Nightlife in San Diego: An Ultimate Guide To 17 Best Nightlife Spots in San Diego

When it comes to setting standards for extravagant galas and fun, nothing beats nightlife in San Diego and its hottest parties on the west coast of California. For a casual beach town like San Diego, there are innumerable, top-notch opportunities to explore like nightclubs bumping with upbeat DJs, international live shows, comedy, arcade games and cocktails that are works of art. Whether you want to see a lion up close, party till you drop or hang out in an adults-only arcade, San Diego’s diverse nightlife scene has you covered.

Top 17 Places To Enjoy Nightlife in San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter - Heart of Nightlife in San Diego
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From donut lounges, tiki bars, chic gastropubs to in-bar gaming lounges, San Diego offers a plethora of venues for both adults and kids to enjoy the night. Here is a comprehensive list of 20 stellar nightlife places in San Diego to head out for after dark, and all of it’s not just bar hopping!

San Diego Nightclubs and Bars

1. The Grass Skirt

The Grass Skirt, San Diego
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Address: 910 Grand Avenue, San Diego, California 92109
Timings: 5pm - 12am, Monday to Friday. Closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Cost For Two: USD 31 - USD 50
Must Try: Chinese Bao Buns, Lime and Pineapple Rum Blend

The Grass Skirt features an entrance behind its adjacent poke shop and is every Asian food lover’s dream tiki bar on the beach. Teeming with Polynesian sci-fi decor, lava rock displays and neon hula dancers, this upscale tiki bar lounge impresses with fanciful cocktails, potent rum and clever drinks with banana-octopus toppings! Certain drink orders will trigger a thunderstorm projection on the hologram wall behind the bar counter. Deep-fried pupus, Char siu duck noodles and poke tonkotsu ramen bowls are some of the delicious snacks on their menu.

2. Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions Bar, San Diego
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Address: 4696 30th Street, San Diego, California 92116
Timings:
  • Sunday - Thursday: 4pm - 10pm
  • Friday - Saturday: 3pm - 10pm
Cost For Two: USD 30 - USD 50
Must Try: Princess Peach Daiquiri, Phoenix Rising

Featuring a solarium-like, domed glass roof, Polite Provisions is a light-filled apothecary-esque parlor and atrium themed like a retro drugstore to enjoy nightlife in San Diego. They have a collection of 46 sparkling taps dispensing beer, wine, crafted spirits, 80 drink options and batched cocktails. Choose from sliders stuffed with meatballs, savory subs and spaghetti bowls on their activity-book inspired menu having mazes, sudoku, crossword puzzles and fun games to entertain yourself.

3. Trailer Park After Dark

Trailer Park After Dark, San Diego
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Address: 835 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: 5pm - 11pm, Thursday - Saturday
Cost For Two: USD 22 - USD 60
Must Try: Jack Daniels Lynchburg lemonade, Refuge Blood Orange Wit

Located in the iconic Gaslamp District of San Diego, this kitschy Subterranean dive bar with antique trailers and wheelbarrow style lounge chairs is a fashionable nightlife spot. The yacht rock brings crowds to dance together while another reason this is a must-visit place is that their dinner plates are served with Jell-O shots. Curl up on their plastic-sheathed sofas with American comfort fare, assortments of soups and sandwiches, freshly-brewed beer and quirky cocktails.

4. Fairweather

Fairweather, San Diego
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Address: 793 J Street, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: 4pm - 9pm, Monday - Sunday
Cost For Two: USD 11 - USD 30
Must Try: Aperol Spritz, Singapore Slings

Fairweather is a tropical rooftop bar where the bold patterned tiles, open-air bar channels, lush living walls, creative drinks and mounds of citrus scream mid-century culture of San Diego. A canopy of vibrantly colored nautical ropes adorn the seating space which also has a live music platform with pre-concert facilities. Sip on cool mojitos and vacation-worthy liquor and satisfy hunger pangs with Cuban sandwiches or scrumptious tacos off the gastropub menu. You can enjoy spectacular views of Petco Park Stadium and the neon-lit neighborhood from here.

5. The Pendry

The Pendry, San Diego
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Address: 550 J Street, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: Open 24 hours
Cost For Two: USD 70 - USD 150

If vivacious downtown pub crawls at an upscale boutique hotel are your thing, The Pendry offers four stylish rooftop bars to numerous restaurants within one fashionable interior. Unwind with a rose slushie from Pool House, taste the local flavors of the boisterous Nason’s Beer Hall. Fifth and Rose offers dancing all night to the hottest DJs and a buzzy lobby lounge. Not a people person? Hop into the postmodern subterranean Oxford SocialClub.

