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.
Over 160 films and videos from across Latin America and the United States will be screened at theaters throughout the county. Directors, actors, and audience members from around the globe will descend on San Diego for the festival. A number of showcases help guide attendees through the diverse array of films being shown, for example CineGay shows gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender films, while Documania shows documentaries.
San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering EXPO Day
Get hands on with science at this free family day at Petco Park
Participate in hands-on activities, meet real scientists and engineers and learn how their discoveries and research affect our daily lives. The Festival is a unique opportunity to reach students of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring the next generation of innovators.
Mission Beach Centennial Monument Dedication & Walk
Kick-off the year-long Mission Beach Centennial celebration with a monument/plaque dedication commemorating the 100 years of this popular beachfront community. The walk will begin at either end of Mission Beach meeting on the boardwalk where residents will stroll to the southwest corner of Belmont Park where the monument/plaque will be placed.
TRANSANNUAL will begin with empty sidewalks, and end with the memory of the experience. The Participating Artists and Assistant Collaborators will be creating/dissolving, installing/de-installing, and performing for the entire duration. There will be no Event Schedule, Map, or Information about the Artworks. Outside of the date, timeframe, and general area, the public will only be given this Conceptual Framework and some enigmatic clues.
We are hardwired to play. All mammals and birds play. Play binds us with other fellow creatures in an exuberant celebration of life. Play is essential for our survival, our health, and our well-being. It is one of the seven primary process emotions, so distinct and primeval that the brain circuit of play lights up the fMRI like a constellation in the night sky. When we play, we laugh: dogs laugh, monkeys laugh, rats laugh, parrots laugh (and dance). We need to laugh and play as much as possible.
For decades, San Diego has had a vibrant and eclectic local music scene, and that’s reflected in the number of great places to see live music in town. There are dozens upon dozens of clubs, bars, theaters, coffeehouses and arenas to see a show — so many that it can be overwhelming to figure out where and when to go. Depending on where you go you can get a very different experience, so here are recommendations for a handful of the best places to see live music in San Diego.
The Casbah is your best bet for rock music.
In January, this local institution celebrates its 25th anniversary, and in those 25 years, The Casbah has played host to an incredible list of bands that includes The White Stripes, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, among hundreds of other greats. The midtown rock club is small, but on any given night there’s great music to see, cold beer flowing from the taps, and some vintage video games in the Atari Lounge if you feel like taking an 8-bit break. The vibe and kitschy decor is cool, but the main reason to come is the talent that occupies the stage, all year long.
Belly Up Tavern
M83 plays at the Belly Up in Solana Beach in 2009.
There aren’t as many great venues in North County as there are in the city of San Diego, but one of the best just happens to be in Solana Beach, just a short hop from the coast. TheBelly Up Tavern is one of the bigger clubs in the county, with a capacity of 650, and its sound is impeccable. Plus, if you’re feeling peckish, the Wild Note Cafe — a full service restaurant — is adjacent to the club. Have a bite before you rock out.
Lestat’s is an intimate venue to see singer/songwriters.
For a more intimate, mellow live music experience, head to Normal Heights and catch an acoustic showcase at Lestat’s. A coffeehouse with an adjacent seated venue, Lestat’s is a prime venue to hear great local and touring folk acts or singer/songwriters. It’s laid back, comfortable, and open 24 hours! So if you feel like curling up in one of its comfy chairs and keeping the espresso flowing after the music stops, go ahead and make yourself at home.
Open Air Theatre
The Open Air Theater is big enough for large acts to play, but small enough to still feel close to the performers.
For bigger names, there are a handful of giant arenas that pull in some of the biggest acts in the country, but a good middle ground is San Diego State University’s Open Air Theatre, which is big enough to house a marquee act, but still small enough not to require a Jumbotron. The sound is great, and it’s outdoors, so patrons can listen to their favorite band while lounging under the stars.
This is just a sampling of the many live music venues in San Diego, but pick a night to visit any of these four and you’re guaranteed a good time.
Jeff Terich is the music editor of San Diego CityBeat and has been writing about music for over a decade. A contributor to top music magazines including American Songwriter and ALARM, Jeff is also the founder of Treblezine.com, an independent music feature and review site.
