San Diego Magazine

Exploring San Diego’s Hottest ‘Hoods: Bird Rock/La Jolla Blvd

Bird Rock

Nestled along San Diego’s Pacific Coast is Bird Rock, a quirky but laid-back neighborhood known for beautiful ocean views, independent boutiques, and cozy cafes. Visitors and locals can easily stroll from one end of La Jolla Boulevard (Bird Rock’s main drag) to the other, making it the perfect destination for out-of-towners to explore unique mom-and-pop shops. No matter when you decide to visit Bird Rock, its casual culture mixed with upscale atmosphere means you should pack both your swim trunks and a sport coat or heels.

Eating & Drinking

No visit to Bird Rock is complete without a pilgrimage to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, one of the most highly acclaimed roasters in the country. Grab a pastry and pour over before snagging a spot on one of the open window benches—there isn’t a better spot to people watch. For lunch, try Cafe Vahik, Seaside Surf Cafe, Don Bravo Grill & Cantina, or Wheat & Water for a wood-fired pizza and pint of local craft beer.

For something a little stronger, head to Beaumont’s. This eclectic eatery serves food all day, but it’s the live music and craft cocktails that attract the crowds. Nearby Pacific Beach caters to those who seek a late-night social scene, as most of Bird Rock beds down by midnight. Ocean views are best atop the new Waterbar restaurant, but tiki cocktail fans will go gaga for The Grass Skirt.

Outdoor Activities

Biking is a popular Bird Rock pastime. Hop on the local bike path for an easy ride through the heart of the ‘hood. For a challenge, surfing at Windansea Beach is a picturesque but advanced surf spot. Use caution – the offshore reefs make for good waves, but bad wipeouts. When in doubt, just bring a camera to document the gorgeous scenery.

Another nearby Instagram gem is La Jolla Cove. This protected nook is home to herds of seals, pelicans, and other sea life. Get a closer look at the local marine life in a kayak or paddleboard (rentals are available).

La Jolla Culture

Cute shops line the length of La Jolla Boulevard. Mimi & Red, a local boutique specializing in millennial women’s fashion, is one of the most popular stops in Bird Rock. Just down the street, Bird Rock Surf Shop caters to the surfing crowd. There are also plenty of art galleries featuring the work of local and national artists. After you’ve had your fill of shopping, take a load off at one of La Jolla’s numerous spas like The Bird Rock Massage Studio, Birdie Day Spa, Lucky Ocean Spa, or Decorum Lash Bar & Spa. From facials to full body massages, there’s something relaxing for everyone.

Guest Blogger

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance – World-class cars. World-class experience.

La Jolla Concours d'Elegance

Whether you are a car aficionado or simply admire the finer things in life, the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance is for you. For one lavish weekend, the finest automobiles pair up with the more elaborate parties to indulge in a weekend of decadence and world-class experiences from April 7th through April 9th.

Friday Kickoff

Rolls-Royce Contemporary Classic Cocktail Party - La Jolla Concours d'Elegance

The weekend kicks off on Friday, April 7th with an intimate gathering at the Rolls-Royce La Jolla Contemporary Classic Cocktail Party presented by The LOT. The boutique, high-end movie theatre transforms into a playground for impeccable automobiles, thrilling live entertainment, next-level nibbles and scotch tastings by the Balvenie from 7:00 to 10:00 PM.

Saturday Fun

Bentley Motors VIP Reception at La Jolla Concours

The fun continues into Saturday with the Bentley Motors “Beyond” VIP Reception presented by Fraser. Held right along the Pacific Ocean at sunset, this soiree boasts surprises around every turn. Hidden tasting rooms and optical illusions push the limits of imagination while guests dash unabashed into the night under the moonlit sky. As the sun sets across the Pacific Ocean, toast to a magical evening with hosted Hendricks Gin libations flowing. Enjoy live music and entertainment, larger than life stilt walker performances, and scrumptious elevated bites from 15 of San Diego’s top chefs, and so much more.

Sunday Concours

La Jolla Concours d'Elegance

The incredible, long anticipated finale to a weekend of incredible motoring events takes place on Sunday, April 9th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM in Ellen Scripps Browning Park in La Jolla Cove. This is a once in a lifetime chance to view over 150 spectacularly restored vehicles that will be displayed on the La Jolla Cove lawn alongside the breathtaking Pacific Ocean. This collection is truly a display of “moving sculpture” – each automobile rarer and more beautiful than the next. Additionally, guests can turn their attention to the sky for a spectacular vintage aviation show featuring the finest restored aircrafts.