6. Altitude Sky Lounge

Altitude Sky lounge, San Diego
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Address: 660 K Street, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: Open 24 hours
Cost For Two: USD 60 - USD 100

If you have a taste for luxury and fine service, this elite San Diego rooftop bar at Marriott Gaslamp is an unbeatable choice.Perched atop 22 stories, this chic designer outdoor club pairs stunning views of Petco Park, Coronado Island and Bridge with modern atmospheres having blazing fire pits and happy hours. 

Choose from select arrays of fine liquor, imported and local beers as well as signature cocktails at their impeccable bar lounge. Also having alfresco seating, the food menu includes unique California wine country inspired dishes and Napa Valley cuisine. Not only is this a quality nightlife destination but also the only spot in San Diego with superior views of games at Petco Park than the park itself!

7. Donut Bar

Donut Bar, San Diego
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Address: 631 B Street, San Diego, California 92101
Timings:
  • Monday - Thursday: 8am - 12:30pm
  • Friday - Sunday: 5pm - 2am
Cost For Two: USD 25

Starting at 5pm on Fridays, this cosy downtown bakery turns into a craft beer bar with 24 authentic local taps paired with a rotating top of freshly baked donuts. Satisfy midnight craving at this Instagrammable paradise with colorful Homer’s donuts and Big Poppa stuffed with pop tarts. From the drink menu, their most fancy item is definitely the Butterbeer, glazed with butterscotch and served in intriguing Harry Potter themed glasses.

8. Noble Experiment

Noble Experiment, San Diego
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Address: Seven t&G Apartments, 777 G Street, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: 6pm - 2am, Wednesday - Sunday. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. 
Cost For Two: USD 70 - USD 150
Must Try: Old timber, Surfer Rosa

If not for its towering glitzy walls adorned with gold skulls, Noble Experiment at Gaslamp District would be mistaken for a high-end lobby bar with wood-paneled walls, thick red curtains, framed oil paintings and chandeliers. Popular for romantic dining and cloak-and-dagger scenes, this speakeasy cocktail lounge for nightlife in San Diego is hidden within the atrium of Neighborhood Restaurant. Drinks come from the regular classics menu or bartender’s choice where they would whip up a blend of your choice. They also host pop ups every Friday evening at 6.

Drive-in Movies in San Diego

9. South Bay Drive-in Theater

South Bay Drive-in, San Diego
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Address: 2170 Coronado Avenue, San Diego, California 92154
Timings: 8pm - 4am, Monday - Sunday
Tickets: USD 9 (Adults), USD 1 (Children between ages 5-9)

If crowds and dancing aren’t your cup of tea, gather your pillows and blankets to head for double features every night at this iconic drive-in theater. Catch the latest award-winning flicks at the family-friendly setting, which also has an eminent history with the pilot show aired in 1958. 

Movies are screened all year round on state-of-the-art systems having 3 100-foot-tall screens. From mouthwatering popcorn, pickles to carne asada nachos, the in-house snack bar has got almost every American fare. You may bring your own food and drinks but note that alcoholic beverages are not allowed.

10. Santee Drive-in Theater

Santee Drive-in Theater, San Diego
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Address: 10990 North Woodside Avenue, Santee, San Diego, California 92071
Timings: 8pm - 11:55pm, Monday - Sunday
Tickets: USD 8 (Adults), USD 4 (Children)

Santee Drive-in Theater offers 2 digital screens where all movies are broadcasted through every visitor’s car FM radio. Locals recommend this place for nightlife in San Diego owing to its spectacular views of East County and flavorsome snacks. Portable jump kits for charging phones and bathrooms are also available here. Looking for winning unique gift items? Join others at the venue for swap meets every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Night Arcades and Games in San Diego

11. Aero Club Bar

Aero Club Bar, San Diego
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Address: 3365 India Street, San Diego, California 92103
Timings: 4pm - 2am, Monday - Sunday

Established by a pilot in the 40s, Aero Club Bar is one of the coolest watering holes near San Diego airport stocking, drawing crowds with pinball, pool tables, gaming booths and an extensive whiskey menu. Neon-lit aeronautical decor and spacious seating areas with wooden tables or couches create a welcoming retreat for travelers to calm shaky nerves. Among the 800 plus varieties of whiskey they feature, American, Scotch, rye, bourbon, malt and some culturally inspired whiskeys are some of their refined collections while the beer and wines make you come back for more. As you sip on your sundowners, enjoy aesthetic views of La Jolla sea caves.