From SoCal’s largest free two-day music festival to a traditional Oktoberfest to a costumed townie ride, here are the top things to do in San Diego during the last weekend of September:
2013 Adams Avenue Street Fair
Dance like nobody is watching at SoCal’s largest free two-day music festival, the Adams Avenue Street Fair
Featuring more than 90 musical acts performing on 7 stages, the Adams Avenue Street Fair is Southern California’s largest free two-day musical festival. In addition to the exciting musical lineup, there will be beer gardens, a beer tasting area, giant carnival rides, and more than 300 food, arts and craft vendors selling their specialties throughout the street fair venue.
Lederhosen, Beer, Bratwurst and Family Fun at the Authentic Oktoberfest in El Cajon
Prost! Come and enjoy authentic German food, a great selection of German beers, traditional folk dancing performances, compete in numerous games and contests, check out vendor and craft booths, and treat the kids to their own Kids’ Zone. Bring your family and friends to El Cajon and experience a real German Oktoberfest!
Professional rodeo cowboys from around the country compete in events such as Bareback and Saddle Bronc Riding, Barrel Racing, Tie Down Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping and Bull Riding. Kids will also enjoy the Boot Scramble where they give up one of their shoes and then race to find it on the other side of the arena. There’s also a free dance for everyone 21 and over after the rodeo each night.
Start of Tour de Fat San Diego with a fun townie and hundreds of your new best friends
If dressing freaky, riding bikes, listening to bands and drinking beer are things you like, then don’t miss the most fun fundraiser around…Tour de Fat is coming back to town! Each day begins with a giant bicycle parade that weaves through city streets, designed for people of all skill levels; all are welcome and colorful costumes are encouraged. For the rest of the afternoon, the stages heat up with world-class acts and the park becomes a celebration unlike any other!
Where: Golden Hill Park – 2590 Golden Hill Drive, San Diego, CA 92102 When: September 28, 2013 Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Cost: Admission and High Fives Free. Donations accepted for Townie Ride > Find out more about Tour de Fat San Diego
Oceanside Harbor Days
Think you can build a better boat during Oceanside Harbor Days’ Nail ‘n’ Sail competition?
Bring the whole family for two event-filled days of sun, sand and surf! Experience fun activities including the new sandcastle competition, entertainment stage, arts, crafts and food booth areas, Nail ‘n’ Sail competition, military, public safety displays and more.
Learn about the history and cultures of San Diego at the Cabrillo Festival
For the 50th year, San Diego will celebrate the day in 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the shore that is now San Diego. Learn more about San Diego’s early history at this fun event for the whole family. In addition to the re-enactment, the festival is filled with educational activities, cultural demonstrations and exciting folkloric performances that bring to life the traditions of the Native American, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cultures that are part of the Age of Exploration.
Reminder: You are entering an active military base. Identification and car insurance is required. All individuals are subject to search. All vehicles are expected to adhere to base speed limit of 25 MPH. No talking on cell phones while driving.
Become your family’s super hero and take a plane, take a train, take a car or take a spaceship to San Diego to enjoy these top things to do this weekend:
You never know which super hero(es) you will meet at Comic-Con International
Holy Trolls and Goblins Batman, it’s time once again for the ultimate nerdi gras! Wookies, red-shirted ensigns, X-men, Avengers and plenty of other cos-play characters will fill up the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter and Convention Center this weekend. Even though the Comic-Con is sold out, there is still plenty to do nearby including people watching, industry sponsored parties and the highlighted events below:
Staying Classy in San Diego at the Del Mar Racetrack.
Bing Crosby’s song, “Where the Surf Meets the Turf,” written to promote the racetrack, lingers in air every summer in Del Mar. Men and women often don a special fedora or fascinator for their day at the Del Mar races, which serves the dual purpose of sun-protection and playful pageantry. Opening Day’s “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest” brings out the best of them, with categories including Most Glamorous, Best Fascinator, Best Racing Theme, Funniest or Most Outrageous, and Best Flowers/All Others.
Please Note: There will be a lot of traffic around the racetrack on opening day. Please allow yourself plenty of time to find parking. Better yet, consider taking the coaster or other public transportation options.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle in downtown this weekend and step back into our steam-and-coppered-powered future at the Steam Worlds Fair. There will be seven live entertainment stages, more than 80 vendors, a steampunk art gallery and much more. Costumes are encouraged! For those over 21, join in the pageantry pub crawl.
The Uptown region (especially North Park and Hillcrest) is well-known for its great food (coffee, vegetarian), shopping and nightlife. Locals and visitors also flock to Uptown in search of great craft beer, and these recent additions only make it better.