New at La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

See the world through Rosé colored glasses the Bentley Motors Champagne and Honey Tasting Garden presented by Fraser. The Garden entitles each guest 21 and over to the following: A complimentary French 75 craft cocktail featuring fine champagne and Hendricks Gin, a complimentary sampling of honey flights featuring sweet tastings from multiple regions, live 30’s era swing music from Dave Patrone, and delicious cheeses from Venissimo Cheese.

VIP Style

For those seeking a bit of extra decadence, attend La Jolla Concours in true VIP style. Skip the line and breeze through with VIP check in. Dine on fabulous bites from 15 of San Diego’s finest restaurants. Enjoy a hosted bar in the VIP Sponsor Lounge (open from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Pick up a limited-edition signed poster from the renowned La Jolla Concours Artist, Scott Jacobs. And don’t forget your collectible La Jolla Concours Commemorative Program.

Get Your La Jolla Concours Tickets

From world-class cars, to world-class parties – you are bound to have a world-class experience. Don’t miss the La Jolla Concours, April 7th through April 9th.

Candice

Destination San Diego Episode 5: La Jolla – The Jewel

In this edition of Destination San Diego, we’ll learn more about the unmatched natural beauty, upscale vibe and world-class attractions that help La Jolla to live up to its nickname as “the jewel” of San Diego. We’ll also learn about the history of La Jolla Cove and explore the iconic “Pink Lady” of La Jolla – the La Valencia Hotel. Plus, pro-surfer Rob Machado shares his favorite places to grab a wave, catch a show and find an awesome burrito. And to wrap it all up, we’ll take you out to sea to experience an incredible afternoon of whale watching.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Robert Arends

Fashion Week San Diego Guide to Lovely La Jolla

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Cameras ready prepare to flash! The fashionable glitterati are about to descend upon the posh area of La Jolla this weekend for Fashion Week San Diego, happening October 1-4.

If you’re one of the lucky fashionistas that got tickets early to this fab high-profile event, congrats! You’re in for a visual treat, with fashion shows set amidst one of the most beautiful, postcard-perfect backdrops in Southern California.

For those unable to get tix, or finagle a front row seat by the catwalk, fret not. La Jolla is San Diego’s most fashionable address any day of the year, and you’re likely to mix and mingle with models and fashion designers throughout La Jolla Village during the duration of Fashion Week. Where, you ask?

Following are Top 5 spots around La Jolla to rub shoulders with San Diego’s best and brightest fashion stars and fans:

1. La Valencia Hotel

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

La Valencia Hotel, the glamorous “Pink Lady of La Jolla,” is a perfect place to strike a pose and gander around the property, as it’s the host hotel for two fashion shows on October 1 and 4. It’s also right on Prospect Street, the “Rodeo Drive of San Diego” where fashion shoppers flock.

2. Wall Street

Wall Street, bisected by trendy Girard Ave. with its chic boutique shops, will be the site of a fabulous outdoor, open-sky runway (only in San Diego, where temps are still summer-like in the high 70s!) featuring two fashion shows by 24 designers on October 2 and 3.

Chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

The chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

Quick tip: For an artsy side trip on Wall St., check out the La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Library with its eclectic art exhibitions, classical/jazz concerts, studio art classes and more. On display now is a Retrospective of Phel Steinmetz, regarded as a pioneer of conceptual art in California. Another must-see: The Athenaeum’s Murals of La Jolla, featuring internationally renowned artists.

3. La Plaza La Jolla

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

The new La Plaza La Jolla captures La Jolla’s luxe lifestyle with an upscale selection of San Diego-based boutique retailers and dining options. The eye-catching Spanish/Moroccan design adds an international flair, sure to attract the “it crowd” here for Fashion Week. Plus it’s perfectly located in the middle of the fashion action, at the corner of Wall St. and Girard Ave.

4. Catania restaurant

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

Grab lunch or dinner at the new Catania restaurant on the top floor of La Plaza La Jolla. You’ll not only enjoy sensational, seasonal Italian coastal cuisine, but also people watching, which is always in style.

5. La Jolla Design & Art District

Fashion-forward folks are sure to enjoy the La Jolla Design & Art District along upper Girard Ave. View popular art galleries like the new Monarch Arredon Contemporary Art, Joseph Bellows Gallery of photographic art and Quint Contemporary Art, featuring works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art.

Bonus: La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

If you’re in San Diego after Fashion Week, be SURE to visit the prestigious La Jolla Art & Wine Festival on October 10-11 along Girard Ave. (between Prospect St. & Torrey Pines Rd.). The works of more than 150 artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond will be on display. Plus there’s live entertainment, a gourmet marketplace, family art center and a wine and beer garden.

