There's classical music and opera, but if you choose you may want to follow the crowds who flock to beachside discos and boozy music venues. It may be narrow in scope, but at least there's plenty going on. For full listings, pick up the free 'San Diego Reader' newspaper from numerous shops, bars and cafes around town.
---BLIND MELONS---, 710 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach (619/483-7844). Earthy, live blues nightly from 9pm.
----CAFE SEVILLA--- 555 Fourth Ave, downtown (619/233-5979). Traditional Spanish cuisine upstairs, hip Latin American-flavored dance club downstairs. Attracts a European crowd.
---THE CASBAH--- 2501 Kettner Blvd, downtown (619/232-4355). Varying roster of blues, rock and indie bands.
----EMERLAD CITY--- 945 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach (619/483-9920). Lively disco with drink specials at weekends, and an Underworld industrial and Gothic night on Sunday.
---GAS HAUS--- 640 F St, downtown (619/232-5866). Alcohol-free, eclectically decorated cafe where roller-blading teenagers, students and ageing hippies co-exist on deep couches, and take each other on at pool.
---WINSTON'S BEACH CLUB--- 1921 Bacon St, Ocean Beach (619/222-6822). Rock bands most nights, reggae on Thurs. Close to the pier.
The Belly Up is an eclectic veue that offers music of all styles inside a pair of renovated quonset huts-mere blocks from the beach.The booking policy allows for up and comers-like Jill Scott,MacyGray-big name world acts from Jamaica,Africa -dependable touring pros like Buddy Guy and local bands of all persuasions
The club gets its name from when the owner decided to put his disability money to work after the Viet Nam war--his friends advisided tha he wouldgo 'belly up' but after 30 years it is still here. Uniquely San DIego,a Brazilian band brings out all the local brazilian fans-same with Jamaica,Africa.Chicago BLues,and reggae crowds. Notable is the variety in age and dress in the crowd
Dress Code: Super casual-Hawaiian shirt/shorts next to Armani.California beach bar meets upscale supper club
This place looks like a big western bar from the outside, but on the inside it looks like a big western bar. Man, I'm funny.
Anyway, this place is a great place to see shows. The music varies nightly and sometimes tickets can get pricy, but if you like the band, you'll love seeing them here. Everytime I've been there it's ben extremely crowded, but that's why it's fun, right? They have a huge selection of beer and other drinks to choose from.
Dress Code: not that I've noticed
I guess nightlife is generally the same in S.D. as it is in most other American cities. The only main differences are the typical Californian things, which mean that the official party is over by 2 A.M. and if you wanna have a smoke you must do it outside. Pretty weird for a European or even for somebody from New York. Well, all you can do is just start having fun earlier and keep on partying at somebody’s house after public doors are closed. The smoking issue is surely a tougher one for chain smokers, but guys, give your lungs a break and protect other people’s health.
There are a few nice spots in La Jolla, and since I spent most of my times in S.D. over there I can not say much about the rest of the city. Don’t ask me about the exact names of those places, but I remember one cool bar/lounge is right next to the Hard Rock Café in La Jolla (not the one in S.D. downtown).
The best fun you will definitely have at some beach party though. Check out the local beaches and if you are lucky you will run in a bunch of surfer dudes or other “Diegos” that have something to celebrate. People are usually pretty open-minded down there and if you are at least semi-nice you may be offered a beer and to join in.
Hillcrest has great nightlife, especially if you're looking for a young, alternative crowd.
Dress Code: Casual, not preppy.