San Diego Attractions at Night

San Diego Attractions at Night

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San Diego isn’t necessarily known for things to do at night, however, in conjunction with its warm, mild weather & long stretches of beaches are an equally fun amount of things to do and enjoy at night. Even for those who may not be into the club & bar scene.

Below is a list of San Diego attractions at night that you can’t miss!

Best things to do in San Diego at night

OUTDOORS

 

Host a campfire on the beach

A combination of smores, cozy blankets & good friends around a campfire is an ideal way to spend a night in San Diego. The best part is you can either bring your own campfire supplies or hire someone else to do all of the work for you!

The Beach Fire Guy is a great option when you’d rather just show up & have everything taken care of for you. They set up campfires in Mission Beach, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Bay Park, La Jolla, & Coronado that last for 3-4 hours. They also offer chairs, tiki torches, s’mores with skewers, tables, coolers, tents, and games and the best part is they clean it all up for you!

Cost: starting at $80 with options for add ons 

Year-Round

Watch the city light up

While San Diego may not have the skyline imagery comparable to that of Manhattan NYC, there is quite a beautiful view of downtown San Diego and it’s neighborhoods that can bring a smile to anyone’s face.

My two suggestions to view San Diego’s skyline at night are from the top of Mount Soledad or from an evening Hornblower Cruise

Mount Soledad: Mount Soledad is a mountain landmark in San Diego that is known for its sunset views and the large cross that stands at the top of it (a Korean War memorial). There is parking available up here, and views on either side with grassy areas and steps to sit on.

Hornblower Cruise: Hornblower cruises are well known along the California coast (and in New York). Their evening & sunset cruises are a great way to view downtown San Diego at night. Plus being greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne isn’t a bad way to start your evening.

Cost: varies on the type of cruise you select, prices range from $28-$125 per person

Year-Round

Catch Summer fireworks

Every summer Seaworld hosts evening fireworks shows. The best views of this are from Fiesta Island where parking is free & there won’t be too many people to block your view.

Cost: free

Summer

Enjoy First Friday at Liberty Station market

The first Friday of every month, Liberty Station in Point Loma stays open late from 5-9pm where guests can enjoy live performances, artists work and visit museums & galleries throughout the area.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Pretend you’re halfway across the world by taking a gondola ride

Yes, you read that correctly. The Gondola Company in San Diego gives gondola rides around the Coronado Cays (a small area apart of the peninsula of Coronado). These rides are both romantic & family friendly with options to bring your own wine & snacks or purchase them there.

Cost: starting at $95 for two people, prices vary depending on the type of ride you select

Year-Round

MUSICAL & LIVE PERFORMANCES

 

Catch a live musical performance

Each year more & more high profile artists are coming to perform in San Diego. Which means there are more opportunities to see awesome music shows at a handful of great venues in the city. There are also plenty of local talent that are hosted at these venues as well.

Here are my top recommendations for venues to visit for live music shows:

Music Box, Little Italy

The Observatory, North Park

House of Blues, Downtown: which also has a few free themed events throughout the year

Belly up Tavern, Encinitas

Cost: varies on the show & venue

Year-Round

If you really like live music, then check out

 

Enjoy your music on the water

The Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island hosts outdoor music performances year-round at their venue, Humphreys Concerts on the Bay. If you’re lucky to have a boat or brave enough to paddleboard your way out there, you can catch these performances live for free!

Cost: varies on the performer

Year-Round

Check out availability at Half Moon Inn HERE

Old Globe Theatre

If you’ve ever been to London then San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre may remind of something. It’s fashioned after Shakespeare’s Old Globe theatre in cheery old London. Guests can enjoy broadway-style performances here throughout the year.

Cost: $95-$134

Year-Round

Duel & Dance

For a unique & energetic evening out, be sure to check out Shout House in downtown San Diego. 7 nights a week there is a dueling piano performance that is driven by the audience requests. Enjoy a cocktail, or even dinner, all while singing along to the dueling pianos.

Cost: free reservations Monday-Wednesday, $5 reservation fee/person Thursday & Sunday, $12 reservation fee on Fridays

Year-Round

Enjoy the San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony is a wonderful way to enjoy your evening in San Diego. They host unique performances year-round, I’m just bummed I missed the Harry Potter-themed nights!