Cutting-edge fashion, eye-catching art, fine food and more… La Jolla is the place to see and be seen this fall! 🙂

Corey Ross

Five Camera-Phone Worthy Golf Holes in San Diego

Farmers Insurance Open San Diego 2013 Torrey Pines Golf Course

With nearly 90 courses to choose from, golf in San Diego is a veritable feast for your game – and your senses.

From jaw-dropping elevation changes and stunning sweeping vistas to breath-taking ocean views and brilliant botanical beauty, San Diego courses have all.

The following is an all-too-brief list of some of the most camera-phone worthy holes in San Diego.

1. 3 (South Course) at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)

Hole 3 - Torrey Pines Golf Course

The view from Hole 3 at Torrey Pines is worth the greens fee alone.

This iconic par 3 on the South Course, site of the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Opens, is San Diego’s most famous golf hole. Golfers worldwide make the pilgrimage just to hit this elevated tee shot and watch their ball soar into the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop. There’s also the captivating view of La Jolla in the distance. Played mostly from 160 or 149 yards, this isn’t the toughest hole at Torrey by any stretch, but it’s certainly the most memorable – and photogenic. Its sister par 3 is No. 6 on the North, which features a nearly 200-foot drop to the green and plays directly into an ocean breeze. A birdie on either hole is a bonus. A whale sighting is a double bonus.

> Find out more about Torrey Pines Golf Course

2. 6 at Journey at Pechanga (Temecula)

No. 6 at Journey at PEchanga

You’ll feel like Paul Bunyan when teeing off from Journey at Pechanga’s #6.

After playing irons shots at Torrey, it’s time to pull out driver to play this awesomely elevated par 4 at Journey at Pechanga. Trust us when we say you will remember the first time you get a glimpse of this tee shot. You’re basically hitting the ball off the side of the mountain and watching it soar like a dimpled seagull to the dogleg-left fairway below. The backdrop is a vast overview of Temecula that makes it seem like you can see all the way to wine country. And cheers to you if you hit a big one here. You’ll feel like Paul Bunyan.

> Find out more about Journey at Pechanga

3. 14 at Aviara Golf Club (Carlsbad)

Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club Hole 14

If this hole doesn’t make you want to play golf, I don’t know what would.

Aviara, which is literally an 18-hole botanical garden, has several worthy candidates, but we have an affinity for No. 14, which is in the most remote part of the course. Like holes No. 3 and 11, 14 is an impeccably landscaped and elevated par 3 played over water. The green here is huge and gives you a second scenic treat when you reach it. To the left is a beautiful waterfall complex that’s home to an array of water birds splashing in the pond and soaring in the skies. A Golf Channel announcer said of No. 14 once, “If this hole doesn’t make you want to play golf, I don’t know what would.” Our sentiments exactly.

> Find out more about Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club

4. 3 Coronado Municipal Course (Coronado)

No. 3 at Coronado Municipal Golf Course

Enjoy unobstructed views of the bay from #3. Photo courtesy of www.greenskeeper.com

The setting of the Coronado course – surrounded by San Diego harbor – makes it unique, but the glimpse you get of the Coronado Bay Bridge, a San Diego landmark, on holes 2 and 3 in particular is something special. We’re going with hole No. 3, a par 4, for the list because it gives you the most unobstructed view. As you progress through your round, you’ll also catch glimpses of passing Navy ships, downtown San Diego and the Hotel Del Coronado. Being perfectly flat, it’s an ideal course to walk and take in the evolving scenery around you.

> Find out more about the Coronado Municipal Golf Course

5. 7 at Encinitas Ranch (Encinitas)

Encinitas Ranch Hole 7

The par-4 7th at Encinitas Ranch isn’t so much about what’s in front of you as what’s behind. Photo courtesy of jcgolf.com

The view at the par-4 7th at Encinitas Ranch isn’t so much about what’s in front of you as what’s behind. Looking back from the tee box, you can see a sweeping view of the two previous holes and a familiar blue hue in the background (the ocean). The scene is a pleasant surprise the first time you play the course and something you forward to when you return. And a bit like No. 14 at Aviara, this hole offers two distinct visual experiences. Your downhill approach is to a green accented by two star pines and a vast view of the valley beyond. When walking off the green, don’t forget your clubs – or to take a picture.

> Find out more about Encinitas Ranch

> Tee Off at One of San Diego’s 90+ Golf Courses

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 28 – May 3, 2015

San Diego is the place to be this weekend! Check out this amazing list of top things to do with events from Mexico to Carlsbad and everything in between!

