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.


Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 14-19, 2015

From the largest West Coast kick off of the sportfishing season to a festival all about avocados, you want to be in San Diego this weekend to enjoy these top things to do!

5th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase

Welcome to the 5th Annual Spring Showcase, a presentation of 16 dynamic films from 9 countries from Asia and beyond. A key feature of this year’s Spring Showcase is, Cinema Little Saigon, a traveling five film retrospective commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Curated by Pacific Arts Movement, the compelling retrospective will highlight films spanning from the 1990s to today.

When: April 16-25, 2015
Cost: $9-$100
> Find out more about the 5th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase

70th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show

Hunter Jumper Week - Del Mar National Horse Show

The Annual Del Mar National Horse Show is comprised of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competitions

One of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian competitions in the Western US, the show is comprised of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competition. Over 3,000 horses take part, representing many breeds. Spectators will see reining, spins, sliding stops, elegant dressage moves choreographed to music, daredevil show jumping, trick riders, comedy acts, thrills and spills, and more.

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: April 16 – May 3, 2015
Cost: Daytime Shows: Free. Night Shows: $10-$19
> Find out more about the 70th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show

Annual Lakeside Rodeo

Lakeside Rodeo in San Diego's East County

Putt on your boots for three days of traditional rodeo competitions at the Lakeside Rodeo

Bareback bronco rides, calf roping and other traditional rodeo competitions, along with food and crafts, bring the Wild West to life in the San Diego East County town of Lakeside.

Where: Lakeside Rodeo Grounds – 12584 Mapleview St., Lakeside, CA 92040
When: April 17-19, 2015
Cost: $5-$20
> Find out more about the Annual Lakeside Rodeo

San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

San Diego Opera's 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert - Top Things to Do

Celebrate the San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary with an amazing concert filled with favorite arias, duets, ensembles and choruses from Aida, Candide, Nabucco, The Marriage of Figaro, Turandot and Tosca by composers Saint–Saëns, Puccini, Donizetti, Verdi, Mozart and many more. Please come and enjoy a tribute to their 50-year history and celebrate their new beginning.

Where: Copley Symphony Hall – 1245 Seventh Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 18-19, 2014
Cost: $35-$200
> Find out more about San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Annual Coronado Flower Show

Coronado Flower Show

Stop and smell the roses at the colorful Coronado Flower Show.

The Coronado Flower Show is the largest tented flower show in the nation. Exhibits are placed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for continuous entertainment, announcements and trophy presentations. A Wine and Beer Garden is now a permanent feature. Take a break from the show, relax and listen to the entertainment from the nearby bandstand.

Where: Spreckels Park – Orange Ave & 6th St, Coronado, CA 92118
When: April 18-19, 2015
Cost: $5
> Find out more about the Annual Coronado Flower Show

Citybeat Festival of Beers

Citybeat Festival of Beers 2015

The CityBeat Festival of Beers is the perfect marriage of two of San Diego’s best known exports – music and craft beer. San Diego has emerged as one of the most dynamic beer cities in the United States, arguably the world, with a diversity of style and technique that is unmatched.

Where: Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows – 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
When: April 18, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $45-$60
> Find out more about the Citybeat Festival of Beers

Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks

Port of San Diego's Day at the Docks

Signaling the official start of Southern California’s spring saltwater fishing season, the West Coast’s largest public celebration of sportfishing features boat rides on San Diego Bay, displays by marine artists and fishing tackle experts, great food, entertainment, fishing seminars, open house aboard sportfishing boats, kid’s fishing, contests, prizes and more!

Where: San Diego Sportfishing Landing – Scott Street and Garrison Street, San Diego , CA 92109
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks

Fallbrook Avocado Festival

Fallbrook Avocado Festival 2015

Come prepared to visit the many craft and food booths – you can never go hungry at the Avocado Festival. Colorful booths line Main and Alvarado Street featuring unique clothing, hats, arts, crafts, jewelry, and farm-fresh produce for purchase. A variety of bands and other live entertainment are offered for the pleasure of festival-goers. Beer gardens and numerous food vendors cater to every whim.

