Nightlife and Entertainment in San Diego

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The San Diego nightlife is sure to never disappoint, no matter if you're looking for a happening nightclub or a relaxing lounge. Since you have so many options, you might be overwhelmed, so consider one of the following bars for your next trip to San Diego:

The Yard House

Voted by the locals as San Diego's best bar/lounge in 2009, the Yard House at 1023 4th Avenue is a great pub-like restaurant where you can relax and kick back a few beers. While the bar serves a variety of martinis, the Yard House is best known for its beer, so if that's your kind of nightlife, you don't want to miss out. Entrees run somewhere between $15 and $20, but the alcohol is reasonably priced. Happy hour is a little early in the day unless you come in on Sundays through Wednesdays, when you can get half-priced beers and appetizers between ten and midnight. Dress is casual.

Altitude Sky Lounge

If a classier nightclub is more your evening scene, try the Altitude Sky Lounge at 660 K Street, which is at the rooftop of the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter building. One of the most popular nightclubs in San Diego, this open-air rooftop nightclub is an experience not to be missed. The building looks over much of San Diego, in particular PETCO Park Stadium--yes, you can catch a live game from Altitude! The neon lights, soft music and eclectic decor make this the perfect place for singles and couples. Dress is somewhat formal. There's no cover charge for the full bar and drinks average about $10. Come in on Sundays, where every hour is happy hour and you can save big on drinks!

The Old Globe

At 1363 Old Globe Way is the Old Globe, often voted San Diego's most popular live theater venue. If you've got older kids (preteens to teens, or any child who can sit through a performance) along, seeing a play can make for an entertaining alcohol-free evening. Of course, if you're traveling by yourself or as part of a couple, a classic way to spend an evening is with dinner and a show, and the Old Globe is the top location to go when looking for live theater in San Diego.

Broadway-caliber shows (including some touring Broadway shows), from classics to contemporary, make up the majority of the offerings. These include dramas, comedies and musicals. Tickets are much cheaper than their Broadway counterparts: $29 to $69 on average. Nearby is Balboa Park, an ideal location for an evening stroll before or after the show.

The character and energy of the San Diego nightlife largely depends on what area you find yourself in—the crowds and locales vary. This guide introduces some of the main neighborhoods and attractions of San Diego after dark.


The Gaslamp district in the downtown area is home to many of the city’s bars, nightclubs, and theatres. The crowd in this area can be somewhat mixed as the San Diego Convention Center is nearby. Especially on weeknights, many locales are teeming with participants of whatever convention is in town. In terms of local clientele, the Gaslamp primarily attracts a well-heeled Gen-X crowd. Many clubs have covers and cater to the “specialty martini and sake crowd” rather than the “draught beer and tequila shot” crowd. There are good options for those who want beer: Rock Bottom on G Street, the Field Irish Pub on 5th, or Dublin Square on 4th all serve beer and pub food. PetCo Park, the home of the Padres baseball team is in the Gaslamp quarter as well; summer baseball games are always a good bet for an evening out.

Pacific Beach

San Diego has its share of colleges and universities and this beach town hosts the majority of college and immediate-post-college nightlife. The P.B. Shore Club is right on the beach and hosts a weekly Gold Fish Race on Wednesdays.  The Silver Fox can perhaps best be described as a pool hall and dive bar; Tuesday night $2 “you call it” night always attracts a crowd. If you are looking for a rowdy group with whom to watch a sporting event (particularly, although inexplicably, a Green Bay Packers game), then the Australian Pub on Grand is a good choice. On the whole, bars in Pacific Beach epitomize the college/beach town combination.


For many years Hillcrest was considered, almost exclusively, San Diego’s gay neighborhood. The exclusivity of the designation has changed recently as the area has surged in popularity with those looking for an “urban village” lifestyle. Flicks and the Brass Rail are the most established gay bars. The Alibi is a pretty typical hole-in-the-wall dive bar and newer establishments such as Wine Steals or the Martini Lounge offer a more cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Normal Heights

If you’re looking to mingle with local San Diegans, the bars in Normal Heights may be your best option. Visitors rarely venture here, probably because there are no major hotels in the area. Adams Avenue is home to multiple bars and pubs, all within walking distance of one another making it a great street for a San Diego pub crawl.

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