San Diego is teeming with nightlife options. But if you want a romantic night out with that special someone, a bustling brewery or crowded dance floor might not be the right fit. Fortunately, with so many incredible bars and cocktail lounges, it’s easy to find one to impress your date.
Cocktail Lounges with a View: Cusp at Hotel La Jolla
Which is better: the drinks or the view at Cusp? It’s hard to decide.
There’s nothing more impressive than a spectacular view. In San Diego, those aren’t too hard to find, but few can rival the view from Cusp. Situated atop the Hotel La Jolla, Cusp overlooks a vast span of the La Jolla coastline, and their drinks are as delicious as the view is beautiful.
Tiki Time: Cat Eye Club
Drinks are on fire (literally) at the Cat Eye Club
For an entertaining evening, Cat Eye Club is a must visit. The vintage-inspired hideaway in downtown’s East Village serves up whimsical tiki drinks that are as fun to look at as they are to drink. Try the Cradle of Life or the Scorpion Bowl – both are served aflame.
Old Fashioneds in an Old Fashioned Setting: Polite Provisions
Polite Provisions offers vintage charm and potent cocktails.
Located in the up and coming neighborhood of Normal Heights, Polite Provisions revives the romance of the early 20th century cocktail lounges with their charming decor and vintage drinks. Whether you order one of their signature cocktails on tap or go for one of the seasonal creations, this precious spot is sure to charm your date.
The Secret Spot: Noble Experiment
Noble Experiment is a sight to see…if you can find it.
The secret is out: Noble Experiment is San Diego’s favorite hidden speakeasy. Located in the back of the popular Neighborhood restaurant in the East Village, this tiny bar is big on character, featuring a wall of golden skulls and animated paintings on the walls (did that dear just blink at me?). Make sure to text ahead for a reservation, as the intimate space doesn’t allow much room for walk-ins.
As we all know, San Diegan’s don’t really need an excuse to dress up in costume…but when there’s an actual holiday with costumes involved, you know this city gets behind it! And while the kids are out trick-or-treating in the early evening, the ghoulish get down at night.
Here are just some of the San Diego Halloween parties that will be sure to get you moving:
San Diego Monster Bash
Dancers get the party going at last year’s San Diego Monster Bash
Without a doubt the largest and most spectacular Halloween party in town! They’re shutting down 8 blocks of downtown San Diego to create a massive street party with 3 music stages, 10 bars, 50 dancers and thousands of costumed party-goers.
When: Saturday, October 26th, 6:00pm – Midnight Where: 7th Avenue & Market Street, San Diego, 92101
Cost: $40 Advance General Admission; $45 Day-Of General Admission or upgrade to VIP status for lots of fiendishly fun extras > Get your tickets to Monster Bash 2013
San Diego Zombie Crawl
Things might get scary at Zombie Crawl
As the perfect add-on to your Monster Bash tickets, or even a great party on its own, your Zombie Crawl pass will get you into 22 different Halloween parties at participating downtown bars and nightclubs and includes a free drink at 15 different locations! Enjoy no cover charge access to Halloween hot spots including Bassmnt, F6ix, Stingaree or the Pussy Cat Dollhouse – with free shots at any number of local restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And for those day-walkers who want to party all night, admission to Side Bar’s FIVE TEN “Crack of Dawn” party from 5:00-10:00 a.m. is included!
The Hard Rock Hotel’s annual Halloween bash features lots of room to party
Start the Halloween party early on Saturday night with 3 floors of the Hard Rock Hotel dedicated to Halloween hijinx, featuring 4 venues and 15 DJs! Then come back for more mischief on Halloween night to party with the EC Twins and other featured entertainers in 2 separate venues.
Night Fright is your stop for Halloween on the beach
For those Halloween revelers who just can’t give up being in the sand – even for a wild night of partying – look no further than Fortune 421’s Night Fright party at the Wave House in Mission Beach. Dance the night away under the stars to the beats of Andy Caldwell, Ayla Simone and Chris Liosi.