Where: E Alvarado St & S Main Ave, Fallbrook, CA 92028
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Fallbrook Avocado Festival

San Diego EarthFair

San Diego EarthFair 2015

The annual EarthFair in Balboa Park is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world. Produced by 400 volunteers, EarthFair 2015 will feature more than 300 exhibitors, special theme areas, a Food Pavilion, a special Children’s Activity Area, five entertainment venues, the Children’s Earth Parade, the eARTh Gallery art show, and the Cleaner Car Concourse.

Where: Balboa Park
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego EarthFair

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

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

Edna Gutierrez

San Diego Retail Restaurants – Eat and Shop All in One Stop

Imagine this: You have only a couple of hours in San Diego, you want to experience its exquisite dining scene, but also want to buy something unique to take with you. Well, suffer no more! There are several places in San Diego that offer more than food; they offer the opportunity to take an essence of their brand home. From apparel, ingredients on the menu, to the chair you are sitting on, there are venues in San Diego that have found a way to go from restaurant to retail.

Cucina Enoteca Del Mar

Cucina Urbana Del Mar - courtesy Cucina Urbana

If you like the community tables at Cucina Enoteca Del Mar or their reindeer chandeliers, visit their website and buy your own.

Has this ever happened to you? You eat at a restaurant, fall in love with the décor and wish you could take it all home, well, Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar makes this possible. The modern Italian restaurant offers diners everything within the venue for sale; from the silverware and dinnerware, to the furniture and lighting! The restaurant prides itself on selling one-of-a-kind finds from local artisans and craftsmen. They also feature a wine shop with over 250 wines from the Americas and Europe. Visit their Del Mar location and then go to their website, your dining room could look the same in not time…sorry, chef is not included.

Where: 2730 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014

Extraordinary Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts

At Extraordinary Desserts you can find baking essentials, jams and jellies, kitchen apparel and other extraordinary goodies.

Known for their amazingly crafted cakes and pastries, Extraordinary Desserts is more than the place to satisfy your sweet tooth, or impress your boss with a fancy birthday cake. Their two San Diego locations sell an array of baking essentials, jams and jellies, kitchen apparel, confections and even the teas and coffees found on their menu. You can also get your hands on the “Extraordinary Cakes: Recipes for Bold and Sophisticated Desserts” cook book by Extraordinary Dessert’s very own Karen Krasne.

Hillcrest – 2929 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Little Italy – 1430 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101

 Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Company Store - Esco courtesy of Stone Brewing Co

Don’t just drink your beer, wear it too. AT Stone Brewing Co. you can buy t-shirts, hoodies and hats at any of their retail stores.

We can’t talk about San Diego without mentioning beer. It isn’t news that the beer scene in San Diego has exploded in the past couple of years, but did you know that at some breweries and tap rooms, like the ones by Stone Brewery Co., you can leave with more than a buzz? Located inside their various tap rooms and two restaurants, Stone Brewing manages six retails stores in San Diego. If you are a fan, you can take home an array of Stone merchandise like; t-shirts, hats, glassware, cookware and Stone beer flavored sauces and spices. You can also share the hoppiness with loved ones; growler fills, cases and kegs are also available for purchase at certain locations.

The Headquarters

Shopping at The Headquarters -Courtesy Mike Newton

The best restaurants and retail stores can be found in one place, at The Headquarter at Seaport Village District.

The Headquarters is the latest addition to San Diego’s Seaport Village District. Formerly the San Diego Police Department, the revived location is now home to a collection of specialty shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. After enjoying a delightful lunch at Puesto or a lovely dinner at Seasons 52, walk around and experience the diverse shops that range from fine art and local crafts to unique finds and fashionable apparel.

Where: 789 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

Filippi’s Pizza Grotto – Little Italy

Filippis in Little Italy at Nighttime -Courtesy Joanne DiBona,

Try to make it to your table without first buying some good Italian sausages to cook at home.

Come for the pizza, but don’t forget to buy some Italian sausages. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in Little Italy started off as a deli and grocery store called Filippi’s Cash and Carry, the family owned restaurant now owns 14 locations in San Diego and California. Luckily the original deli and grocery story still stands, as a matter of fact; you must pass by the deli before entering the restaurant. As you wait your turn for a table (there is almost always a wait) it is impossible to not look around the store and be tempted to take some delicious Italian sausages, pasta or a can of olives.