Filmatic Festival

The 2nd Annual Filmatic Festival takes adventurous digital media lovers on a 4 day journey of exploration through digital films, sonic and 3D events, gaming exhibitions, interactive performances, workshops, and so much more! Curated by respected digital media experts and thought leaders, the Filmatic Festival redefines and transforms traditional passive film-going attendance into fun, active, immersive and inspiring experiences.

Where: UC San Diego – 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
When: April 30 – May 2, 2015
Cost: $12-$125
> Find out more about the Filmatic Festival

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo 2015

Don’t miss the 32nd annual Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo 2015, a San Diego tradition since 1983. This celebration in Old Town is the largest event of its kind in Southern California. Three days of music, food and fun including 3 live music stages, a cantina garden, LowRider car show, historical demonstrations, equestrian performances, and more.

Where: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
When: May 2-3, 2015
> Find out more about Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival

SeaWorld's Seven Seas Food Festival

Explore and celebrate a world of flavor at SeaWorld San Diego’s Seven Seas Food Festival. Local craft beer and California wine are perfectly paired with fresh and bold culinary creations, which will feature local, sustainable ingredients and unique signature flavors from around the world. Nearly a dozen culinary stations will focus on seven different destinations from around the world: California, France, Latin America, Asian Street Food, Mediterranean, India and the Caribbean.

Where: SeaWorld San Diego – 500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
When: Weekends – May 2-24, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission. Tastings available for purchase
> Find out more about SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival

Beach Soccer Jam

Beach Soccer Jam - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Beach Soccer Jam is a Faster, Hotter Version of the World’s most Popular Sport filled with Entertainment. Come enjoy the excitement including Beach Soccer, Brazilian Samba and Capoeira dancers, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, some of San Diego’s best Entertainment DJs and a Beer Garden.

Where: Fiesta Island – 1550 Fiesta Island Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: May 2-3, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM
Cost: General Admission – Free. Team Registration – $550
> Find out more about Beach Soccer Jam

In Bloom Market

San Diego Made In Bloom Market

This exciting shopping and culture event will feature handmade goods by more than 40 local artists and craftsman, food trucks, spring-inspired craft cocktails and large-scale floral installations. Patrons can mingle in the enchanted garden lounge decorated with vintage furniture donated by Pow Wow, and hang out inside an interactive Teepee by Lester Corral of Fornature Designs. Live music performances by Adam Townsend, Rachel Aldous and the Road Home Band, Ruby Cloud, David Alan, Stage4Entertainment, and more. The first 75 people who arrive each day will receive a free grab bag with items donated by San Diego Made vendors.

Where: UNION – Barrio Logan – 2191 Market Street, San Diego, CA 92113
When: May 2-3, 2015
Cost: Free
> Find out more about In Bloom Market

Tacos and Tequila Festival

Tacos and Tequila Festival

Tacos and Tequila festival in a fun interactive event celebrating the best margaritas and tacos in San Diego. Ten of the best mixologists in town will be serving complimentary samples of their signature margaritas, guest vote for their favorites. Ten of the best restaurants will be serving complimentary signature tacos. Guests get two voting cards to pick their top choices. Winning restaurant will get the golden taco award.

Where: SILO in Makers Quarter – 753 15th Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $35-$45
> Find out more about Tacos and Tequila Festival

Flagship’s 100th Anniversary Party

Flagship's 100th Anniversary Party

In celebration of a century on San Diego Bay, Flagship Cruises & Events will host a 100th anniversary party. Guests will enjoy food, drinks and fun aboard Flagship’s fleet of luxury yachts, docked along the recently remodeled Embarcadero. Highlights include live music, complimentary appetizers, local craft beer and wine for sample and purchase, local olive oil tastings, kids entertainment, and free rides on the Patriot Jet Boat!

Where: 990 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Flagship’s 100th Anniversary Party

Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Enjoy a self-guided wine walk to 4 wine gardens throughout Westfield UTC. Savor some of Temecula Valley’s finest vintages while tasting bites from Westfield UTC’s finest restaurants. Enjoy live acoustic performances from top local Plaza Unplugged artists.

Where: Westfield UTC – 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost: $20-$30
> Find out more about Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Carlsbad Spring Village Faire

Carlsbad Village Faire San Diego 2013

Families will find plenty to do at the Carlsbad Village Faire

Just like at past fairs, over 900 vendors will sell everything fathomable, including clothes, accessories, plants, household products, art, antiques and home decor. The international food court will once again feature more than 50 booths serving everything from Thai to Hawaiian cuisine. The children’s area will entertain youngsters with games, a super slide, a bounce house, a rock climbing wall, face painting and arts and crafts. The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s beer and wine garden will entertain fairgoers with a large screen TV and live bands.

