15 Unmissable Things To Do In San Diego At Night
San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and second largest in California with about 1.3 million citizens. Everybody loves visiting San Diego because of its sunny weather and amazing beaches. There are lots of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, including theme parks like SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo.
Adults will have lots to do with the active nightlife and nature lovers will be happy to hear that the city has several nature reserves and parks, with the biggest one taking up 600,000 acres of space and landscapes ranging from calm foothills to large mountain peaks. Add an impressive arts and culture scene and you will have no trouble finding something for everybody to love.
As you can tell, San Diego has lots to do during the day and there are some great options for fun at night too. Follow this guide to some of the best things to do in San Diego at night so you can experience all that the city has to offer. But don't drag your bags around the city with you as you explore. Use a luggage storage locker in San Diego to keep shopping purchases and large bags safe while you have a night on the town.
Look at the Stars with the San Diego Astronomy Association
Despite the fact that San Diego is a huge and bright city, you will be surprised by how easy it is to see the stars from almost anywhere. If you are someone who is interested in space or the stars then you won't want to miss the events put on by the San Diego Astronomy Association.
They host lectures every month as well as regular gatherings for youth groups. You can also visit the Mission Trails Regional Park to do some stargazing and enjoy time in nature.
Go to the USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway is a retired battleship and was the longest serving vessel from the United States Navy in the whole twentieth century. It has been transformed into a museum that can teach you a lot and also hosts events during the day and night.
This San Diego museum hosts overnight sleepovers where guests can sleep on the boat deck after taking an informative guide of its interior. Before you go to sleep you can do some stargazing from the deck or tell ghost stories with friends!
Stroll Around the Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is the perfect spot to spend a night in San Diego. Food vendors line every street with lounges, bars, clubs and eateries that remain open well into the night. You can also find theaters here so you can treat yourself to an evening show before going out for drinks.
This spot in Downtown San Diego is also good for shopping and perfect for finding souvenirs or gifts. As for entertainment, stop by the Horton Grand Theater or the Mad House Comedy Club. Visit the Parq Restaurant and Nightclub for great food and the House of Blues San Diego for drinks and live music.
Take a Sunset Cruise from Mission Bay
A great way to see the city is from the water of this San Diego bay. Enjoy the stunning views of the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean and see the city lights from the water on your way back. This is the perfect activity for anybody whether you are traveling as a family, if you're on a romantic couples vacation, or just want to do some sightseeing on your own. A bar is located on the boat.
You will find this activity at Mission Bay Park which is the biggest non-natural aquatic park in America. There are lots of other fun things for you to do here either during the day or at night, like water sports or sun tanning on Mission Beach.
Explore San Diego's Little Italy
Come see where the Italian citizens of San Diego first made their appearance in this small but active neighborhood. This is where lots of citizens gather to eat great food and enjoy the city's nightlife. Make your way here to try perfectly mixed cocktails and meals made by celebrity chefs.
While you are in Little Italy you will get to taste all of the best craft beers and enjoy live entertainment. Afterward, you can stroll through the nearby city streets at night.
Take a City Lights Tour
The San Diego City Lights Tour is a great way to see the city's top attractions at night. This is the perfect way to get to know the different areas around town so you can go back to your favorite spots again later, so if you are new to San Diego this is a great starting activity for you.
Some of the neighborhoods and landmarks that you will visit include the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Embarcadero and the Coronado Bridge. Each area is home to its own attractions that are all worth stopping by, and this tour allows you to experience them all in one night. Tours usually last about an hour and a half.
Stop by Balboa Park
Balboa Park is full of so many things to do that you can spend several nights here and still have more to explore. This is where many of the museums are located and you will often see street performers gathering to entertain the crowds. There are some gorgeous botanical gardens found here that are worth a visit both during the day and night.
On summer nights, the museums are open late and the flowers are in bloom making it the optimal time to visit. We recommend having an evening picnic and walking through the gardens or grabbing a bite to eat at one of the nearby food trucks. Outdoor movie nights take place on the lawn of the gardens which is perfect for couples or family outings.