Where: 1747 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

> Find the best Shopping in San Diego


Discover San Diego’s Urban Heart: City Heights

A few miles removed from the beach, City Heights has yet to make its way to most visitors itineraries, but that is about to change. With vibrant art, colorful neighborhood culture and lots of under-the-radar restaurants, the diversity of City Heights means visitors from all walks of life will find something to love in this urban area of San Diego.

Discover the Art and Culture of City Heights

A Blossoming Arts District

The Azalea Park community in City Heights is quickly growing into a destination for arts lovers.

  • At the Azalea Community Park, local artists have created a unique oasis with the Water Conservation Garden, collection of succulent plants and creative sculpture.
  • Keep on the lookout for many colorful murals around the neighborhood.
  • Head to Poplar Street to check out the studio of Vicki Leon, a local glass artist, sculptor and jewelry maker.
Artwork in City Heights

A bull made out of car parts? It’s just one of the unique artworks you’ll find at the Water Conservation Garden

Ethnic Eats at their Best

The vast diversity of City Height’s residents means that local restaurants offer authentic cuisines from a variety of cultures.

  • Little Saigon is home to many Vietnamese restaurants, so finding a top spot for pho is a snap. Try Pho King, a local favorite for Vietnamese soups.
  • Super Cocina is a beloved San Diego institution for authentic, homestyle Mexican cuisine.
  • Sample authentic Salvadorian pupusas and fried plantains at El Salvador Restaurant on University Avenue.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – January 27 – February 1, 2015

Escape the cold weather and warm yourself up in San Diego by enjoying the great outdoors, amazing beaches and these top things to do:

Dine Out Escondido!

Dine Out Escondido! - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Savor California cuisine as well as French, Italian, Salvadorian, Mexican and more!

Whether you”re looking for craft brewery foodie pairings, local farm-to-table delights, chef-owned culinary experiences, international flavors, wine pairings on a patio or with a view, high tea or home cooking…Escondido”s fantastic restaurants have something for everyone”s palate and nutritional preference!

When: Through January 31, 2015
> Find out more about Dine Out Escondido!

THE GRIFT at the Lafayette Hotel

THE GRIFT at the Lafayette Hotel

A New Immersive Experience from the Creator of ACCOMPLICE

A world-premiere, immersive theatre piece which takes audiences on a participatory journey through the extraordinary rooms and spaces of this expansive, 1940s-era landmark. They are introduced to Ben, who, under mysterious circumstances, lived his entire life at the hotel. Having found an unlikely mentor in a traveling con-man who was a frequent guest at the hotel, Ben”s last wish is to enlist the audience”s help to execute one final, giant swindle.

Where: The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows – 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
When: January 27 – February 22, 2015
Cost: $35-$45
> Find out more about THE GRIFT at the Lafayette Hotel

The Wailers


Now well into their fifth decade, The Wailers truly are living legends who embody the nobility, conviction and progressiveness of Bob Marley and his music. Their journey is far from over as the world awaits The Wailers” next move in their “One Love” revolution. “Our music is the magic,” says Fams “the oxygen of the people. It”s the message of roots, culture and reality, meant to spread peace and love to all.”

Where: Belly Up Tavern – 143 S Cedros, Solana Beach, CA 92075
When: January 27, 2015
Time: Doors open at 8:00 PM
Cost: $27-$48
> Find out more about The Wailers

San Diego Black Film Festival

San Diego Black Film Festival

Several films from previous years have gone on to win additional awards at other film festivals. More importantly, seven films that premiered at the San Diego Black Film Festival are either in negations or have already wrapped up distribution deals including the films “Locked in a Room,” now with Echo Bridge Entertainment, and our Best Comedy winner “The Donut Shop,” now with Viva Films. Good things await our 2015 filmmakers as well.

When: January 29 – February 1, 2015
> Find out more about the San Diego Black Film Festival

Innovation – Collage 2015

Innovation - Collage 2015

Collage 2015 features various dance styles such as tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern and musical theater.

