Party Places & Things To Know In SD’s Dynamic Downtown
This is a guide for weekend nights in one of the most dynamic nightlife areas in America.
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter has all the bar choices you can imagine – and a few you can’t – and while that’s it’s great quality it can also be frustrating because you don’t know where to go, of course.
PubClub.com has this solved for you but before we begin with our tips, we will say that the most popular places – mainly those along 5th Ave. – have lines starting after about 9:30.
So plan accordingly.
1.) THERE IS GREAT DIVERSITY IN THE NIGHTLIFE
There’s live music, DJs, EDM club music, country music, rockabilly, Irish music, small pubs, big clubs, dive bars, sit-down-and-watch-sports bars, rooftop bars, hang out bars in restaurants that are great for singles (Searsucker is one of the best for this) and even a couple of funky places, most notably Vin de Syrah, which locals refer to as “the Alice In Wonderland bar.”
In short, the Gaslamp has everything you could possibly want in nightlife, all within a walkable area of about six blocks.
Tip #1: Go to several places in one night; being in these vastly different atmospheres is like traveling to several different cities without leaving one compact area.
2.) THERE’S MORE TO THE BARS THAN WHAT YOU SEE FROM STREET LEVEL
Tip #2: Go check out places that may not initially appear to be exactly what you’e looking for because a lot of them have a real surprise once you’re inside. Several places which appear just to be basic bars on the street level are actually multi-level bars, each with a completely different crowd, vibe and personality.
The Tipsy Crow, for example, has a quiet lounge upstairs and a rocking (but casual) club downstairs. At Barley Mash, a cozy downstairs bar called Ginger’s is in direct contrast to the thumping happening on the main level.
3.) MANY INNOCENT-LOOKING RESTAURANTS TURN INTO ROCKING BARS
Tip #3: Walk around the Gaslamp and note that some of those restaurants you passed earlier in the evening are now mini clubs. They pull out the tables and what earlier was a quiet dining room is now a thumping dance floor. They usually don’t charge coves, either.
There are also two sports bars by day that turn into full-on nightclubs at night, the ever-popular Barley Mash and Whiskey Girl, both on 5th Ave. You had better get to these places before 9:30 to avoid the line.
4.) THERE ARE GOOD HAPPY HOURS BUT THE REAL ACTION IS LATER AT NIGHT
Tip #4: Don’t get too carried away with all the Happy Hours to where you can’t enjoy the evening. Every place puts out a sandwich board about its Happy Hours – $5 margaritas at La Fiesta in the heart of 5th Ave., and $5 Sangria at Cafe Seville are two of PubClub’s favorites – but you will note hardly anybody is at them.
That’s because few people live in the Gaslamp and as a result, the place doesn’t come alive until about 9 o’clock. By 10, people are swarming around the streets like locusts and that is what you want to experience. So don’t fade away after the Happy Hours.
5.) PUBCLUB.COM’S TOP NIGHTLIFE PICKS
Tip #5: Here’s a quick guide to our top bar choices: Vin de Syrah, the “Alice in Wonderland” bar; Las Hadas, a fun and friendly place with $5 drinks after 10; The Field and Dublin Square for live Irish music; Moonshine Flats for kick-butt kuntry; Searsucker for leaning-by-the-bar mingling with the opposite sex; the restaurant bar at Cafe Sevilla for good sangria and live music; the downstairs club at Tipsy Crow (with the occasional catch-the-breath break at the top-level lounge); Ginger’s below Barley Mash and Patrick’s for last call (or two).