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San Diego Nightlife Hotspots

DJ Insider Ayla Simone's Top Picks

San Diego has so much going on once the sun goes down—it can be a little overwhelming. Here is a list of some of San Diego's best offerings.

San Diego's Late-Night Line-Up

San Diego comes alive after dark with dance clubs, live music, comedy and more. Here are some of the best late night activities worth staying up for, assembled with the help of local DJ insider Ayla Simone. Starting with downtown hot spots, and moving outward from there, hopefully this list will guide your decision-making so you can get to enjoying one of San Diego's best natural resources: good times.

Ultimate Night Out

BEST DANCE CLUBS

Downtown San Diego has become a West Coast icon of nightlife, thanks to some of the hottest clubs throwing some of the biggest parties.

Omnia, recently brought over from Vegas, is bringing in some of the biggest names in music.

DJ Ayla Simone: "As a DJ, I'm very particular when it comes to clubs. To me, Omnia has it all. They book top-tier talent like Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Nervo, Steve Aoki and more of the Top 100 DJs every month. There are three levels, starting with a great club atmosphere in the main room, a middle level bar and VIP area overlooking the dance floor. There's also a rooftop lounge with hip-hop and Top 40 for the people who want a different vibe."

Parq is a restaurant that turns into a huge 40,000-square-foot club at night. Production value is a priority at this venue.

DJ Ayla Simone: "Parq is a Vegas-style club with top-notch design, a very large main room with a dance floor, stage, VIP booths and LED wall. They play a great mix of hip-hop and electronic music."

Ultimate Night Out

BEST SPEAKEASIES

Can you keep a secret? There are actually a few speakeasy bars downtown, but you have to know what you're doing if you want to find them.

The first is Prohibition, whose name makes a lot of sense. When you find the door labeled "Law Office, Edward Joseph O'Hare, Esq." and know that it's actually an awesome bar, you'll feel like you've indeed time traveled to a different era. Walk past an eerie red light and down some dark stairs and you'll arrive: fun live music, unique atmosphere and great cocktails fill this place on a regular basis.

Another speakeasy to check out is Noble Experiment. This one is actually found through a door hidden in a wall of kegs at the restaurant and bar, Neighborhood. It's small, but the vibe is intimate and the attention to detail is incredible. Have the bartender make you a dealer's choice and grab a seat under a wall made out of brass skulls. Then revel in the fact that you're officially "in the know."

DJ Ayla Simone: "If you have a specific time you want to go to Noble Experiment, make sure to call at least a few days ahead of time to reserve your spot."

San Diego Skyline

BEST DIVE BARS

San Diego has an abundance of stylish bars, full of craft cocktails, trendy designs and see-and-be-seen atmospheres. But sometimes you just want a local watering hole with stiff drinks, loud music and no frills. That's why San Diegans love the city's good selection of dive bars. It's all about balance.

One of the go-tos is Tivoli Bar and Grill, the oldest bar downtown. Rumor has it that the bar served drinks to Wyatt Earp and his wife back in their day. If you need any more convincing, the cheap pitchers and strong drinks should do the trick.

Another fun option is Star Bar. Make your way through the narrow design to the back and you can get on a pool table. The drinks are cheap, the characters are unique and the good times are easy to find.

Finally, for more of an island vibe, there is The Reef. Cheap beer specials and delicious fish tacos will make you glad you stepped in. It's a refreshing change of pace in the middle of it all.

American Comedy Signage

COMEDY

If you want a night out that goes against the norm, consider American Comedy Co. for an evening of laughs, drinks and good times.

It's an award-winning stand-up comedy club in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. Watch stars like Dana Carvey, Joel McHale, Norm MacDonald, Jay Mohr and Craig Robinson give it their best...unless you think you have what it takes. In that case, be sure to show up to open mic night on Tuesdays.

Live Music Venues

LIVE MUSIC

There's nothing quite like watching a favorite band or an undiscovered rising star on a live stage. San Diego has some amazing live music venues where you can grab a beer, let your hair down and rock out with the best.

The Casbah is an iconic and intimate Little Italy venue that hosts many local artists and some popular indie bands on their way to the big time. It also features some well-known bands—the list from over the years is impressive! A little grungy, a little dark...a lot of character.

DJ Ayla Simone: "The Casbah is one of those classic places that any live music lover who has been to SD knows about. There are a variety of indie bands that play. It's a must-see."

Belly Up is blocks from the beach and has consistently booked amazing bands since 1974. The Solana Beach venue known for its acoustics, beachy vibe and ability to draw some great acts of all genres. The space is small and you have a view of the stage wherever you are. Look out for the giant shark hanging from the ceiling!

DJ Ayla Simone: "The Belly Up has great live music! Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Matisyahu has played there."

If you find yourself in North Park, catch a show at The Observatory. This historic venue was once used for opera and dramatic theater, and a bit of that timeless character remains. It features a wide variety of artists, from hip-hop to indie rock.

Back downtown, House of Blues is another place to check out, lining up popular national acts in this state-of-the-art venue. Nightly musical entertainment can be found upstairs, so you can stop by no matter what night you're out.

San Diego Skyline

BEST BEACH BARS

What would a trip to San Diego be without a visit to some of the coolest beach bars on the coast? Head to Pacific Beach (or PB) for a concentration of bar after bar, right alongside the ocean.

Firehouse starts the party with brunch and rages through the night, with a rooftop that includes an ocean view.

DJ Ayla Simone: "Firehouse is more of a hip vibe; young professionals and nightlife industry frequent there. It is one building away from the water, has a lower level and a rooftop bar with fire pit."

The Local has a big rooftop patio, good food and great drinks. There's a downtown location of The Local as well.

DJ Ayla Simone: "The Local has a fun college vibe and holds quite a big crowd. It also has some great DJs at night."

PB Shore Club is directly on the water, with big windows offering amazing views of the ocean. The people-watching is just as good though, as this place gets packed. Get a vodka-Red Bull slushy (in a giant goblet) if you're feeling bold.

San Diego Skyline

BEST GAME BARS

What's better than a good drink and great company? A good drink and some classic arcade games with great company. Go ahead and empty the change jar—it's worth it.

Coin-Op Game Room is located on 30th Street (Beer Boulevard) in North Park and is full of classic arcade games like Galaga, Area 51, Big Buck Hunter, Mortal Kombat and many more. There's also giant Jenga and Connect Four on the back patio. Of course, the bar itself is also exciting - the bartenders will make a mean craft cocktail for you to sip on as you game.

Brewski's Bar on Miramar Road is another great game bar, which features pool tables and air hockey in addition to the classics.

> Craft beer is a way of life in San Diego. Dive into the brewery scene.

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