Collage 2015 features various dance styles such as tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern and musical theater including guest choreography by Maud Arnold of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame and local dance legend Donna Flournoy. Along with breathtaking costumes, imaginative set pieces and gorgeous theatrical lighting, our professionally trained dancers deliver a show that is certain to impress.
Where: Casa del Prado Theatre – 2125 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: January 30 – February 15, 2015
Cost: $5-$15
> Find out more about Innovation – Collage 2015

The Von Trapps and Spreckels Organ Concert

The Von Trapps and Spreckels Organ Concert

Come here Sofi, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp, great grandchildren of the Captain and Maria von Trapp, live in concert.

Sofi, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp, great grandchildren of the Captain and Maria von Trapp, are siblings who have been singing on stages around the world to critical acclaim for the last 12 years. The Spreckels Organ Society casino spiele brings them together with San Diego Civic Organist Carol Williams for a free concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

Where: 1549 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
When: February 1, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about The Von Trapps and Spreckels Organ Concert

Innovation – Collage 2015 and The Von Trapps Concert are just a few of the amazing events celebrating the Balboa Park Centennial.

> Browse more Balboa Park Centennial Events

The Darrell Hammond Project

The Darrell Hammond Project

Based on Hammond”s acclaimed memoir, God, If You”re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem, invites the audience on a heartbreaking and hilarious journey inside the life and mind of an American comic genius, trying to unravel the mystery of how a man repeatedly climbed out from the depths of despair to become a world-class comedian.

Where: La Jolla Playhouse – 2910 La Jolla Village Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: January 31 – March 8, 2015
Cost: Starting at $15
> Find out more about The Darrell Hammond Project

2015 Cardiff Kook Run

Cardiff Kook Run

Get Kooky with a beautiful run through Encinitas.

The Cardiff Kook Run 5K, 10K and Costume Contest course starts under the world famous “Encinitas” sign on historic HWY 101 in beautiful Encinitas, California. This scenic loop passes by the famous “Cardiff Kook” statue (The Magic Carpet Ride), rises above some of the most popular surf breaks in the world and heads down to Cardiff State Beach.

Where: 485 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
When: February 1, 2015
Start Time: 8:00 AM
Cost: $44-$54
> Find out more about the 2015 Cardiff Kook Run

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

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


Get Into the Holiday Spirit with Some San Diego Nightlife

The holidays are all about indulging yourself and experiencing great times with the ones you love. As a San Diego native (yes we do exist!), I can tell you that I am spoiled when it comes to good weather and a cold craft beer. If you have decided that spending this season vacationing in the warm San Diego sun is your forte you have made a wise choice my friends! “Chilly” nights here dip into the 50s so you can still head out on the town without wearing five layers of clothing!

With the ever-expanding nightlife and bar scene in San Diego you will never get bored or not find something that suits your style. We are, after all, America’s finest city. Good tunes, good cocktails and good times are around every corner from Encinitas to South Bay.

My top choices for nightlife and things to do include attractions for every type of visitor, from the low-key whiskey bar in the middle of town to the seasonal beachside ice skating rink at the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

Holiday Wonderland in Petco Park

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Let the kids run around Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park while you enjoy a warm cocktail in the VIP Lounge

If you want to fully experience holiday cheer, be sure to visit Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego. Petco Park Events has truly done an outstanding job of transforming the home of the San Diego Padres into a holiday spectacle to behold! Fun for the whole family includes a snow hill for sledding, live reindeer, face painting, train rides, holiday treats for sale, a VIP lounge to relax, live entertainment, adult cocktails for sale and several themed areas each with their own holiday vibe. Try the Roast Beast sandwich, the Grinch approves.

Where: 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Through December 24, 2014 (Special Days – December 18, 22-24)
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Admission – $10-$15
Photo with Santa – $25
Train Ride – $5
> Find out more about Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at The Del!

If you’re looking for something more romantic or beach vibe with a holiday twist, head to Hotel Del Coronado for a nice stroll along the beach at sunset, hold hands while trying out the ice skating rink set up between the sand and the hotel, then mosey over to the hotel bar for a glass of champagne and watch the sunset. The hotel is lit top to bottom in holiday lights, which makes for some amazing photos your friends back home will be sure to admire. You can also head to Coronado Brewing Company for a pint or two and see across the bay towards the twinkling lights of downtown from the island.