Where: Carlsbad Blvd & Grand Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: May 3, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Carlsbad Spring Village Faire

Chef Celebration San Diego

Chef Celebration San Diego

Join Stone Brewing Liberty Station in their gardens for a delicious celebration of great food and beer! You’ll enjoy 14 small-bite courses created by each of the 14 local chefs from outstanding eateries, and each course will be paired with a craft beer hand-picked by “Dr.” Bill Sysak! And the best part is that in addition to enjoying a sumptuous repast, you’ll be helping to raise money for a special scholarship fund. Cuisine for a cause!

Where: Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens – Liberty Station – 2816 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
When: May 3, 2015
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $49
> Find out more about Chef Celebration San Diego

More Top Things to Do

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Robert Arends

La Jolla: A Dazzling Destination for Your Wedding’s “I Do”!

Lovely La Valencia Hotel wedding.

Lovely La Valencia Hotel wedding.

Spring is here and love is in the air! San Diego’s sun and warmth beckon couples to begin planning their dream wedding – and honeymoon – along one of Southern California’s most picturesque and pristine stretches of coastline: La Jolla, the “Jewel of San Diego.”

This lovely seaside town is tailor made for romance with breathtaking scenery, sparkling beaches, close to perfect year-round weather and elegant venues that go above and beyond to make your big day a memorable one.

A few of La Jolla’s Most Notable Wedding Offerings

The romantic Lodge at Torrey Pines.

The romantic Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Situated on coastal bluffs with panoramic views of the world-renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, The Lodge at Torrey Pines dazzles with its grand California Craftsman setting and offers three all-inclusive wedding packages that cover everything from the ceremony, reception and cake cutting to deluxe accommodations for the wedding couple.

Nestled in the heart of Torrey Pines mesa, the enchanting Spanish rancho-style Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa welcomes wedding couples with richly landscaped outdoor spaces and elegant interior event rooms. Their Romance & Rendezvous Stay Package, perfect for honeymoons, features accommodations and 50-minute couple’s massages; upgrade to the Couples Bungalow for the ultimate private romantic escape.

Beachside wedding bliss at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

Beachside wedding bliss at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

The landmark La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club celebrates 80 years of “happily-ever-afters” on one of SoCal’s few private beaches. La Jolla Shores Hotel, its adjacent sister property, is equally ideal for beachfront nuptials.

In La Jolla Village, the chic La Valencia Hotel has become a tradition for wedding couples, featuring indoor and outdoor venues with phenomenal ocean views. If money is no object (translation: ULTRA-luxurious), check out La V’s Ultimate Wedding Collection’s California Experience which transforms the whole hotel into the wedding party’s private Mediterranean-style villa!

Bride at the Grande Colonial hotel.

Bride at the Grande Colonial hotel.

A perfect marriage of historic grandeur and modern luxury await wedding couples at the Grande Colonial, offering postcard-perfect settings overlooking the Pacific. Their Wedding Reception Package includes tray passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and one-night stay for the newlyweds, complete with breakfast in bed the following morning.

Two other fabulously unique La Jolla wedding locations are the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego with ocean views and a modern architectural backdrop, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps, pairing the enchantment “under the sea” with stunning views of the Pacific.

> Plan Your Dream Wedding in San Diego

If you’re recently engaged, I propose you check out La Jolla for a wedding that will seriously wow you and your family and friends! 🙂

Arlene

A Few of the Best Dive Bars to Visit in San Diego

San Diego Dive Bars
San Diego Dive Bars

How many of these San Diego dive bars have you visited?

San Diego may be known for its near perfect weather year round, but what many do not know is that the nightlife in this 75 degree city stretches from the Mexico border to the North County and there is something to do almost every night of the week.

But San Diego’s nightlife isn’t just about clubs! If large-scale clubs aren’t your thing, there are plenty of dive bars and lounges sprinkled throughout the county.

Here are the some of best dive bars you want to visit while in San Diego.

Dive Bars in Encinitas

Starting in the North County, you can find not one but two bars side by side. The Saloon and Shelter in Encinitas that are popular among residents of the North. Both located on South Coast Highway 101, each offers a variety of events including live music and DJ’s playing both top 40, dance music and classics. The Saloon also has a jukebox for your listening pleasure. Shelter launched a casual dining menu in late 2014 so if you’re hungry after one too many shots, hop on over there.