See the Views at Sunset Cliffs
Just before the night arrives in San Diego you can watch the sun go down from the best place in the city, Sunset Cliffs. The spot is usually busy with tourists and locals but for a good reason. If you are looking for something relaxing and completely free to do, then this is the perfect activity.
It is a great way to end a busy day of exploring the San Diego streets and the area is dog friendly as well. We recommend bringing a blanket and some snacks to make it into a romantic date.
Visit Old Town San Diego
A must visit spot in San Diego is the Old Town which is full of historic buildings, cultural events and is considered to be the birthplace of California. This place dates back to 1769 and much of its Mexican heritage is still visible today. It is a great place to experience authentic Mexican food and entertainment.
You can travel around the neighborhood with Old Town Trolley Tours to see some of the best parts of the city or enjoy live entertainment at the Fiesta de Reyes. If you are in the mood to do some nighttime shopping, you can stop by the Bazaar Del Mundo.
Try Food at Embarcadero Marina Park
There are several reasons to visit Embarcadero Marina Park and one of the best parts has to be the food. The park is located in Downtown San Diego making it the perfect stop between sightseeing.
The area is full of food vendors selling great drinks and tasty meals. While you are here, make sure to visit the Carnitas Snack Shack for delicious food and unique cocktail combinations. If you are visiting in November you will be able to participate in the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.
Watch Free Summer Concerts
With such nice weather during the summer season, it is no surprise that the general San Diego population loves to spend time outside, which is why you will find so many outdoor performances and concerts. They are usually free too, so you can stop by and enjoy the live music at no cost.
Make your way back to Balboa Park if you are visiting between June and August when the Twilight in the Park Summer Concerts are put on during weeknights. Del Mar also puts on summertime performances but you can find these events at several locations around the city.
Cross San Diego Bay in the Coronado Ferry
Just across the water from Downtown San Diego, you will see Coronado Island which is where you can find pristine beaches, shops and other attractions. You will have to ride the ferry to get here which can be a fun adventure at night.
Once you arrive you will get to see some scenic views of the San Diego skyline from across the water. On the island, you will find cute boutique shops to browse, restaurants set up by the water as well as the old and iconic Hotel del Coronado.
Go to the San Diego Zoo
You may be surprised to hear that one of the top places to visit in San Diego at night is actually the zoo. There is an impressive amount of activities offered between June and September once the sun goes down which makes it a popular spot for families.
At the zoo you get to see the animals, enjoy entertaining shows and music. In between performances, you will have the opportunity to see some of the impressive creatures up close with the zookeepers, and food is offered on site in case you get hungry.
Catch a Show at the Theater
You will soon realize that San Diego has an impressive performing arts scene and you won't have to search far to find a theater putting on some kind of show. Whether you like music, comedy or plays, you will have your choice of entertainment in the different venues around the city.
Visit the Old Globe Theatre which plays Broadway ready plays from Shakespeare to The Grinch or try La Jolla Playhouse for old and new shows like Bonnie and Clyde or Dracula, The Musical. The San Diego Civic Theatre is where the San Diego Opera perform and the Mad House Comedy Club is great for making you laugh.
Explore Seaport Village
This part of the city is located on the waterfront of San Diego and is full of entertaining shops, entertainment and food. Local and regional musicians put on performances alongside fire eaters and other impressive entertainers.
This is a great spot for date night with fine dining and bars that you can stop by for a few drinks after. If you want to save money you can just walk around the streets or by the water.
Experiencing America's Finest City at Night
There are so many things San Diego is known for which is why so many people choose to visit it every year. From historic buildings like the luxurious Hotel del Coronado to amazing food and beautiful beaches like La Jolla Cove, your vacation will be full of fun both during the day and at night. During your stay, you should check out at least a few of the activities listed above and others that we didn't get to include.
Participate in the SeaWorld Summer Nights, go to a drive-in movie theater, grab tickets to a theme park or catch a show at the San Diego Youth Symphony. All the city streets come alive at night in San Diego and most bars and restaurants stay open late too, making it the optimal destination for a brewery tour or to just watch the moonlight on the water of a Pacific beach. Make the most of your vacation by experiencing everything that the city has to offer including San Diego's art scene, beautiful nature reserves or amazing meals.