Where: Hotel del Coronado – 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118
When: Through January 4, 2015
Cost: $25
> Find out more about Skating by the Sea

Side Bar

Side Bar Holiday Bartenders

Jingle bell rock your socks off at Side Bar in Downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of Arlene Ibarra

If you are ready to shed the gloves and parka and jingle bell rock your socks off, be sure to check out Side Bar. Wednesday nights, also known as “Industry Night”, is known to get wild. You’ll probably end up seeing someone dancing on the bar at least once by nights end and the stunning go-go dancers are decked out in outfits that match the theme of the any given night. I also hear that they’re giving away gifts including Michael Kors watches, MAC makeup gift cards and more weekly to make things more festive this holiday season! Talk about a party with perks!

Where: 526 Market Street, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Side Bar

Seven Grand

Jay the British Bartender - Seven Grand

This holiday season, say Cheers to Jay the British Bar Manager of Seven Grand

Want to chill out at a bar and sip a nice glass of whiskey instead? Head over to Seven Grand located in North Park (one of America’s best hipster neighborhoods as voted by Forbes magazine). Located just six minutes from downtown SD in the center of the city, Seven Grand is a dark and inviting neighborhood bar staffed by some of the most charming people around. Whiskeys line the large wall in the main room and the bartenders can pick one that suits your taste or make you one of their delicious cocktails. Try either a whiskey sour, aviation or, my personal favorite, a simple glass of Buffalo Trace Bourbon served neat. Warms me up just thinking about it! Sitting in a dimly lit bar with folks playing pool in one room and live jazz in the back bar sets a nice mood for a little holiday cheer. Take friends and make friends there. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater for a good conversation starter and say “cheers” to Jay the British bar manager.

Where: 3054 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Seven Grand

> Discover More of San Diego’s Dining & Nightlife Scene

Edna Gutierrez

Vegetarian Friendly San Diego: Meet the Restaurants with No Meat

Ok, so I am not a vegetarian or vegan, even though the idea has crossed my mind. However, I do have friends who are vegetarian and I see how frustrating it can be when we go out for dinner and there is only one vegetarian or vegan option on the menu. I believe in the beauty of having choices, especially when it comes down to food, so in honor of my vegetarian/vegan friends I asked around to find out what are some of the restaurants locals prefer when it comes down to vegetarian and/or vegan gastronomy. My vegetarian and vegan friends, this blog is for you.

Keep in mind that besides all the vegan/vegetarian choices mentioned below, San Diego also has many veg-friendly restaurants that offer varied options and substitutions.


duck noodle soup

Find comfort with a ‘duck’ spicy noodle soup. Don’t worry the duck is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Located in University Heights, this popular small Thai food restaurant offers vegan and vegetarian food options free of fish sauces and animal products with the exception of optional egg in some dishes. Also, they use only organic and gluten-free tofu and soy milk. Among the favorite dishes you can find the flower cups with tofu, onions, peas and carrots served in small crispy flower cups and the duck spicy noodle soup with rice noodles and vegetables in a chili garlic sauce.

Where: 4661 Park Boulevard, University Heights, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Plumeria


-SoCal Cafe High Res-012

Ride the healthy wave at SOL CAL Cafe in the East Village.

SOL CAL Café opened its door this past October in the East Village. The plant market café and juicery houses a naturopathic doctor’s office with holistic healing treatments. Seekers of GMO-free, dairy-free and gluten-free foods can find cold-pressed organic juices, organic coffee, teas, salads, sandwiches, soups, tacos, wraps, vegan ice cream and desserts. The café is a creation of former NFL player Jacob Bell and Food Network’s chef, Anne Thornton.

Where: 910 J street, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about SOL CAL Café

Evolution Fast Food

Evolution burger

A chick’n sandwich that tastes like chicken but it’s not chicken.

Here is proof that fast food can be healthy, Evolution offers a selection of vegan burgers with a choice of gluten-free and soy free patties. Sweet potato fries, sandwiches and wraps can also be ordered at their convenient drive-thru. The vegan fast food joint commits on offering a menu without animal ingredients, refined sweeteners, hi-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and artificial additives.