San Diego’s uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest, home of San Diego’s LGBT community, celebrates diversity year-round with a vibrant rainbow mix of accommodations, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, chic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, kitschy novelty shops and so much more.
With San Diego Pride coming up next month (July 12-14), now is the perfect time to spotlight a few of my favorite places worth checking out:
Where to Stay
The historic Inn at the Park, located right across the street from Balboa Park, is home to the best happy hour in Hillcrest: Top of the Park, a Friday night tradition where hundreds gather on the rooftop to soak up the sunset and kick-off the weekend over cocktails.
Urban Mo’s is fun and boisterous with strong margaritas and booming dance music on a packed outdoor patio and indoor dance floor. Hillcrest Brewing Company, claiming to be the World’s First “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery”(wow!), has 9 tasty in-house craft brews on tap to quench your thirst. If crafty cocktails are more your thing, Martinis Above Fourth is a swanky go-to spot.
If you’ve got to get your groove on, Rich’s with its two dance floors and sexy go-go boys can’t be beat!
Filter Coffee House is the place to see and be seen while sipping espresso and “studying” the crowd for cuties, day or night.
Dinner & a Show
D Bar restaurant is my new fav with its sleek moderne design and delish dishes like Southern fried Belgian – a sweet waffle with fried chicken (yep!). Their macarons are also off the charts! Afterward, head to Diversionary Theatre for cutting edge theater at its finest.
Brunch ‘n Lunch
Colorful Café on Park with its deliciously imaginative breakfast dishes like egg scrambles, Captain Crunch pancakes (yep!) and crab cake benny, is sure to satisfy!
Shop till you drop
Shop-portuunities galore in Hillcrest
Stroll along Fifth Ave. and University Ave. for funky, one-of-a-kind finds. Park Blvd. is great for retro, mid-Century modern treasures.
No matter how good (or bad) 2012 was, everyone’s looking forward to a better 2013 and that starts with New Year’s Eve in San Diego! So are you going to spend another night on your couch watching thousands of revelers celebrating on TV or are you going to go out there and usher in 2013 with a bang?!
Haven’t made plans yet? Not sure where to go? Here’s a handful of options that will surely give you a night to remember!
Big Night San Diego
Spend New Year’s Eve and make new friends at Big Night San Diego
The thousands of people attending this event each year can’t be wrong…This party is A-mazing! Your All-Inclusive tickets get you access to 12 themed party areas, 6 dance floors, food, drinks and a ton of fun! If you’ve got a little extra cash to spend, spring for the VIP tickets for the top-shelf liquor and private bars – while the lines at the normal bars are never bad, it’s always good to ring in the new year VIP-style!
Featuring headliners DJ Drop The Line from NYC and DJ GRUM from Scotland, Andaz is definitely an enticing option for the imported electronic music crowd. With 5 separate venues throughout the hotel offering entertainment – including the Ivy Nightclub downstairs and the Ivy Rooftop (because let’s face it…San Diego’s beautiful weather let’s us party outside while people in other cities have to bundle up on NYE). And let’s not forget the Lipstik Dancers. These girls are H-O-T, hot! Tickets include “playful party favors” and a champagne toast at midnight.
Located at the beautiful Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa on Mission Bay, this 2,000+ person party features entertainment by Sleeping Giant Music (DJ Fresh One, DJ Chris Cutz, DJ G-Roy & DJ Sanjay, etc) in 4 separate areas. Hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a ton of fun can be had at this annual event. This year’s bonuses include an optional VIP Party Boat pass that will take you out onto Mission Bay aboard a private boat with 3 decks of music, a prize casino, open bar and the ultimate in unique experiences. Also, don’t forget to stop by one of the party’s themed photo booths for some commemorative photos. Remember what happens on NYE stays on NYE, right?!