Classy Dive Bars in La Jolla

Moving towards the south we find ourselves heading farther west towards the coast and into the area of La Jolla. This neighborhood is known for its high-end cars, stars and bars. In other words, it’s fancy! You can take a nice stroll down Prospect St. and have some cocktails at La Valencia Hotel before heading to Prospect Bar & Grill. On Sundays you’ll get a great view from the rooftop and during the summer they have guest DJ’s so you can sip a martini and dance to house/dance music as you watch that gorgeous sunset in those fancy pants.

Dive Bars by the Beach

Just south are the more casual beach communities of Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. Each neighborhood has its own very unique character so whether you’re interested in watching buskers in OB, surfers and college students party in PB or families ride the rollercoaster in MB, you’ll be able to find a sweet watering hole somewhere. In PB, there are plenty of clubs for the college age demographic, but a favorite spot for those straying from Rhianna remixes is the Silver Fox Lounge on Garnet Ave. A classic dive bar with pool tables, darts and all.

A Bit More Urban Dive Bars

The center of the county soon becomes dense with many eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods including Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, Golden Hill, Normal Heights, North Park and South Park among many others. Being a native of Golden Hill and North Park myself, I have an affinity for these and surrounding neighborhoods. One of the older dive bars located in North Park is Livewire on El Cajon Blvd. This is where you’ll often find bartenders on their nights off, listening to great music in the near dark. They even have guest DJ’s come in that tend bar, or are regulars there. In South Park, Whistle Stop Bar is a cash only staple of the neighborhood that has been around since the late 70s. You can hang at the bar or on certain nights you can listen to anything from 80s vs 90s, to New Wave or live music and dance. Warning, it gets warm in there.

For those searching for some craft cocktails made by gentlemen in bowties and beards or ladies that know whiskey like the back of their hand, head over to Polite Provisions on Adams Ave. in Normal Heights. You may feel like you’re in the bar of the Titanic, but that is one of the reasons this spot is so awesome. The details of the décor compliment the details put into each cocktail. Both are exquisite. This is a great place to try drinks you’ve never heard of. You can walk across the street afterwards to dance at AC Lounge, a lounge/club that won’t overwhelm your senses. They even have a small VIP room with the only LED dance floor in San Diego. If you preferred camping over disco in the 70s, head over to Sycamore Den, more great craft cocktails and you’ll feel like you’re in a cabin with the fireplace, 70s rock playing and orange & brown tones of the décor. Very campy indeed!

Dive into these Bars in Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill

Heading closer to downtown we enter Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill. Hillcrest is known worldwide for being a neighborhood that supports the LGBT community and there is always a party around. There are several places to grab drinks here but some favorites are The Alibi, Urban Mo’s and Uptown Tavern. All are within walking distance on University Avenue. Banker’s Hill is in a curious space in between Hillcrest and downtown San Diego and there are some gems to be found here. Nunu’s is a bar straight out of the 70s as well (think Three’s Company), Cherry Bomb is another bartender/service industry favorite dive with some of the stiffest pours around and The Balboa Bar & Grill has some great local bands.

Finally – Dive Bars in Downtown San Diego

After naming so many bars…you’re probably already buzzed just thinking about them. But Wait! There’s More! We have arrived to Downtown San Diego, the heart of the city and where crowds flock every single weekend (and some weeknights) to drink and dance. I understand, you’re not into the Vegas style clubs and that’s ok. You want a smaller, quainter place to order one of 3,875 craft beers on tap or maybe just an Old Fashioned. I get it and I like it! First stop is El Dorado, located on the edge of downtown. Ryan Kuntz is usually behind the bar and will be sure to offer you some great suggestions for cocktails.  There is a great selection of oldies and rock and roll on the jukebox and if you feel like killin’ some game they have a sweet Buck Hunter video game console there. Another hidden gem, literally, is Noble Experiment, found behind a fake wall inside Neighborhood on 8th and G St. They house award-winning bartenders, Trevor Easterman (GM) and Adele Stratton and have been named one of the best craft cocktail bars in America by several publications including Esquire and Playboy Magazine. It’s a very small place so be sure to make a reservation or plan on waiting.

