search

Best Nightlife Spots in San Diego That Come Alive After Sunset



San Diego’s nightlife will never rival that of a big city, but it exists with a wide variety of exciting options for a casual beach town. If you want to glam it up for a top-notch, Vegas-style experience or chat with friends over a specialty cocktail and ocean breezes, you can.

Most of the bars and clubs on this list are located in downtown San Diego, so if you’re a night owl visiting the city, this is the neighborhood you may want to stay in. The Gaslamp Quarter’s many rooftop bars offer spectacular night-time views over the skyline with cozy seating, fireplace pits and cool cocktails. Go below street level, as many of the historical buildings in the Quarter boast basements (which are not common in California), where you’ll find other exciting places to spend an evening. Nightclubs that will send anyone's senses into overdrive cater to VIPs. Beach communities all around San Diego County also offer up more casual nightlife opportunities, for those interested in enjoying a beer or cocktail with waves crashing in the background.

Regardless of your bedtime, there is nightlife for you in San Diego. 10Best narrows the list down for you right here.


Advertisement



FLUXX is Downtown San Diego's high-end dance club. Just as its name implies, FLUXX nightclub's mood and motif are kept in a constant state of change designed to create a unique experience with every visit. The venue incorporates organic decor amidst bright, bold colors and playful design elements including a large-scale adult tree house, a 15-ft custom rope chandelier and eye-catching art. FLUXX is your excuse to revive your most stylish apparel as there is a dress code. FLUXX offers a Vegas-style VIP bottle service and centrally located VIP tables. Or, reserve the tree house which also has a private bar!

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This is where celebrities hang out at night during visits to San Diego.

Katie's expert tip: There is a dress code so no sandals, athletic wear, shorts, ball caps or excessively baggy clothing. This is a great spot for people who want to dance.

Read more about FLUXX →


Belly Up Tavern


There's live music at Belly Up almost every night. Belly Up is not pretentious and has a more casual vibe, despite being an award-winning nightspot. Up-and-coming artists as well as established legends in genres ranging from alternative rock, rock, reggae, and hip-hop to blues, folk, jazz, Latin and more perform here. Recent concerts include the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers. No dress code enforced other than don't forget to wear shoes. Check the online calendar for upcoming shows where you can even hear a sample or two of the featured band's music. Limited bar food is available for purchase. Be prepared to dance.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Famous bands play here live so check the schedule. You might be surprised by how famous they are!

Katie's expert tip: Eat out at one of Solana Beach's nearby restaurants, like Pizza Port, before the show. Tickets to shows can be purchased easily online.

Read more about Belly Up Tavern →




Oxford Social Club is the new nightlife and chic boutique lounge experience inside of the Pendry San Diego hotel. Sure, DJs spin tuns and there is a dance floor, but the emphasis is also about conversation and relaxation in comfortable seating areas. However, the experience is far from sleepy especially as it's become a popular place for celebrities to be seen and host events. Bottle service here is a true VIP experience with your own space, server, security staff, bussers, selection of mixers and guaranteed club entry. Otherwise, to get in you'll need to go online and put yourself on the guest list. You'll find a more affluent crowd here of all ages.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's a more upscale experience than at most other San Diego nightclubs

Katie's expert tip: Hotel guests enter Oxford Social Club through the VIP line.

Read more about Oxford Social Club →


Advertisement


Rooftop STK is Andaz San Diego's newly refreshed and rebranded poolside lounge that offers incredibly picturesque views of the Downtown San Diego skyline. It is a sexy, swanky and scenic spot to enjoy handcrafted cocktails, and delicious dishes from a menu specially created by Executive Chef J.C. Colón. By day, The Rooftop by STK will sweep you away with stunning views and creative regional cuisine for breakfast and lunch. By night, The Rooftop by STK is San Diego's ultimate rooftop destination and nightlife experience high above the city, with live DJs spinning underneath the star-lit San Diego sky at the see-and-be-seen nightclub and lounge.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Recently renovated, Rooftop by STK is now the place for an elevated lounge experience under the San Diego stars.

Katie's expert tip: Skip the drive and book a room at the Andaz San Diego Hotel.

