Even after the colors of the gorgeous sunset streak the sky with hues of pinks and purples, the excitement continues into the evening. Many visitors see a trip to San Diego as a chance to soak up the sun, sand, and sea, but there’s equally as much to do when the sun goes down. Check out the lights of downtown or spend an evening watching the stars glisten above the waves. Enjoy one of the many community street-fair events, a sporting event or an outdoor community gathering. An evening in ‘America’s Finest City’ is fun, enchanting, and tinged with a little romance. Here are our picks for the best places to explore and things to do when night falls in San Diego.
Spend your San Diego nights surrounded by friends, enjoying fun activities and fantastic festivities.
Evening excursions in San Diego are no exception to the easy access to nature rule. Whether you’re looking for a starlit picnic spot, a wander through the city’s epic green space or a cozy oceanfront bonfire at a local beach to roast your most perfect marshmallow, San Diego’s got you covered.
- Spend an evening with nature in Balboa Park
With 19 gardens, 17 museums, 13 recreation venues, 9 performing arts arenas, 9 various attractions and play spaces, restaurants, dog parks, and trails, San Diego’s Balboa Park offers something for everyone. Balboa Park’s land has been set-aside for almost 150 years and has racked up quite the array of family-friendly activities, including summer Food Truck Fridays, where people of all ages can enjoy live entertainment and a unique, rotating selection of gourmet food trucks. Surviving fires, wars, and strife, this mega green space at the city’s center now provides beautiful sights, fun things to do in an alternative outdoor oasis. Balboa Park welcomes everyone and is open 365 days a year. Check out this and the rest of our must-see outdoor attractions on your next vacation to San Diego.
- Take in the free summer concerts
- San Diego Astronomy Association
The SDAA holds regularly scheduled activities throughout the year for avid stargazers and curious novices. On the third Wednesday of each month, an educational lecture Program and general meeting are presented at the theatre at the Mission Trails Regional Park. Regular Sky Observing sessions are held at their 10-acre site in the East County. “Star Parties” are held for schools and youth groups. Members conduct astronomy seminars for educators, mirror and telescope making classes, and seminars in observing and astrophotography. Visitors are always welcome and encouraged to participate in all SDAA activities.
- S’mores on the beach at Hotel Del Coronado’s ROAST
- Go ice skating at any of the city’s various winter outdoor arenas
- Outdoor summer movies
- If you’re in town around the holidays, check out the holiday lights aboard Old Town Trolley in the surrounding neighborhoods of downtown
- Take a journey into nature’s surrounds
San Diego days may be filled with sunshine, but nights are filled with outdoor entertainment and extraordinary evenings under the stars. Fill your nights with laughter, Shakespearean comedies (or tragedies), seaside orchestra extravaganzas and an organ pavilion like no other.
- Giggles and blues – National Comedy Store and House of Blues/Belly Up Tavern
- Shows at the Old Globe
- Cinema Under the Stars
- Dive in Movies at the Pearl
This unique evening of cinema goes all year round and there is no better way to catch a flick then eating delicious food and sipping tantalizing cocktails. This now infamous Dive-In Movie screen sits above an oyster-shaped pool, surrounded by the on-premises restaurant, Charles + Dinorah. It’s the perfect setting for a date night, gals night, birthday celebration or ‘just because!’ If you’re looking to dine and watch, it’s best to call ahead and reserve a table. Looking to just watch? There are first-come, first-serve seats around the pool. Don’t forget, you can always take a dip in the heated saltwater pool and watch the movie from there.
- Humphreys by the Bay concerts
- San Diego Symphony Bayside Nights
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion
The first-of-its-kind organ designed to play for an outdoor audience, has been amazing music-lovers since December 31, 1914. the Spreckels Organ is the largest outdoor organ in the world and continues to offer free programs of the full range of musical masterworks thanks to a cooperative partnership between the City of San Diego and the Spreckels Organ Society. With restoration completed in 1986, the International Summer Organ Festival was launched, offering magical summer nighttime concerts featuring the world’s greatest organists. The pavillion also hosts free concerts every Sunday of the year where locals and visitors can enjoy hour long performances from the works of the most heralded organ composers in the canon.
Culture and Couture
For those interested in evening wanderings, adult beverages, history mixed with authentic Mexican cuisine and art of the contemporary kind, San Diego nights are for you. Meander the 16 ½ block radius of the historic Gaslamp Quarter, take a tour of the over 100 breweries in San Diego, get your fill of all things San Diego on the night trolley tour or spend your after-hours checking out one of the many culture-filled museums of the city.
- Live La Dolce Vita in Little Italy
Though it doesn’t get the press of its east coast cousin, San Diego’s Little Italy is the largest one in the nation spanning almost 50 square blocks. This neighborhood has come a really long way since its humble beginnings as a fishing village. Today, the residents of San Diego are visiting in droves to eat, drink and be merry at the many excellent restaurants and bars. This is where the locals go and so should you! Walk down India Street, visit Amici Park, grab a slice at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto and fuggetaboutit!
- Shop the stores at Seaport Village
- Check out the breweries
- Head back in time in Old Town San Diego
- Sundowners at the Hotel del Coronado
- Old Town Trolley San Diego City Lights Night Tour
Activities and Amusements
Our parks are open! Spend your nights at the zoo or safari park, support the Padres at the major league baseball stadium in the center of downtown, head to the sea to watch the grunion run, dance under the stars at The Headquarters, or take in the rides and mini golf course right next to the Pacific at Mission Beach’s Belmont Park. Whether you’re hanging with the animals, putting through the windmills or shaking your hips with your new friends, San Diego is waiting for you.
- San Diego Nighttime at the Zoo
- SeaWorld Summer Nights
- Take in a baseball game
- Watch the grunion run
- Salsa under the stars at the Headquarters
- Sleepovers – Roar and Snore at the San Diego Zoo, Star of India Sleepover, Sleep aboard the USS Midway
Have a sleepover adventure in one of 46 comfy, safari-style tents that border an expansive grazing area for giraffes, rhinos, gazelles, antelopes, and other exotic animals at the remarkable San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Book a Flightline Safari—strapped securely into a zip-line, you’ll soar as high as 130 feet above all the animals below. Also on offer are exhilarating Balloon Safaris and a Jungle Ropes Safari for kids 7 and up to test their balance and jungle skills on rope bridges, tightropes, and more.
- Belmont Park Amusement Park
Hopefully, these ideas will really make your night in beautiful San Diego and something to cherish forever. Get inspired to check out even more of the fun and fascinating activities there are to explore in one of America’s most gorgeous cities!