week. Normal Heights, the neighborhood just next door, hosts the popular Adams Avenue Street Fair each September with dozens of acts across six stages, beer tastings, and a variety of vendors.
Grab a cone at Moosie’s Ice Cream.
When the weather is perfect pretty much year-round, it’s never too late in the season for an ice cream cone. Moosie’s is a big enough deal in San Diego that you may even encounter a line there on warm weekend evenings. This is an ice cream shop San Diegans outside of Kensington make the trip for, especially if you’re in the market for an ice cream pie.
Ice cream flavors vary depending on when you visit, but expect classics like cookie dough, pistachio, and rocky road alongside more unique offerings like taro and chocolate-dipped strawberry.
Best Restaurants in Kensington
Kensington may feel small, but it has quite a few delicious eateries loved by locals. Let’s take a look at the best restaurants in Kensington, San Diego:
- Bleu Boheme: Say “Bonjour!” to French classics like French onion soup, escargots — yes, you should try the snails — and mussels and frites at this intimate bistro. Reservations are recommended and available online.
- Cucina Sorella: There are several San Diego restaurants under the Cucina umbrella, including Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill. This one is very much about their homemade pasta in a cozy atmosphere.
- Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant: Enjoy spicy bowls of pozole or a platter of classic chicken enchiladas at this neighborhood Mexican spot. Save room for dessert to try their crispy churros, or take a few home with you.
- Village Vino: Pair small plates and charcuterie boards with a wide variety of wines by the glass at this neighborhood wine bar. This is a great place to meet locals, especially at one of their pop-up wine-tasting events.
Kensington & Beyond
Kensington feels a bit insulated from the rest of the city, but that’s just its neighborhood vibes. It’s easily accessible to several vibrant neighborhoods nearby, too. Here are a few neighborhoods with easy access from Kensington:
- Normal Heights: Kensington locals can walk to Normal Heights in just under a mile for its eclectic food scene, several craft breweries, and unique shops. Don’t miss Little Miss Brewing if you’re looking for one of the area’s best dog-friendly breweries.
- City Heights: City Heights is often overlooked by visitors, but locals know that if you give it a chance, you’ll find a buzzing neighborhood big on cultural diversity. If you want a taste of some of the city’s best ethnic food, you’ll want to taste the food of City Heights.
- Talmadge: Less than 2 miles east, Talmadge is often grouped together with Kensington, as the two share a community planning area. Fun fact: The neighborhood is named after sisters Norma, Natalia, and Constance Talmadge, a trio of silent film stars.
Kensington, San Diego, is a great place to call home if you are looking for a quiet treelined neighborhood within walking distance to nearby neighborhoods that have great restaurants, breweries, cafes, and more. Sold on Kensington? Seeking Kensington, San Diego homes for sale? The McT Real Estate Group can help you find the perfect Kensington home to call your own.