Where: 2965 5th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Evolution Fast Food

SipZ Fusion Café


Try the BBQ Fuzion Roll with avocado, cucumber, onion tempura, and “chicken” covered by cashews, carrots and BBQ sauce.

At Sipz fusion is their game, offering a variety of Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes. The restaurant started out as a small coffee and boba tea shop and has now two locations in San Diego. From noodle bowls to sushi, to curry and desserts, you will be able to find a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

– North Park – 3914 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104
– Clairemont/Kearny Mesa – 5501 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92117
> Find out more about SipZ Fusion Café

Jyoti Bihanga

neatloaf biyanga

Be neat and don’t eat meat, the Neatloaf has been a favorite since their opening in 1986.

Besides satisfying your palate, food can also satisfy your spirit. The Normal Heights all-vegetarian restaurant is owned and operated by students of Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, who promote inner peace and a meditative lifestyle. The “Neatloaf,” a brown rice/tofu baked dish topped by a tangy tomato-based sauce, is the most popular item on a menu filled with healthy, simple, classic dishes.

Where: 3351 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Jyoti Bihanga

Loving Hut

Vegetarian Dish at the Loving Hut

Feeling lucky? try the lucky chowmein with stir fried yellow noodles, vegetables, soy protein, tofu and vegetarian mushroom sauce.

Loving Hut is a worldwide vegan fast food chain that has found its way into San Diego with a location in North Park and Mira Mesa. Their varied menu offers a wide selection of Asian and Western vegan dishes. Some of the favorites include the Spicy Cha Cha, a soy sea nugget dish, and the lucky chowmein seen in the picture above.

– North Park – 1905 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92104
– Mira Mesa- 9928 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92131
> Find out more about Loving Hut

More Vegetarian Friendly Dining Options in San Diego

This blog’s space is limited, but not San Diego’s veg-friendly selection. Check out these other great options for veggie lovers:


Gay, Merry and Bright – San Diego Shopping for the Holidays and Beyond

Obelisk Mercantile

From the big and stylish outdoor malls such as Horton Plaza and Fashion Valley Mall to niche retailers tucked into urban neighborhoods, San Diego is a shopper’s paradise that caters year-round to consumers on the hunt for deals and one-of-a-kind merchandise. Among them are several unique stores and outlets that LGBT shoppers shouldn’t leave town without visiting.

Babette Schwartz

Babette Schwartz

The shelves are full of surprises at Babette Schwartz. Photo courtesy of Babette Schwartz

Long established within San Diego’s LGBT community, the store carries novelty items of every stripe along with odd books, gay wedding-cake toppers, T-shirts and one of the most extensive and campiest greeting card collections in the city.

Where: 421 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Babette Schwartz

Obelisk Mercantile

Obelisk Mercantile

Obelisk Mercantile in the heart of Hillcrest. Photo courtesy of Obelisk Mercantile

From designer watches by Daniel Wellington to skin care products by Billy Jealousy, the inventory extends to an array of other products favored by LGBT shoppers such as stylish backpacks, flasks, belts, T-shirts and a full line of sandals by Cobian.

Where: 1037 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Obelisk Mercantile


Mankind - Upscale Gay Apparel

Enter Mankind for the hottest LGBT fashions. Photo courtesy of Mankind

Buy your gay apparel at this upscale, LGBT mega store, which brims with everything from sexy swimwear and designer clothing (including Diesel jeans) to DVDs, accessories and party supplies of an adult nature.

Where: 1295B University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Mankind

Hillcrest Ace Hardware

Hillcrest Ace Hardware

A hardware store with panache. Photo courtesy of Hillcrest Ace Hardware

LGBT shoppers will find a lot more here than nuts, bolts and power tools. The two-level store is a favorite destination in the community for gifts, home décor and kitchen items. It’s also one of the few hardware stores in the country boasting creative front-window displays designed to catch gay eyes.

Where: 1007 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Ace Hardware



Tabletop accouchements and more are available at Pigment. Photo courtesy of Pigment

With a smart, new line of instant cameras by Lomo, combined with pantry items, cocktail mixers and modern table-setting merchandise, this 3,000-square-foot emporium carries everything under the San Diego sun for both outdoor living and home decorating. The shelves also feature a fine collection of the latest and greatest cookbooks on the market.