Read more about Rooftop by STK →


6
Pacific Beach


The Grass Skirt is new to the San Diego dining and nightlife scene and already people love it. It's a hidden tiki bar located inside Good Time Poke, a grab-and-go poke spot that is open in the evenings until 2:00 a.m. The goal is to use traditional tiki elements interlaced with seductive details to transport guests to a place of eternal sunset complete with fire pit tables and swings. Yes, expect a variety of tropical cocktails here (including a secret cocktail menu that you may want to ask about). They also have over 150 rums including some very rare and pricey options.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Pacific Beach needed a cool night time spot that's not your typical beach bar.

Katie's expert tip: You can order pork buns and poke at The Grass Skirt, too.

Read more about The Grass Skirt →




Moonshine Flats is a ton of country fun in the Gaslamp Quarter. It's one of two places in San Diego to dance to country. The 10,000 square-foot venue features multiple levels, dozens of interactive elements, five bars throughout, including the longest bar on the west coast spanning 80 feet, San Diego's largest dance floor, two raised platforms for dance exhibitionists, a 6' x 6' raised "dance pod" and a moveable DJ booth, a large stage that hosts house bands in front of a floor-to-ceiling LED screen. Drink from old school barber "shot" chairs (drink and spin!) or play pool and arcade games like Buck Hunter and a Boxing. You'll love it, even if country music isn't your thing.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This high-energy night club is dedicated to country music but fun regardless of music taste.

Katie's expert tip: Alcohol slushie machines and classic cocktails have an emphasis on whiskey, bourbon and moonshine.

Read more about Moonshine Flats →




To enter Prohibition, simply show up (no reservations are accepted) and find the door marked Law Office of Eddie O'Hare. It is a speakeasy with a 1920's vibe designed for those who would like to step into the Great Gatsby era for an evening. A dress code is enforced so no shorts, flip flops or sandals, or baseball caps on Fridays and Saturdays. And, they didn't have cell phones back then so using them at the bar. Guest also enjoy the creative and witty cocktail menu such as the "These are not the droids you're looking for" cocktail featuring tequila, lime, allspice, Averna and apple Jarritos soda.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's suggested that you arrived before 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays if you have a group of 6 or more.

Katie's expert tip: It's suggested that you arrived before 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays if you have a group of 6 or more.

Read more about Prohibition →




Polite Provisions serves up cocktails and classic American fare in University Heights. Their massive custom tap system not only features 18 craft beers on tap, also ten wines (red, white and rose), carbonated cocktails, non-carbonated spirituous cocktails, spirits and one tap of each--amaro, dry vermouth, aperitif and sherry. There's also four seltzer water draft handles and iced coffee on draft brewed with beans roasted just four blocks away at the locally owned Coffee & Tea Collective. The coffee is kept at temperatures just above freezing so it stays fresh. The also offer a rare line-up of amari. Come here to lounge with friends until late night.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Located in University Heights, this vintage-inspired favorite specializes in extreme mixology and a lounge-like vibe.

Katie's expert tip: Late night munchies can be ordered from sister restaurant, Soda & Swine, and brought over to Polite Provisions to enjoy in the bar, even after midnight.

Read more about Polite Provisions →




People come for the cocktails and say that you'll never drink a better one. This San Diego speakeasy is found via a somewhat secret door near the door to the kitchen at The Neighborhood. Reservations are by text message only and Noble Experiment is always full, as there are only 32 seats. Cocktails are made with premium spirits and all natural, sustainable ingredients. There isn't any food for sale so go to The Neighborhood if you're hungry. A wall of gold-plated skulls lines the wall of this speakeasy and service is top notch. There isn't another drinking experience like this in San Diego. It's special.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Go for a truly unique speakeasy-like experience. It is all about crafting the perfect cocktail here.

Katie's expert tip: Even the ice is hand-carved to fit neatly into each glass.

Read more about Noble Experiment →




Onyx Room is three-level dance club, one at street level and two below. This nightclub draws the ultra-cool who want to party with inventive cocktails in hand and plenty of eye candy located throughout the room. Different nights feature different music styles, from jazz to hip-hop and old-school (the schedule is online). Typically, hip hop is played upstairs while house is played below ground. As an upscale nightclub, Onyx Room has a dress code so skip the beachwear. VIP bottle service is available by reservation. Register online for the guest list which may feature a discounted or no cover charge and you must sign-up before 8:00 p.m. on your desired night.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This high-energy place is three floors of fun for those who want to dance.

Katie's expert tip: Get on the list for discounted or complimentary entry.

Read more about Onyx Room →


Map

Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie

×