Moonlight NYE Cruise 2013 Aboard The California Spirit
Board the California Spirit at 9:30pm and ring in the New Year on the open water. What better way to enjoy the last night of 2012 than gazing at the picturesque views of Downtown and Coronado? With 2 dance floors, open bar, food and party favors you will experience an evening like no other! Tickets start at $175 or spring for an extra $25/person for your group of 6 and get a reserved table. The boat returns to the dock at 1:00am.
Halloween and nightlife go hand-in-hand. What other night can you go out dressed up in whatever you want and have people not even bat an eye at you? It’s the night that it’s OK to howl at the moon, wallflowers become the center of attention and venue decorations are overshadowed by the amazing and creative costumes of their patrons.
Not sure yet where you’re going to enjoy San Diego’s Halloween Nightlife this year? Here are a number of options that you should seriously consider!
Andaz San Diego’s Maxim Devil’s Cut Halloween 2012 Party
Devilish Fun at Andaz San Diego’s Maxim Halloween Party
Maxim Magazine has chosen the Andaz San Diego as one of the few venues in the country to host one of their deliciously naughty Halloween parties – and you know the Andaz & Ivy Nightclub will deliver! The devil-themed underground Ivy Nightclub will feature the deliciously evil Lipstik dancers, while the rooftop will radiate a “heavenly,” vibe with white, modern energy. Those who can’t decide between heaven & hell, can congregate in the Ivy Wine Bar which will be transformed into Andaz’ own Garden of Eden – with an Adam & Eve theme. With 4 beautiful Maxim models circulating through the party meeting, greeting & taking photos with guests the evening will undoubtedly prove to be one for the record books!
Perhaps the largest Halloween party in town is the 12th Annual Dos Equis XX Monster Bash block party taking place between 6th & 8th Street and Market & J Street. With nearly 20,000 revelers in attendance at last year’s Bash, this year is likely to be bigger and better! 3 stages of entertainment are sure to keep you party rockin’ all night – but don’t worry, there will be 10 bars situated throughout the venue to help you keep cool. While dancing to the likes of Flosstradamus or The Knocks, be sure to check out the over 50 sexy stage dancers and thousands of hot, costumed attendees. Debauchery and scandal will turn this party into a Halloween hotbed never before seen in San Diego!
Location: Gaslamp Quarter
Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 Time: 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM Tickets: Pre-sale – $40; $45 at the door; $35 VIP Upgrade Website:www.sandiegomonsterbash.com
The Titanic Halloween Masquerade
For Halloween party-goers with a twisted sense of humor, why not sail aboard the Hornblower Inspiration on a Titanic themed party cruise? The decks will be full of ghosts & ghouls resurrected from the Titanic and after a few drinks at one of the many bars, you all will be partying it up like it is 1912!
Work night? What work night? For those wanting to continue to celebrate on the 31st, The Prado will once again feature Balboa Park’s sexiest Halloween party. Set in the gorgeous ballrooms and courtyard of The Prado, the Halloween Ball will feature 4 stages of entertainment (with headliners Manufactured Superstars) and over 20 bars.
Location: The Prado Restaurant at Balboa Park (map) Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 Time: 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM Tickets: Pre-sale tickets: $40, but prices will go up to $75 Website:www.dtownproductions.com
Of course there will be tons of other fun including a Halloween Party Cruise aboard the William D. Evans and other excitement at your local favorite nightlife spots like FLUXX (their current fluxuation is Fetish, and will have Lil Kim performing on Halloween night), Stingaree (Asylum theme with DJ Cobra on the 27th and Halloweird on Halloween night) and the Pussycat Dollhouse (Circus Bloodlust party on the 31st) – so there’s no excuse to not get out and let your inner devil out!
So throw on that sexy nurse or escaped convict outfit and head out for a ghoulishly great time!