In the summer months, the Symphony also hosts Bayside Summer Nights where guests can enjoy the West coasts only waterfront concert venue.

Cost: $23-$65, prices may vary depending on the show

Year-Round

See sunset & a show

Every summer the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla hosts a concert series on Wednesday nights from 6-9pm, called the Green Flash Concert Series. Enjoy a live performance with views of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Cost: $33-$150

May-September

MOVIE THEATRES

 

Jump back in time at a Drive-In movie theatre

Drive-in movie theaters always make me think of 1970’s Grease (do you remember the scenes at the drive-in theatre?), and while there isn’t nearly as much drama at our drive-in movie theatres as Sandy experienced, they are definitely great places to catch the latest movie releases under the moonlight, with the sound coming through your own radio!

There are two drive-in theatre locations in San Diego: South Bay & Santee

Cost at South Bay: $9 for adults, $7 for kids (5-9 years old)

Cost at Santee: $9 for adults, $4 for juniors (4-12 years old)

Year-Round

 

Rooftop Cinema Club

The Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego hosts the Rooftop Cinema Club in San Diego. A cinematic experience where you can enjoy a night under the stars watching your favorite feature films. With add ons like bottomless popcorn, love seats & student discounts this is sure to be a unique way to experience San Diego.

Cost: $15.30-$24

Year-Round

Cinema Under the Stars

Enjoy classic films, cult favorites & recent releases at Cinema Under the Stars. Their unique patio setting includes a 20 foot movie screen, THX surround sound, and open-air seating with zero-gravity recliners. Plus they show a classic cartoon before most films, how cute?!

Cost: $17-$20

Year-Round

Or turn your movie night into a stellar date night at The Pearl

The classic hotel, The Pearl, hosts a weekly Dive-In Theatre experience. Guests can either find free open seating around the pool or can dine in their restaurant while watching the film.

Cost: Free for open seating

Year-Round

Head to a schmancy pants indoor movie theatre, The Lot

Featuring reclinable chairs and full drinks and food menu inside of this sparkly theatre, The Lot is a perfect place to spend a night in San Diego. Be sure to find their vintage images of the space, which was previously used as a training facility for the navy.

Cost: $18-$22.50

Year-Round

UNIQUE BARS

 

Visit one of San Diego’s speakeasies.

A tradition from the 1920’s prohibition era, San Diego has quite a few hidden gems providing the highest quality cocktails and fun flair.

Cost: Depends on the location & your drinks, I’ve seen upwards of $18 per cocktail

Year-Round

Bowl with a beverage

Southern California has stepped up the average night out standards for many. This includes our bowling experiences. Instead of a typical bowling alley, why not have great music, neon lights, a full-scale restaurant & bar and a mix of other games at your service? Here are two locations in downtown San Diego that bowlers can check out:

Tavern & Bowl: Tavern & Bowl has lots of great happy hour specials!

Punch Bowl Social: These guys really stepped up their game and not only provide bowling, but private karaoke, a classic arcade, and all of the table games you could want

Cost: depends on what activity you choose

Year-Round

Speaking of beverages…

 

Cheers friends with a local brewski

San Diego is one of the country’s leading local brewery cities. We are boasting with fresh, unique styles of beer to try at one of our local breweries. Rub on some hops for perfume & share a conversation over a pint.

Cost: varies on location

Year-Round

Dine at a drag show

Look no further for an epic dinner & show experience than Lips. For an adult outing or even a bachelorette activity, you can experience San Diego’s premier drag show here. *Reservations are required

Cost:$5-$10 cover charge & $15 per person minimum food purchase.

Year-Round

Step back in time & enjoy a shot of tequila in Old Town

Old Town is San Diego’s historic center where visitors can soak up some Hispanic culture and charm. At night, Old Town has plenty of fun Mexican restaurants, performances and shops to walk through.

Cost: varies on what you decide to do

Year-Round

Spend a night in the wild

The San Diego Safari Park hosts an adult sleepover camping experience inside of the park called Roar & Snore. This is an actual slumber party at a safari park, how cool! There are campfires, hikes & animal viewings, plus the adults-only version has a cash bar.

