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Neighborhood Spotlight: National City

Characterized by its rich historic past and vibrant community culture, National City is a Gateway to everything you could want or desire–located near the heart of San Diego.

About National City

San Diego County's second oldest city was originally named by the Spanish “El Rancho del Rey (the Ranch of the King)”, the 26,000 acres of land was initially used by Spanish soldiers to graze horses. After undergoing a few name changes over the decades the simplification of its name “The National Ranch” was implemented.

It was 1868 when Frank Kimball and his brothers (who were contractors and builders from San Fransisco) purchased the land and began laying the foundations of the city we know and love today.

By constructing the first roads and railroad in what is now National City, Frank and his brothers most notably were responsible for introducing modern transportation to the residents of the community.

A lasting mark beyond the historic sites of the Kimballs are the trees which they imported and planted from Europe and Asia, which are found dotted throughout the city to this very day.
Today, National City has a culturally diverse population of 61,000.


Real Estate Market In National City


Living in National City offers residents an affordable toned down urban feel while still providing access to the larger cosmopolitan area of downtown San Diego. Many families live here and most residents tend to be liberal.

The average list price for a single family home in National City is approximately $485,000 as of 2019.

The asking price of homes for sale in National City has increased 5.9% since November last year, while the number of homes for sale has increased 19.5% as per Redfin.com


Amenities in National CitY


National City is known as the Gateway because of its strikingly close distance to the much larger city of San Diego as well as Mexico (which makes it a culturally rich hot spot for tourism).
The town offers near instant access to an extensive shopping scene, beautiful parks, and some of the top restaurants in San Diego.
One of the favorite parks in National City is Pepper Park which features 5.5 waterfront a res with a fishing pier, boat launch, and picnic areas.
Kimball Park offers 30 acres of recreational area including baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts and a new skate park.

Younger crowds find living in National City appealing because it’s only a cab ride away to get into the center of San Diego, the heart of all the action when it comes to bars and night clubs. This is also VERY appealing for anyone working in the city.

National City is also in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Summer weekends have families flocking to the gorgeous beaches up and down the coast. 

Schools IN NATional City Include: 


1. Ira Harbison (Grades: KG - 6)
2. Palmer Way (Grades: KG - 6)
3. Sweetwater High (Grades: 9-12)
4. Kimball (Grades: KG - 6)
5. Central Elementary (Grades: KG - 6)
6. John A. Otis Elementary (Grades: KG - 6)
7. Granger Junior High (Grades: 7-9)
8. Rancho De La Nacion (Grades: KG - 6)
9. Olivewood (Grades: KG - 6)
10. National City Middle School ((Grades: 7-8)
11. Las Palmas (Grades: KG - 6)
12. Lincoln Acres (Grades: KG - 6)
13. El Toyon Elementary (Grades: KG - 6)
14. Bellus Academy-National City (Private/College)
15. ITT Technical Institute-National City (Private/College)


Nearby Areas

  • Chula Vista
  • Paradise Hills
  • Southcrest
  • Barrio Logan
  • Logan Heights
  • Lincoln Park
  • Valencia Park
  • Rancho Del Rey
  • Downtown San Diego



National City offers a variety of nearby stores that people who do not own cars can walk to, which means everything is accessible even if someone doesn’t own their own vehicle. 
Safe and reliable transportation options are available between National City and downtown San Diego via trolley, bus, taxi, car, bicycle and even by boat.
By trolley: The San Diego Trolley, often called San Diego’s moving landmark, is a fun way to get around without worrying about driving and parking. The trolley services many popular San Diego destinations and its stations are conveniently located and accessible.  
For traveling between National City and downtown San Diego, you can easily hop on the Blue line. Parking is also available at many MTS Trolley stations. For station locations and parking details, see Trolley Station Information.
By bus: There are many different bus routes you can take between National City and downtown San Diego, but the easiest most direct route would be bus route 929 (as shown below). Here is a list of where you can find other bus routes to take. It is important to check bus schedules as times vary from weekdays to weekends.
By taxi: For taxi service in San Diego County, call 511 to be connected with a dispatcher. Taxis are a great way to get around and they are super convenient and readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Taking a taxi can also be a solution to get to a bus or trolley station if it’s too long of a drive.
By car: San Diego transportation doesn’t always have to be public.  If you have a car or a rental, there are a several ways to get from National City to downtown San Diego. From National City, take Interstate 5 north and take exit 15A toward J Street or take Interstate 805 north to CA-94 west. Both ways will get you to the downtown area of San Diego.
Approximate driving time to the following San Diego attractions:
Downtown San Diego – 11 minutes
San Diego Zoo (Balboa Park) – 12 minutes
Sea World – 20 minutes
Coronado – 14 minutes
La Jolla – 24 minutes
Naval Base – 5 minutes
Baja California, Mexico – 15 minutes
Legoland, Carlsbad – 40 minutes
Cricket Ampitheatre – 15 minutes
By bicycle:National City is a great place to take advantage of the warm beautiful weather and ride your bicycle. You can chart your course with the San Diego Regional Bike Map. You can also take one of the previously suggested San Diego transportation options to the start of a bike path if there isn’t one close to you. Most buses are equipped with bike racks at the front of the bus and bicycles are allowed on the Trolley anytime.
Take advantage of the Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile bicycle facility around the San Diego Bay that leads sightseers and training athletes alike through a number of scenic areas. Find the Bayshore Bikeway map here.
Boat: There is also the option of traveling via boat. Pier 32 is the finest marina in San Diego with top-of-the-line amenities and modern waterfront facilities. It is located on San Diego Bay at the mouth of the Sweetwater Channel in National City, 6 miles south of downtown San Diego. By boat, enter at Sweetwater Channel at green buoy #39. By car, take bay Marina Drive exit in National City and head west, then turn left onto Marina Way at the first stoplight.


Top Things To See & Do Nearby

National City plays host to fun events happening year-round. You can count on something for every member of the family and many are free to attend. The city is also home to rare and diverse collection of dining opportunities that makes it a destination for folks with a wide variety of palates.
In the center of it all, National City is minutes from some of the most popular things to do and places to see in San Diego, including downtown San Diego, Sea World, the U.S.-Mexico international border and the San Diego International Airport.
Here are a few of the top rated things to check out if you’re in National City: 
  • Steal and Escape - An Escape Room filled with live, interactive, adventurous games, designed for groups. Enjoy puzzles, riddles, and more. 
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Balboa Park
  • Coronado Beach
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Living Coast Discovery Center
  • Petco Park
  • Lamb’s Players Theatre
  • Coronado Island
  • Silver Strand State Beach


Overall Impression 

The historically rich, vibrant and culturally diversified town of National City offers residents affordability,  accessibility and a toned down urban feel–with near instant access to the larger cosmopolitan area of San Diego. 

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John and Melissa Steele, San Diego Real Estate Agents

John and Melissa Steele