The 3 Best San Diego Neighborhoods for Entertainment

With its beautiful sandy beaches and incredible weather year-round, San Diego is meant for enjoying the outdoors. But the city is also home to some quality theaters, music venues, nightclubs, and other spots that make it a great city to catch a play, see a concert, or dance the night away.

Here are the San Diego neighborhoods that deliver when it comes to entertainment.

Gaslamp

A street lined with businesses in the Gaslamp District.
A street lined with businesses in the Gaslamp District. 

This Downtown San Diego neighborhood is home to the energetic Gaslamp Quarter, a 16-block entertainment district is teeming with nightlife venues, theaters, restaurants, and shopping. The neighborhood has chic, modern townhomes and condos that are within walking distance of all the action. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places, and you can see buildings here dating back to 1867. 

Take in a show at the gorgeous historic landmark Balboa Theatre right in the heart of downtown. The theater hosts comedy shows, music tribute shows, live podcast events, and much more. Make sure to take a tour of the breathtaking theater after your show.

For those who love dancing the night away, ONYX Nightclub plays hip-hop, Latin, Top 40, reggae, rock, and everything in between on two levels and three dance floors. Onyx tends to attract an open-minded, up-for-anything and—above all—incredibly friendly crowd.

North Park

North Park, San Diego
Photo by LazyPandaPhotos / Shutterstock.com

Northeast of Balboa Park is one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Diego: North Park. The eclectic community offers a dynamic mix of cafes, coffee houses, retail shops, watering holes, restaurants, and entertainment options for its residents. You definitely don’t have to go far to have a great time. This neighborhood is self-sufficient, and it’s close to other popular areas like University Heights, Hillcrest, and Normal Heights.

Located in the heart of North Park is the Observatory. This venue, once known as the Birch North Park Theater, has been converted into an intimate live theater and concert hall that hosts plays, films, live music, and private events. The red-decked cathedral hall offers up excellent acoustics and makes for the perfect place to catch a touring pop or rock group.

In addition to this, Lestat’s Coffee House offers up local music as well as open-mic nights, and over at Queen Bee’s, you can catch some spoken word or take part in Salsa Sundays. A great place to start the evening before an entertaining night out on the town is Caffe Calabria for a little North Park Italian flair.

If you’re looking for a little bit of retro fun, then Coin-op Game Room is the place to be. With 1980s arcade games like Pac Man, Mortal Kombat, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s tons of fun to be had. In addition to the games and craft cocktails, the bar serves up local beers.

La Jolla

The seaside cliffs of La Jolla, San Diego.
The seaside cliffs of La Jolla, San Diego. 

Surrounded by a spectacular coastline, bluffs, and an upscale village atmosphere, La Jolla is a beautiful seaside community that offers the perfect blend of modernism and nostalgia. While it does feel a bit like being in a small town, La Jolla’s cultural offerings rival those in bigger cities.

One of two locations of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is in La Jolla, offering world-class art amid ocean vistas (Note: The museum is currently undergoing a major renovation, but the Downtown San Diego location remains open).

Located on the campus of the University Of California San Diego is the La Jolla Playhouse, which is famous for its contributions to the arts. The theater has sent more than 25 shows, including “Big River” and “Jersey Boys,” to Broadway. Every year the theater offers locals the chance to see new plays and musicals.

La Jolla's Comedy Store has been making people laugh for over 30 years, and the club features local talent as well as big-name comics you’ll probably recognize from TV and movies. Also, The Loft is a great spot to sip on sangria while listening to one of your favorite Indie artists. This venue focuses more on a younger demographic and hosts everything from documentaries and local musicians to internationally famous artists.

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