Speaking of small bars, how about visiting the smallest bar in San Diego? Pop’s Liquor Cabinet is named appropriately as it only has 4 seats in the 157sq foot space. JJ Licari, a owning partner of the preciously petite place, helped opened this spot on F St. in between large clubs so if you blink you may miss it! I recommend popping in for a drink before you wander around the Gaslamp Quarter. There will be more bottles of booze than people fit in there so the ratio is ideal. If you happen to enjoy cash only spots where the only things served are well drinks and beer then you will love Star Bar located on E St. between 4th and 5th Avenues. You are not allowed to say you live in San Diego until you have a Star Bar story. If jet lag has you wide awake at 6:00 AM you’re in luck…because that’s when they open! If you’re there that late (or early?) then you will definitely have a story to take home.

San Diego’s Oldest Tavern

The last bar I will stumble upon is none other than Waterfront Bar on Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy. Proudly known as San Diego’s oldest tavern, Waterfront also opens up at 6:00 AM and has a menu for those late night or early morning hunger pains. This is truly a classic place to visit in San Diego as it has outdoor seating to people watch, solid food and it gets packed on weekends and weeknights often.  I have a video of my buddies and I there one morning and after one too many mimosas and beers we turned the jukebox on and decided we should all sing at the top of our lungs. I have it on video if anyone is interested in seeing the worst version of Bohemian Rhapsody ever filmed.

Cheers!

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 7-12, 2015

Make it a home run of a weekend by spending it in San Diego enjoying these top things to do including the home opener series of the San Diego Padres.

Padres Opening Series vs. San Francisco Giants

Inside Petco - Courtesy Petco Park

Watch the Padres take on their rivals at the beautiful Petco Park

It’s baseball season here in San Diego! Catch the San Diego Padres in their home opener series take on the reigning World Series Champs, the San Francisco Giants, at the picturesque Petco Park.

Just a note, the home opener on April 9 is sold out.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 9-12, 2015
> Find out more about San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants

VinDiego Wine & Food Festival

VinDiego Wine and Food Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Swirl and Savor more than 200 handcraft wines at VinDiego

Come sip, swirl and savor a selection of over 200 handcrafted wines from top tier wineries. Passionate winemakers and winery representatives welcome guests, offering practical knowledge and sharing their delicious wine. VinDiego offers a fantastic variety of wonderful local restaurants sampling their delicious culinary delights. To add fun and excitement to the event we will offer a steady stream of musical entertainment.

Where: NTC Liberty Station – 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego, CA 92106
When: April 10-11, 2015
Cost: Varies by Event
> Find out more about the VinDiego Wine & Food Festival

Goodguys Meguiar’s 15th Del Mar Nationals

Goodguys Meguiar's 15th Del Mar Nationals - Top Things to Do

Hot Rods, classics and more at the Goodguys Meguiar’s 15th Del Mar Nationals

A colorful “Full Throttle Fun” hot rod & custom car automotive themed festival featuring over 2,500 hot rods, customs, classics, street rods, muscle cars & trick trucks through 1972 vintage. In addition to the acres of gleaming vintage vehicles, this event showcases vendor exhibits, indoor car show, a swap meet and cars-for-sale area, special “themed” parking areas on Saturday, Nitro Thunderfest, Goodguys Autocross, model car show, kids fun – PPG Coloring contest, Revell model car kit make ‘take sessions, and lots of fun for the entire family!

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014
When: April 10-12, 2015
Cost: $6-$20
> Find out more about Goodguys Meguiar’s 15th Del Mar Nationals

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

La Jolla Concourse d'Elegance

Classic cars meet classic views at the La Jolla Concourse d’Elegance

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance features various types of fine automobile gems. Past years have showcased horseless carriages, Italian marques, British marques, Woodies, 50’s classics, American sports cars (with a salute to GM on their 100th anniversary), and the automobiles of Carroll Shelby. Spectators from all over the nation come to the breathtaking shores of La Jolla to view their favorite classics. This year, the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance will be Celebrating Coachbuilt Classics of the 30’s and 40’s.

Where: Ellen Browning Scripps Park – 1133 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
When: April 10-12, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $40-$235
> Find out more about La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

San Diego Botanic Garden ArtFest

San Diego Botanic Garden ArtFest

Art and gardens collide at the San Diego Botanic Garden ArtFest

A delightful combination of a Fine Art Show, Quick Draw Contest, Art Demonstrations, and Asian Art Show. There will also be delicious food by Divine Fresh Foods serving yummy Greek delights and Native Flute music with Didgeridoo, featuring Bob Ballentine and friends in the Australian Garden.

Where: San Diego Botanic Garden – 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
When: April 11-12, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free with admission
> Find out more about San Diego Botanic Garden ArtFest

Noche Cubana

Noche Cubana

Enjoy a night of authentic Cuban Music, Dance & Culture. Featuring Live Performances, free Salsa Class included, Live Cuban Music bands, Saoco Son & Kimba Light, non-stop dancing & entertainment! Delicious authentic Cuban cuisine & beverages available for purchase.