It is the eternal question of the late night party crowd – “where are we eating?” You’re rolling out of a bar or nightclub at 1:00 AM and have worked up an appetite dancing. It’s late but nobody wants fast food. And while I am a diehard fan of the 24-hour taco shop, I recognize that this is not everyone’s preference, so here are a few suggestions for your late night eats:
For those who want to rock out while they snack out, Maryjane’s in the Hard Rock Hotel offers a variety of diner-style food options until 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Whether you’re partial to late night breakfast foods or go for such classic late night eats as chicken wings or chili cheese fries – you’ll be eating like a Rock Star at Maryjane’s.
Gaijin Noodle House – which is open until 1:00 AM most nights – actually stays open until 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday nights! What better food to chow down on after a long night of drinking and shenanigans than a bowl of ramen noodles, some yakitori skewers or (if you’re not quite done drinking yet) a Kakigori cocktail!
Chow Down on a Great Late Nite Snack at Bolillo Tortas
If you’re craving something a little more south of the border, Bolillo Tortas is also open until 3:00 AM Thursday – Saturday nights. Their menu of healthier Mexican options includes some great soups, salads and tortas (Mexican sandwiches) with flavors that will not disappoint!
So while I know the lure of 4th Meal is calling, try to avoid the drive thru and check out one of these delicious late night spots!
Mostly known as a LGBT friendly neighborhood, Hillcrest is a fantastic nightlife spot for people of all ages, races, creeds and sexualities. Whether you’re searching for strobe lights & fist pumps, country line dancing or a pool table in the back of a dive bar, Hillcrest nightlife delivers.
Perhaps most well-known in Hillcrest is Urban Mo’s – a bar with great burgers and a lively dance floor. Mo’s keeps it fresh with different themes every night, including country line dancing (with lessons if needed), House/Top 40/Dance Beats or a Dreamgirl’s Review. Casual, comfortable, fun…Mo’s can be the place that you sit around and reminisce with friends over some food and drinks – or the place you go to dance all night. Open 365 days a year serving food until 11:00 pm and cocktails until 2:00 am, you always have a place to party at Mo’s.
For those nighttime revelers who prefer a little more flash and glamor, Eden is your Hillcrest destination. With nearly 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, Go-Go dancers of both genders a-dancin’ and bass bumping music, you can be assured of a good time at Eden! More closely resembling a Downtown nightclub with their lights and staging, Eden goes all out to keep the party people happy by featuring top-notch DJs that keep the music pounding all night long!
Great Dive Bars
Lets not forget the fun, hole-in-the-wall watering spots for those who just want to get their drink on. Personal favorites include Fiesta Cantina and #1 Fifth Avenue. Fiesta has a very relaxed/open vibe similar to something you’d find in a beach bar in Mexico. And while #1 Fifth Avenue doesn’t seem like much from the outside, the drinks are cheap and they’ve got a great outdoor patio in the back with a couple of pool tables and a great laid back attitude.
Lafayette Hotel Pool
The Lafayette Hotel’s pool parties are the perfect place to recover after a night of too much fun.
And once you’ve partied your tail off at night, be sure to check out the Lafayette Hotel‘s summer pool party for a little recovery time. Bloodys, music and naps by the pool? Yes please!
Summer is just around the corner and San Diego will be celebrating its launch over Memorial Day weekend with tons of fun pool parties, events, shows and headliners! Whether you want to lounge by the pool with hundreds of your closest friends, dance to your favorite DJ or get out on the Bay, this weekend is your opportunity to start this summer off right!
We know you love Flash Mobs, right? And you like to eat, yes? And what’s Memorial Day weekend without a White Party, huh? Well throw all those things together and you get San Diego’s Le Diner a San Diego on Friday night. Buy your seats to the event and you’ll get a message Friday morning with the details on where the event will be held that night. Tables and entertainment are provided, but you bring your food, friends and a good time! This concept was launched in Europe years ago and has finally made its way to San Diego. Don’t miss out on this fantastic event!
Memorial Day weekend Intervention is twice as big as usual with headliners Lil John performing on Saturday and renowned DJ Steve Aoki spinning on Sunday. The Hard Rock’s weekly pool party extravaganza will be rocking Downtown all weekend long with these two huge acts – and you know Hard Rock likes to go BIG!
