San Diego Nightlife

The San Diego nightlife scene is much more diverse and innovative than it was just a decade ago. Back then, options were limited to the pricey singles-heavy dance clubs downtown, the party-hearty atmosphere of Pacific Beach, and a handful of charmingly musty neighborhood dive bars popular with locals. Today options in San Diego have expanded dramatically, boasting more than 90 craft breweries throughout

the county, not to mention several stylish cocktail lounges.

The Gaslamp Quarter is still one of the most popular areas to go for a night on the town. Named for actual gaslights that once provided illumination along its once-seedy streets (it housed a number of gambling halls and brothels), the neighborhood bears only a trace of its debauched roots. Between the Gaslamp and nearby East Village, downtown San Diego mostly comprises chic nightclubs, tourist-heavy pubs, and a handful of live music venues. Even most of the hotels downtown have a street-level or rooftop bar—so plan on making it a late night if that’s where you intend to bunk. On weekends, parking can be tricky; most lots run about $20, and though there is metered parking (free after 6 pm and all day Sunday), motorists don’t give up those coveted spots so easily. Some restaurants and clubs offer valet, though that can get pricey.

Hillcrest is a popular area for LGBT nightlife and culture, whereas just a little bit east of Hillcrest, ever-expanding North Park features a diverse range of bars and lounges that cater to a twenty- and thirtysomething crowd, bolstering its reputation as the city’s hipster capital. Nearby Normal Heights is a slightly less pretentious alternative, though whichever of these neighborhoods strikes your fancy, a cab from downtown will run about the same price: $15

Nightlife along the beaches is more of a mixed bag. Where the scene in Pacific Beach might feel like every week is Spring Break, La Jolla veers toward being more cost-prohibitive. And although Point Loma is often seen as a sleeper neighborhood in terms of nightlife, it’s coming into its own with some select destinations.

If your drink involves caffeine and not alcohol, there's no shortage of coffeehouses in San Diego, and some of the better ones in Hillcrest and North Park stay open past midnight. Many of them also serve beer and wine, if the caffeine buzz isn’t enough.

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Area

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Downtown 56

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East Village 6

Embarcadero 3

Gaslamp Quarter 44

Little Italy 3

Old Town and Uptown 45

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Hillcrest 11

Mission Hills 5

Mission Valley 1

Normal Heights 8

North Park 11

Old Town 4

South Park 2

University Heights 3

Mission Bay, Beaches, and SeaWorld 14

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Mission Bay 2

Pacific Beach 12

La Jolla 12

Point Loma and Coronado 8

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Ocean Beach 3

Point Loma 4

Shelter Island 1

Northern San Diego 7

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Kearny Mesa 1

Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo 2

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Bankers Hill 2

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Category

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Bars/ Pubs 53

Brewpubs/ Beer Gardens 11

Cabaret 3

Cafes–Nightlife 14

Comedy Clubs 4

Dance Clubs 20

Gathering Places 1

Music Clubs 22

Piano Bars/ Lounges 30

Wine Bars–Nightlife 7

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San Diego Nightlife

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The Cask Room

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

Learn the ins and outs of wine tasting or just or savor a fine glass of white or red in a low-key but sophisticated environment. The...

The Grape

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

Swing by this narrow, Parisian-style wine bar before or after dinner. The mile-long wine list and lively ambience make up for the overly...

The Wine Cabana

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

A nice and affordable selection of wines and a variety of flights and tastings has garnered a regular clientele, who enjoy a spacious...

Wine Steals

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

This room crackles with excitement on busy nights—you can actually hear the din of conversation from half a block away. A wide assortment...

The Vine

  • Wine Bars–Nightlife

Alongside a small-plates food menu, this romantic little wine bar serves a solid selection of moderately priced wines by the glass. Grab...

Quality Social

  • Bars/Pubs

It's been open several years, but this large, industrial-designed space recently got a shot in its proverbial after-dark arm thanks to...

The Propagandist

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

A nice break from what can be a crazy Downtown scene, this basement speakeasy has a decor that includes church pews and World War II–style...

Whaling Bar & Grill

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

Nestled inside the historic La Valencia Hotel, this upscale but unpretentious bar and grill is a nice place for a romantic nightcap or...

Filter Coffee House

  • Cafes–Nightlife

A colorful cast of Hillcrest locals crowds this place, open until 3 am on weekends, to get their caffeine buzz going before heading to...

Croce's Park West

  • Music Clubs

Ingrid Croce books superb acoustic-jazz musicians, among others, in this newly reopened update of the intimate dinner joint and jazz...

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