(While I may not be a huge fan of zoos, I have personally visited the Safari Park and can say that 90% of the animals have crazy large ‘enclosures’ and that they do so much wonderful conservation work.)

Cost: $145 per person

Year-Round

Experience something new & enlightening at Trilogy Sanctuary

Trilogy Sanctuary is part vegan cafe, yoga studio & event space. A bohemian dream! They host monthly events and are a great place for La Jolla sunsets.

Cost: varies on your activity

Year-Round

SPORTS TEAMS

 

Catch a Major League Baseball game at the Padres stadium

The Padres stadium is definitely worth a visit. MLB games are always more fun in person, and the Padres stadium guests have access to so many San Diego food & drink options. Plus multiple wine bars and a mini grocery store. There is also outdoor space for open seating, kids activities and more!

Cost: varies on your seat

March-October

Chill out at a San Diego Gulls hockey game

Did ya’ catch my pun there?

The San Diego Gulls are our local hockey team apart of the American Hockey League. Always a fun game to attend for reasonable ticket prices.

Cost: $22-$103

September-April

Cheer on our newest sports team, the San Diego Seals

Part of the National Lacrosse League, the San Diego Seals is the newest addition to our sports team line up. Check out these fast-paced games when in town!

Cost: $15-$90

December-April

 

ACTIVE

 

Take a burlesque class!

Ohh La La has weekly classes to help bring out your inner sassy-self. Check out their schedule & consider joining them in their annual showcase.

Cost: $25/class

Year-Round

Try your feet at salsa dancing

Cafe Sevilla in the gaslamp district of San Diego hosts FREE salsa lessons & open floor dance times every week. It’s also a restaurant where the chef has proudly been making traditional & delicious Spanish dishes for years.

Bonus- they have a secret vegan menu you can ask for when you’re there for dinner beforehand.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Salsa under the stars at The Headquarters

The Headquarters is located in Seaport Village near downtown. They host free salsa dancing once a month with live music.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Vent out your pent up energy with some axe throwing

What started as a Canadian backyard pastime, has turned into an exciting outing for many Americans, and now San Diegans can enjoy it as well. There are a few axe throwing locations in the city:

Bad Axe Throwing, Pacific Beach

Axeventures, North Park

Cost: varies on location & group size

Year-Round

With so many things to do in San Diego at night, what are you doing still reading this? Go check one of these out!

Have any questions? Leave a comment below & I’ll answer.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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How to use the CBX Bridge

How to use the CBX Bridge

Fly from the Tijuana airport easily & save yourself money on your flights!

Did you know that American based travelers can fly to Mexico for cheap? This alone is one of my favorite conveniences for using the CBX to get to the Tijuana airport.

By using the CBX Bridge in San Diego, California passengers can book a flight to Mexico with a Mexican airline for nearly half the cost (if not less) than it would cost to fly out of San Diego or Los Angeles directly.  However, there is a lot of confusion on what this bridge actually is, where to go to cross it and if it is safe for travelers.

Read below for my experience and all of the information that you will need to use the CBX bridge at the Tijuana Airport.

What is CBX?

        CBX stands for Cross Border Xpress.  It is a pedestrian facility located on the San Diego/Tijuana border that allows people to walk straight into the Tijuana airport from the United States.  People call it the CBX bridge, as it is technically a covered, indoor, pedestrian walkway.

To clear away some confusion: NO, CBX is not an outdoor bridge. The facility is entirely indoors. You purchase your ticket to cross (read below), check in to your flight and walk down a hallway that marks where the border of the United States meets the border of Mexico. Once you exit this hallway you will be inside the Tijuana Airport.

Where is CBX & How to get there from the United States?

        Surprisingly, the CBX bridge facility is not the same border that you drive across when trying to get to Baja California.  It is located in San Diego and is approximately a 15-minute drive from the border patrol area into Tijuana.

From central San Diego (Mission Valley/USD area) it will take approximately 20 minutes to drive to the Cross Border Xpress.

It is very easy to park or drop off travelers as it has a clearly marked entrance and roadway to the front doors. And offers large open parking lots with security driving throughout.