Craft Beer Fresh from the Tanks
Thorn Street Brewery
On warm days, the upstairs roof of Thorn Street Brewery opens to blue skies.
Some of San Diego’s most notable home brewers teamed up to transform a home brewing store into a 7 barrel brewery and tasting room. This family-friendly brewery is a great place to enjoy a flight of Thorn Street Brewing’s eight house beers in the main wood-paneled tasting room or the upstairs area with barrel tables and booths. Watch out for the chile beer: it sits there unassuming in the line up and then bam, it hits you half way through your flight.
As of this blog post, Thorn Street can only serve flights which allows the space to be all ages. My nephew had a great time playing with the provided books and blocks.
After Firehouse Brewing Company sadly bottled its last bottle, the founder Chris Finch had the urge to continue to brew. Beer lovers can now taste his delicious concoctions and more than 30 other beers at his new brewery/bar, Poor House Brewing Company in North Park. While enjoying a cold one, challenge an old friend or a new one you just met at the bar to a game of pool and shuffleboard. If it’s on tap, make sure to try the “Panty Dropper Ale,” an 18.5% ABV beast brewed with red hots!
San Diego’s first nano-brewery is enlarging its 1.6 barrel system (50 gallons per batch) in a warehouse to a 30 barrel (1,100 gallons per batch) brewhouse in North Park. The pièce de résistance is a 50 skybridge that will guide craft beer aficionados over the brewery, located in the open air basements below, to the tasting room and back patio. Mike Hess Brewing will also be canning their 5 regular beers and using the original warehouse for experimental brews.
What happens when the former proprietor of the craft beer store, South Bay Drugs, and a professionally trained sommelier join forces? They create Bine & Vine, located in Normal Heights, a craft beer and wine store that has become my go to place for a craft beer bomber or two ever since it opened. Joey and Stephen (former Beer Train Tour Guide) have a passion for craft beer and wine, respectively, and it’s reflected in the ever-changing local and international selections.
Browse the fine selection at Bottlecraft North Park.
The wildly successful and original Bottlecraft in Little Italy (and a frequent stopping point for me when I worked in Little Italy) is expanding into North Park. Those visiting and living in Uptown can expect the same great selection and knowledge of craft beers, all within walking and/or biking distance. Unfortunately, the owners could not bring the tasting room with them, but don’t fret – there are plenty of amazing craft beer bars and restaurants nearby.
Looks like Ron Burgundy enjoys the flight selection at Clem’s Tap House. Photo courtesy of Clem’s Tap House.
Years ago, I went to Clem’s for Jolt Cola. Now I go to Clem’s Bottle House to pick up a local craft beer to enjoy at home or stop by the new Tap House to sample a flight of brews. Clem’s Tap House offers a rotating selection of four flights each offering four different styles of beer and/or a bottle list for those wanting to enjoy a full pint. Once you’ve ordered, snag one of the outside tables and enjoy your beverage of choice under the warm San Diego sky.
February 22 is National Margarita Day and San Diego is ready to celebrate on this sunny and 60 degree Friday. Try out these local favorites that will have you singing a rousing chorus of “Margaritaville” by sundown.
Just A Few National Margarita Day Options
Fiesta de Reyes
Margaritas in San Diego’s Old Town. Photo Courtesy of Prayitno.
Casa de Reyes not only makes one of the best classic margaritas in town, but it supplies a lush Spanish Revival courtyard as the perfect backdrop to enjoy the afternoon sipping on a Margarita and enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine with your friends. You can never go wrong with their classic house margarita made with premium tequila, orange liqueur and homemade sweet and sour, but I always go for favorite, the skinny margarita, made with premium tequila, lime and agave syrup. If you’re looking for something more exotic, the spicy mango margarita at Barra Barra Saloon, located next door, will certainly hit the spot. And if you choose to try one of each, we won’t judge – it’s National Margarita Day after all!
These traditionalists only mix up one kind of margarita, on the rocks with their house mix of lime and agave syrup, so they can keep customers concentrating on the important stuff: tequila. Take your pick from over 100 tequilas and mescals and have one of the highly knowledgeable and friendly bartenders shake you up a quick, simple and delicious margarita. Combine with carnitas tacos and a side of guacamole, and you have a pretty perfect evening ahead of you.
On this National Margarita Day, why not try Casa de Pico’s famous “Bird Bath margarita”
If your travels take you east, a must stop margarita spot is Casa de Pico, home of the renowned “birdbath margarita,” strolling mariachis and colorful umbrellas. The margarita comes by its name honestly, as the gargantuan margarita could easily supply refuge for a small bird on a hot day. But with its classic margarita contents I’d say the real refuge it is supplying on this sunny afternoon is for you and a friend or two.
Café Coyote, located in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town, is a San Diego classic. Today they celebrate the margarita by serving 20 different types of margaritas all day long for only $5 each. You definitely won’t find a better deal or variety in town. T.G.I.F!
They say everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. As we noted yesterday, that’s definitely true in the Gaslamp Quarter during ShamRock when the streets are covered with more than 60,000 sq. ft. of bright green astroturf and more than 20,000 revelers pour in to listen to Celtic bands and DJ’s as they party into the night. During this, the largest St. Pat’s party west of the Mississippi, there’s no shortage of Irish-inspired drink specials for Harp, Guinness and Jameson lovers and you might even find someone pouring a green beer or two.
Whether you plan to partake in the ShamRock raucousness or not, in my opinion, it’s advisable to make sure your St. Patty’s celebrations include a good meal and civilized drink or two. Just like most towns in America, there are many “Irish” bars in San Diego. That’s why, I want to share a couple of suggestions about where you can really find those smiling Irish eyes.
The Field is a turn of the century Irish pub that was shipped literally piece by piece from Ireland to in the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. It still boasts the warm relaxing atmosphere of an old Irish country pub and serves the simple, hearty fare that is the signature of Emerald Isle cuisine. Dig into a bowl of Guinness beef stew rich with succulent cubed beef, potatoes, onions and carrots and seasoned to perfection with fresh herbs and of course Guinness. Enjoy melt-in-the-mouth corned beef served with red potatoes and tender cabbage or shepherd’s pie, a delicious combination of ground beef, diced carrots, peas, leeks and parsley topped with fluffy mashed potatoes lightly browned under the broiler. If you aren’t attending ShamRock, pop in for lunch on St. Pat’s but don’t dilly-dally. The pub is a center point of the festivities and once the party starts, the focus truly shifts from food to frolic.
While I can’t promise The Ould Sod will be civilized on St. Patrick’s Day, I can promise it will be authentically Irish. This bar in Normal Heights, near North Park, has been Irish-owned for the last 20-years and is one of the oldest bars in town (the third-oldest, if you’re counting). Famous for a wild live music scene, it’s a neighborhood pub but the Ould Sod always makes visitors feel right at home whether they’re ex-pat Irish, San Diegan or guests checking out our town. Sit back, order a beer and by night’s end you’ll be singing your heart out with strangers turned pals.
Of course, if you really want to celebrate in civilized style, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is offering The Plough and the Stars Gondola Cruise. Sign up and you’ll enjoy a group gondola cruise through the canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays while tasting three Irish whiskeys paired with traditional Irish soda bread, Dubliner cheese and Irish sausage. The one-hour cruises depart at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on March 17. The cost is $35 per person. Space is limited to 12 passengers per cruise. Reservations are required by calling 619-429-6317.
Wonder what gondolas have to do with Ireland? Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!
favorite annual events. Set along Adams Avenue (between 35th Avenue and Bancroft Street) in Normal Heights, the event features 70 musical acts on six different stages, carnival rides, over 300 arts and craft vendors, beer gardens and yummy food galore! The fun goes down from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday. Insider Tip: I suggest pulling out some mullah because a lot of the vendors are “cash only.”
Beat the heat and catch a flick during the annual San Diego Film Festival this weekend at the Gaslamp Theater. Showcasing a number of American and international full-length films, documentaries and short films, you can also catch Q & A sessions with directors and maybe even a star sighting or two. Individual passes are available, but day passes are recommended. Plus, with the purchase of a day pass you can get into the special workshops, panels and fabulous after parties. Click here for a complete list of showings.
Long before there was a sponge that lived in a pineapple under the sea, there was a famous explorer that sailed the sea; in fact, that explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, discovered San Diego in 1542. In honor of his discovery, we’re celebrating the annual Cabrillo Festival this Saturday and Sunday. This free event includes cultural festivities, educational activities, music, food, dancing and a wonderful reenactment of the famous explorer landing on the shores of San Diego Bay.