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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Fodor's Choice

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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Altitude Sky Lounge

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

Location is everything at this sophisticated lounge on the roof of the 22-floor San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. The views of the...

American Comedy Co.

  • Comedy Clubs

At this underground space modeled after the legendary comedy clubs in New York, there's not a bad seat in the house—which is especially...

Fluxx

  • Dance Clubs

Arguably the hottest club in the Gaslamp, this Vegas-style, multitheme space is packed to the gills on weekends with pretty people dancing...

Hard Rock Hotel

  • Dance Clubs

A-list wannabes (and a few real celebs) gather in two bars, the loungey 207 off the lobby and the rooftop Float. The latter's Intervention...

House of Blues

  • Music Clubs

The local branch of the renowned music chain is decorated floor to ceiling with colorful folk art and features three different areas...

Kava Lounge

  • Dance Clubs

This free-spirited underground dance club is a favorite of the nightlife-lovin' counterculture. You're likely see the next big thing...

LOUNGEsix

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

The trendy poolside bar on the fourth floor of the swank Hotel Solamar is a sexy spot to people-watch while sipping sangria or chili–mango...

Onyx Room

  • Dance Clubs

Descend a flight of steps to two bars in one. In front there's a mood-lighted cocktail lounge, and depending on the night, in the neighboring...

Patrick's II

  • Bars/Pubs

Patrons enjoy live jazz, blues, soul, and rock in this intimate Irish-theme setting, although actual Irish music is—ironically—somewhat...

Prohibition

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

This underground jazz lounge lives up to its name with a slinky speakeasy style. Red lighting, dark wood, and leather tufted couches...

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