San Diego is one of the most frequented cities in California due to its pristine beaches, perfect year-round weather, and laid-back atmosphere. The crowd in San Diego may be chill. Still, they don’t skimp out on quality experiences, including top-notch cuisines, aesthetically-pleasing restaurants, and a nightlife that rivals Las Vegas. Tourists can enjoy San Diego nightlife’s diverse array of laser-filled, EDM-pumping nightclubs, tropical lounges, and chill bars with the best local craft beers. No matter your mood, there’s a little something for everyone in San Diego.
One of San Diego’s newer nightlife attractions in the Gaslamp Quarter, the opening of this club in February 2022 has been highly anticipated. Owned by Insomniac — the same group behind the vibrant, ever-popular Electric Daisy Carnival — this nightclub has replaced the once-loved Omnia nightclub. So far, this neon-lit club has met, and possibly exceeded expectations. An electric music-lover’s oasis, Nova SD boasts a state-of-the-art custom-built sound system and a massive LED screen, making for an immersive, dynamic dance floor fit for unforgettable nights. Headliner DJs have already made their appearances at this booming club, with upcoming events including performances from Kaskade, Excision, Two Friends, and more. A strictly 21+ club, Nova SD is open only on Friday and Saturday nights. VIP tables and bottle service are available on three levels, with booths lined on the outskirts of the dance floor, on a mezzanine overlooking the DJ booth, and a terrace with its own sleek bar — there’s even a gourmet food menu for those who choose to sit. An upscale dress code is enforced, and this venue is completely cashless.
There’s something about a speakeasy that brings the coolest crowds together, and Prohibition is no exception. Appropriately named for its 1920s feel, this ambient club is located on 5th Avenue in downtown Gaslamp, behind a door discretely marked with “The Law Office of Eddie O’Hare, Esq.” In true Gatsby fashion, a strict dress code is enforced on weekends, so only show up if you’re in the mood for a glamorous night!
SideBar is studded with pink neon and floral decor, making it the perfect mix between clubby and feminine for a good old-fashioned girl’s night out. People love Side Bar for its upscale feel, complete with sparkling bottle parades, a sleek lounge, and Industry Night Wednesdays. Whether you’re in the mood for champagne and confetti showers or a chill night with friends, there will be something on Side Bar’s weekly schedule for you. Visit their website to learn more about Acoustic Thursdays and Ditch Fridays.
For partygoers who want some genuine fun and a reason to dance the night away, Onyx Room has tons to offer. With various DJs and a diverse array of tunes, including throwback hip-hop, modern techno and EDM, rock, reggae and 80’s disco, there’s a little something for everyone here. Check their website for events and themed nights like Latin party Fridays. This is a high-end club, so the dress code is strict, and reservations for VIP booths are recommended.
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Altitude boasts an unrivaled view of the Gaslamp District, including a full view of the Padres baseball stadium and the picturesque ocean. Cozy up next to an outdoor fire pit and watch the sunset’s colors melt over the city while you sip on a $7 happy hour premium cocktail. A stunning spot for private events, Altitude also offers VIP bottle service. This lounge is located at the Marriott hotel, making it ideal for vacation trips, but non-hotel guests are welcomed as well.
Calling all millennials! Stepping into Coin-Op Gameroom is like stepping into a throwback photo album of your childhood– well, the fun parts at least. Known for its vintage array of classic arcade games, this spot is also well-known for its extensive collection of San Diego’s best craft beers. Chow down on classic bar food and order a beer flight with your pals for a laid-back evening in true San Diego style. With a second location in Gaslamp, this is a favorite bar for many locals and tourists alike.
Part of an uber-successful hospitality group, Waverly is a breathtaking oasis with artfully tiled walls and boujee-beach-themed decor. While tons of natural sunlight floods the bright space, guests enjoy Michelin-star-rated cuisine, including a stellar brunch that isn’t complete without Waverly’s famous rum-infused cold brew. Foodies will drool over just about everything on the menu, and the cocktail menu is just as innovative and tasty. Reservations are highly recommended for Waverly.
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You can’t go to San Diego without enjoying the tropical vibes of a good tiki bar. The Grass Skirt won’t disappoint, with tropical cocktails in festive drink glasses that can be purchased as souvenirs, palm tree decor, and an indoor fire pit. The Grass Skirt is a bit of a speakeasy, as its entrance is located inside of a Poke shop. Visit during the holiday season for the famous Pacific Beach Sipping Santa, wherein you’ll enjoy holiday-themed drinks and festive decorations that’ll make you forget you’re on the beach! If you’re a local, consider signing up for their Rum Club, which will get you access to refined rum tastings of some of the world’s best rum.
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For a truly luxurious California experience, head up to the fourth floor of the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and sprawl out on a poolside couch with Float’s most popular cocktails. Float features a sleek rooftop pool, stellar views of Gaslamp, and the option to rent an exclusive private cabana. As the sun sinks down, pulse-thumping music from world-class DJs brings in a hip crowd for an unforgettable San Diego night.