Where: Worldbeat Cultural Center – 2100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 11, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 11:00 PM
Cost: $15-$20. Kids 12 and Under – Free
> Find out more about Noche Cubana

Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego

Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego

Enjoy the Italian tradition in San Diego during Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego

Southern California meets Italy in this celebration of cycling, food, and San Diego’s picturesque waterfront. Held in beautiful Downtown San Diego, the two-day festival features a mass-start, timed GranFondo with 4 route options, timed King and Queen of the Mountain, The Bike & Fitness Expo, challenging and picturesque routes, outstanding Campagnolo ride support, and delicious food on course.
Where: 1747 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 12, 2015
Cost: $55-$107
> Find out more about Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego

Village Street Faire

Village Street Faire

Music, food, shopping and more at the Village Street Faire

The 2015 Village Street Faire returns for its third year! The Third Avenue Village Association’s spring festival is a free, family-friendly event that brings the party to Third Avenue, complete with live music, exotic foods, arts and crafts, games and more.

Where: Third Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910
When: April 12, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Village Street Faire

More Top Things to Do

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 31 – April 5, 2015

Easter in San Diego

San Diego is the place to be this weekend with plenty of Easter fun, family friendly festivals, live theatre, beautiful weather and more top things to do.

Easter Events in San Diego

Easter in San Diego

Easter Egg Hunts, Brunch, Train Rides and More

Hop on down with the whole family for an amazing Easter Weekend in San Diego. Fill up your basket of fun with everything from egg hunts on the beach to delectable Easter brunches to colorful wildflowers to a train ride with the Easter Bunny himself.

> Browse Easter Events in San Diego

Theatre on Tap – My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady - Cygnet Theatre - Top Things to Do

Join Cygnet and Helm’s Brewing Company for Theatre on Tap! Enjoy a pre-show beer tasting, and mix and mingle with other craft beer lovers. The complimentary tasting begins at 7:00 PM, followed by an 8:00 PM performance.

Where: Cygnet Theatre – 4040 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110
When: April 3, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Starting at $42
> Find out more about Theatre on Tap – My Fair Lady

Buyer & Cellar

Buyer & Cellar - Old Globe Theatre

What’s a renowned diva to do with decades of memories that light the corners of her mind? And where to put the acres of memorabilia bursting the seams of her Malibu estate? If you’re Barbra Streisand, you enshrine them in a mini-mall in your basement where you can pretend to go shopping! Out-of-work actor Alex More can’t pass up the oddest of odd jobs – an offer to play shopkeeper for one tough customer who doesn’t let anyone rain on her parade. Soon it begins to take a toll on his patience, his love life, and his view of people (who need people).

Where: Old Globe Theatre – 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 4 – May 3, 2015
Cost: Tickets start at $29
> Find out more about Buyer & Cellar

Filipino Sun Festival

The 2nd Annual Filipino Sun Festival will be celebrating and sharing Filipino American culture with a cultural pavilion, culinary food demos, live art, dance competitions, delicious food, easter egg hunts, a beer garden and more.

Where: Mira Mesa Park – 8575 New Salem St, San Diego, CA 92126
When: April 4, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Filipino Sun Festival

Valley Center Food Truck Festival

Valley Center Gourmet Food Truck Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Sample many of San Diego’s best food trucks in one place at the Valley Center Food Truck Festival

Food Truck Nation America and Bates Nut Farm are bringing back many of Southern California’s most popular gourmet food trucks for the annual Spring Festival. As always, there will be unique and delicious food, vendors, entertainment and family fun. A variety of international cuisine will be offered; guests will have a hard time deciding between Sushi, German, Gourmet Burgers, BBQ, Hungarian, Polish or American Comfort Food, as well as decadent desserts. Live music, a beer garden and children’s activities round out this day in the country.

Where: Bates Nut Farm – 16954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: April 4, 2015
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission
> Find out more about the Valley Center Food Truck Festival

37th Annual Cultural Celebration – Oh The Places You’ll Go

37th Annual Cultural Celebration - Oh The Places You'll Go

Celebrate cultural diversity through food, dance, music, and art from around the world! Join us to experience one of the largest and longest standing traditions at UC San Diego on the Marshall College campus. There will also be a Children’s Village with hands-on activities, bounce house, rock wall and more.

Where: Thurgood Marshalls Crossroads, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: April 4, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 37th Annual Cultural Celebration – Oh The Places You’ll Go

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast