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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Downtown 44


East Village 7

Embarcadero 3

Gaslamp Quarter 31

Little Italy 3

Old Town and Uptown 39


Hillcrest 9

Mission Hills 6

Mission Valley 1

Normal Heights 5

North Park 9

Old Town 3

South Park 3

University Heights 3

Mission Bay, Beaches, and SeaWorld 12


Mission Bay 2

Pacific Beach 10

Point Loma and Coronado 6


Ocean Beach 2

Point Loma 3

Shelter Island 1

La Jolla 6

Northern San Diego 3


Kearny Mesa 1

Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo 1

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Brewpubs/ Beer Gardens 10

Cabaret 2

Cafes–Nightlife 10

Comedy Clubs 3

Dance Clubs 17

Gathering Places 1

Music Clubs 11

Piano Bars/ Lounges 22

Wine Bars–Nightlife 2

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San Diego Nightlife

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  • Fodor's Choice

Aero Club

  • Bars/Pubs

Named for its proximity to the airport, this watering hole draws in twenty- and thirtysomethings with its pool tables, dominoes, and...

Baja Betty's

  • Bars/Pubs

Although it draws plenty of gay customers, the festive and friendly atmosphere is popular with just about everyone in the Hillcrest area...

Bar Basic

  • Bars/Pubs

This spot is always bustling, in part because it's the place to be seen for Padres fans or anyone else attending events at PETCO Park.

Bar Pink

  • Bars/Pubs

Cheap drinks, loud music, and a hip crowd explain the line that's usually waiting outside this divey bar co-owned by Rocket From the...

Barefoot Bar and Grill

  • Bars/Pubs

This beachfront watering hole and hotel bar with a tiki feel attracts flocks of singles, especially on summer weekends when there is...

Blind Lady Ale House

  • Bars/Pubs

There's almost no combination on earth as satisfying as pizza and beer—which just happen to be Blind Lady's specialties. The old world–style...

Blonde Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

Images of Deborah Harry and Iggy Pop wallpaper this small but stylish dive. With a rotating cast of DJs and live bands, plus cocktails...

Cat Eye Club

  • Bars/Pubs

Separated from the hectic hustle of East Village by just a short and dimly lit foyer, Cat Eye Club might as well be in an entirely different...


  • Bars/Pubs

The stone walls and modern metal accents along the bar give the impression of Cusp being a dark, intimate lounge, but the panoramic views...


  • Bars/Pubs

Patrons can have their seaside views and craft beer too at this spacious Belmont Park bar and restaurant. The relaxed, boardwalk atmosphere...


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