As the second oldest city in San Diego County, National City is known for its charming Victorian architecture, a rich cross-border history, and a melting pot of residents that are 64 percent Latino and 20 percent Asian. National City’s offers a walkable downtown with longtime local favorites alongside exciting new development. Throughout the city you'll find award winning architecture including the National City Aquatic Center and Lincoln Acres Library, as well as the Paradise Creek restoration project.
NATIONAL CITY DEPOT
922 West 23rd Street, National City
Self guided tour & guided tours / SAT & SUN 10AM - 4PM
This 141-year-old Italianate style building originally housed the station and general offices of the California Southern Railway, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railway. Completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1885 significantly influenced the development of National City and the San Diego area. Restored in 1998 by the City of National City, the building and grounds are now home to the San Diego Electric Association's National City Depot Museum, which focuses on San Diego's rich streetcar and rail history. Many of the building's architectural features have been retained and the museum exhibits include 1903 San Diego Electric Railway Car number 54, San Diego Trolley Car 1002, and an O-Scale model railroad exhibit.
MARKET ON 8TH
41 E. 8th Street, National City
Self guided tour / SAT & SUN 8AM - 10PM
Located on the site of what once was a furniture warehouse, Market on 8th has quickly become a favorite neighborhood gathering place. Featuring 14 locally owned and operated mini-restaurants and retailers, Market on 8th truly offers something for everyone. The building’s industrial-chic design includes an outdoor beer garden with fire pits and an art mural.
ARTS (A REASON TO SURVIVE)
200 E. 12th Street, National City
Self guided tour / SAT 10AM - 3PM
A Reason To Survive (ARTS) is a non-profit organization with a mission to heal, inspire, and empower youth facing life challenges through therapeutic arts, formal arts education, and college and career preparation. In 2012, ARTS opened the 20,000-square foot ARTS Center in National City, in the former library building at Kimball Park. The facility offers classes in the visual arts, digital media and design, music and performing arts, and fabrication.
Join ARTS for their second annual STEAM Day, themed Other Worlds, and celebrate the role that creativity and innovation play in the arts, science, technology, engineering, and math. Visitors are invited to experience a gallery exhibition, youth program installations, and guest artists talks, all showcasing what has been imagined together and explore how arts, science, and technology are all connected.
926 A Avenue, National City
Self guided tour / SAT 10AM - 4PM
Brick Row was commissioned by city founder Frank Kimball in 1887 at a cost of $30,000. These 10 individual row houses were modeled after the row houses of Philadelphia, to entice the executives of the Santa Fe Railroad. It was hoped that the familiar architecture would make them feel at home, and that they would be impressed by the cosmopolitan appearance of the young city.
Each unit follows a traditional floor plan with a parlor, formal dining room, kitchen, butler's pantry, and four bedrooms upstairs. Twelve-inch thick interlocking brick walls divide the units. The brickwork on the row houses was laid with an artistic eye to break the severe lines of the long walls.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Brick Row is now an integral part of National City's Heritage Square. Each of the 10 units is privately owned and maintained, and the facade is protected so the exterior will always be in keeping with its original Victorian style. Join us for a special rare peek into a portion of the building.
R.C. Ball, 1887
FRANK A. KIMBALL HOUSE
923 A Avenue, National City
Guided tour every 30 minutes / SAT & SUN 10AM - 4PM
The Frank A. Kimball House is the oldest existing building in the South Bay, and an example of Italianate Victorian style. The home is a visible symbol of the lasting legacy of Frank Kimball, the founder of National City, his wife Sarah, and the Kimball family.
The Kimball House features many original furnishings, paintings and other artifacts belonging to the Kimball family, including a handmade marquetry wood “partner desk” with drawers and a place to sit on both sides to allow Warren Kimball and his wife Flora to work together. The Kimball House was a lavish house of its time, even including indoor plumbing (an outhouse in the home, with a pump for water in the kitchen). The home has been altered over time, but still retains its historic charm. The Kimball House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the home of the National City Historic Society.
KIMBALL PARK MOSAIC TOUR
A Avenue & 12th Street, National City
Guided tour / SAT 1PM
Named after the Kimball family, who were instrumental in the founding of National City, Kimball Park is a 30-acre facility bordered by the Kimball Recreation Center, National City Civic Center, National City Public Library, A Reason to Survive (ARTS) center, the MLK Community Center and the Bowl (amphitheater).
The northwest corner of the park is home to a colorful mosaic wall created by a team of apprentices and local volunteers under the guidance of artist Rob Tobin. The wall includes a bright array of glass and pottery as well as mementos from nearby National City institutions, such as an ice cream scoop from Niederfrank’s Ice Cream. Meet at the corner of A Avenue & 12th Street, Saturday at 1pm, and join us to hear all about these works of art.
NIEDERFRANK'S ICE CREAM
726 A Avenue, National City
Open for business / SAT 11:30AM - 6PM / SUN 12PM - 5PM
Niederfrank’s ice cream is still made much the same way today as it was when Elmer Niederfrank opened the ice cream parlor in 1948. For 25 years Elmer ran a one-man business, making ice cream alone in the back room of the store, developing the flavors one at a time, sometimes at the request of his customers.
Niederfrank’s Ice Cream is now run by Patti Finnegan and Mary Ellen Faught, who purchased the business in 1995. Their mission is to continue the tradition started by Elmer, making fresh ice cream on premises for the young and old of National City. They still use Elmer’s 10 gallon batch freezer.
NAPOLEONE'S PIZZA HOUSE
619 National City Boulevard, National City
Open for business / SAT 11AM - 10PM / SUN 11PM - 8PM
Napoleone’s Pizza House was opened in 1958 by an opera singer from Capri, Italy and a fisherman from Boston, both members of the Napoleone family. After moving to the San Diego area, the family had been making a living in the fishing industry. When fishing started to dry up, they needed to find another way to sustain their family, so they opened Napoleone’s Pizza House.
Napoleone’s has now been going strong for six generations and still offers pizza plus lots of interest. The dining room features a 1950s style cartoon mural which wraps around the whole room and tells the story of the business. Musician Tom Waits worked at the pizza house as a teenager, and later named a song after it: "The Ghosts of Saturday Night (After Hours at Napoleone's Pizza House)".
Thank You to Our National City Sponsor: