Best Live Music in San Diego

10 Best Live Music Venues in San Diego

When the mood strikes, live music is almost always an option. This list of 10 best live music venues in San Diego is comprised of options that are very different from one another. They're all pretty casual experiences which is in line with the coastal ambiance. Which you choose also depends on if you'd like to dance or just listen to music.

For times you want to laugh and enjoy a high-energy experience, the dueling pianos at the Shout House are sure to please. The show is interactive, with requests from the crowd common, and often features holiday themes.

Serious jazz lovers will want to head to Dizzy's in Pacific Beach where music is the emphasis. Sure, there's wine and cocktails but it's a really cool experience that's perfect for date night. Those looking for a bar scene though won't find it here.

And, then there's the Belly Up which has been a North County favorite for decades. Big names have played here like Maroon 5 and regional bands like Common Sense still make frequent appearances.

Though a majority of options are clustered in the Gaslamp Quarter, these venues are also in Pacific Beach, Solana Beach and inland Del Mar. 

Without further delay, here's where you should groove to live music in San Diego.


By day, Club M is a place to enjoy casual fare with friends but on the weekends is the place to be seen in North County. The crowd skews more toward baby boomers and Gen Xers than other options on this list. A live band plays festive music (think current popular music mixed in with a little Fleetwood Mac) from 7:00pm - 10:00pm on weekends followed by a DJ spinning tunes from 10:00pm through closing. Bottle service is available as are tapas-like items such as bacon fries, fish tacos and sliders. The ambiance is posh and service quick... it's located in The Grand Del Mar after all.

Recommended for Live Music because: Located in The Grand Del Mar, this North County night club is for a slightly older generation.

Katie's expert tip: Reserve a table on the weekends if you'd like a place to sit and relax. The people watching is fantastic.

Read more about Club M →

This venue focuses on the performances, yet also has fine wine selections and a little bit of food though you might be better off filling up at a nearby PB restaurant. Guests love Dizzy's for this very quality. There are jazz jams on Friday nights after midnight, and music and performance art shows other days of the week. Tickets are only available at the door and cash only. There is free parking out front in a lot at San Diego Jet Ski Rentals. All ages are welcome at Dizzy's. Dizzy's is considered a state of mind – casual, intimate, acoustic and respectful.

Recommended for Live Music because: The emphasis at Dizzy's is strictly on live jazz. It makes a great date night.

Katie's expert tip: If you're looking for a bar scene, this is not your place.

Read more about Dizzy's →

After a refurb, this formerly dive-y hole-in-the-wall is now sort of a stylish hole-in-the-wall. Regardless of the decor, it's a good place to catch a show and has been for years, thanks to decent acoustics and a pretty good sound system. The owners book a bit of virtually everything, so you can expect local and regional bands with music styles including punk, indie, ska, reggae, singer songwriters, metal bands, prog rock, rockabilly, thrash, hip hop and even San Diego DJs. Past performers include Cat Power, Suzanne Vega, Henry Rollins, System of a Down, Godsmack and DJ Koala. The club is for ages 21 and up.

Recommended for Live Music because: It's still a bit less dive-y than it used to be with a huge variety of music on offer.

Katie's expert tip: Live performances resume after Memorial Day.

Read more about Brick By Brick →


Each summer, the Humphrey's resort complex on Shelter Island hosts a fantastic series of concerts at the outdoor arena. The season includes performances from comedians such as past performers Bill Cosby, Kathy Griffin, Wanda Sykes and Craig Ferguson. Each year there are repeat visits from performers like the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Chris Isaak, The Doobie Brothers, and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. Other popular acts have included the Chicago, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, America, Ani DiFranco, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Pat Benatar, The Black Crowes, and Boz Scaggs. Tickets sell out fast for many of the concerts, so plan ahead!

Recommended for Live Music because: The seasonal concerts at Humphrey's draw big names to San Diego every summer.

Katie's expert tip: Buy tickets in advance as they can sell out.

Read more about Humphrey's Concerts By the Bay →

Self-proclaimed as the place that sells fun, this lively joint features dueling pianos like you've never heard them before. The shows are interactive so guests get to participate too. Customer requests and lively prepared acts make for plenty of listening enjoyment. The performers play music from the 1950s all the way up to current favorites. The cover charge varies according to day and time, so call ahead for details. The Shout House also has seasonal holiday-themed nights such as the Spooktacular dueling pianos at Halloween. The food is casual like the atmosphere with pizza, burgers and salads on the menu.

Recommended for Live Music because: Get ready for high energy fun with dueling pianos and prepared acts! Smiles and fun are virtually guaranteed.

Katie's expert tip: Shout House has VIP packages that allow bypassing the line and they can accommodate private parties.

Read more about The Shout! House →


The San Diego Symphony gave its first performance in 1910 and now gives over 100 performances a year including the Masterworks series, the Winter Pops series, annual holiday programs, a Family Festival series, the Light Bulb Series and now a Thursday Night Lite series. One of the highlights for locals is the Summer Pops, which is a series of concerts at the waterfront Embarcadero with plenty of space for kids to run around, fabulous music, gourmet food and spectacular ambiance. Our symphony leans toward the hip and contemporary side and does a nice job of engaging multiple age groups. Season passes are available.

Recommended for Live Music because: The symphony here does a good job of engaging all ages through various themed performances.

Katie's expert tip: Highly recommend Summer Pops as a fun outdoor family event under the stars. Bring glow sticks for the kids.

Read more about San Diego Symphony →

Pacific Beach

710 Beach Club is an awesome sports bar by day but when the sun sets, out comes the live music virtually every night of the week. The club also hosts weekly open mic night as well as Sunday Funday Karaoke. Rock Out Karaoke plays there on Wednesdays where participants can fulfill their dreams of singing with a live band. Other live music acts include acoustic, reggae and rock bands. The calendar is always available online and the location steps from the beach couldn't be more perfect. Also, the food here is pretty good (people rave about the sliders) and there are plenty of local brews to choose from.

Recommended for Live Music because: 710 Beach Club has a bit of everything: great food, lots of TVs, a prime location and live music.

Katie's expert tip: Definitely check out Rock Out Karaoke on Wednesdays where you can sing with a live band.

Read more about 710 Beach Club →

If underground alternative rock is your thing, head to Casbah. It's the prime spot to hear up-and-coming bands perform before they're a who's who; think names like Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Alanis Morissette. In addition to listening to great music, you can also relax with a game of pool or pinball. Note that the space is small (you'll be close to the stage and musicians) and it is a dive bar so drinks are cheap and cheerful. Parking is available on the street, though you may need to search for it. Get on the mailing list to buy tickets as soon as they're released.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Casbah showcases up-and-coming names that occasionally hit it big.

Katie's expert tip: The Casbah has a cozy outdoor patio where you can sip a drink under the stars during sets.

Read more about Casbah →

An outstanding music venue and top-notch restaurant make this the place of choice for both visitors and residents of San Diego. From its legendary Sunday Gospel Brunch to its roster of libations and great musical lineup, this spot definitely has what it takes to compete with the varied nightlife scene served up by this California city by the sea. You won't leave hungry as the restaurant, Crossroads at House of Blues, specializes in serving hearty comfort food like jambalaya, salads, biscuits, fried chicken and more. Wednesday night trivia followed by local bands and beers is also popular. VIP bottle service is available for high rollers.

Recommended for Live Music because: HOB is one of San Diego's most popular live music venues with a large stage

Katie's expert tip: Gospel Brunch happens on the first Sunday of the month and features a Southern comfort buffet as well as live gospel music. It's so fun!

Read more about House of Blues →

An award-winning nightspot, Belly Up is a live music venue that's caught the eye of Rolling Stone magazine though is anything but pretentious. It's also extremely popular, winning 'best of" votes time and again. Tasty eats are available at the next-door Wild Note Cafe (there's no food inside the Belly Up), and happy hours provide great deals on drinks. Stars such as Maroon 5 and BB King have performed here. There is plenty of floor space for dancing and standing but if you want a seat, arrive early. Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket booth on site. Must be 21+ to visit.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Belly Up showcases either up-and-coming artists or established names during live shows almost every night.

Katie's expert tip: It's been a local favorite for decades. Seating is limited so get there early.

Read more about Belly Up Tavern →


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