12. Coin Op Game Room

Coin Op Game Room, San Diego
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Address: 28588 Old Town Front Street, Temecula, San Diego, California 92590
Timings:
  • Monday - Friday: 4pm - 12am
  • Saturday - Sunday: 12pm - 12am
Cost For Two: USD 22 - USD 50
Must Try: North Park Lemonade, Fear The Chancla

Designed as a loving tribute to the 80s, this glam 5,200 square feet barcade in Gaslamp District is an ode to your childhood bedroom decorated with movie posters, toys, arcade games and vintage furniture. The nostalgia-inducing setting includes 12 tap beers, a cocktail bar serving refreshing drinks with catchy names like Jalapeno tequila, Coinelius Rickey and gaming consoles. After a few thrilling rounds of Donkey Kong Junior and Addams Family Pinball, dig into juicy Vietnamese chicken wings, club sandwiches and Buffalo cauliflower pizza.

13. AxeVentures

AxeVentures, San Diego
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Address: 3956 30th Street, San Diego, California 92104
Timings: 10:30am - 10pm, Monday to Sunday
Booking Price: USD 29.50 per hour (including instruction)

Located in North Park, AxeVentures definitely provides all the stress relief where yoga and meditation fail. At this classic ax-throwing venue among others that have popped up in San Diego, you can book a lane and learn the ropes from their coaches. The next hour, you would be perfecting your tomahawk yielding techniques! League Play goes on for six weeks starting in the first week of October. Not a fan of ax-throwing? Giant Jenga, Cornhole and Connect Four await you at AxeVentures.

Other Places for Nightlife in San Diego

14. San Diego Night Market

San Diego Night Market
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Address: 8304 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California 92111
Timings: 6pm - 4am, Monday - Sunday

San Diego County has a thriving, distinctly sophisticated night market scene. Situated in Kearny Office Park, San Diego Night Market offers interactive shopping experiences for locals and visitors alike with tons of in-store brand shopping, performance artists and live entertainment. This sustainable eco-hub sells clothing, traditional handicrafts, antiques, upholstery, furniture etc. Almost 50 vendors sell delectable Asian meals while the beer garden serves spirits and local beers. Furthermore, this is a great spot to mingle with locals. 

15. San Diego Wild Animal Park

San Diego Wild Animal Park
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Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, San Diego, California 92027
Tickets: USD 140 - USD 220

Acclaimed as one of San Diego’s most popular tourist attractions, the Wild Animal Park hosts sleepover events which take R-rated turns during the “Adults Only Roar and Snore Safari Night” every month. Guided hikes, wildlife watching, campfire chats and music parties are a part of this safari, and all events have a kid-friendly counterpart! 

You can unwind with beer, fruit juices and wine from the onsite cash bar. Tent options range from super deluxe Swiss tents with queen beds, linens and electrical sockets while basic padded tents sleep 5 people.

16. Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center

Poetry Slam at Queen Bee's, San Diego
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Address: 3925 Ohio Street, San Diego, California 92104
Timings: 8pm - 12am
Tickets: USD 5

On the second Monday of every month, Queen Bee’s at North Park hosts San Diego Poetry Slam for both new and experienced poets in town. Performers compete before a panel of 5 judges, making poetry recitals interesting by adding competition and exciting rewards. Not only is the club popular in San Diego, but also won the National Poetry Slam 2017 beating 83 participants from other American states, France, Canada, Australia and Germany. Even if you aren’t a poet, this event is amazing for connecting with like-minded poetry lovers, spoken words artists, literature enthusiasts and influencers.

17. Fleet Science Center

Fleet Science Center
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Address: 1875 El Prado, San Diego, California 92101
Timings: 7pm - 10pm
Tickets: USD 14.95 - USD 19.95

Nothing compliments nightlife in San Diego like stargazing at Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, which hosts 2 planetarium shows on the first Wednesday of each month. One of Fleet’s astronomers narrates the program and both programs in a day feature different hour-long topics like black holes, neutron stars, tidal forces, planets, gravitational waves and often the Milky Way galaxy. Afterwards, there are free telescope viewings outside in association with San Diego Astronomy, weather permitting.

Experience the fervent nightlife in San Diego, where there is something thrilling for everyone after the city sleeps. Dance the night away, relish fine dining, indulge in exhilarating games, pack some action into your night with groovy beats in America’s finest city. Do you have any queries or suggestions about nightlife in San Diego? Share your story in the comments below.

This post was published by Koushiki Kundu

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