The Art of Crafting Signature Cocktails: A Mixologist's Guide

13 Epic Venues for Live Music in San Diego

Get Your Groove on at These Local Rooftops, Bars and Amphitheaters

We go where the rhythm flows—and if that makes us groupies, then so be it. San Diego’s music scene welcomes newcomers, up-and-coming artists and famous talents to bars, restaurants and epic music venues every day across the city, featuring everything from contemporary and classical to pop and house beats. Many well-known acts got their start here much the same, such as pop-punk band Blink-182, Pearl Jam’s lead singer Eddie Vedder and the laid-back Jason Mraz. We’re giving Los Angeles a run for its money—catch performers before they’re big-time at these 13 live music venues in San Diego.


Monarch Ocean Pub 


Strum into golden hour at Monarch Ocean Pub! Boasting one of the area’s best oceanfront views, relish in live music on the outdoor deck Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m, weather permitting. If you’re there on a weekday, stay just a little longer and catch their happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m, where you can take advantage of deals like the $6 flat top burger and $6 fish sandwich! 

Location: Del Mar


Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

We know the lyrics, but we’ve actually been searching for somewhere that always has that 5 ’oClock feeling.  And we found it at the Gaslamp Quarter’s brand-new Margaritaville Hotel, home to the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar! Order an easily transportable Club Kokomo Spirits canned cocktail and explore the grounds, then settle in for their poolside service, serving both lunch and dinner! The rooftop bar features live music every weekend, and there’s weekday tunes at the Landshark Bar & Grill right around the corner. You don’t even need to be a guest to take advantage—everyone is welcome to experience the tropical vibes of this downtown newcomer! Keep your eye on their events page for upcoming performances. Tastes like paradise, huh?

Local Insight: Club Kokomo Spirits was founded in San Diego by Mike Love of The Beach Boys, in partnership with San Diego local and craft distillery guru Geoff Longenecker of Seven Caves Distillery!

Location: Gaslamp Quarter


The Camp Store

Truly a one-stop shop, The Camp Store gives you everything at your fingertips for a perfect SoCal day. Perched on the sun-swept bluffs at South Carlsbad State Beach, this venue invites guests to sit outside and stay a while for some easy drinking—and listening! Neighborhood bands and local artists perform on the campgrounds every Wednesday through Sunday at 4:30 p.m, where you can hear everything from cover bands to solo guitarists and saxophonists. Get the whole scoop on their event calendar, complete with performer information so you’ll know exactly what you’re in for! Music to our ears.

Location: Carlsbad


Beach House

It’s about time somebody brought the beats to the beach. Formerly known as The Wave House, Beach House draws in concert-seeking locals left and right. Leaning heavily into the house music scene, catch acts, like Walker and Royce and Sidepiece, multiple times a week during the warmer months. Not into house music? Beach House is known to sprinkle in some variety: country performer Rodney Atkins and reggaeton Dread Mar-I just recently took the stage. Part sand, part porch deck-inspired flooring, the venue is casual and spacious, and the option of VIP tables gives you a chance for an elevated experience. The low-pressure atmosphere with top-notch acts makes it the perfect in-between!

Location: Mission Beach


Acid Vault

Following in the footsteps of underground music shows from back in the day, Acid Vault is a hidden gem of a venue located just beneath ModBom’s saloon-inspired restaurant. If you heard a little bass booming underneath your Southern comforts, you’re not hearing things. Head downstairs into the dimly lit psychedelic corridors and bask in the secrecy of what you’ve found. They host jazz nights, R&B and hip-hop artists, drag shows and more. Though it’s discreet, they do list their lineup online. Don’t be shy—open up the vault.

Location: East Village


Books & Records

For the record, this one’s not just books. It’s not even just books and records, either. Books & Records is actually a swanky bar and restaurant serving craft cocktails and American fare, and if that wasn’t already a sweet surprise, here’s another: They’ve got live music. Stop in on Friday or Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. to enjoy a jazzy mix of talented vocalists and instrumentalists. This vibrant newcomer is a hidden gem in the heart of Banker’s Hill—get the lowdown on their events page and stop in to see what you’ve been missing!

Location: Banker’s Hill


Observatory North Park

No matter what the act is, nothing sets the stage for a great performance quite like a theater. A favorite among locals, The Observatory houses up-and-coming performers in a uniquely restored theater in the heart of San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Need a bite before the band? Do it all in one spot by popping in to the adjoining West Coast Tavern for a juicy Tavern burger or three cheese mac!

Location: North Park


Jazz Brunch at Pali Wine Co.

Our hands on a wine glass is the epitome of class. Jazz, you say? Would we be swirling this wine if we weren’t interested? Get your weekend started in the most relaxing way possible with a seat at Pali Wine Co.’s Jazz Brunch. Happening Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m, Matt Hall and his accompaniment will be accompanying your beautiful brunch of eggs Benedict or shakshuka during prime bunching hours. Reserve a table early to lock in your spot for the snazziest Saturday scene in the city.

Location: Little Italy


Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

Home to the La Jolla Music Society, the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is a world-class facility hosting local art organizations and renowned musicians, from jazz to contemporary and classical. Created with the idea of inspiring those who enter, the interior is uniquely lit and features architecture that invigorates and excites performers and guests alike. Upcoming acts include Disney Pixar’s “Coco,” with an option in Spanish and English, several Mozart tributes, and a performance from the University of San Diego’s wind ensemble. Check their event calendar for a complete lineup! 

Location: La Jolla


Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

You’re in for a shell of a time at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Not only is it a pretty sight, but the stunning architecture of the shell allows for acoustics like never before, properly showcasing the talent of the San Diego Symphony as they take on musical performances like the annual Beethoven by the Bay as well as musical adaptations of movies like “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.” Individual artists come to shine at the shell as well—Earth, Wind and Fire and Charlie Puth took the stage this past summer, along with The Beach Boys! Order a Club Kokomo Spirits canned cocktail and enjoy a salty breeze as you soak in the tunes; check their schedule for upcoming performers.

Location: The Embarcadero


Soda Bar

Over the years, Soda bar remains one of the most talked about spots for performances in all of San Diego. A self-proclaimed unpretentious bar for live music, they’re all about the tunes. The venue is an intimate space specializing in the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll and indie bands, but you’ll find artists of every kind popping up here. Cold beer, mixed cocktails and music to your ears—what else would you come for? Upcoming performers include surf-punk band The Frights, indie-rock group Your Neighbors and pop-style band TV Girl.

Location: North Park



Swim among the locals at Fishtank, a brand-new bar in Mission Hills bringing the beats every weekend from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. They’ll be hosting DJs like Payday and Brokenbeat, as well as themed nights with extensive artist lineups, such as their ‘90s themed hip-hop dance hall nights. They’re livening up your weekdays, too—enjoy Techno Tuesdays with artists announced weekly on their website. Pro tip: Saturday happy hour has specials on shots from midnight to 2 a.m.—or you can keep it cool and collected with one of their Club Kokomo Spirits canned cocktails! Hint: try the Mystique flavor—a perfect blend of guava, lychee, lemon and jasmine tea-infused rum.

Location: Mission Hills



Formerly home to the punk and alternative rock music scene, all-ages venue SOMA has since become a staple for acts drawing a bit more of a crowd. Though they’ve widened their horizons on genres from the early days, the vibe has stayed much the same. There’s no frills here—SOMA is all about the show. Grab yourself a drink and find a good spot to post up in the general-admission standing area of the mainstage, and you’re golden. Upcoming acts include Eric Nam and The Ghost Inside. Oh, and one more bonus: Parking is free!

Location: Midway