The Ivy Rooftop is Fortune Industry’s summer spot for Sunday pool parties, and Memorial Day weekend kicks off the festivities with house music, dancing, fashion and an adult beverage or two! So pull out this season’s latest gear and party with Fortune at the Ivy Rooftop!
For those fleeing downtown for the weekend, why not head to Cricket Wireless Amphitheater for the I Love This City San Diego Music Festival happening Sunday. With 21 musical acts performing – including well known artists Skrillex and Crystal Method – you know Chula Vista will be jumping on Sunday! The show is 16 and over and tickets start at $25.
The Hornblower Inspiration will play host to the ultimate Yacht Party on Sunday starting at 3:30 pm. 6 DJs will be rocking the boat all evening long while revelers enjoy the sights of San Diego’s amazing evening skyline. The 3.5 hour long party cruise will be sure to delight but make sure to buy your tickets soon. Golden Ticket prices start at $40 with special Platinum VIP tickets (which include access to the private Platinum VIP deck) starting at $85.
The beauty of holiday weekends is that you can have your own backyard BBQ and still have the opportunity to hit up a giant pool party, watch your favorite DJ or musical act perform and still have a day to recover! So don’t let this weekend go to waste folks…get out there and party!
Join me on a tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, home of San Diego’s hottest nightlife! With a wink and a nod to the area’s tawdry beginnings, we begin at Stingaree – voted San Diego’s best nightclub 4 years in a row. Then we’ll check out Southern California’s highest rooftop bar, Altitude Sky Lounge at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter before we travel underground to the hidden wonderland of Vin de Syrah. It definitely was a great day at work!
As I write this blog post I am in the process of planning my evening’s itinerary and have decided that tonight is a rooftop night. Not only does San Diego’s great climate allow for fantastic beach days, tons of water sports and plenty of outdoorsy activities, it also allows locals and visitors alike to enjoy the nightlife outside as well!
Rooftop bars, lounges and nightclubs abound in San Diego – where revelers often relax in front of fire pits, listening to the soft thump of lounge music and sipping on their favorite cocktails.
Many of these rooftop oases are spread throughout, though not limites to, the Gaslamp Quarter. Here are just a few options for an evening of lounging under the stars:
Altitude Sky Lounge atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter
Located at the top of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter and overlooking PETCO Park, Altitude Sky Lounge enjoys amazing views of Padres’ games as well as downtown and the bay. A giant fire pit keeps those who may be a little chilly toasty warm and projection screens entertain with scenes to accompany their low key, lounge music. Altitude is a great place to post up for a relaxed evening of chatting with friends over a few drinks and taking in views of the city.
Hard Rock Hotel’s Float Bar features multiple VIP seating areas and a number of fire pits giving of that Southern California vibe. Classic Hard Rock dance music plays throughout the area while guests enjoy time on Float’s dance floor. This area is also prime territory during Hard Rock’s Sunday Intervention pool parties during the late Spring/Summer months.
Andaz San Diego’s rooftop provides multiple areas for guests to enjoy an evening in San Diego. The massive firepit draws crowds on cooler nights, but it is the views of Downtown that truly impress. And don’t be shocked when you walk into the bathroom area and see someone of the opposite sex at the sinks – the sink area is co-ed with separate rooms for your more private concerns.
As featured in our Gaslamp Quarter nightlife video, Stingaree is a mega entertainment venue with 3 floors of excitement. The nightclub’s rooftop features private, VIP cabanas, fire pits and often a completely different sound from the music playing on the dance floors within the building. For those wanting to take a break from the pounding beats of the DJ below, the rooftop oasis is the perfect place to catch up with friends and scope out your next dance partner.
Well now that I’ve thought about it, I think I just might have to rooftop hop to all of these spots tonight! The weather is going to be great and I could use a little time soaking up the San Diego scene. See you out there!