Where: 3801 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Pigment

The Homebrewer

Beer - The Homebrewer

Craft your favorite beers at home with the help of The Homebrewer

If you’re trying your hands at home brewing after becoming swooned by San Diego’s prolific craft-beer scene, The Homebrewer is your one-stop shop for buying grains, yeast and hops for small-batch recipes. Fermentation accessories are also available. The store is situated in proximity to several craft beer bars and staffed by knowledgeable brew masters eager to share tips and advice.

Where: 2911 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about The Homebrewer

Bluestocking Books

Bluestocking Books

The LGBT section at Bluestocking Books. Photo courtesy of Bluestocking Books

Touted as having one of the biggest and best inventories of LGBT titles, this landmark bookstore also carries music CDs and vinyl record albums. Selections on everything are updated daily. Most of the books are used, although new releases and bestsellers enter into the stock.

Where: 3817 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Bluestocking Books

Graffiti Beach Boutique

Graffiti Beach Boutique

A place for artisan merchandise in South Park. Photo courtesy of Graffiti Beach

If you’re looking for eco-friendly products crafted by up-and-coming designers and artists, you’ve come to the right place. Located in South Park, which is home to several other quaint shops, the store greets with a unique fashion accessories, apparel, home décor and kids clothing.

Where: 2220 Fern St., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Graffiti Beach Boutique

Temecula Olive Oil Company

Olive Jars - Temecula Olive Oil Company

Olives galore at Temecula Olive Oil Company. Photo courtesy of Temecula Olive Oil Company

Situated in Old Town among a host of colorful shops, visitors will encounter a dazzling array of products made from plump, meaty olives grown and harvested in nearby Temecula. The inventory features flavored oils and more than 20 types of jarred olives, any of which will fit snuggly into your luggage and jazz up your next party buffet.

Where: 2754 Calhoun St., San Diego, CA 92110
> Find out more about Temecula Olive Oil Company

The Crypt

San Diego’s favorite fetish store doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to stocking leather gear, bedroom toys corsetry, erotic art books and other merchandise that you won’t find at the major retailers. The shop is open daily from 10:00 AM to midnight.

Where: 3847 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about The Crypt


North Park and South Park: Hipster ‘Hoods for Art Lovers

North Park and South Park are two of San Diego’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods. Both locals and visitors flock to 30th Street, the neighborhoods’ main thoroughfare, for the newest and best restaurants, shops, bars and breweries. But when you’re done eating and shopping, set aside some time to explore the arts, because these neighborhoods are bustling with creative energy.

Discover the Arts and Culture of North Park and South Park


Galleries Galore

North Park and South Park are home to some of San Diego’s most creative and unusual art galleries. Whether you want to take home an original piece of art or just spend your time browsing the unique works, there are many galleries worth a visit.

  • Left Hand Black in South Park doubles as a tattoo parlor, but the local art on display is a great reason to stop in, even if you’re not looking to get inked.
  • Protea Gallery  in North Park not only exhibits art by local and international artists, it also sells the flowers from which the gallery takes its name.
  • The streets or North Park and South Park are full of public and graffiti art, so take a stroll in the great outdoor gallery that is San Diego! Don’t miss the mural by Shepard Fairey at the intersection of 30th St. & Ivy or the multiple murals by local artists on the laundromat at the 30th St. & Redwood.
With art everywhere, North Park's streets are like an outdoor gallery

With art everywhere, North Park’s streets are like an outdoor gallery

Artsy Events

In addition to the galleries, music and theater venues open year-round, North Park and South Park offer seasonal events brimming with arts and culture.

  • The quarterly South Park Walkabout is when the neighborhood’s shops, restaurants and galleries offer extended hours, food and drinks, and the event often includes live musical or dance performances scattered throughout the streets.
  • Ray at Night is all about celebrating the arts. On the second Saturday of every month, North Park’s galleries get wild and crazy with demos, music, performance art, and much more.
  • The annual North Park Festival of the Arts is the biggest of the neighborhood’s celebrations, with thousands of visitors gathering to buy locally made goods, hear live music, and drink craft beer every May.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City