Photo credit: CBX Website

Preparing to use the CBX bridge & the costs of crossing

  • Make sure you have a boarding pass available; this proves that you have a reason to be crossing into the airport
  • Purchase a ticket to cross through CBX in advance; this can save you time by not having to purchase in person at a kiosk (really it’s not that much time saved, but more convenient for ease of access)
  • Tickets for CBX are $30 for a round trip crossing, $16 for one way, or $105 RT/$55 one way for families (four to six people)
  • Just like any other trip to the airport, prepare how you will get there.  Whether that is having a friend drop you off, parking your car (see detailed information below) or a ride share service.
  • Parking is $17/day, and you pay when you return.  It will most likely be cheaper to order a Lyft or Uber to take you to CBX rather than park a car.

[New to ride-sharing?  It is one of the most convenient ways to get around if don’t want to or cannot drive.  Use these links to receive discounts on your first ride with them! Lyft // Uber ]

How to Cross the Cross Border Xpress

        Walk inside the set of doors that are closest to the drop off area (if you drive past the cross walk speed bump you’ve gone past the correct doors).  With your boarding pass and CBX ticket in hand, walk to the tables inside to complete immigration forms. At the inside entrance, an agent will scan your CBX ticket, ask if you have your passport and boarding pass then will allow you to walk across the pedestrian sky bridge.

        Every staff person we spoke to/with spoke English and was kind, friendly & efficient. Which makes any travel anxiety lower quickly.

        The bridge itself is modern and covered, and there is an official line marking where you actually cross from the United States into Mexico!  At the end of the bridge you enter directly into the Tijuana airport terminal. Find your airlines ticket counter if you need to check any bags.  If not, head to security as you normally would at any other airport. Except this time you’ll be walking over with a smile of satisfaction that you not only very easily crossed into another country, but that you most likely saved yourself a lot of money flying out of Tijuana to your destination!

What airlines fly into & out of the Tijuana Airport?

       These are the airlines that fly into and out of the Tijuana Airport. Travelers who live near San Diego and Los Angeles in Southern California can search for flights with these airlines to save some serious money when flying to Mexico or Central America.

  • Aeromexico
  • Interjet
  • Volaris

Flying into the Tijuana Airport, to cross back into the United States

        Almost identical to how you can cross from the United States into the Tijuana airport through CBX bridge facility, you cross back.  After the baggage claim area, there is a clearly marked area for the CBX bridge. Show your CBX ticket to an agent and then cross back over the pedestrian bridge.

*Do NOT exit the airport into Tijuana– an airport agent will guide you to the CBX exit, however, be present and aware regardless.

        Customs at the CBX bridge facility has little to almost no lines to wait in.  They scan your luggage, but you don’t have to take anything out.  Declare anything you bring back with you, and then walk across the bridge and outside to your ride back home.

Utilizing the Cross Border Xpress in San Diego is a wonderful way to travel for cheap to and from Mexico.  It is set up to be convenient and easy for travelers, and as someone who has used it, i can attest to its convenience and ease of use.  Have any questions — feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Happy travels!

Related: Interested in planning a trip to a Mexican destination?

Check out my travel guides for Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende to gather some inspiration!

TIPS for Using the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) in San Diego, California

  • Flying out of Tijuana airport is cheaper than another US based airport if you are flying to a location in Mexico or Central America.  This isn’t always 100% true, but 90% of the time you will find a much better deal
  • People often say to leave time for traffic, however I drove down to the CBX facility a couple of times (different days of the week and different times of the day) and never had a traffic issue.  It is almost in the middle of nowhere so is not a traffic heavy area. And with there not being much to do in the airport I wouldn’t suggest showing up very early as you’ll arrive and go through the facility quickly and then be bored at your gate.
  • The security lines are much shorter here, so no need to stress the time spent waiting to go through
  • Currently there are not many food options in the airport (this also depends on where your gate is/which airline you are flying), however we saw signs stating that new eateries are being added in 2019.
If you’re curious about the CBX bridge being at the Tijuana border crossing, I captured screenshots of the distance between the two.  It’s about a 15 minute drive between the two.

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