San Diego's Best Bars & Nightlife
Gaslamp, Pacific Beach And North County
There are always smiles on people who go out in San Diego's Gaslamp.
For pubbers and clubbers, barflys and beer bums, San Diego has nightlife as diverse as its landscape.
It's an active place for all types of pubclubbers, a fun city without the poser bars so prevalent in some other major cities (and in particular its neighbor to the north, Los Angeles).
Dress codes vary but keep this basic rule in mind: The Gaslamp is stylish, LaJolla is California business and Pacific Beach is shorts-and-sandals casual. Drink 'em if you got 'em is 1:30 a.m., with bars completely closed at 2, though there is a highly popular after-hours club in the Gaslamp (entrance by a hardware store).
People party at pubs, clubs and restarurants that become bars in the Gaslamp.
Dance clubs are located throughout the Gaslamp.
People tend to start going out around 10 and by 11 there are lines at many bars, especially in the Gaslamp. That's why PubClub.com recommends to start making rounds about 9 and being in a place you like by 10:30.
The nightlife is thriving. For years, a new bar opening was cause for local celebration. Patrons would pack it initially, then peel off after about six months. Now, places are popping up like toast – one Gaslamp bar just spent $2 million on its decor.
This page is an introduction to San Diego's bars and nightlife. More detailed information on specific bars and clubs are on individual pages devoted to the three main areas of life after dark.
San Diego's Top Nighlife Disricts
• Gaslamp Quarter. Bars, clubs and restaurants – some of the latter which become lively bars after the diners depart – comprise this popular part of downtown. Tourists are joined by lots of locals
Ahh, those California girls, here hanging out in Pacific Beach.
It's a party on the patio of Lahina, a bar right on Pacific Beach.
• Pacific Beach. It's not uncommon to go straight from the beach to the bars in this laid-back local community.
The Belly Up in Solana Beach is one of the top live music venues in the USA.
• La Jolla/North County. The ritzy location of La Jolla has upscale bars, a live music venue famous throughout the country, Del Mar has horse racing and just up the coast is one of our Favorite Dive Bars in America.
The hats are just one attraction of Opening Day at the Del Mar race track.
Photo: Jack Fleming.
• Del Mar Racetrack. Our party guide to where "the turf meets the surf."
To hit all three at their respective peaks, it's LaJolla on Thursday, PB on Friday and the Gaslamp on Saturday.
When it comes to sports, San Diego is a better sports activity town than a sports watching city.
But that doesn't mean people going to Chargers games don't like to enjoy their cocktails before their touchdowns. Before games, they hammer 'em down at Bully's in Mission Valley. Afterward, they patronize Junior Seau's bar, Seau's.
The Padres have a gleaming stadium downtown and going to games are fun, and going to the bars around the stadium are a ritual for many locals.
In addition to its bars, San Diego attracts national rock concerts to its Amphitheater about half an hour from the Gaslamp. It also has fun events such as a dynamic parade for Fat Tuesday through the Gaslamp and the highly popular Wine & Food Festival each November.
In short, this is a rocking town for nightlife.